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How can counselling nourish you?

Counselling is a collaboration between a qualified counsellor and a client[1] to enhance self-understanding and promote mental health and wellbeing. Categorised as a talk-based therapy, counselling is intended to help you gain clarity and understanding of the challenges you face[2] in a confidential and non-judgemental setting. 

Your counsellor will be able to provide you with support and strategies to help you cope with adversity and resolve concerns[3] you feel unable to conquer on your own. A counsellor will work collaboratively with you to help you see things from a different perspective, and use evidence-based techniques[4] to help you regain peace, balance and happiness in life.

Some counsellors also describe themselves as psychotherapists[5], which can cause confusion about the distinction between the two modalities. In general, psychotherapy is often seen as a distinctly defined role[6], while counselling services might be provided by practitioners such as GPs in addition to their primary line of work. 

Psychotherapy tends to support changes at the level of your personality[7], and may help you define and embrace your identity for greater mental stability and satisfaction in life. Counselling, on the other hand, often focuses on a specific and precisely defined concern[8], such as coping with grief, managing anger, increasing intimacy in relationships, or overcoming addiction.

There is considerable overlap between counselling and psychotherapy, as well as psychology, which is another related modality. The discipline of psychology also has similarities to both counselling and psychotherapy. However, in Australia, the profession of psychology is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)[9], and it is compulsory for all practising psychologists to be registered.

Trained counsellors are professionals who have undertaken dedicated tertiary education[10] in counselling or related fields such as psychology. However, in Australia, there is no legal requirement[11] for someone who provides counselling services to have formal training. Before choosing a counsellor, check the Australian Register of Counsellors & Psychotherapists[12], where all listed practitioners are professionally qualified and must undergo continuing development and clinical supervision.

Benefits of counselling

As an evidence-based modality, counselling has been consistently reported to provide “substantial” benefits[13] for a range of different problems in robustly designed studies. Research suggests supportive counselling may be an effective treatment for depression[14] in adults, and there is evidence to suggest people suffering from depression may prefer to receive counselling therapy than take pharmaceutical antidepressants[15].

Family counselling is reported to possibly improve communication between parents and children[16], as well as potentially strengthen relationships between siblings. Relationship counselling may help reduce conflict and resolve problems within an intimate partnership[17] such as a marriage, improve communication and reduce distress. A counsellor can provide impartial support for couples going through a  separation or divorce[18], helping both partners cope with anger and grief, find peace and learn to come to terms with this turning point in their lives.

Specialist counsellors may be able to help you navigate a path through adversities ranging from financial hardship to loss and bereavement[19]. Counselling may also help you find strategies for overcoming addiction[20], dealing with traumatic events[21], managing anxiety[22], and building confidence and self-esteem. The greatest overall benefit you might be able to receive from counselling is support in conquering the obstacles that keep you from leading a happy, fulfilled and peaceful life.

Counselling may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Alcohol and drug addiction Anger management Anxiety Brain fog and clarity Circulation and cardiovascular conditions Communication and self-expression Concentration, focus and problem solving Confidence and self-esteem Depression Energy and vitality Fears and phobias Grief, bereavement and loss Indecision Loneliness Love and Relationships Mental health Motivation and procrastination Panic attacks PTSD and trauma Sadness Smoking and nicotine cravings Stress and tension Show all

What to expect from a counselling session

This modality can take various different forms, ranging from phone or online counselling[23] and one-on-one private counselling in person, to relationship counselling which may involve you and your partner[24] speaking to a practitioner. Sometimes, a counselling session intended to support people suffering from addiction, recovering from abuse or coping with serious illness[25] may be held in a group setting.

It is natural to be nervous during your first counselling session[26], so most practitioners will take care to make you feel safe and respected[27], and reassure you that counselling is a non-confrontational and non-judgemental process. Your counsellor will ask you about the concern that has prompted you to seek help, and what you might wish to gain[28] from counselling.

A counsellor is trained to listen actively and with empathy[29], and will know what questions to ask in order to help you unlock clarity and understanding about situations for which you might have been unable to find solutions by yourself. Your counsellor may also set you ‘homework’ tasks or advise you on what steps you can take[30] in daily life to help you achieve your goals.

Please consult your medical professional before you commence counselling, as they may be able to advise you about the most suitable practitioner for your needs. You do not need a referral to speak with a counsellor, but in Australia, Medicare rebates for counselling services may be available in some circumstances[31]. If you have any concerns at all about the process, also speak to your counsellor. Good rapport is very important, so if you don’t feel like you are obtaining the benefits you had hoped for, you are under no obligation to continue receiving counselling[32] from a particular practitioner.


  1. Definition of Counselling | College of Counselling
  2. Counsellors | Better Health Channel
  3. Counselling | WIRE
  4. Evidence-based Counselling | The EPICentre
  5. Child Family Community Australia | Defining and delivering effective counselling and psychotherapy | Australian Institute of Family Studies
  6. Child Family Community Australia | Defining and delivering effective counselling and psychotherapy | Australian Institute of Family Studies
  7. Counselling and Psychotherapy | Professionalisation in the Australian Context | PACJA
  8. What is Counselling? | Australia Counselling
  9. Home | Psychology Board of Australia | Ahpra
  10. Counsellors | Better Health Channel
  11. Health and Wellbeing | Counselling: how to access it, what it costs | Queensland Government
  12. ARCAP Register | Australian Register of Counsellors & Psychotherapists
  13. Child Family Community Australia | Defining and delivering effective counselling and psychotherapy | Australian Institute of Family Studies
  14. Depression | How counselling can help | bacp
  15. Submisssion by Australian Councelling Association In. | ACA submission to the NMHC.pdf |
  16. 9 Family Counselling Benefits | DS Psychology Melbourne
  17. Child Family Community Australia | Relationship education and counselling: Recent research findings | Australian Institute of Family Studies
  18. Helping clients rebuild after separation or divorce | Counseling Today
  19. Counsellors and counselling | healthdirect
  20. The Importance Of Counselling | DS Psychology Melbourne
  21. Melbourne PTSD | Trauma Counselling | Counselling in Melbourne
  22. Treatment for Anxiety | Anxiety Counselling | Vision Counselling
  23. Are there interactional differences between telephone and face-to-face psychological therapy? A systematic review of comparative studies | ScienceDirect
  24. Pre Marriage Counselling Sydney | Pre Marrital Counselling | Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors
  25. Counselling | WIRE
  26. What do counsellors do? | ReachOut Australia
  27. What counselling involves and what you can expect | Victims Counselling & Support Services
  28. Counselling Session | What will happen in my first counselling session? | Vision Counselling and Psychology
  29. Principles of Active Listening | Explore Our Extensive Counselling Article Library | AIPC Article Library
  30. Psychotherapy  Sydney CBD | Counselling & Psychotherapy Sydney
  31. Medicare Rebate for Counselling Services | Life Supports Counselling
  32. Counsellors | Better Health Channel


Frequently asked questions

Counselling is a collaborative process between a qualified counsellor and a client, aiming to enhance self-understanding, mental health, and overall wellbeing. It is a talk-based therapy designed to provide clarity and support in a confidential and non-judgmental environment.

Counselling involves open and honest conversations between the client and counsellor. Clients can expect a supportive and confidential space to discuss challenges, gain insights, and work towards solutions. The process is tailored to the individual's needs and goals.

Yes, counselling is an evidence-based modality, consistently reported to provide substantial benefits for various challenges. Robustly designed studies suggest that supportive counselling can be effective in treating depression in adults. Additionally, evidence indicates a preference for counselling over pharmaceutical antidepressants by some individuals.

Counselling sessions are confidential, and counsellors are bound by ethical guidelines to prioritize client privacy. The counsellor's role is to provide a safe and supportive space, actively listen, offer guidance, and collaborate with the client in exploring and understanding their challenges.

Individuals can consider Counselling if they seek support, self-understanding, and solutions to challenges. The outcomes may include improved mental health, enhanced coping strategies, better self-awareness, and an overall improvement in the quality of life. The decision to engage in counselling is personal, and individuals should feel comfortable discussing their concerns with a qualified professional.
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