The American Counseling Association identifies counseling as the forming of a relationship between two or more individuals for the purposes of exploring life changes, healing emotional distress, or growing psychologically or exploring in a particular area of life.  Counseling is offered to children or adults, adolescents or couples, groups or individuals.

Counseling aims to help you deal with and overcome issues that are causing emotional or psychological pain.

It can provide a safe and regular space for you to talk and explore difficult feelings. The counselor is there to support you and respect your views, sometimes offering advice, but mostly help you find your own insights into and understanding of your child’s problems.

  • cope with a grief from a lost pet or family member
  • cope with school-related stress, or college choices
  • explore issues such as sexual identity
  • deal with thoughts or feelings limiting you in achieving your goals
  • deal with feelings of depressionor sadness, and have a more positive outlook on life
  • deal with feelings of anxiety, helping you worry less about things
  • understand your child’s behavior and their problems from a different perspective
  • feel more confident and self-assured
  • develop a better understanding of other people’s points of view

Counseling can often involve talking about or playing about difficult or painful feelings and, as your child begins to face them, you may experience their behavior getting a bit worse in some ways. However, with the help and support of your counselor you should gradually notice your child feeling better.

In most cases, it takes a number of sessions before the counseling starts to make a difference, and consistency with sessions and following your counselor’s suggestions between sessions is important to make the best use of the therapy.

During your counseling sessions, your child will be encouraged to express their feelings and emotions, either by talking or through their play.  Through the relationship that forms between the counselor, your child, and yourselves, the counselor can help you gain a better understanding of your child’s feelings and thought processes, as well as identifying ways of finding your own solutions (or helping your child find solutions) to problems.

It can be a great relief to share your worries and fears with someone who acknowledges your feelings, is consistently present and genuine, and is able to help you reach a positive solution.

  • face to face
  • individually or in a family setting
  • consultation over the phone
  • consultation by email

You may be offered counseling as a single assessment and consultation session, as a short course of sessions over a few weeks or months, or as a longer course that lasts for several months or years.  A lot depends on your individual situation.

Ideally, counseling is terminated when the problem that you pursued counseling for becomes more manageable or is resolved. However, some insurance companies and managed care plans may limit the number of sessions for which they pay. If you wish to access your mental health benefits to pay for counseling, check with your health plan to find out more about any limitations in your coverage.

Ultimately the decision to continue or terminate counseling rests with the individual, and usually they rely on input from their counselor, along with the treatment plan, to determine when the plan of counseling is complete.

A good counselor will focus on you and listen without judging or criticizing you. They may help you discover how you could deal with your child’s problems, offer multiple possible solutions, and support you in your choice of what to do.

For counseling to be effective, you need to build a trusting and safe relationship with your counselor. If you feel that you and your counselor do not seem to connect, or that you are not getting the most out of your sessions, it is important for you to discuss this in therapy and you can look for another counselor. The decision is entirely up to you.

Different healthcare professionals may be trained in counseling or qualified to provide psychological therapies. These include:

  • Licensed Professional Counselors– trained to provide to help you cope better with your life and any issues you have
  • Clinical and Counselling Psychologists– healthcare professionals who specialize in assessing and treating mental health conditions using evidence-based psychological therapies
  • Psychiatrists– qualified medical doctors who have received further training in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions
  • Psychotherapists– similar to counselors, but they have usually received more extensive training; they are also often qualified applied psychologists or psychiatrists