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3 reasons why people seek therapy

We're all unique, and we all face different challenges in our lives. As a result, there's a broad range of reasons why you might be considering seeing a counsellor or therapist.

You may be wondering if what you're facing is even "worth" seeing a counsellor about - for what reasons do people start counselling? In this post, I've provided an overview of three broad categories of reasons why people seek therapy.

1. For help with a specific challenge

For many, the thing that prompts them to contact a counsellor is a specific issue or challenge they're facing. This might be something they've struggled with for a long time, or something that's come as the result of a significant change in their lives. Common challenges include:

  • Stress at work

  • Social anxiety

  • Phobias (such as a fear of flying or public speaking)

  • Substance use

  • Self-harm

  • Relationship difficulties

For these challenges (and many more besides), counselling can be a way to explore how it affects you. Depending on the approach your counsellor uses, they may be able to provide psychoeducation or other interventions or strategies to help you to more effectively manage the challenge.

Structured approaches are particularly well-suited to helping with these sorts of challenges. Such approaches include: CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), DBT (dialectic behaviour therapy), ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) and MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction).

2. To make sense of something that's happened

Others might seek counselling in response to specific event in their lives. Maybe it's something recent (like a bereavement, break-down in a relationship, or new diagnosis) or something from longer ago that you now feel more able to talk about (such as a traumatic event or historic abuse).

Which therapeutic approach to choose will depend on your personal preferences, and how you want to approach counselling. But some approaches are specifically recommended for specific challenges - for example, EMDR (eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing) is often recommended for post-traumatic stress.

3. To explore "big questions"

Finally, you might seek counselling for something less clearly defined. You might be thinking about your sense of personal identity, meaning in your life, or issues around death and mortality. These sorts of topics are still unfortunately often taboo in Western culture, and opportunities to have in-depth, exploratory, and non-judgemental conversations can be challenging.

A counsellor can be a neutral party to support you in exploring your own perspective on the "big questions" in your life. Approaches particularly well-suited to this sort of work include person-centred counselling and existential therapy.

If you're facing any of these challenges or are considering counselling for any other reason, finding the right counsellor for you is an important first step. I've produced a free workbook to help guide your search (which you can download here) - or you can contact me for a free consultation.

Did you enjoy this post? Did you find it helpful? Want to know something about counselling I haven't talked about yet? Please leave me a comment below, or email me at

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