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Frequently asked questions

What is counselling and how does it help people? How is counselling regulated in the UK and how does BACP help promote high standards and protect the public? If you are writing an article about counselling, you may find the below questions and answers useful. To find out more about the different types of counselling available and how counselling can help with specific problems, visit our public website It's Good to Talk. If you have a question that isn't on this list, get in touch by calling our press office on 01455 206393 or emailing media@bacp.co.uk.

What is counselling?

Counselling offers people a safe, confidential place to talk about their life and anything that may be confusing, painful or uncomfortable. It allows people to talk with someone who is trained to listen attentively and to help them improve things.

Are all counsellors the same?

We advise people to look for a counsellor who is a Registered member of BACP.

Our Register has been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (a government body) which means that it meets their high standards in respect of governance, standard-setting, education and training, management, complaints and information. Our members are bound by our highly regarded Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and subject to our Professional Conduct Procedure.

Many BACP members are also ‘Accredited’. These members have additional areas of expertise, skills and knowledge, on top of their original training. We recognise them as the ‘gold standard’ within the profession.

BACP’s public website itsgoodtotalk.org.uk contains a wealth of information for anyone considering therapy including information sheets, videos, links to recent research, and a ‘find a therapist’ directory which helps people to find a private counsellor in their local area.

How else do people access counselling?

A GP can refer someone for talking treatment that is free on the NHS. This will usually be a short course of counselling from the GP surgery's counselling service. If this isn’t available at the surgery, the GP can refer to a local counsellor for NHS treatment. 

Those in education may be able to access counselling through their school, college or university. For those in employment, many workplaces offer a counselling service either in-house or as part of an employee assistance scheme. Additionally, there may be counselling available in the area through a local community scheme or volunteer project. 

What happens when someone visits a counsellor?  How do they help?

It is usual to have one or a series of confidential appointments of up to an hour in length in a suitable professional setting. The process should provide the client with the opportunity to make sense of their individual circumstances, have contact with a counsellor who will help identify the choices for change, feel supported during the process of change and help them to reach a point where they are better equipped to cope with the future. 

Are there different types of treatments?

Yes - there are many different types of counselling available. However, in general, research shows that the relationship someone has with their counsellor is more important than the method the counsellor uses. 

A person's choice of type of therapy may be limited depending on where they access it. If someone has a preference over the type of therapy, they may choose to seek a private therapist.

Some types of therapy may be particularly suited to certain situations, for example, group therapy can be particularly useful in helping families work through their problems together with a counsellor who is specially trained in this area.

On average, how much does a private counsellor cost? 

Prices can range between £10 and £60 per session, depending on the area. Many private counsellors offer an initial free session and concessionary rates for students, job seekers and those on low wages. Some charitable organisations will offer therapy for free or for a small donation which is suitable to the client's income.