The short answer? Yes, mostly.
So, if you came here looking for us to persuade you to avoid it, then I’m sorry to disappoint.
Although it is not that straightforward.
Thankfully, our friends at Truth Counselling Newcastle have conducted a thorough study that looked at the:
- Satisfaction rates
- Success rates
- Potential issues with counselling
- Benefits of counselling to people’s lives
- Likelihood of people recommending counselling to others
- Key principles of counselling
- What people look for when seeking therapy
- The way people describe their experiences with counselling
We have picked out 5 key points that we feel are most relevant to you and given simple analysis to help you make the right decisions for your mental health.
But before we start, here’s a quick reminder that you don’t need to have a mental health condition to seek support with your mental health.
Even professionals at the very top of their game still get coached, remember that.
With that in mind, let’s dive in!
Most People are Happy with their Counselling Experience
In this study, 75% of those surveyed were happy with their overall experience of counselling. Which is great news, because it suggests that taking the plunge to better mental health collaboratively, pays off.
For most people that is, which we’ll get on to.
Also, 74% claimed to have tried other methods to overcome their issue before trying counselling, of which 68% stated that counselling helped more than those.
Using counselling alongside another type of intervention (e.g. a digital app) might therefore be the way to go.
Although it says a lot that 88% of these people would recommend counselling to others. People using their experiences to help others = MASSIVE WIN!
Here is how the study group described their counselling experiences (the larger the word, the more times it was used):
Counselling Promotes Independence
The survey asked individuals for the main reason that they no longer attend counselling.
Whilst the most popular answer was ‘I am still in Counselling’, ‘I no longer need help’ was the biggest reason that people are no longer in therapy.
This, again, is positive news for us because it suggests that counselling offers the individual the chance to develop a mental health toolkit, or a set of personalised strategies and techniques that can be used independently to navigate through life’s ups and downs.
Counselling Can Provide Toolkits for Life
During counselling, people can develop an improved understanding of themselves. 78.5% of the group in the survey said so, in fact, whilst 17.50% said that theirs stayed the same.
This self-understanding could have contributed to some of these really encouraging statistics from the study.
When asked ‘since counselling, have there been improvements in other areas of life?’, it was found that counselling improved:
- Day-to-day life (in 67% of people)
- Confidence (64%)
- Relationships with others (64%)
- Enjoyment of life (64%)
- Self-esteem (61%)
- Work-life (48%)
Incredible stuff, right?
Currently, Counselling is Not for Everyone
Frustratingly, however, it doesn’t seem that counselling is suitable for all.
That’s not to say that there aren’t other forms of support available, but it looks as though counselling does have some catching up to do, especially with the younger generations.
Of all the people in the study that identified a lack of confidence in their counsellor’s ability to help them, 65% were between the ages of 18-34 and 40% were between 18-24.
As well as this, 66% of people that were not happy with the way in which their counselling ended were aged between 18-34.
These suggest that, for the younger generations especially, continuity of care is essential, whether that care is counselling or something else.
Not least because ‘external events’ were labelled as the most significant reason that counselling ‘didn’t work’ for some individuals in the study.
Whilst there are many different interventions out there, the question of how we find (and access) an appropriate one for us remains.
Perhaps mental health support should be specific and tailored towards the needs of different age groups (and the many other factors associated with the success of counselling).
Following on from this, the biggest frustration for those requiring counselling was finding the right counsellor. Over 60% of these were again in the 18-34 age category.
This can be problematic as it can take time and effort to find a fit, delaying appropriate support in the process, which is likely to worsen any issues. A problem that must be worked on, to say the least.
The 2nd largest barrier, for everyone, not just younger people, was cost. Combine this with the notion that the second biggest reason for leaving counselling was also cost, and that non-paid-for support struggled the most to achieve positive results (when compared with paid-for and subsidised counselling) and it makes for stark reading.
It is heartbreaking to read that people who cannot afford appropriate help with their mental health are less likely to receive it.
This suggests that public mental health services are less likely to be able to provide the necessary assistance than private care.
But with severe and indefensible government cuts, is this surprising at all? Therapists and counsellors obviously need to make a living to continue to do what they do, so the, frankly, dire state of public funding for mental health services must improve.
(This is our view, not that of Truth Counselling Newcastle)
Counselling is Not a Quick Fix
Lastly, we feel that this is an important message to share.
There is no one-stop-shop to purchase better mental health.
Working towards better mental health is a process, and so is maintaining good mental health.
Counselling is a part of that process.
According to the study, 88% of people would repeat counselling if they felt that they needed to. Only 38% agreed that their issue was ‘resolved’ through counselling, although a massive majority reported that their issues had improved or significantly improved.
So it must be that their process is still ongoing. Sometimes resolving a mental health-related issue can take a while, with loads of different types of help and learning, whilst other journeys are much more straightforward and narrow.
To finish up then, this very insightful research by Truth Counselling Newcastle shows that experiences with counselling differ in terms of their success and satisfaction rates, which can be affected by so many different things.
Whilst counselling is, overall, very effective in improving people’s mental health-related issues, building toolkits for life and independence, it is clear that certain areas must be addressed.
For example, we must adapt counselling to maximise support for young people and reduce barriers to accessing the help that these groups need. Ensuring that people don’t suffer at the hands of a cost barrier and that people are able to find a counsellor that is appropriate for their needs is also a must.