Counselling is an opportunity to talk 1:1 to a trained professional about the things in your life that you are struggling to make sense of. If you are referred to a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist this is a positive step to help you. It just means the person who referred you thinks that you might benefit from some extra support or help at the moment.

A counsellor should listen to you and try to understand your perspective.

A counsellor should not judge you but may ask some questions that challenge you.

All counsellors are not the same. They have different life experiences and various ways of working. The simplified list below may help you to decide which type of approach would suit you best:

  • Cognitive and behavioural – this focuses on the way we interpret situations in our lives, our thought patterns (cognitive processes) and the links between the way we think and our behaviour.
  • Humanistic – this explores what is happening ‘here and now’ and encourages self-development.
  • Integrative – this uses elements from different counselling approaches as required.
  • Psychodynamic – this concentrates on thoughts and ideas from your childhood and the impact that they have on your thoughts and behaviour now.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get an NHS referral?

Ask your consultant or GP to refer you to a counsellor. Tell the truth about how facial palsy makes you feel. Your psychological health is as important as your physical health. There is usually a waiting list of around 6-8 weeks.

Can I be referred through my workplace?

Many employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP) for telephone or face to face counselling. In a larger organisation this can sometimes be accessed through the occupational health/staff health departments. In some cases you may need to be referred by your manager.

Can I go privately?

Yes, a private counsellor will be able to see you sooner and will charge between £30- £60/hour.

How many counselling sessions will I need?

Many NHS counsellors are limited to six sessions but you can do a lot of work in that time. Often there are things to think about between sessions so that when you go back you have made progress. Private counsellors are able to be more flexible with the number of sessions.

What if I don’t like my counsellor?

Sometimes there is a personality clash, or you may not feel comfortable with the counsellor’s way of working. If you know what is wrong you could explain to your counsellor and ask if there is someone else who you could see. It is OK to do this.

I want to go privately, how do I choose a counsellor?

Distance from home is probably very important. Many counsellors will advertise locally or you can search online. Check that the counsellor you choose is qualified and receives regular supervision – this protects you and the information that you share. Ask to see evidence of the qualification if you are in any doubt. Most offer an initial ‘trial’ session without further commitment. Both BACP and UKCP have an online list of registered members.

Will a counsellor give me advice about facial palsy?

A counsellor should not give you advice nor tell you what to do. A counsellor is there to help you to make sense of the thoughts and feelings that you are finding it difficult to cope with. You may be given some techniques to try, or some exercises to think through. You will probably have some of the things you say and think challenged (constructively) during the sessions.

Although your counsellor may not have had any specific experience of facial palsy it is his/her job to understand you as an individual and your experiences.

Last reviewed: 16-08-2019    ||    Next review due: 15-08-2022