There’s a lot of confusion around what counsellors do, and what you can expect from coming to a counsellor.  Here I answer the questions I’m asked most often.  If there’s anything you want to know that hasn’t been answered here please book in for a free 15 minute phone call.  You can also find my video series of these questions over on Instagram.

African woman wearing white shirt leans her chin on the palm of her hand. Around her head are drawings of question marks

What Do Counsellors Do?

This is the question I’m asked the most.  There’s a lot of confusion out there about what we do and where we fit within the mental health area.

Counsellors create a safe space for you to talk about your thoughts and feelings, and the experiences you’re having without judgement.

We support and guide you through the challenges you’re having.  Whether these are relationship issues, stress, anxiety, depression, problems at work or even feelings of isolation.  Whatever you’re experiencing there’s a counsellor that can help you.

We help you to identify coping strategies and solutions so that you can work through your problems.  We can also help you to build up your resilience and confidence so that you can make positive changes and achieve your goals.

What Don't Counsellors Do?

It’s not just important to know what we do, it’s important to know what we don’t do.

  • We don’t judge you.  We know there’s a lot of criticism out there, and there’s still a lot of stigma around asking for help.  What you are experiencing is valid.
  • We don’t tell you what to do.  I’m sure you have experienced enough of that already.  As counsellors, we believe that everyone is capable of living great lives, however that looks to them.  We might challenge your ideas but you are the expert of your life.
  • We don’t fix you.  You’re not broken.  Everyone needs guidance and support at times.  Everyone goes through hard times.  Counselling helps you through the process of self-discovery and growth.
  • We don’t diagnose you.  When we’re listening to you, our focus is on getting to know you.  We’re not looking for symptoms or diagnostic criteria.  When we first come to counselling we may ask about your medical history which includes diagnosis and medication.  However we sit outside of the medical model so this information helps us to understand what you might be experiencing, but it doesn’t define your experience for us.

Is Everything I Say Confidential?

Everything that is said within your counselling session, including any correspondence, is between you and your counsellor.  We don’t sell your contact information to third parties, and we don’t talk about our clients to others.

There are a few exceptions to the rule though.  These are included in your counselling contract and are discussed in your first session.  The exceptions are:

  • By law counsellors are mandatory reporters (may vary from state to state) which means that we are legally obligated to report suspected abuse of children or other vulnerable people.
  • We are also obligated by law to respond to subpoenas.  If we receive a subpoena we must provide the information requested, in compliance with state laws.
  • As counsellors we are always looking to provide our clients with the best possible service.  To do this we may ask our supervisors questions related to your circumstances.  When this happens any identifying information is excluded, so our supervisors never know who you are.  Our supervisors are also counsellors and must comply with the same privacy laws we do.
  • Referrals to other services may require ‘need to know’ information.  This will always be discussed with you in-session, and we will request your consent to do so.