Helping you get through tough times

Individual counselling

There are times when people need to talk to someone about their problems, and go to individual counselling or therapy to get help and advice.

If you think counselling/therapy is something might be helpful for you, you first need to decide who you’d like to to talk to. This may be a counsellor, social worker or psychologist.

How to find a therapist

Counselling Directory has a list of different services in lreland and in your area. You could ask friends or your GP if they can recommend anyone. Before you have your first appointment, be clear about whether the service is free or not – that way there won’t be any surprises.

If you need to access a free service, take a look at the HSE website, call their helpline (1850 24 1850), or talk to your GP to find the best way to do this. It might take a while to get an appointment, but don’t give up, you’ll get one.

If you need to talk to someone straight away, freephone Samaritans on 116 123 or email them on

Different counselling approaches

At the first appointment, it’s normal for both the client and the counsellor/therapist to talk about what the client wants from the counselling or therapy – what your goal is. Different counsellors use different approaches to help you get to that goal, to sort out issues or manage mental health problems, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Read up on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT therapy), which some people have found very effective.

Ask questions

This is an important time, so ask how the counsellor or therapist works. You can ask these questions when you make the appointment, or at your first session. Some things to ask, if you feel comfortable enough:

  • What training or experience does the counsellor or therapist have?
  • Do they belong to a professional association?
  • How many sessions do they want you to have?
  • How often do they want you to make an appointment?
  • Do they feel comfortable discussing your particular dilemma or concern?
  • Will they be discussing your case with anyone else?

Counsellors or therapists will often suggest a short term course of counselling to begin with, eg every week for a short period of time. Sessions usually last around an hour.

Deciding to continue

Within the first few sessions, you’ll know whether you want to continue seeing a counsellor/therapist, and if so, whether this one is the right one for you. Sometimes a few sessions can make all the difference and sometimes it takes a little longer, which is fine.

Make sure you feel comfortable enough with the person you’re seeing. If you’re not, do try someone else. Don’t let a first experience put you off if it doesn’t go quite right, there are loads of different counsellors and you’ll find one you like.

This article was last reviewed on 02 August 2017

What can I do now?

Follow us on Facebook