The first steps towards counselling


SEEKING SUPPORT Many of us recognise when we need extra support or guidance, but it can be hard to know where to start looking.

How to start getting help

Mental Health
Jannah Walshe

Finding things tough but not sure what to do about it? Thinking about talking to someone but not sure where to turn? Thinking about counselling but not really sure if it’s for you?
If you can relate to any of the above, you are not alone. Many people know when they need that extra bit of support or guidance but can often find it difficult to know where to start looking.
There are a few things to consider. What type of support do you need? Is it information or learning on what you are experiencing? Is it online or in person support? Is it medical or talk therapy that best suits your needs? If its counselling you go for, what type of counselling is best?
Many people would like to go privately, but if money is tight, they are put off by the cost involved. Remember though, many private counsellors offer a sliding scale on their fees. Don’t be afraid to ask about it.
Another option is to go to a centre, for example, your local family resource centre, family life centre or a charitable organisation. They often offer a great counselling service at a reduced cost. However, there is usually a waiting list, so attending a centre may not be the best option if you need to see someone urgently.
Your family doctor (GP) can be a good person to approach. They will be able to prescribe medication if that is needed or refer to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor.
The HSE provides a counselling service called counselling in primary care (CIPC), and it can be accessed through your doctor. This service is aimed at medical card holders who are over 18 and are dealing with mild to moderate psychological difficulties.
Groups – either support groups or group therapy groups – are another possibility. There are support groups for everything from medical conditions to difficult life events, like bereavement.
There are many organisations in Ireland doing great work in the area of mental health, providing support groups, information online, text or call numbers, talks and workshops, booklets, online chats and more. Check out your local library, online or your local family resource centre for more information.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that you are the best judge of whether the support is right for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to shop around. The more options you have available to you the easier it is to find the right support at the time it is most needed.

Jannah Walshe is a fully accredited psychotherapist, course facilitator and mental-health speaker based in Co Mayo. More information about Jannah can be found at