What is counselling?

Counselling involves talking to a trained therapist. This can be one-to-one, in a group, or with your partner or family. It allows you to look deeper into your problems and worries, and deal with troublesome habits.

What can counselling help with?

Counselling can help you cope with:

  • a difficult life event, like a bereavement, a relationship breakdown or work-related stress
  • difficult emotions like low self-esteem or anger
  • other issues, like sexual identity

Counselling can help you have space to talk about what’s bothering you. It can help you find your own solutions so you can find ways of coping with your problems.

How to access counselling

You should speak to your GP if you think you might benefit from counselling.

Some counsellors work in GP practices or schools but if not, your GP may be able to refer you to the right person to help you.

How to access counselling through a charity or voluntary organisation

Some charities and voluntary organisations offer counselling. These organisations usually specialise in a particular area, like couples counselling or bereavement.

You do not need a referral from a GP for an appointment for these services. You may have to pay a fee to cover the cost of your sessions.

Charities that might offer counselling include:

  • Samaritans – for people to talk about whatever’s troubling them at any time
  • Childline – for children and young people under the age of 19
  • Cruse – for bereavement advice and support
  • Rape Crisis Scotland – for people affected by rape, sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence

You might also be able to access counselling or support groups through your local community, church or social services.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has more information about counselling.

Other types of therapy

There are other types of talking therapies (psychological therapies) available.

Read more about psychological therapy

Last updated:
24 June 2024