What to expect from counselling

Counselling offers you protected time, set aside especially to look at the questions and issues that have brought you to this point and the concerns that matter to you. It is likely that grief will be affecting many aspects of your life and you will be supported to explore this. Your counsellor will not offer advice nor direct you as to what you should do. Instead you will be helped to clarify your experiences, situation, and the different options open to you. What is explored in your meetings will be decided by you; you remain 'in the driving seat'.

Counselling may involve talking about life events from the present, the recent or more distant past, and how they may shape your current situation. It may include exploring your emotions, relationships, and patterns of thinking and behaving. It can involve becoming clearer about the external factors in your life which are affecting you.Your counsellor would aim to listen to you supportively, fully, and actively; to respond to you in order to help you explore all that you chose to share; together identifying the way forward - either to find responses to or resolution of the difficulties or to discover ways of accommodating them that are satisfactory for you.

Counselling  can help you to understand yourself and your situation more clearly, perhaps from new and surprising perspectives. It can help you develop your own strengths and inner resources. Talking about things may take time, and will not necessarily be concluded quickly. At Highland Hospice there is no specified number of meetings. You may find that one or two sessions are enough for you or you may prefer to continue over a longer period of time. As part of the counselling process you and your counsellor will regularly review your work together, aiming  towards a time when it can be concluded.

You can of course choose to stop counselling at any point; you do not have to give a reason. However it can be a helpful and rewarding part of the counselling process to anticipate and plan the ending together; to talk about it, and to reflect together on the work that has been done.

Counselling is one form of help amongst others and is not a panacea for life's ills. In the first meeting you would have the opportunity to discuss whether it is right and fitting for you just now. Counselling cannot provide 'ready-made' or 'magic' answers to our problems and, whilst supportive, is an unfolding process which can involve very difficult and challenging experiences. Counselling rarely offers progress in a straightforwardly linear way and it is not uncommon for the process to involve feeling worse before feeling better. Part of your counsellor’s role is to support you through these unfamiliar processes.

Further information

For more information about Counselling and Psychotherapy generally you may find the following links helpful:

It's Good to Talk is a very accessible and user-friendly website hosted by The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. It provides a range of information sheets and offers clear advice about what to look for and questions to ask when seeking a therapist and beginning therapy.

COSCA - Counselling in Scotland is the organisation for Counselling and Psychotherapy specifically in and for Scotland. COSCA has produced a short introductory film about counselling called Person to Person which you can view here.