What is therapy and counselling?

Therapy offers you a safe, confidential place to talk about your life and anything that may be confusing, painful or uncomfortable. It allows you to talk with someone who is trained to listen attentively and to help you improve things.

Key fact sheet 1 [PDF] explains more about what therapy should be like and what therapists should do.

The Attitudes to Counselling & Psychotherapy: Key Findings [PDF] information sheet might also interest you. This gives an interesting overview of the wider use of therapy among the UK public, the differences in how people like to access help, and what other people find therapy useful for.


How will therapy make me feel?

Therapy is a very personal process. Sometimes it is necessary to talk about painful feelings or difficult decisions, so you may go through a period of feeling worse than when you started. However, therapy should enable you to feel better in the long-run.

If you do experience a period of feeling worse, talk to your therapist about it to ensure you get the best out of your therapy.

Client information sheet 1 [PDF] gives you further guidance on how to make the most of your therapy.


Will I feel better straight away?

Usually it will take a number of counselling sessions before therapy starts to make a difference. However on rare occasions, a single session may be enough.


Does it work for everybody?

Therapy doesn’t work for everybody. It is not a universal cure-all. Because you may be talking about very personal and often painful things, it can sometimes be difficult to keep going. Despite this, it is often worth the effort as you can be helped to work through problems.


Will I be able to have therapy that understands my cultural background?

Therapists come from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. It should be possible to find an appropriate therapist for your needs. How and where you access therapy will affect how much choice you have when selecting your therapist.


Is all therapy the same?

No. There are different methods and approaches to therapy, and your chosen therapist will be able to talk to you about their particular method or approach.


What types of therapy are there?

There are many different types of therapy available (see Types of therapy). However, in general, research shows that the relationship with your therapist or counsellor is more important than the method they use.

Your choice of type of therapy may be limited depending on where you access it. If you have a preference over the type of therapy, you may choose to seek a private therapist.

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