WHAT TO EXPECT FROM COUNSELLING
Counselling - means talking through your problems, issues and feelings with someone who is trained to help people to do just that.
Talking through your feelings can help you to understand and manage them and find ways of coping with them.
You are usually called the ‘client’.
It may sound impersonal but it is intended to indicate a more equal relationship than ‘patient’. You are an equal partner in your relationship with your counsellor, they are not ‘in charge’ nor can they tell you what you should do.
Your counsellor needs to be convenient to you, regarding times, location etc.
It is easy to find excuses not to go - many people feel ambivalent about counselling.
It can be tempting also to stop attending sessions after only a few, it needs to be something that is reasonably easy for you to fit into your life.
Some people find that they feel worse than ever when they start counselling and then stop going to sessions.
Counselling can be quite confronting and painful, as the feelings and events you are talking about are deeply personal to you and deeply felt. This is because your feelings are coming up to the surface and you are facing them head on, instead of burying or denying them.
If you stick with it, counselling will help in the long-term.
Confidentiality means the counsellor does not tell anyone what you have said, or even tell anyone that you are their client, unless you give them permission to do so – Your counsellor will not discuss with other family members your issues even if they ask. Your privacy is guarded strictly.
However, there are a few qualifications to this statement; a counsellor is legally obliged to break your confidentiality under the following circumstances. ‘Breaking confidentiality’ may mean telling the police, your family members, doctors, ambulance services etc. information about you if they believe that you are at serious risk of suicide or you are at risk of harming another person.
The counsellor has a duty of care to you and a responsibility to prevent any harm to other people that they might reasonably foresee occurring. This will only be done to protect you because your counsellor cares.
In addition to this condition, there are other people who may learn information about you. These are:
- If your counsellor works in an agency such as HVSG, other counsellors may need access to your case notes. Case notes are kept by each counsellor so that you don’t have to retell your experience to another counsellor if your counsellor is sick, or leaves their agency and you start seeing another counsellor at the same agency. Also the counsellor’s direct supervisor or employer will often supervise their work and may see notes.
- Your counsellor’s supervisor – most counsellors have supervision sessions with a professional outside supervisor to help them in their work and for them to debrief themselves.
Counsellors sometimes discuss clients with their supervisor in a learning capacity. Employers and supervisors are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as the counsellor.
WHAT IS A COUNSELLOR AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM A PSYCHOANALYST OR PSYCHOLOGIST OR PSYCHIATRIST?
A counsellor is a person who is trained in counselling – helping people to talk about difficulties in their lives and find better ways of coping with them.
A counsellor may have other qualifications, such as in social work or psychology. Counsellors cannot prescribe medication.
A psychoanalyst is a psychologist specialising in psychodynamic therapy (Freud/Jung etc). This is often the (incorrect) idea people have of what a ‘psychologist’ or psychiatrist is. This type of therapy is long-term and complex and is not usually appropriate after bereavement.
A psychologist is a person with degrees in psychology, usually clinical psychology. They can do assessment, counselling and various types of therapy. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication.
A psychiatrist is a medically qualified doctor, who has gone on to specialise in the treatment of mental illness. Many psychiatrists also see people who are not mentally ill but just have problems in their lives. Psychiatrists often prescribe medication.