Choosing a TherapistWhat is Counselling?
What is Psychotherapy?
Are there different types of therapy?
Are counselling and therapy always conducted on a 1:1 basis?
Where does counselling and therapy happen?
What is the difference between Psychiatry and Psychotherapy?
Is there a difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
Are counselling and therapy confidential?
Are all counsellors and therapists qualified?
How do I know if I need Counselling/therapy?
What types of issues can be helped by counselling or therapy?
How do I know which approach is right for me?
Does attending a counsellor or therapist mean that I am mad or that I can't cope?
How much can I expect to pay for counselling/therapy?
Are there low cost counselling services available?
How often do people attend counselling or therapy and for how long?
How do I find a counsellor therapist?
What if I don't think counselling is working for me?
What is a code of practice?
Where do I go if I am in crisis?
How can I improve my own mental health?
What is Counselling?Counselling is a professional helping relationship between two people, the client and the counsellor. In the counselling relationship one person (the client)attends the other (the counsellor) for the purpose of exploring issues, problems or concerns that are causing a barrier to his/her quality of life. Traditional counselling is usually considered to be a talking therapy, though art, drama, music, movement and play are also powerful therapeutic tools that can aid communication where the client’s ability to talk is limited.
What is psychotherapy?Psychotherapy is a form of in-depth counselling. The term psychotherapy is derived from the Greek word ‘psyche’ meaning soul and ‘therapeia’ meaning attendance (Corry and Tubridy, 2001), so literally, to engage in psychotherapy could be said to be engaging in a process of providing attendance to the soul.
Is there a difference between counselling and psychotherapy?Yes and no, counselling and psychotherapy are very similar, though it is generally accepted that the counselling process tends to be shorter in duration and tends to deal with surface issues while psychotherapy tends to be significantly longer in duration (number of sessions rather than length of session) and aims to explore the deeper meaning or root cause of the issue or problem concerned. That said, there is no doubt that counselling is therapeutic and does at times also explore issues in depth, and to provide psychotherapy requires counselling skills so perhaps there are more similarities than differences.
An example of the difference between counselling and psychotherapy could be someone who is afraid of flying but wants to take a holiday that requires a plane trip. The counselling process could give him/her the tools to get on the plane, where the psychotherapy process will also aim to explore why s/he is afraid of flying in the first place.
Are there different types of therapy?Yes, there are over 400 different types of therapy. There are several different types of traditional talking counselling/psychotherapy which are generally categorised into three main approaches/modalities, (go to the types of therapy section of this site for more information). However, talking is not the only means of communication in therapy. A therapeutic action is any structured action that provides attendance, nurturance, support or healing to the client. Therefore, music, drama, play, art, leisure and recreation/animal assistance, massage/reflexology, meditation, homeopathy, acupuncture, reiki, or yoga, are also all legitimate forms of therapy.
At counselling and therapy information we use the terms counsellor and therapist to refer to those suitably qualified and engaged in providing all forms of legitimate talking and non-talking therapies.
Where does counselling and therapy happen?Counsellors and therapists usually meet clients in a room rented specifically for this purpose (or attached to their own home), though in some countries counsellors and therapists have begun to offer a service in the client’s own home. The benefit of home therapy is that it makes the service available to people with restricted mobility, and can also be useful in family therapy as it is logistically easier than trying to get the entire family to the therapist.
Residential therapeutic communities are also an option when a person requires a more intensive structured programme of therapeutic intervention. In this case the person moves in to the residential centre for a specified period of time and receives ongoing therapeutic input/support.
What is the difference between Psychiatry and Psychotherapy?Psychotherapy is a form of depth counselling, where psychiatry is a branch of medical practice that specialises in mental health. All psychiatrists are also medical doctors where psychotherapists are not.
Are counselling and therapy confidential?Yes, arguably the greatest benefit of counselling and therapy to the client is its confidential nature. The client can say things to the counsellor that in any other context could seem bizarre, ridiculous, erotic or anti-social. The client does not have to worry about offending the counsellor, or being judged. This freedom can be truly liberating and can free the client to explore issues that have been locked away for many years and may be the source of considerable anxiety. That said, there is no such thing as ‘utmost confidentiality’ and where the client discloses information which means that they (or anyone else) are at risk of significant harm, the counsellor is ethically (and in some states legally) obliged to share that information with the relevant authorities.
The issue of confidentiality is usually discussed in the first session with a client so that there are no surprises in the relationship and the counsellor would not usually discuss anything outside of the counselling relationship without first making the client aware of what they are going to say and to whom.
Are all counsellors and therapists qualifiedIn the Republic of Ireland, there is no state regulation of counselling and therapy. This means that anybody can legally call themselves a counsellor or therapist and start seeing clients straight off the street. While it is unlikely that a therapist would practice without any training, it is possible, so clients are ALWAYS advised to ask their therapists about their qualifications.
In the absence of state regulation, professional representative associations hold a regulatory function by setting and maintaining standards within their particular area of counselling and therapy. We strongly advise clients when looking for a counsellor or therapist to see what professional association the therapist is affiliated to and to check with that association to ensure that there is a basic minimum standard of training required for membership. (see professional associations listed in the useful information section of this website for relevant links)
How do I know if I need Counselling/Therapy?There are some counsellors and therapists that believe that everybody would benefit from being in therapy, and they are probably right, but whether everybody needs to be in therapy or not is an entirely different question. You are the expert on you, and if you feel that your quality of life is being blocked or hampered in some way by an issue that has happened in the past or is happening in the present, or if you have anxiety about something that may happen in the future, then you will most probably benefit from counselling or therapy, though you may also benefit from seeking support from within existing relationships with friends or family. Where such support is not an option, counselling is a safe, reliable, confidential space which can help people to resolve, come to terms with, or at least learn to live with any number of past and present issues in their lives.
Sometimes people develop ways of being that are not good for them but become normal, so they no longer notice them, or recognise that they may be causing a problem in their relationships or in their lives more generally. If a friend or family member is telling you that you may need to attend counselling or therapy and you don’t agree, it may be a good idea to give it some thought, rather than simply dismissing the idea.
What types of issues can be helped by counselling or therapy?Perhaps it is more appropriate to ask if there are any emotional or psychological issues that could not be helped by counselling or therapy. Even the most conservative estimates have suggested that up to 80% of all physical illness is of psychosomatic (related to the mind) origin. If this is true, counselling and therapy can not only help with emotional/psychological issues such as Stress, Grief, Abuse, Trauma, Loss, Fears, Phobias, Anxieties, Depressions, Addictions, Relationships and Sexuality issues and Neurosis, but in doing so can also play a significant role in achieving general physical well being for clients.
How do I know which approach is right for me?The first thing to do is try to identify the issue that requires attention. There may be an agency or therapist that has particular expertise in that area, such as agencies that work in the areas of sexual abuse, phobias, eating disorders, self injurious behaviour, sex and relationships or addictions. See the [ispecialist services section of this site for more information.
If however the issue is not clear to you and you just know that you are not happy or that you need to talk to someone about how you are feeling, then it is a good idea do a little bit more detailed research about what you can expect from counselling or therapy before finding a counsellor. Please go to the types of therapy section of this site for more information.
Does attending a counsellor or therapist mean that I am mad or that I can’t cope?No, Counselling and therapy provides the opportunity to get support from a confidential independent source that can bring new insights and a fresh perspective to the challenges that we experience in our daily lives. If anything could be considered to be mad it could be not accessing the support when you really need it!
How much can I expect to pay for counselling/therapy?Counselling and therapy in Ireland can cost anything from €35 - €85 per hour. Clients are advised when seeking a counsellor to ALWAYS clarify the fee at the initial contact and not at the first session.
Are there low cost counselling services available?Many counsellors and therapists will provide a sliding scale, or allocate some slots to lower cost counselling for people who for whatever reason cannot afford to pay the full rate. You should discuss this with your counsellor/therapist.
There are also organisations specifically designed to provide low cost counselling to those on low incomes or the unwaged. (See the [ilow cost counselling setion of this web-site for more information)
How often do people attend counselling or therapy and for how long?This depends on the approach and may vary from once a week (one hour sessions) for six to eight weeks, to (in rare cases) several times a week for several years. Generally clients identify in the first session what they wish to get from the experience of being in therapy, and the therapist will confirm whether this expectation is reasonable and if so, roughly how many sessions the client should expect to attend.
How do I find a counsellor or therapist?You can find a counsellor or therapist in your area by visiting the therapists directory section of this website. Alternatively you can go to the professional associations listed in the ‘useful information section’ of this site and choose a therapist from their directory. If you look at the notice boards in your local library or Doctor’s surgery you may find local counsellors advertising their services. Finally, experience is a reliable indicator, many clients come to counsellors and therapists because they have friends or family who attended and found it helpful. If you know someone that you trust has had a positive experience why not visit the therapist they attended.
What if I don’t think counselling is working for me?It is important to remember that you are the customer, and you are not obliged to continue to attend if you are not finding counselling helpful. The process is supposed to make life easier for you, not create a new stress. However you should also consider that changing habits, beliefs or ways of being (if that is what is required) that have developed over many years, will not happen over night. You should not judge the effectiveness of the counselling process on any one session, for better or worse. It is also important to remember that your counsellor is there to support you and help you, but sometimes that may mean challenging you by telling you things that may be difficult to hear.
If you feel like ending your counselling or therapy, it is a good idea to ask yourself why, and arrange to meet with your counsellor to discuss the issue.
What is a code of practice?A code of practice is a set of standards or rules within a profession which dictates how members of the profession should practice. Usually a code of practice is linked to a register to practice and where an individual practices in a way that is not consistent with the code, the ultimate sanction is removal from the register.
In Ireland counselling and therapy are not regulated in law and there is no requirement for any counsellor or therapist to be part of any register in order to practice. However individual professional associations are self regulating and most will have a code of practice that clients can access if they need to check an issue relating to the actions of their counsellor or therapist.
Where do I go if I am in crisis?If you feel that you are in crisis and that there is a danger of hurting yourself or anybody else, please remember that there is help available. You can contact your local doctor or social worker via your local Garda/Police station or you can visit the links in the specialist services section of this site.
How can I improve my own mental health?
The term 'Mental Health' is used to describe our ability to cope with the challenges of life. Just like with physical health, most people will experience periods of positive and negative mental health at some stage in life. For some people, negative mental health will be caused by a biological disorder (such as schizophrenia) that requires medical intervention. For very many people however, negative mental health is caused by psychological or social issues. They may include grief/loss, past traumas, relationship difficulties, or fears/anxieties. If you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with life, you should see your doctor immediately. However, if you are able to function but you are finding life unusually difficult, there are a few things you can do to help improve your situation. You should pay attention to;
You would not put petrol into a diesel engine and expect it to work. Similarly, if you put lots of chemicals into your brain, it is reasonable to assume that it will not function properly. Aim to always eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of water. Try to eat your food in as natural a state as possible. Avoid high salt, high fat processed foods. Avoid or cut down on caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and any form of mood altering chemical and try to avoid simple processed carbohydrates that may lead to energy/mood fluctuations.
It is no accident that sleep deprivation was used in war time as a form or torture. Sleep is where the body and mind regenerate themselves and if you do not get enough good quality sleep, you will not be able to function adequately in life. People take sleep for granted and sometimes even see it as an inconvenience that gets in the way of their ability to work harder. That is a foolish and shortsighted approach to life that will inevitably lead to mental and physical health problems in the future. Ensure that you have a good sleep routine. Do not eat sugary simple carbohydrates (biscuits/sweets) before bed. Do not eat a large meal within three hours of sleep time. Avoid engaging with social media or intense mental activity/stimulation within one hour of sleep time. Ensure that you have a good quality mattress and that your sleep space is conducive to a calm and relaxed state. An average adult requires 8 hours of sleep per night though that can reduce with age.
How you are in relationships with others will have a significant influence on your mental health. If you are tense and stressed and find that you are constantly arguing with people around you, then you should try to take a step back when you feel yourself becoming stressed. Ask yourself the following questions; What's happening? What am I thinking? How am I feeling? What are my options here? What is the best option? At first you will find this a bit tedious, but it will help you to avoid being tunnel-visioned in any given situation. Everybody gets annoyed and angry in life, there is nothing wrong with that, it is how we deal with our anger that may or may not be helpful to our mental health. When you feel intense emotions, try to stay calm and assert yourself as calmly and reasonably as possible. You will find that you are better able to cope with the challenges that present in most relationships and you may find that the quality of all of your relationships will improve. If you are in a relationship that could be considered to be abusive in any way, you should consider getting some professional help/support.
Work life balance is important for positive mental health. Do not be defined by your work because if you loose it, your identity will be gone too. Remember that work is supposed to support your life, it is not supposed to be your life.
Research has shown that engaging in moderate exercise (where the body sweats a little bit and the heart rate is increased) produces endorphins in the brain that are natures anti-depressants. If you are living with depression or another mental health disorder it is very difficult to motivate yourself to do anything, but it is very important that you find the strength to push past that and engage in physical activity. If you suffer with depression, then it is better if your activity involves social interaction, as isolation can be a factor in depression that compounds negative mental health. If you are overweight or have a history of heart problems you should consult your doctor before engaging in physical activity.
PURPOSE IN LIFE:
We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It doesn't matter if your purpose in life is going to work or participating in a sport/leisure activity, but sitting around doing nothing is not good for people who are susceptible to negative mental health. While it is never good to ignore negative mental health, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of healthy distraction to help bring focus and meaning to life. Consider finding a hobby or interest that will involves meeting new people and getting out of the house once or twice a week. It can be very difficult to take the first step, particularly if you suffer with depression or anxiety, but it is worth the effort.
In summary, if you pay attention to diet, lifestyle, exercise and purpose in life, you will maximize the likelihood of being able to achieve and sustain positive mental health. If you pay attention to each of these issues and you are still feeling like you cannot cope you should talk to a friend or family member. If there is still no change, then you should consider attending your doctor or a counsellor/psychotherapist.