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Some young people with additional needs and/or their families find that speaking to someone about their concerns or how they are feeling can be extremely helpful. Trained counsellors can help people to talk about their experiences and hopefully start to make sense of them. They can also help to find ways to manage challenging situations or make informed choices.


What is counselling?

Counselling is a type of ''talking therapy'' and sometimes the term is used to refer to talking therapies in general.

Counselling allows a person to talk openly in a safe and confidential environment. Counsellors are trained to listen and help people to deal with negative thoughts, feelings, challenges and problems.

What can counselling help with?

Counsellors can help with a range of issues including anxiety, depression, bereavement, self-esteem, relationships and life changes.

For parents and carers, it can be an opportunity to talk through their feelings related to their child’s diagnosis, concerns for the future or a time to discuss ways through challenging situations.

For young people, counselling can give them a safe time to talk through things that are worrying them, how they feel about their diagnosis or perhaps even help them to make sense of the challenges that they may face in their lives.

Families may find that counselling allows them space to think about possible solutions, resolutions or ways of working together when challenges arise.

What are the different types of counselling?

Different types of counselling are often given different names and this can be a little confusing.

Counselling can work in a range of different ways so the therapist should work to find a method that suits the client and makes the sessions beneficial.

Some therapists are trained in more than one method, so might combine these during the sessions.

You may hear terms such as ''Cognitive Behavioural Therapies'' (CBT), ''Mindfulness'' and ''Life Coaching'' mentioned when talking about ways in which counsellors work – there is more information on these and other talking therapies here

How do I access counselling?

A young person’s school/college or your GP should be able to help you access counselling services in your local area or you might want to search for counsellors yourself.

Many GP surgeries provide talking therapies but if yours doesn’t then the GP may refer you to a local service. This factsheet on mental health issues looks at the services that are available across Hampshire. 

Additionally, your GP might refer a young person to the local CAMHS service if they offer counselling, and might put carers in touch with a local carers’ organisation if there is one. It is also possible to self-refer to CAMHS if you felt that your son/daughter may benefit from their support.

Some schools have therapists working alongside the teaching staff and often sessions take place in familiar surroundings, making some young people feel more at ease.

Online therapy

For some young people technology can provide an alternative way of accessing counselling/ therapy as they may find it easier to talk to someone on a website or through an app.

Before using any online service it is important that parents/ carers are able to check out the site and the qualifications of the counsellors.

Young Minds have a dedicated area, on their website, for young people. There is a lot of information about feelings and emotions as well as the chance to read about other people’s journeys. 

The Mix aims to take on the embarrassing problems, weird questions, and please-don’t-make-me-say-it-out-loud thoughts that people under 25 have in order to give them the best support through digital and phone services.

What should I expect from a counselling session?

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BCAP) has an excellent website that provides lots of information on types of therapy, how to access support and what happens at a therapy session.

The first counselling session will probably focus on finding out what you want to work through, what you would like to achieve from the sessions and the way that the therapist works. The therapist might suggest different methods that may be helpful.

You will be given time to ask questions.

How do I find a counsellor?

Counselling sessions are built upon a relationship of trust between the client and counsellor. They are not there to judge the young person/carer or their family but simply to help them work through their concerns and create a plan for moving forward.

It is important that the client feels comfortable with the counsellor as this will allow the sessions to be as successful as possible.

The following websites can help with finding therapists in your local area:

Counselling Directory was set up by a team who know how difficult it can be to find support. Through their own experiences of mental health issues, they have learnt how important having relevant information is and how the right support can help transform lives. Their team is passionate about counselling and we want to promote the huge benefits talk therapy can have. Their website is a confidential service that encourages those in need to seek help and to connect individuals with qualified counsellors in the UK. The site contains information on the common reasons people turn to counselling, as well as articles, news, and events.

The Hampshire Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (HACP) aims to put people and Counsellors / Psychotherapists in touch with each other.

Where can I find further support?

There are a number of helpful links on the right of this page, which includes organisations that mightbe helpful for you:

Young Minds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

Relate - the UK's largest provider of relationship support

Youth Access - YIACS provide a holistic response to young people’s social, emotional and mental health needs through a range of services provided ‘under one roof’, including social welfare advice, advocacy, counselling, health clinics, community education and personal support.

Off the Record - a free, confidential and friendly service, offering information, support and counselling for young people in South Hampshire.

CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Hampshire 

 italk is a FREE service for people suffering from depression and anxiety

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