A safe place to talk and think
Psychotherapy or counselling offers a confidential, regular and supportive time and place to talk about your difficulties, concerns or questions.
It allows you to examine your experiences, develop a better understanding of yourself, and consider your choices.
Psychotherapy and counselling may not be helpful for everyone or for every problem. And it isn’t really a place to get advice, or tips, or quick answers. It is somewhere for you to do your own thinking, with the support of a professional alongside you.
I’ve written a short article about some online resources to help you learn more about therapy and counselling, and how to find a therapist or counsellor. Some of these are also listed below.
What do people talk about?
People come to talk to a psychotherapist or counsellor for a very wide variety of reasons. These are often problems they wish to understand or overcome, or questions or goals that they would like to address.
Topics that you may wish to talk about might include:
- relationship difficulties
- sadness, depression, emptiness, low self-esteem
- anxiety, stress, panic, fear
- obsessive or addictive behaviour
- issues with eating, weight or body image
- family issues
- identity and purpose
- anger, guilt, mood swings
- bereavement or other loss
- shyness, lack of confidence
- death and dying; ageing; midlife issues
- sexuality, sexual activity, gender identity
- career and work-related issues
- studying and academic stresses
- self-harm or suicidal thoughts
On the other hand, you might want to use psychotherapy to talk about goals or questions you have, past events you want to make more sense of, possibilities you want to explore, choices you want to consider, or aspects of yourself you want to learn more about.
The topics are your choice, and you don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to. Whatever you do talk about, I will try to help you reflect on it and further develop your own understanding of it.
How long does it take?
There is no simple answer, and it depends on how you choose to use counselling and psychotherapy, and what you feel is helpful.
Regular sessions – at least weekly – are generally important to allow you to build a trusting relationship with a therapist/counsellor. And it takes time to explore any significant issues or questions in any depth. Some clients feel they only need a handful of sessions to address some immediate worry or event, while others want to learn more about themselves in a way that may take months or even years.
It’s a bit like fitness or sport – you may want to see a coach to address something quite specific briefly, or you may enjoy developing and maintaining your fitness and skills over a longer period. It’s really up to you and how you want to use the therapy.
Other information resources on psychotherapy and counselling
If you want to know more about counselling and psychotherapy, or how to choose a psychotherapist or counsellor, below are a few links to authoritative information and advice from two of the main professional associations for counsellors and therapists in the UK:
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)