What is counselling?
A counsellor is trained to listen with empathy (by putting themselves in your shoes). They can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings you have.
Counselling falls under the umbrella term ‘talking therapies’ and allows people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. The term can mean different things to different people, but in general it is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives or simply explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.
A counsellor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do – instead they will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to 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.
Counselling does not come in a cookie-cutter format and each session is generally tailored to the individual. There is flexibility within this type of therapy that allows for a variety of counselling formats, including:
⦁ Face-to-face – This is when you make an appointment with a counsellor to see them in person, usually at their practice. Face-to-face sessions are one of the more popular therapy formats because they provide an opportunity for you to react to any emotions that arise there and then.
⦁ Individual or group – You may choose to see a counsellor by yourself, or if you prefer you could join a counselling group with people experiencing similar issues. Going to a group counselling session can be helpful if you want to discuss your issues with people who are going through similar problems and you may even gain yourself a support network. Alternatively, you may wish to see a counsellor alone to preserve your privacy and concentrate on your own feelings.
⦁ Telephone counselling – For some, telephone counselling offers a helpful alternative to face-to-face counselling. This involves talking to your counsellor over the phone instead of in person. This form of counselling can be particularly useful for those too busy to attend face-to-face sessions, and can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. This format also tends to be more flexible and can potentially reduce waiting list times.
⦁ Online counselling – Some people prefer not to physically speak to a counsellor at all, utilizing technology and emailing their counsellor instead. This form of counselling allows you to take the time to think through what you wish to discuss, and many find the act of physically writing their issues down cathartic. Online counselling also offers you the chance to protect your anonymity.
Animal Assisted Therapy
Therapy pets: If you would like a therapy pet to be by your side throughout your session, then please discuss at your assessment.
- Animal Assisted Therapy aims to promote mental, physical, and social well-being. Lots of people can benefit from this intervention including being used in a variety of settings including hospitals, special schools and colleges, prisons, residential care and in counselling practices
- By stroking the pet, this promotes relaxation and stimulates the release “feel good” hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.
- Animals offer affection and unconditional acceptance. They live in the ‘here and now’ and are responsive, and don’t mind who you are or what you look like. They are usually direct and honest and unlike humans they are non-judgemental. Animals don’t criticise, hold grudges, change the rules or otherwise confuse through verbal communications.
- Clients can actually feel safer and less threatened while being around animals. Nurturing and empathic traits can be encouraged while being around the company of animals, and for abuse survivors, they can offer an opportunity for ‘safe touch’.
- Studies also suggest that it is particularly effective for vulnerable people including those with emotional and behavioural problems.
- Working alongside animals offers practitioners a different way of exploring difficult and sensitive issues and clients are more likely to express their feelings and recount painful experiences.
- Research indicates when clients suffer from depression, they can benefit with a focus of interest and positive attention, as well as having the pleasure in handling animals.
- Time spent stroking and talking to dogs can result in lowering blood pressure, relieving pain, reducing anxiety levels and enhancing mood. Therefore, bringing about great health benefits like helping with depression, helping with relationships and strengthening bonds, better social interaction, reduce feelings of isolation, promoting confidence and building self-esteem.