When you’re overwhelmed by painful emotions and distressing thoughts, the best way to start the process of restoring your mental health is to share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, someone who cares about you. The first skill counsellors learn is how to listen – listen in an active, empathic way – and its effectiveness is something we should never take for granted.


The promises we make

bacp new eth framework

As a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy I’ve always been proud of the high standards it requires of counselling in their working with clients.

The BACP has just published a new “Ethical Framework” for its members. Essentially it a detailed set of commitments that we undertake to maintain with and for the people who come to us for help.

You can read the new framework online here.  It is worth spending some time digesting its contents, especially if you are considering exploring counselling yourself as it gives you a strong sense of  what kind of treatment you are entitled to expect from a counsellor of therapist.


Why counselling?

New You Counselling David HoushamAt different points in our lives most of us have to deal with experiences and emotions that are frustrating, painful, unwanted – upsetting feelings like fear, anger and despair.

Sometimes we are lucky and have people close to us, people who love us – people who can support us through the tough times.

But sometimes it feels as though we can’t reveal to any other person we know how bad we feel inside. We feel too vulnerable.

We feel alone, isolated – perhaps ashamed or embarrassed. We might be struggling with bereavement, divorce, redundancy, low self-esteem or health problems – and it seems as though there is no-one who appreciates or understands what we’re going through. Perhaps it feels like no-one cares.

That’s when talking to a “stranger” who knows about mental health  –  he or she may call themselves a counsellor, a therapist, a psychotherapist – can be the best thing to do.

Whether you feel as though your life is in crisis  or you simply feel you’ve taken a wrong turn and that life could be better – counselling can provide a safe and confidential space where an empathic and experienced counsellor can help you understand how you’ve arrived at this place in your life that you never wanted to reach – and how you can move on to a better future.

Counselling can involve learning how to recognise and combat negative feelings in difficult and challenging situations.  It can involve searching back into your past to find connections between early experiences and problems in the present. It is always about gaining a better understanding of who you are, and how you can boost your resilience and confidence to live a more fulfilling life.

You can talk to your GP about getting access to counselling via the NHS (though there are often long waiting-lists for this). Or you can seek out help from charities and charitable agencies who provide low-cost counselling. Or you can get help from private counsellors and therapists like New You Counselling.

The important thing is to find a counsellor who you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable. You might have to have initial sessions with several counsellors before you find one who feel “right” for you.