Why call or see a counsellor?
Maybe you’ve talked to friends or family about what’s going on you, and you feel they don’t get it. Or maybe don’t feel like you can talk to them.
Sometimes it’s really good to talk with someone outside the situation.
Counselling – either over the phone or face to face – lets you work through your experiences. They’ll listen and help you make sense of things and you’ll feel better about yourself.
You can call, email, chat or visit a counselling and support service around Australia. There’s a list of them all at Services that can help.
Talk to your parents if you can. Or call Kids Helpline or Lifeline ‘cos they’re really good to talk to, or even a school counsellor. If you think something is wrong, don’t try and hide it because it can get worse.
Phone counselling is usually available for 24 hours.
It’s useful because it’s free, it’s anonymous, it’s there any time, and nobody has to know you’ve called.
Some phone lines are for any kind of question, problem or experience – like Lifeline – and others are more specific, like for sexual assault.
A sexual assault or rape crisis service can support you if you’ve been sexually assaulted or raped by your boyfriend or by someone else.
What happens when I call?
- The person who answers your call will be an experienced counsellor – not the police or someone from the government.
- You don’t have to say your name.
- You can ask for a male or female counsellor. A male counsellor might not always be available.
- Your counsellor will ask you what you would like to talk about and ask you some questions to help understand what’s going on for you.
- What you talk about is just between you and your counsellor.
- You can talk for as long or as short as you like. Some calls only last a few minutes and others can last up to an hour.
- You can just hang up at any time if you feel uncomfortable.
After talking with you, the counsellor may offer to put you in touch with another organisation that can provide ongoing help and maybe face to face counselling.
If you need immediate and urgent assistance call 000.
Callers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can call through the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677 and then quote the number of the counselling service.
Face to face counselling
Talking to a counsellor face to face gives them a better chance to get to know you and understand where you’re coming from.
If you’re a student at a school, TAFE or uni you can probably make an appointment to see a counsellor from student services. Or choose a service here and email or call to ask about counselling.
Most of them will be free for a young person.
Going to talk to a counsellor can be a scary idea at first. But it’s also scary to feel unhappy or depressed and having no-one to talk to about your biggest worries.
What to ask before you go
- Is the counselling free?
- How often would I see you and how long is each visit?
- What happens in the counselling sessions?
- Can I contact you between sessions?
- Will you talk about me with someone else?
- Do you think you can understand someone with my culture/sexuality/disability/religion/etc?
If you’re not sure about making an appointment, you can say you’ll think about their answers and ring back later.
How long will it take?
The length of the counselling process varies from person to person.
You can talk about that with your counsellor phoning to make an appointment to come and talk about your needs and how you can identify and achieve your goals.
After I went to counselling…
I’m really glad I came.
I don’t feel alone anymore.
I’m not going crazy, other people feel like this.
Now it all makes sense.
I never knew that something that happened so long ago could still affect me.
Being believed makes such a difference.
It felt really good to have my story heard.
I didn’t have to go over the details of my abuse again.
My counsellor said it wasn’t my fault – she said it was 100% the perpetrator’s responsibility for the assault.
This what people said who visited the Sexual Assault Support Service.
Some ‘What ifs?’
What if I’m really scared?
The counsellor is there for you, so try to be brave and get what you can out of talking to someone who wants to listen. It makes sense to give it a go. After a while you’ll probably wonder how you could have been scared in the beginning.
What if I can’t think of anything to say?
You could make some notes beforehand about what has been bothering you. But the counsellor will ask lots of questions anyway to try to get the picture.
What if the counsellor thinks I’m really weird?
Think of the strangest thing you can and the counsellor has probably already had to deal with it. Seriously.
What if my problems are just too trivial?
No problem is too big or too small. They’re all important if they’re affecting you.
What if I can’t put it into words?
That’s a big part of what a counsellor is going to try to help you with.
What if I don’t like my counsellor?
It’s usually possible to ask to see someone else instead if the counsellor is not helping you to feel better.
See these stories
It really helped to talk about it with the psychologist and to …realise that I wasn’t going crazy.
See Poppy’s story
I went into counselling to help me to remain strong. I realised that I am actually a wonderful person and instead of hating myself, I congratulated myself for surviving the terrible experience. I saw it as a great feat of strength.
I also started seeing a psychologist. I really needed a lot of help to rebuild my self esteem.
So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to talk to someone who never knows who you are. You can tell them whatever you like.