What is counselling?
Counselling is the process where a trained and qualified therapist offers the space and encouragement to explore and develop a deeper understanding of your issues in a safe and confidential environment. The therapist holds your best interests at heart while assisting you to clarify and think through your problems from a different perspective, while respecting your values, lifestyle and choices. Together you work towards making decisions or changes that are right for you. The counselling ‘space’ is where you can think together to increase your awareness of yourself, your situation, and the choices open to you. It will also provide structure and support for you in painful and difficult times.
“Sometimes our problems prevent us seeing the sky for the trees. Counselling can help clear the deadwood to allow us the space to see our way through.” Brenda Labouchardiere.
When should I seek counselling?
There are no hard and fast rules. If something is troubling you, it can be worth working through those sticky issues in an objective and supportive environment, as opposed to everyday discussion with family and friends. A common concern people express when coming to counselling is that their problem is too trivial or that they may discover that their problems are worse than they first thought. Mental anguish, like physical pain, is an indicator that you may need help.
People seek counselling for common issues such as:
- Anxiety: phobias, feeling out of control, panic attacks, feelings of inadequacy or perfectionism
- Depression or feeling isolated, low or fluctuating mood
- Stress related to study or career
- Difficult life experiences including: violent assault, sexual abuse, serious health problems, unwanted pregnancy
- Low self esteem or lack of confidence
- Relationship difficulties at work, home, school or uni
- Trauma including abuse
- Adjustment relating to partners, children, parenting, separation and divorce, new culture, homesickness
- Destructive patterns: alcohol, drugs, addictive behaviours, binge eating, self-harming, abusive relationships
- Bereavement: loss, anger, loneliness, sadness
How much do I have to pay?
See Fee section for cost of a standard (50 minute) consult and to learn if you are eligible for free or subsidised counselling services.
How confidential is counselling?
Psychologists work to a strict Code of Ethics which includes informing you of the limits of confidentiality. What is said in the counselling session is kept confidential except where there is clear evidence that you or someone else may be at risk of harm. If you have agreed to accept services through a third party (GP Mental Healthcare Plan, Carer’s Victoria, etc), it may be a requirement that written or oral confirmation of your progress or treatment is provided to the referring body. Check with the agency referring you for counselling. In order to provide the best service possible, information may be discussed between treating professionals or in professional supervision (which is a regulatory requirement) or where a GP or psychiatrist is involved in care.
What is the difference between counselling with a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists are generally non-medical professionals, who are trained and specialise in psychology and work through assessment of issues and symptoms using therapy to help you to find your own solutions. Psychologists can recognize the symptoms of severe mental distress, and may suggest you consider medical help, if appropriate. Psychiatrists are medical specialists, who work largely through diagnosis of illness and then by prescribing a treatment – usually involving medication.
How long will therapy take?
Whilst we would all like to know that our issues would be resolved within a definable and finite period of time, this is not always the case. Time spent in counselling depends on various things such as the nature, duration or severity of symptoms for which you are seeking assistance. Some people only require a short period of counselling, for example in times of bereavement or when considering a career change; whereas, longer term therapy may be required for people suffering from or caring for someone with complex or chronic medical or psychological conditions. Other people return to counselling several times in their life for support to overcome life challenges.
Generally, issues that have been impacting you for years can’t be resolved with a few hours of therapy.