What is counselling?

Counselling can be many things. It can all get a bit confusing. What actually happens in counselling? Here, I thought I would simplify what counselling might be for you.

A Place to Talk

In everyday life it’s not often easy to talk freely about what’s really going on for us. We might worry about receiving judgement. We might feel we are troubling our loved ones with our feelings. We might not have anyone we feel safe enough to share with. We might not be used to sharing our feelings and don’t know how to start. We might experience shame about our selves and experiences.

We might well still have some of these concerns about opening up in counselling. However, counselling is a bit different in that it is a dedicated space for you that is separate from your everyday life, and where your counsellor will facilitate and support you in talking, expressing and naming your thoughts, feelings and experiences. To say out loud what we hold inside and have this heard, validated and gently reflected back to us can be powerful. Maybe even healing.

A Place to Increase Awareness

If it isn’t in our awareness, then it isn’t in our awareness – which seems like a bit of an obvious and unhelpful thing to say but is something that I think of often. Even those who have a well-developed sense of self-awareness will come across new pieces of information about their selves and experiences which previously were tucked away, out of sight. Through having space to talk in counselling, in being heard by another and hearing ourselves, we can get to know ourselves better. We can become more familiar with our patterns, rhythms, what makes us tick, what really doesn’t make us tick.

With awareness comes understanding. If we’re aware of our reactions and responses to the world, then we can become curious about it. We might ask, what is it about this person or situation or relationship that stirs up such feelings in me? Sometimes awareness can be a bit uncomfortable (to say the least), to be confronted with how we can be in the world and the experiences we have had, which is why developing this in the supportive, caring presence of a non-judgemental counsellor can be so helpful.

A Place to Explore Doing Things Differently

Let’s face it, we would all be glad for a magic wand that would give us a swift, hassle-free, fix for life’s difficulties. In the absence of such magic, counselling can be a place where you can talk about what you might like to be different in your life. To explore how you might go about making changes and to possibly manage any barriers to change that there might be. There may be certain things in our lives that we can’t change and in counselling we can look at how we can potentially relate to these things differently.

Counselling can give you a platform to test out different ways of being. We can practice expressing our feelings and communicating our needs in a safe environment, to build up our confidence in doing so in other places and relationships. Counselling can also be a place to build up our resources such as coping strategies, grounding techniques and self-care activities. Having these resources, both emotional and practical, can support us to find more steadiness in the ups and downs of life.


If you are wondering if counselling might be helpful for you, please get in touch and we can explore your needs and any questions you might have.

©Kirsten Owen Counselling

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