Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.
Counselling is defined as a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you to find ways of dealing with emotional and mental health issues.
Sometimes the term “counselling” is used to refer to talking therapies in general. But counselling is also a type of therapy in its own right.
Counselling can help you to gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes and find your own solutions to problems.
But counsellors won't usually give advice or tell you what to do. And they would not regard counselling as a form of treatment for ME/CFS!
We know from anecdotal reports that some people with ME/CFS find counselling helpful in dealing with the sort of emotional, relationship or mental health problems that can occur when someone has a long-term disabling illness like ME/CFS. But others do not…
And while some members of the medical profession believe that counselling can be a useful for emotional, mental health and relationship problems, others take a far more sceptical view about its value.
Consequently, most counselling still takes place in the private sector. However, it is increasingly being made available on the NHS in GP surgeries and hospital-based services.
Can you get free counselling on the NHS?
You can get free psychological therapies, including counselling for depression, on the NHS.
You don't need a referral from your GP.
You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service. Or you can get a referral from your GP if you prefer.
- Find a psychological therapies service in your area
- Find out more about free psychological therapies on the NHS.
If you decide to pay to see a private therapist, make sure they're qualified and you feel comfortable with them.
The cost of private counselling can vary depending on where you live, with a session costing anywhere between £10 and £70.
Many private therapists offer an initial free session and lower rates for students, job seekers and those on low wages.
You should ask about charges and agree a price before starting a course of counselling.
Finding a qualified therapist
As counselling involves talking about sensitive issues and revealing personal thoughts and feelings, your counsellor should be experienced and professionally qualified.
Reputable therapists will be registered with a professional organisation that's been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This means they have met the PSA's required professional standards to practise.
- You can find a qualified therapist through the PSA check a practitioner page.
Source: NHS Choices – Counselling
Join our Facebook discussion
If you have used counselling before and want to share your personal experiences of this kind of approach, then please contribute to the discussion on the ME Association Facebook page.
We have produced an information leaflet covering all aspects of counselling in relation to ME/CFS. It can be downloaded or ordered via the website shop.
The ME Association
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Main image credit: 123RF/ Ian Allenden