What is Counselling?


Life can be difficult.

It all goes smoothly it goes for a while, but then something knocks us back, sometimes out of the blue. Or maybe there are underlying issues that affect our confidence and self-esteem. Counselling can be an invaluable help at times of stress, anxiety or uncertainty.

Typical sources of stress

The major sources of stress in life can broadly be categorised in four ways:

  • Expected life events: e.g. exams, buying a house, marriage, new baby, new job.
  • Unexpected life events: sudden death of a loved one, diagnosis of illness, being involved in

an accident or a victim of crime, losing your job.

  • Progressive accumulating events: ongoing conflict with spouse or children, cumulative

job-related issues, boredom with career, general sense of frustration.

  • Personal trait stress: insecurity, lack of self-confidence/low self esteem, fear of change,

unsubstantiated worrying, guilt, perfectionism.

When confronted with a life problem, it helps to have someone to talk to, a trusted person we can confide in. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible. Usually there are at least some people who are there to listen, but often they respond by giving advice, judging, getting anxious and worried, or trying to intervene. In complex situations, everyone has a different perspective, so that talking to people can be more confusing than helpful.

Why counselling?

What makes counselling unique is that the counsellor has no agenda for the person who attends. The counsellor is not trying to give answers, make the person feel better or get them to change. The counsellor simply facilitates the person to tell their story in their own way, at their own pace, without criticising, judging or questioning it. The process of sharing the story can be healing in itself. Having the opportunity to discuss the problem calmly and in depth, with an objective outsider, can greatly relieve the stress of trying to carry it alone.

Counselling helps the person develop the tools that they can use again when confronted with difficulties. These include the ability to name and articulate feelings, to deal with conflict, to keep perspective and to know when to look for a listening ear. Typically, people attend weekly for one-hour sessions, and average attendance is 5-8 sessions. Counselling is totally confidential, and the counsellor does not prescribe or change medication. It is “talk therapy”, which relies on our natural ability to heal and grow through the experience of a caring, respectful and attentive interaction with another person.

Fears about counselling

Unfortunately, many people who would benefit from attending counselling do not do so due to misconceptions about what it entails. Seeing a counsellor does not mean that you are not able to cope, nor is it a sign of weakness. There is no application process or tests to complete. Often just a few sessions are enough to gain some new insight into how to deal with a problematic situation, or to relieve the burden of negative feelings. Recognising that we have choices and that changing how we respond to people and situations can change everything, can lay the foundation for new and creative ways of dealing with difficulties in the future.


To find out more about how counselling can help, call or text me at 087-2877837


Maeve Halpin

Counselling Psychologist

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