People come to counselling for many different reasons - to feel listened to in a safe and confidential space, to find better ways of coping with their problems. They can have complicated and troubling feelings about things that have happened to them, or feel stuck in unfulfilling or destructive patterns of thought or behaviour. Sometimes they have suffered a loss and need time to grieve and to make sense of how their lives have changed.
Clients will often come to counselling because they are seeking change - seeking to change themselves or their situation - but finding it much harder than they thought it would be. There can be many reasons for this, but the result is often that we reach for "quick-fix" solutions that either don't work or get us into further difficulties. Counselling, on the other hand, can often be about making the time and the effort to really understand ourselves and our choices better. When we take a deeper look at our thoughts and feelings we can discover that our experience of life is shaped by more than just our everyday opinions and reactions - it can be built on habits, assumptions and values that we do not really question, or perhaps even notice - they have become part of the 'furniture' of who we are. These habits may have developed to help us cope with what life used to be like for us, but now they might be in conflict with other aspects of ourselves or our beliefs. A counsellor can help to bring some of these background 'filters' and conflicts out into the open; helping us to feel more compassion for ourselves and to achieve greater control over the kind of person we want to be.
Different 'types' of counselling
There are several different kinds of counselling, each based on different ideas about how people work and what is most helpful. You can read more about these on the BACP's 'It's Good to Talk' website here. However, a lot of research shows that the different theories or 'models' in counselling are less important than the quality of the relationship between the client and the counsellor. If a client trusts the counsellor and feels safe enough to be open with them, then a space is created where they can work together to explore the client's experience and identify what help is needed.