Mental Health Counselling

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You will often hear the terms counselling, psychotherapy and talking therapies in relation to mental health problems. This can be confusing as the terms are often used interchangeably.

There are literally hundreds of different types of counselling available; some of them free, others can be expensive. Although anyone can seek the help of a counsellor on a private basis, the most common route is to be referred by a doctor who may put you in touch with a Mental Health Counsellor.

What are Mental Health Counsellors?

Mental Health Counsellors or MHCs are trained in many different therapies or techniques that can be useful in helping people cope with their mental illness and to promote mental health in general.

For example, there are mental health counsellors who are especially equipped to deal with alcohol or substance abuse, with depression, grief, eating disorders and so on.

They will also be able to help you find ways to cope with other issues affecting your life and your mental health, like problems at work, looking after your children and relationships.

The following represents some of the therapies you may come across and a brief description of each but it’s important to remember that there is a great deal of overlap between them.

Mental Health Counselling

Counselling usually involves talking to a trained counsellor who will listen to what you have to say and will try to help you find ways to cope with your problems and challenges. Counselling can be on an individual one-to-one basis or it can take place in groups or even as a family. There are different types of counselling available in order to suit different needs.


There are several different forms of psychotherapy or talking therapies each with their own techniques but basically, psychotherapy enables the individual to explore their difficulties and challenges and through that exploration find more effective ways of coping with them.

Talking Therapies

Talking therapies can also be referred to as counselling, psychotherapy and talking treatments. Some of the different kinds of talking therapies available include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, each with the underlying principle that talking about your problems, how you feel, your thoughts and emotions can be helpful in finding a way to cope with them.

Many people talk to friends or family but sometimes that isn’t enough as they are unable to help and so it may be easier to talk to someone who isn’t close in order to feel more at ease when expressing certain things. Sometimes we need the help of a trained therapist.

Talking therapies are particularly effective at treating negative feelings and thoughts. By identifying where they are coming from it is possible to change how we think, improve our confidence and regain control over our lives again.


All counsellors are bound by a code of confidentiality but in certain circumstances they are also required to break it. For example if you are deemed to be a serious risk to yourself or to other people then your counsellor will have to inform the relevant authorities.

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