During these uncertain and challenging times more people than ever are seeking mental health support. The Counselling Foundation is proud to continue delivering our services during the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with government guidelines our face to face counselling is temporarily suspended but we are pleased to offer counselling remotely via phone and online, depending on your preference.

Please contact your nearest centre to make an enquiry:
Bedford | Broxbourne | Luton | St Albans | Stevenage

If you are further afield, please email the Foundation office

For many, telephone and online / video counselling offer increased flexibility and, while it is a different experience to that of face-to-face counselling, the service provided is no less professional or valuable. It also allows us to adhere to social distancing requirements, ensuring the safety of our clients and staff.

More information about how we are currently delivering counselling services and how to access them, can be found here.

Counselling – All you need to know

Q: What kind of problems can counselling help me with?
A: Counselling can help with a wide range of concerns including

  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Anger
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Carer responsibilities
  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Eating disorders
  • Health issues
  • Major life changes
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • Phobias and fears
  • Redundancy and work issues
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Sexuality
  • Trauma
  • Violence
  • Worry

Q: What type of counselling do you provide and which is best for me?
We offer two types of counselling detailed below; If you are unsure which service is best for you, please contact your nearest centre, where one of our counsellors will be happy to discuss which option is most suited to you.

Open ended counselling:
We mainly provide open ended counselling, a therapy which proceeds at the client’s own pace. This allows the client time and space to gradually develop insight into the root cause of their concerns. Clients continue in therapy for as long as they want, which can range from months to years. Open ended counselling is delivered by counsellors who are either fully qualified or are completing their training under close supervision.

If you choose an open-ended service, we will ask you to pay what you can afford, this will be between £16 and £40 per session.  The fee is decided between you and your counsellor when you start your counselling sessions.

Short-Term Counselling
Short term counselling is a good step for people who do not want to make a long commitment or have a particular issue to work with such as a relationship difficulty. It is often used by people who have had counselling in the past and want to return to work on a particular issue.

Short term counselling is usually from 6 to 20 weeks, although some people only want one or two sessions.  The counsellor and client can agree the issues that need to be worked on and set aims for the sessions.  The cost per session is a fixed fee of £40.

You may be able to access free short term counselling with a referral from your GP.  Please speak to your doctor and ask to be referred to us. For further information please visit our page on our NHS Counselling Service.

Q: What is CBT?
A: Some counsellors will incorporate CBT as part of other therapies, but it only suits some personalities and some situations. We do not offer pure CBT therapy at the Counselling Foundation.

CBT can be extremely useful. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy involves learning skills for overcoming behaviours, habits or reactions that are “making things worse”. This could be learning ways to overcome panic attacks or stress, for avoiding the triggers for overeating or even from entering into unsuitable relationships.

However, used on its own it is usually unhelpful for bereavement, loss or a recent trauma. It would for instance not be used for someone coming to terms with a bereavement, but it may become helpful at a later time.

Q: How long will have to wait for an appointment?
  Our aim is to offer you a first appointment, known as an assessment session within 1-2 weeks, this is once we receive your completed client pack back. However, waiting times will vary according to pressure on our resources, your own availability and the service you seek.

An appointment to our short term counselling, which is not subsidised, can be offered within about one week.

If you need help urgently, please contact your GP, contact The Samaritans via phone on 116 123 or visit their website.

Q: What is an assessment appointment?
The first session of any counselling is an assessment session which lasts for around an hour and a half. During this time, an assessment counsellor will ask certain questions about you and your life. This information helps to make an initial assessment of your circumstance and the type of counselling best suited to your needs.

Q: Will the counsellor give me advice?
Your counsellor is not there to give you advice, tell you what to do or judge you in any way.  The aim of counselling is to help you come to your own decision(s), only you know how you feel in any given situation. The counsellor might sum up what they understand you have been saying so that they can help you to form a plan of action.

Q: What does a counsellor do?
Listening carefully is the largest part of what all counsellors do. They make sure clients have clarified the problem areas in their own terms and help them decide what steps they want to take next. Counsellors will always let the work proceed at the client’s pace.

Q: Can I have counselling even though I’m not really ill?
You do not have to be in crisis or on the verge of one before choosing to have therapy. Please contact us to see how counselling can help if you are currently struggling to overcome a particular issue in your life, and you feel that counselling could possibly benefit you right now.

Q: Can I afford counselling?
The Foundation is a ‘not for profit’ organisation, a charity whose aim is to make counselling more accessible and affordable to our communities. If you choose our open-ended service, we ask you to pay only what you can reasonably afford.

Q: What if I definitely want a male or female counsellor?
We are able to accommodate this preference, please let us know when you first contact your counselling centre administrator.

Q: What can I talk about?
Before attending your first counselling first, it may be helpful to prepare by writing down your reasons for seeking help to make describing your feelings to a Counsellor more comfortable.  You can talk about anything that is on your mind, however large or small you think your problem is. You might find yourself saying things you had not expected to say.  A counsellor will always help you explore your circumstances.

Q: What’s the difference between talking to a friend and talking to a counsellor?
Sometimes talking to a friend can be helpful and counsellors often encourage clients to use their family and friends. However there are some disadvantages to using friends as your only confidants and support.

Friends and family could feel a conflict of loyalty and find it hard to keep things confidential.  They may become upset themselves by what you are telling them and could become upset if you don’t accept their advice.

Counsellors’ training means they have formal support and a work structure which helps them to deal with upsetting and difficult situations; friends may begin to feel overburdened, especially if they have their own problems too.

Q: How do I know if a counsellor is qualified?
A: You can always ask the counsellor what their qualifications are. Some of our counsellors are completing their training under close supervision. If you do not feel the counsellor is right for you, please discuss it with the counsellor and if you still do not feel it is right, contact the Administrator.

Q: How do I know I will receive a professional service?
A: We strive to offer therapy of the highest quality and have done so for over 40 years. Our counsellors are fully qualified in psychodynamic counselling or are completing their training under close supervision. Our centres and our service is accredited by BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and we work to the BACP Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions. Please click here for more information from the BACP.

Q: What if I miss a scheduled appointment?
It is essential to the therapy work that you prioritise attending your weekly appointment once you have confirmed it. Should you need to cancel any appointment, please contact your counsellor on 01727 869666 and leave a message.

Q: Can you help my employees?
A: We are able to offer counselling to your employees. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Q: What do I do if I have a complaint about the service or the counsellor?
We always welcome comments about the service we offer. If you do have a complaint you would like to discuss and feel you can, please tell your counsellor to see if they are able to resolve any issues.  Alternatively, ask to speak to, or write to the Centre Head at your centre. They will discuss your complaint with you and with your counsellor (either separately or together, depending on the nature of the complaint). If this discussion does not resolve the issue, please contact the Foundation Clinical Manager by phoning 01727 868585 or emailing foundation@counsellingfoundation.org.


Q: What should I look for in a therapist?
Things to make sure about with any counsellor or therapist you visit are:

  • that they have recognised academic qualifications
  • that they adhere to a professional code of conduct
  • that they have regular, ongoing supervision to ensure safe and ethical practice
  • that they discuss certain issues with you up front before any commitment is made to the sessions including:
    • their counselling approach
    • confidentiality issues
    • fees
    • length of sessions
    • their responsibilities to you
    • your responsibility to them