In a nutshell

Counselling is a basic form of psychological therapy. You talk about your difficulties with a counsellor, who plays a supportive role and may sometimes provide practical advice on problem solving.

Recommended for treating

Mild depression in children and young people; also recommended where CBT and family therapies are not available for people with schizophrenia. May be used with any type of health problem and is often used in specific types of counselling such as: coaching, relationship counselling, drug and alcohol counselling or bereavement counselling.

How it works

Counselling involves working through your difficulties with a qualified counsellor who will listen in a sympathetic manner and help you to make sense of your problems. Some may also offer problem-solving advice on particular problems. Many professionals can be qualified in counselling such as: chartered psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists or other healthcare professionals, such as social workers, community psychiatric nurses (CPN’s) or occupational therapists (OT’s) and it is a profession in its own right. Usually sessions are face-to-face but some services also offer counselling via phone or email.

How to get it

  • Counselling can be delivered according to many approaches and is generally offered from many institutions as well as private therapists.

  • Counselling if often offered in primary care (e.g. at a GP centre, health centre or in a community team) and in secondary care (e.g. at a CMHT or mental health team)

  • Privately you can find a counsellor registered with the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy at  or UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy on

  • It is delivered over a number of sessions; this can be anything from several weeks to a couple of years and depends upon your situation and what you agree with your therapist