Counselling is the process of discussing issues and feelings with a professReachOut Parents Youth Mental Healthional to work through emotional distress.

There are many forms of counselling available that address a wide range of problems. Counsellors often work at schools, health centres, youth health centres, colleges, crisis support organisations, and family planning clinics. Some may also work privately.

Counselling accreditation

The counselling sector in Ireland is not regulated which means that anyone who wants is free to set up practice as a counsellor. So, if you want to access counselling for your son or daughter do ask about accreditation.

This means that a counsellor has the qualifications and training required to be part of an organisation like the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy or another accrediting body.

What can a counsellor help with?

A counsellor can work with your son or daughter to find a solution to problem(s) or challenges they might be facing. Sometimes it may mean that solution is accepting that a particular situation cannot be changed, and helping them to cope with this.

How do I contact a counsellor?

Your GP should be able to recommend counsellors in your area, or you can look up for details of counsellors and counselling services in your local area.

Different counselling approaches

At the first appointment, it’s normal for both the client and the counsellor/therapist to talk about what the client wants from the counselling or therapy – what the goal is. Different counsellors use different approaches to help you get to that goal, to sort out issues or manage mental health problems.
One increasingly popular approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT therapy), which some people have found very effective.

Ask questions

This is an important time, so ask how the counsellor or therapist works. You can ask these questions when you make the appointment, or at your first session. Some things to ask, if you feel comfortable enough:

  • What training or experience does the counsellor or therapist have?
  • Do they belong to a professional association?
  • How many sessions do they want you to have?
  • How often do they want you to make an appointment
  • Do they feel comfortable discussing your particular dilemma or concern?
  • Will they be discussing your case with anyone else?

Counsellors or therapists will often suggest a short term course of counselling to begin with, eg every week for a short period of time. Sessions usually last around an hour.

Within the first few sessions, you’ll know whether you want to continue seeing a counsellor/therapist, and if so, whether this one is the right one for you. Sometimes a few sessions can make all the difference and sometimes it takes a little longer, which is fine.

Make sure you feel comfortable enough with the person you’re seeing. If you’re not, do try someone else. Don’t let a first experience put you off if it doesn’t go quite right, there are loads of different counsellors and you’ll find one you like.

Private counselling services

Private counselling services in Ireland are offered by individuals and centres where a number of counsellors or psychotherapists are based. Private services usually charge a standard fee per session which can usually range between €50 and €80 but there are a number of low cost counselling options available.

Some low cost services offer counselling for a fee based on what the person can afford. When deciding on a counselling service have a look at Counselling Directory for a nationwide listing of different options.

Counselling in Primary Care

The HSE manage the Counselling in Primary Care programme. This service is for people with mild to moderate psychological difficulties. It is a short-term counselling service that provides up to eight counselling sessions with a professionally qualified and accredited Counsellor/Therapist.
This is a service for medical card holders, who are 18 years-old over, and who want help with psychological problems that are appropriate for time limited counselling in primary care.

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