Counselling for common mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety is probably the treatment that most people do when they first fall ill. When choosing a counsellor as your chosen therapy specialist to help you it is likely you have many questions about what to expect and have some apprehension if therapy is new to you.  We at Seek a Therapy want to help answer your questions and concerns surrounding counselling in order to help you select the right counsellor for you and on this page we have included some of the most common questions a person may have before attending their first session.

What Is Counselling?

Counselling is a type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment.


Counselling is what is known as talking therapy and it enables people to discuss their life and any difficult feelings that they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. In general, counselling is a process people seek when they want to change something. or their thoughts on something in their lives or simply explore to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings generally.

A counsellor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do or tell you that you are living right or wrongly, instead, they encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to empty your mind and uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking. The counsellor may then look to create a plan of action to either help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of coping.

What to Expect From Counselling

If you decide to go with counselling as your chosen therapy it is to be expected you may feel a bit apprehensive. Knowing what you may expect when speaking to a counsellor may help you in feeling more prepared and in control of the experience. In your first session it is likely that your counsellor will ask you some questions in order to gain an understanding of what’s bothering you and the way your particular thought process works. All the information that your therapist gathers in this session will form a basis of all your future sessions. Be aware, during your first session, it is often the case that you may initially feel worse as you bring up emotions, thoughts and experiences that have been causing you pain, do not give up if this is so, your therapist will help you work towards solutions.

Below are some questions that you are most likely to be asked : –

  • Why are you seeking counselling? – In your first session you will most likely be asked what it is that has brought you here. This is your opportunity to discuss exactly why you are there and what you hope to gain from counselling.
  • What is your current situation and your history? It is important that your counsellor knows anything about your current situation. This includes any day to day issues you are facing and even your work and home life. Discussing your personal history will give your counsellor a better chance to understand more about you as a person and create a bespoke solution to your therapy.
  • Do you have any symptoms? Physical or psychological symptoms that you may be having as a side effect to your situation.

Always do your best to be honest and open with your counsellor as this well ensure you get the most out of your sessions. You should try to establish a good relationship with your counsellor but also set clear boundaries such as :

  • Dates and times of the counselling sessions
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Clarification of the professional nature of the counsellor/client relationship
  • How and when the counsellor can be contacted outside of sessions.

Lastly, to make sure you get the most out of counselling you should aim to arrange regular sessions and on consistent days and times. At times, some sessions will feel more helpful than others but is important to realise that everything your counsellor is doing is designed to help you in the long run, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the beginning.

What Is The Difference Between Psychotherapy And Counselling?

Many people get confused about the difference between psychotherapy and counselling and often wonder whether there is a difference at all. The counsellor’s guide suggests that counsellors are usually therapists that offer similar services of talking in a secure environment but focus around behavioural patterns whereas a psychotherapist may delve deeper into emotional problems and difficulties through various means as previously mentioned.

Counselling usually refers to a brief treatment that centres around behaviour patterns. Psychotherapy focuses on working with clients for a longer-term and draws from insight into emotional problems and difficulties.

The Counsellors Guide

Below is a short list of differences between counselling and psychotherapy from The Counsellors which may help you in choosing the right therapist for you.


  • Helps people identify problems and crises and encourages them to take positive steps to resolve these issues.
  • It is the best course of therapeutic treatment for anyone who already has an understanding of wellbeing, and who is also able to resolve problems.
  • Counselling is a short-term process that encourages the change of behaviour.


  • Helps people with psychological problems that have built up over the course of a long period of time.
  • It will help you understand your feelings, thoughts and actions more clearly.
  • Psychotherapy is a longer-term process of treatment that identifies emotional issues and the background to problems and difficulties.

How Can Counselling  Help Me?

Psychotherapy can help with your mental health because it helps you to identify your illness, your feelings and life issues surrounding it. It will raise issues on your past that will help you focus on things in the present and help you to build resilience for future challenges that may arise.

Counselling can help you:

Counselling can be useful for anyone who wants to explore the way they’re thinking or feeling further, as well as anyone experiencing a problem or issue they are keen to resolve. People may choose to speak to a counsellor because they feel they cannot speak to their other half/friends/family about such personal issues, or they may simply wish to speak to a professional with an objective viewpoint.

Common subjects that can be addressed within counselling include the following:


Wherever there is a physical addiction to a substance or activity – there is likely to be a psychological addiction too. Counselling aims to relieve the psychological addiction by exploring the root cause while helping to develop new ways of thinking.


Losing a loved one is a difficult event in anyone’s life. The loss can bring up a wide range of emotions including guilt and anger. Some people benefit from speaking openly to a counsellor about their feelings to help ease the process and resolve any remaining issues they may have.


Being the victim of any form of abuse, whether it’s verbal or physical can lead to issues that may affect you all of your life. Counselling can offer victims the chance to seek help from authorities (if appropriate) as well as addressing the psychological repercussions in a safe environment.


Suffering from a long-term illness such as cancer or dementia can turn anyone’s world upside down. Counselling can help sufferers come to terms with their illness while offering emotional support and coping mechanisms.

Mental health issues

Suffering from a mental health issue such as schizophrenia or depression can feel incredibly isolating. Counselling looks to discuss the feelings that arise in conjunction with these kinds of mental health issues as well as overcome any personal challenges or frustrations.


Covering all types of relationships, counselling can be used to discuss issues within families, friendships and couples. Problems could involve anything from a poor relationship with a parent through to an abusive relationship.


Whether you’ve been involved in an accident or you have been the victim of abuse, the psychological impact of trauma can last years after the event itself. In a counselling session trauma victims are encouraged to explore their feelings regarding the incident and look into how these could be resolved or changed.


Feelings of stress, anxiety and low self-esteem are becoming all too common in today’s society. Counselling can offer practical advice for overcoming these kinds of issues as well as allowing you the space to vent your frustrations and feelings.

How Much Does A Typical Counselling Session Cost?

If you are based in the UK you can ask your GP for help with a counsellor on the NHS but often there is a wait. If this is the case then you can go private ( and we have several counsellors in our directory in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia) where costs range from £30/$50 per session and sometimes can go up to £80/$200 and occasionally more depending upon the therapists experience, speciality and location.

How Do I Know Which Counselling To Choose?

Your GP will often have several accredited counsellors that they can point you in the direction of but even if they do and you feel that the therapist isn’t right for you then it is completely fine to find a new specialist.

One of the most important parts of counselling is the relationship between yourself and the therapist in order to be able to trust and open up about all your thoughts and feelings in order to be able to work on them.

When you find the right counsellor that offers you good communication, a partnership, trust, goals and a feeling of genuine understanding then together, over time, you will be able to challenge your thoughts, beliefs and perceptions.

How Long Does It Take To Heal With Counselling?

You will meet your therapist regularly, usually once a week, for several months, or sometimes even years. Individual sessions last about 50 minutes, but group sessions are often a bit longer.

In the beginning, you are likely to see your therapist more often, and later, as you learn to manage your problems and avoid triggers, you might go to counselling appointments less often.

What If Counselling Doesn’t Work For Me?

First of all, don’t worry!

If you think psychotherapy is the right therapy but you have the wrong therapist then you have every right to seek a second opinion and you will not offend your therapist, they just want you to heal from your difficulty as best you can and you deserve to feel better. If, on the other hand, you don’t feel counselling is working at all then do not be disheartened, there are many, many different types of therapy that can help and counselling is only one. Use our therapy directory to find a different therapy, you may find hypnotherapy works better or possibly some holistic treatment. The key is not to think this is your only option.

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Please note : This information should not replace professional medical advice, it is purely for informational purposes . At all times when you are in crisis please first seek help from your GP or another medical professional. Thankyou