The value of counselling - what am I paying for?
With the cost of private counselling averaging around £40 per session, going to therapy can end up costing several hundreds of pounds. It’s no wonder then, that many people don’t consider seeing a counsellor as a high priority, even though they may be struggling significantly with their emotions or suffering the impact of difficulties on their daily life. I understand this dilemma well, having been there myself as a client.
The self-help and personal growth industry is thriving, and this is a good thing because it gives people choice. We can find limitless material in books, on the internet and even in free support groups to help with a wide variety of issues. Some people are fortunate enough to have a strong family or friendship network when going through tough times.
So, what value does counselling add?
What counselling provides is a unique one-to-one relationship where you connect directly with your personal, individual needs. You are provided with an opportunity:
- To be heard with unconditional empathy.
- To speak without feeling judged.
- To have your emotional needs met in a safe way.
Whatever your reason for coming, be it childhood trauma or workplace anxiety, no two people have the same experience and your counselling will be tailored to YOU, not a generalised issue.
Good counselling will both challenge and empower you; the relationship with your therapist is not one where you are passive. A counsellor’s valuable skill does not lie in telling you the answers, but in helping you to see the answers for yourself; a counsellor can support, encourage and guide you to insights, but cannot “fix” you.
Perhaps this is where the difficulty arises when a potential client needs to justify the cost to themselves; when you pay so much money for an “expert”, you don’t want to have to do the work yourself! But, ultimately, the healing of painful issues will only come from your own self-awareness, and a good counselling relationship is the gateway to that self-awareness.
Of course, it is possible to get through problems with the help of family, or from literature you read, but there are limits to this support. While close personal relationships can be full of love and well-meaning intention, they rarely have the boundaries to support you - there will usually be emotional involvement or agenda from the person trying to help. Likewise, self-help material and support groups can provide invaluable comfort, but cannot replace the connection and unique space for growth that a therapeutic relationship provides.
Counselling is not necessarily for everyone; we can only decide from our own situation whether the benefits are valuable enough to justify the cost. The expense can be daunting and, certainly for some people, prohibitive. But, for those considering it, you could reflect on how counselling is different from other forms of support and whether, in the longer-term, the price of a course of counselling is a worthwhile investment to set you up for a happier and less emotionally challenging future.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Marissa Walter
Marissa Walter is a counsellor and writer based in South Devon, specialising in issues around relationships and how they affect our lives and emotions. She runs workshops and online support for those moving on after break-up and divorce.
Marissa offers one-to-one and couples therapy, as well as break-up/divorce counselling.