There are many different types of counselling but, in essence, it is a ‘talking therapy’, that allows time and space to discuss and explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviour with someone who is independent and non-judegmental. A counsellor will listen carefully to all that you have to say, and will then help you to deal with specific problems that are troubling you.

Counselling can be carried out in groups or with couples and families, however most sessions are offered on a one-to-one basis. All couselling sessions are confidential.

What to expect

It is important to note that counsellors do not offer advice. Instead, they help you to gain insight into your feelings and behaviour and how you might change these, if necessary.

Sessions usually last for 50 minutes to an hour and take place at regular intervals – often once a week – so that you have time to explore and and reflect on any matters that are troubling you.  

Counselling is generally a short-term therapy, especially if it is via GP referral, lasting between six to 10 sessions. However private counsellors can offer further or ‘open-ended’ counselling, but it should always be agreed in the first few sessions when the counselling  is likely to come to a close.

Benefits of counselling

Counselling can greatly help those who are going through a difficult time, such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement or unemployment. It can also help people to cope with feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety, that don’t seem to be linked to any single event.

Counselling is often used alongside medical care, to help people live with or come to terms with a mental health problem, or a serious or long-term illness. It can also be used to explore whether there is a psychological aspect to any symptoms you may have, if your doctor cannot find a physical cause.  

To read more about the potential benefits counselling has to offer as a form of complementary healthcare

Counselling should not be used in place of conventional medical care. Always consult a GP or other health professional for medical attention and advice.

Choosing a therapist

It is important to choose a qualified counsellor who has undertaken the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of this technique. 

Standard 1:  Counselling Skills/Counselling Studies is equivalent to a trainee counsellor*.

Standard 2:  Therapeutic Counselling is equivalent to a fully qualified counsellor.

In order for a qualification to be accepted for FHT membership, it must meet the following criteria:


Skills for Health National Occupational Standards:

  • MH1 Promote effective communication and relationships with people who are troubled or distressed
  • MH14 Identify potential mental health needs and related issues
  • MH49 Enable people who are a risk to themselves and others to develop control
  • MH63 Work with individuals and families to develop services to improve their mental health and address their mental health needs
  • MH97 Identify models of personality and mind development in relation to the client in counselling and develop appropriate intervention
  • MH 98 Prepare, discuss and agree a plan for counselling therapy
  • MH100 Establish and maintain the therapeutic relationship
  • MH101 Manage the process of change throughout counselling

Core Curriculum

Training Required

Practical led and observed training to Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) Level 4 equivalent or above. This will ensure the course is mapped to the above standards.