How to go about attending Counselling

Hi guys! Today’s post is on how to go about attending Counselling. This was a very popular topic highlighted to me when I started this blog. A lot of people particularly wanted to gain information on how to go about finding a therapist.

How do I go about attending counselling?

One of the common questions I get asked by people, is if they need a note from their doctor or to be referred by their GP to attend counselling, the answer is NO. You do not need to be referred or need any doctors note to attend counselling. Although doctors may recommend for some people to attend counselling and may even refer them on, this is not a requirement needed to attend. You can attend counselling solely on your own decision.

This is very important to know, as some people may wait until their doctor has recommended it. But you do not have to wait to be referred, at the end of the day, nobody will fully understand how you are feeling or what you are going though like yourself. So, don’t wait for the issue or how you’re feeling to get worse before attending counselling, as the longer you leave it, the worse it may get. Trust yourself and how you are feeling. One way to attend counselling is to ask your local GP. GPs will always have names of counsellors/psychotherapist who they could recommend to you. Another tool to finding a therapist is using the internet, by typing in “counselling services” and your desired location.

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Finding the right therapist for you

The first step involved in attending counselling is finding a therapist who is the right fit for you. That means deciding on what type of therapist you want, such as gender, approach, location or experience. This is important, to be able to feel comfortable in counselling, you need to be able to feel comfortable with your therapist. For example, if you are attending counselling for “women issues”, then you may feel more comfortable with a female therapist. If you are worried about people recognising you or being seen, in order to make yourself feel more comfortable, choose a therapist outside of your usual location.

There are many different therapy approaches for you to choose from, some involve the following,

  • General Counselling
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Psychodynamic
  • Family therapy
  • Couples therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Mindfulness-based therapies
  • Integrative therapy

Therapists will usually have a website, explaining who they are and the type of approach they work with. Therapists rarely only used one approach, they are usually equipped with a number amount of approaches at your disposal. I wouldn’t worry too much about this element of counselling, as a lot of the approaches can help with similar issues. Everyone can take differently to each approach, some may prefer one that you don’t. Everyone is different and that is why there are so many approaches available. The therapist themselves will know the approach that will best suit you.

If you are unsure of the type of approach that you need, then integrative therapy might be the best choice for you. An integrative psychotherapist is a therapist who is not confined to one single approach. They use multiple approaches and sometimes integrates them together to best fit your needs. Meaning, that they could combine two approaches if they felt it would benefit you more. With this approach, you can trust your therapist is using the approach they feel will work best for you. Integrative therapy is a very popular approach among therapists in Ireland and they are very easy to come by. You can attend counselling through a private practice or through an organisation.

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Counselling Organisations

With an organisation, there are many therapists all working under the same organisation name. Organisations usually have a receptionist or an office manager, who you will be dealing with when making the first appointment. But don’t be disheartened by this, as everyone working in the organisation including the receptionist/office managers, will be following the same confidentiality rule as the therapists. From working in a counselling organisation myself in the past, I’ve seen first-hand the strict rules set for everyone working within the organisation. Whether you are a therapist or not, the same rules/code of ethics will apply to everyone within the organisation.

The main thing to remember with the organisations, is that you have the right to request the type of therapist you would like, for example, male/female/experience etc. You can gain as much information about your therapist as you like. Some organisations have an online profile of each the therapists working within that organisation, where you will be able to gain information about your therapist before attending. If your chosen organisation does not have an online profile set up, feel free to ask the person you are dealing with as much as you like about your therapist. The organisations are more than happy to accommodate you in helping to find the right fit for you.

Some organisations or therapist may ask you over the phone, what your issue is or why you are attending counselling. This is only to ensure that they are putting you with a therapist who has experience in that issue or area. Others, such as a private practice, may not ask you this question until your first session. It’s beneficial to know this, so if you are asked, you’ll have an understanding as to why they are asking you. Below I have listed some very popular organisations offering one to one counselling services:

  • My Mind Centre of Mental Wellbeing (Locations: Cork, Limerick and Dublin)
  • The Counselling Centre (Location: Cork)
  • The Hazelton Clinic (Location: Cork)
  • Relationships Ireland (Location: Dublin)
  • SouthWest Counselling Centre (Location: Kerry)
  • Kerry Adolescent Counselling Service (Location: Kerry)
  • Kerry Counselling Centre (Location: Kerry)

Private Practice

The other option involves attending a private practice, this is where a therapist has set up their own practice and are self-employed. In a private practice you would usually deal with the therapist directly in scheduling appointments. If you are more interested in attending a private practice, you will still be able to look up your chosen therapist’s website. Here, they will have a description of their background, their counselling approach and the issues they work with. If you have questions you wanted to know before attending counselling, do not be afraid to ring or email the therapist you’re interested in to ask them.

As a psychotherapist myself, I know first hand that we do not mind answering any questions. We understand that attending counselling can be completely out of peoples comfort zones. Please remember that we are happy to answer any questions and we are trained in helping to make you feel more comfortable. Below I have included some useful websites to help you when you are looking for a therapist within your area.

  • Counselling Directory Ireland
  • Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Click on “find therapist”)
  • The Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapists (IAHIP) (Click on “find therapist”)
  • Association of Professional Counsellors & Psychotherapists in Ireland (Click on “Find Counsellor” on top right corner)
  • whatclinic.com
  • Mallow Therapy Centre

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 I hope you gained some useful information on how to attend counselling. Asking your GP about local Counsellors/Psychotherapists can be a good start, or using the internet to explore the wide range of therapists available. Weather you decide to attend through an organisation or through a private practice, please to not be afraid to ask questions before hand or during the first session. Receptionists or therapists do not mind answering questions. Anything that will make you feel more comfortable, they will be happy to accommodate you with. If you are currently on the lookout for a therapist, check out some of the organisation or websites I have listed above to help you with your search.

If you have any questions or wanted any information about the counselling process or services, please do not hesitate to comment below or send me a private email on reachoutwithniamh@gmail.com. Everything sent to me will be kept confidential.

                                                                            Niamh xx                                                                                (Psychotherapist )

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