Counselling for carers

What is counselling?

Counselling can be very useful in helping us to deal with parts of our lives that we find difficult to manage, emotionally or practically. Carers can find counselling especially helpful because it gives them regular times to think purely about their own needs – and in doing so it can make their caring role more manageable.

A counsellor’s main job is to listen to their client and to show them that they understand what they are being told. A surprising amount of the benefit of counselling comes simply from being heard and understood without judgement. A counsellor is someone who is not connected to you personally. This means that you don’t have to be concerned with how they might be affected by what you tell them, unlike when talking to someone you are close to.

A counsellor does not give advice or tell you what you ‘should’ do. Instead, they help you to explore what is happening in your life and what has happened in the past. If you need solutions to difficulties, they will help you to find these for yourself. When facing difficulties, we can easily find ourselves unable to’ see the wood for the trees’. A counsellor will help to point out things that you might not be noticing and will let you know if you are limiting yourself in the way you are thinking. They will point out if you have unreasonably low expectations for yourself and will help you to raise those expectations. Most importantly, a counsellor will validate your feelings.

How do I find a counsellor?

There is nothing in UK law to prevent anyone advertising themself as a counsellor. Counsellors who are members of a professional organisation will be fully qualified and committed to work to a set of appropriate professional standards. Checking that a counsellor is a member of one of these organisations gives you some reassurance about their professionalism. The main organisations in the UK are:

  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • The National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS)
  • The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Most counsellors will have their own websites, so you can simply do an internet search to find counsellors in your area. However, there are a number of online directories which can be a good place to start and will make your search a bit easier. The main directories for UK practitioners are:

  • Counselling Directory
  • Psychology Today
  • The BACP Therapist Directory
  • The NCPS Counsellor Directory
  • How do I know that I’ve found the right counsellor?

    For your counselling to work as well as possible, it’s important that you have a rapport with your counsellor. That can only develop as you work with them, but you can help that along by choosing a counsellor who feels right for you. It can be a good idea to make a shortlist of people who you think you might like to work with, based on what you can read about them online. Most counsellors will be happy to have a short, introductory chat with you at no cost, so you can get a sense of what it is like to talk to them. Many offer a free or reduced cost first session. It can be a good idea to talk to a few counsellors before deciding on who to start work with, so you can be as confident as possible that you’ve found the right person. No good counsellor will be upset if you decide not to work with them.

    What if I want counselling but don’t think I can afford it?

    Many people will find the fees for private counselling unaffordable and this can be particularly true for carers. A lot of counsellors offer reduced rates to a limited number of clients, so it you find a counsellor that you would like to work with it is worth asking them if they would be willing to work with you for a fee that you can afford.

    It’s worth checking whether your GP surgery offers counselling. Some do, although typically only for a limited course of sessions – usually six or ten.

    There are a number of projects in Devon that offer lower cost counselling. If you have counselling with one of these projects you will probably have a counsellor allocated to you, rather than being able to choose the person you would like to work with. If however you find the relationship with that counsellor isn’t working, most projects will be more than to allocate a different counsellor to you.

    The counsellors working in lower-cost projects are typically trainee counsellors or are relatively recently qualified. If they are trainees, they will have been tested by their college to make sure that they are ready to practice and they will be given extra supervision to support them.

    Below is a list of projects offering affordable counselling in Devon.

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    ProviderLocationDescriptionContact Information
    BounceTivertonBounce offers 1 to 1 counselling and psychotherapy to support adults, young people and children in emotional difficulty. 

    Fee: from £8.00 per session
    ClarityBarnstapleOne-to-one counselling and therapeutic groups.
    Fee: Donation of £20.00 per session. “If cost is a barrier for accessing our services we can discuss this at our first session”.
    Phone: 01271 267474
    Counselling Connection Devon CICIn-person sessions in Totnes and online and telephone counsellingCCD offers a low-cost service dedicated to adult carers, along with a general-needs low-cost service for people on a lower income.  They are currently developing a service for children and young people, which is due to start in September 2024. 
    Fee: from £15.00 per session.
    Phone: 07934 955561
    Counselling for Social ChangeRemoteThe service is based in Cornwall and offers telephone counselling to people unable to attend in person.
    Fee: from £12.00 per session
    Phone: 0333 050 8825
    Dartmoor Centre for Counselling and PsychotherapyNewton Abbot“DCCPs therapists are deeply committed to supplying effective therapy to promote better mental health and wellbeing within the community.”
    Fee: “We charge according to means”
    Phone: 07916 985621
    Devon MINDPlymouthRegister for their service using the online form at the above web address.
    Fee: £30.00 per session
    The Free Psychotherapy NetworkNationalWebsite listing private practitioners offering free counselling and psychotherapyWebsite:
    Headstrong Counselling CICOnlineHeadstrong offers weekly remote sessions to individuals aged 18+ who experience mild to moderate mental health challenges
    Fee: from £15.00 per session
    Iron Mill College Counselling ServiceExeterCounselling for individual adults with students from the Iron Mill College
    Fee: £20.00 per 50 minute session
    Phone: 01392 499388
    The Margaret Jackson CentreExeterCharity providing affordable counselling to adults
    Fee: From £10.50 per hour
    Phone: 01392 256711
    Parental Minds CICHoniton, Sidmouth, Seaton, Ottery St Mary & AxminsterParental Minds Counselling is available to all Parents/Carers and those aged 16-25
    Fee: a donation of between £5.00 and £30.00
    Phone: 07907 614 516
    Plymouth and South Devon RelatePlymouthRelationship, family and children and young people’s counselling and sex therapy
    Fee: A contribution towards costs – figure not specified on their website
    Phone: 01752 213131
    The Quiet Mind CentreExmouthOffer counselling, coaching and a number of complementary therapies. 
    Fee: Suggested minimum donation of £8.00
    Phone: 01395 270070
    RelateNational / onlineRelate has partnerships with a number of organisations which enables it to offer free counselling to specific groups of people.  Check their website for details
    Fee: Free
    Simply Counselling CICPlymouth / onlineWorking with people unable to afford standard counselling rates.
    Fee: from £37.00 per hour, but with free counselling available to specific groups. Check their website for details
    Phone: 01752 560900
    Surviving Abuse Northern Devon CIC (SAND)Barnstaple / online“…specialist service in North Devon for any adult who has experienced sexual abuse. We also extend this service to family members who are in a supporting role”.
    Fee: Not specified on their website, but “low cost”.
    Phone: 07763 617693
    What’s your problem? CICTorbayFee: Not specified on their website, but they refer to the possibility of grant funding for clients on low income.Website:
    Phone: 01803 524044