More About Counselling and Psychotherapy: Why, Who, How and More

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Take a quick look at the why, the what, the how, the who, and more of counselling and psychotherapy — understand the benefits and rationale, and learn more about what you can expect for yourself or someone you might know undertaking counselling or therapy.

Why Seek Counselling or Psychotherapy?

The reasons people come to counselling or psychotherapy are as varied as people themselves. Often, clients have encountered distressing or stressful experiences or situations which they’d like to talk about in a safe setting. These might include present circumstances of bereavement, separation, or other major life transitions, or experiences from the past, such as in childhood. Others seek help in dealing with specific psychological or behavioural traits which they’d like to alter, such as compulsive thoughts or difficulties relating to people. Some people seek counselling to help them explore a general feeling that their lives are not quite right, or to cope with feelings of depression or anxiety. Still others look to counselling as part of their effort to discover or create meaning in their lives. Many people are attracted to counselling as an opportunity to undertake personal development in a safe and supportive environment: it is not at all necessary to have a ‘problem’ to find counselling useful.

People seeking general development as well as difficulties ranging from ‘minor niggles’ to profound distress impacting all areas of life have benefited from counselling and psychotherapy.

Are There Other Benefits of Counselling or Psychotherapy?

In addition to help with specific goals or difficulties, clients who undertake counselling may experience general improvements in quality of life, including:

  • decreased defensiveness
  • increased ability to express themselves
  • improved relationships with other people
  • increased self-esteem

What is It?

Whatever their reason for seeking it out, clients coming to counselling or psychotherapy will find a safe and confidential environment and a supportive human being who will listen to them non-judgementally and strive to understand thoughts and feelings from the client’s own point of view. Depending on their preferred therapeutic approach, clients may choose to work with a counsellor who offers almost no direct advice and simply supports them in their own explorations, or they may choose to work with a counsellor who challenges them and teaches them particular techniques which can help them meet their goals.

The section “Types of Counselling and Psychotherapy” explores some of the therapeutic approaches which are available, and a page in that section also discusses research on comparing effectiveness.

Try Online Counseling: Get Personally Matched

An extra page (“So-Called ‘Credit Counselling’ and Debt Consolidation”) addresses counselling for financial problems and separates it out as something completely different.

Who Goes to Counselling or Psychotherapy?

Clients come from all walks of life and from all occupations. They may be senior executives running large corporations, or they may be students or unemployed. Clients may be young children, aged over 100, or anywhere in between. They may be physically healthy, or they may be suffering from a debilitating or even terminal illness. Men and women of all kinds benefit from the services provided by counsellors and psychotherapists.

How Would I Do It?

Our favourite approach was originally our own online therapy and counselling service! This service, founded by the Managing Editor Dr Greg Mulhauser in 2003 and spun off in 2008 to a new site, was used regularly by clients from all over the world. That service was closed many years later, and the site itself was sold to a new owner in 2017.

Of course, working online isn’t for everyone — and even if working online is for you, you may prefer to work with a different counsellor. This section provides additional information on Finding Counsellors as well as some questions to think about (or to ask of prospective counsellors) when Selecting a Counsellor. This section also mentions leading independent therapist directories like the Psych Tap directory of psychologists and other mental health practitioners covering every US state, the Right Therapist directory of therapy and counselling in the UK, and the CBT Therapist directory of CBT practitioners accredited by the UK’s BABCP or AREBT.

What About Licensing?

A separate page describes licensing for mental health practitioners in the US and elsewhere.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

Overseen by an international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe, provides peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

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