Commonly held myth...

  • Everyone should be able to solve their own problems. You only need to see a counsellor if you canít cope.

And the reality?

  • Deciding to discuss your problems with a counsellor doesnít mean youíre unable to cope. Many people see a counsellor to help them sort something out that's worrying them, often because they don't feel they want to worry or burden their family.

Commonly held myth...
  • You only need to see a counsellor if you have an insurmountable problem or have been abused or something has happened to you.

And the reality?

  • Many people need someone to confide in, not just those who have difficult issues to deal with or have been abused. Counselling is a way of helping yourself to deal with things that are getting on top of you or are getting in the way of living your life
Commonly held myth...
  • A good counsellor will tell you what to do and sort out your life for you.

And the reality?

  • The role of a counsellor is not to tell you how to run your life. Good counsellors listen, support and challenge, so that youíre able to come up with your own solutions.
Commonly held myth...
  • You should be able to cope. Anyway why would you want to tell someone your private business?

And the reality?

  • Turning to a counsellor for confidential support and advice about private worries or concerns can be the most helpful and reassuring option for someone to take. A counsellor offers you confidentiality, genuineness and unconditional acceptance and helps you to look at things more clearly - very often when you are in the middle of a situation or crisis, you 'can't see the wood for the trees' and someone without any agenda or involvement in the friends and family network can be invaluable

What is counselling?
Contrary to what many people think, the role of a counsellor is not to give advice. Instead, they will help you question the way you look at things, the way you behave or react to situations or people and they can also help you to develop new strategies for dealing with your situation. They do this by getting to know you, developing an understanding of your circumstances, listening to what you have to say and by offering support and insight.

When can counselling help?
While it can be really helpful to talk to someone you know and trust, you may feel more comfortable confiding in someone whoís removed from your personal situation and is therefore more objective. Also, having a set time and space to talk may help you to work through the issues concerning you.

Counselling is definitely worth considering when:

  • you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed
  • you need someone to listen to you and help you work out whatís most important
  • an issue or situation is seriously affecting your day-to-day life
  • you canít make important decisions and are not sure what to do next.

What are some of the issues counsellors can help with?

Counsellors can talk you through a whole range of issues or problems. Here are just some of the areas of modern life they are used to dealing with:

  • relationship or family issues
  • major life changes
  • coping with separation and new relationships
  • domestic violence or sexual abuse
  • coming to terms with abuse in your childhood
  • depression or anxiety
  • stress
  • anger
  • loss and grief
  • parenting and step-parenting
  • gambling
  • financial difficulties

What are the main types of counselling?

Individual counselling
A counsellor can meet with you on a one-to-one basis, with you and your partner or with members of your family, to talk through issues that are concerning you.

Group therapy
A counsellor leads the discussion for a group of people (with or without similar issues of concern) who get together on a regular basis to share their experiences or concerns.

Online and telephone counselling
Working with a counsellor online, by telephone, by Email, chat-room or instant messaging is certainly not as good as face-to-face counselling but can be very effective when there are long distances involved. This is especially relevant in Spain.

Self-help groups
People who are experiencing similar problems, such as loss and grief, trauma, divorce and illness, meet to discuss common issues and problems (with or without a counsellor to lead the discussion).

How do I go about finding a counsellor that will suit me?
Thereís no clear-cut answer to this question. Keep in mind that many people from different backgrounds and with a wide range of qualifications work as counsellors and therapists. Whatís really important is that you find the right counsellor for you and your situation.

Itís a good idea to ask some questions over the phone before making an appointment. Apart from giving you the answers to specific queries, you may be able to get some idea of whether youíre likely to get on with the counsellor and if theyíre going to be sensitive to your situation.

What are some of the questions I should ask?

  • How much will it cost?
  • How is your privacy protected?
  • What happens to any notes once the counselling is over?
  • How will the sessions be conducted?
  • What techniques or methods does the counsellor use?
  • Is the counsellor a member of a professional association? Remember that many counsellors working in Spain may have once belonged to a professional organisation in the UK and may no longer belong. As long as they adhere to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice for that organisation (usually BACP) then they should be working within safe boundaries. Click here for the website of BACP

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you donít have to make a commitment at this stage in the process. Feel free to change your counsellor or the type of counselling youíre receiving if you want to. A good counsellor will want you to get it right for yourself above anything else and won't feel hurt if you decide not to work with them.

What things should I consider before choosing a counsellor?
There is a range of things you need to consider before choosing a counsellor. These include:

  • whether you want a male or female counsellor
  • the counsellorís culture and first language
  • the counsellorís area of specialty and the approach they take
  • the counsellorís training, qualifications and experience.

What makes a good counsellor?
While there are many different approaches a counsellor can take, and many different areas of specialty and training, good counsellors share common attributes. A good counsellor will:

  • believe in you
  • respect you and allow you to work through your experiences and emotions
  • be able to respectfully challenge your perceptions or position when itís necessary
  • have faith in your ability to work through your problems
  • allow you to make your own choices and respect your decisions
  • be trustworthy and sensitive
  • provide you with the information you need
  • be happy to discuss the issues surrounding confidentiality.

What are my rights?
As someone who is receiving counselling, you have very clearly defined rights.

  • You should be treated with care, consideration and dignity.
  • You have the right to begin and end counselling at any time.
  • Your counsellor should not engage in any type of sexual relationship with you.

Are there any alternatives to counselling?
Some people just donít feel like talking to someone else about themselves or their personal problems. For them, it may be more beneficial to work through their concerns in other ways Ė say, by joining a music or art therapy session or taking a course of study that might help, like stress management, building self-esteem, managing conflict and assertiveness training for example.

How do I know the counsellor will keep what I say confidential?
 contract is agreed on between you and your counsellor at the assessment session before you start working together. Click
here for a sample of the sort of contract you and the counsellor might agree on.

What is the difference between a 'trained' and a 'qualified' counsellor?
Normally, a trained counsellor is one who has completed the one-year Certificate Of Counselling training course. A qualified counsellor is normally one who has completed both the one-year Certificate and the two or three-year long Diploma In Counselling or Diploma in Professional Counselling or other professional diploma in a particular counselling field.


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