What is counselling?
Counselling is a process where, by talking to a professional about how you’re feeling, you can work out, or try to change, the things that cause you distress.
Sometimes, a solution can be accepting a particular situation cannot be changed, and a counsellor can work with you to cope with this.
Finding counsellors in Ireland
Counsellors often work at schools, health centres, youth health centres, colleges, crisis support organisations, or family planning clinics. Some also work privately.
Your GP can tell you about counsellors in your area or look up Counselling Directory for details of a service near you.
Going to see a counsellor can be a big step and it’s normal to be nervous or feel a bit embarrassed. But, loads of people of all ages and backgrounds see counsellors for all number of reasons.
You might only need a couple of sessions just to feel better, or it might take a little longer. Either way, it’s a really good thing to do if you’re dealing with a problem.
Every counsellor is a bit different and will have their own approach. Some will do more talking or ask more questions, and some will want to just let you talk.
Finding someone you’re happy to talk to is really important.
The first counsellor you see might not be the right one for you, but don’t let this put you off. Try someone else and don’t give up.
Making an appointment
Usually you need to make an appointment to see a counsellor. To find a phone number you can look up the Counselling Directory website for a list of counsellors near you.
If you’ve made an appointment but want to talk to someone now, call the Samaritans on 116 123.
Free sessions with your counsellor/psychologist through the HSE
The HSE community mental health teams in Ireland offer a range of services, and a variety of professionals can be accessed through referral from a GP or hospital.
However, counsellors can also generally be accessed through self-referral, meaning you can just ring them up and ask for an appointment.
The specialist psychology services can only be provided to people with ‘an assessed mental health problem’ (as assessed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist) and are directly referred from a psychiatrist or a paediatrician (for treatment of a young person under 16 years-old).
Ask about your privacy
Talk to the person you see about keeping your information private. In most situations, unless you say so, counsellors have to keep what you tell them confidential. See confidentiality to know what your rights are.
After your first session, it’s normal to have a mixed reaction. You might feel calmer and clearer, but it’s also OK to feel confused, angry or upset.
Your first session might have brought up some scary stuff for you. It might take a few visits to your counsellor to deal with this stuff.
If you’re feeling like this, talk to your counsellor about these reactions and the best way to manage them.
Other people to talk to
Samaritans (116 123) provide a 24-hour confidential helpline that offers listening support. You can also have a look at the rest of the face-to-face help section to find out about other services.
Your counsellor can also tell you about other people you could talk to.