Mental Health columnist Sarah Barr debunks the common worries people have about counselling.

“The  message I want to share is for people to not suffer alone. It is OK not to feel OK and it is OK to ask for help. If you feel unable to do this with your family or friends, then counselling might work for you” 


Counselling, therapy, mindfulness are all buzz words we are hearing more and more of in today’s world.

But what exactly is counselling? How does it work? Who can attend counselling? Do I have to have a mental health issue to receive counselling? Will what I say be kept confidential?

In today’s article, I will focus on answering the above questions and explaining a little about counselling. As we officially enter Christmas Season, we are constantly reminded of ‘joy’, ‘spreading joy’ and ‘being joyful’.

What if you are not feeling joyful, and you don’t want to celebrate, as you are feeling down. The pressure everywhere you look to be excited and happy can lead you further into a negative state of thinking. The issue you are facing, may seem like it will never end, or it is not fixable. Counselling can help you develop the skills and tools needed to help you with your current issue.

What exactly is Counselling?

Counselling is a talking therapy, in which you talk to a professionally trained therapist in a comfortable, safe and private space. The therapist’s job is not to give you advice or to judge you. They are there to listen attentively and to guide you through a hard time.

Sometimes it can be difficult to talk to those close to you about how you are feeling, this is when counselling can be used. It gives you the opportunity to openly discuss your thoughts and feelings. Therapists are trained to help you make the changes that you would like to make in your life, whilst guiding and empowering you.

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken”-Oscar Wilde

 What type of problems can I bring to Counselling?

If you are facing an issue that is difficult for you to cope with and is affecting you in your daily life, no matter how big or small, counselling can help you. Although counselling is used widely with mental health issues, it can be of benefit to people who may be struggling with:

  • Marriage/relationship issues
  • Bereavement
  • Low Self-confidence
  • Stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Issues at work
  • Issues at home
  • Phobias
  • Anger management

Depression, anxiety, self-harm, and OCD are some of the more known problems that counselling is used for. However if you are feeling down, do not minimise your worry or issue. If it is affecting your thoughts, feelings and behavior, help is available.

No-one should have to suffer alone. Once you accept and acknowledge how you are feeling, you have taken your first step in seeking help.

Confidentiality in Counselling

For some people the fear that people will find out what they have said in counselling, or know they are attending counselling can put them off in making an appointment. Confidentiality is paramount in counselling. Anything that is discussed in a session is confidential.

However it is important to highlight the limits of confidentiality involved in counselling. If you suggested to the therapist that you may cause harm to yourself or to others, or commit a crime the therapist would be legally obligated to highlight this concern to a next of kin or relevant authorities. If this happened it would not be done behind your back, the therapist will always discuss it with you first. By giving you the power to decide what the next step should be.

Another element that a lot of people are unaware of about counselling is the clinical supervisors that all therapists have. This is a professionally trained supervisor, who the therapist goes to if they feel they need guidance with a client case or if they feel they have been affected by a case. The clients name or any information are never used.

“So if you are feeling you may need some help, please do not hesitate in contacting a counsellor”


 I can also be contacted through a message or my Facebook Page ‘New Beginnings’ to help you find a counsellor in your area, all messages are confidential.