Counselling Within a General Practice
Counselling from within a General Practice is considered to be a specialist type of counselling. There are many counselling roles available within the Primary Care team, and qualified counsellors can develop their supportive skills considerably. Counselling in general practice can be provided by a number of professionals, including doctors, community psychiatric nurses, health visitors and counsellors.
Special ServicesA high percentage of problems that a patient will present in a GP’s surgery will be psychosocial based. Meeting the needs of these patients has therefore increased the counselling provision, which is available in primary care. It is estimated that around half of the general practices in England provide counselling services and support. This service helps patients deal with decision making, resolving specific problems and difficulties and improving relationships with other people.
Counselling can provide a useful form of treatment for clients suffering from mild to moderate mental health issues.
Primary Care CounsellingPrimary care counselling sessions tend to be brief – between 6 to 12 appointments – and deal with a specific problem or issue. A GP will generally refer patients, to a counsellor, if they are suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue or relationship issues. It also provides the patients with bereavement counselling and palliative care. Behavioural counselling is also available from a general practice, and can help adults overcome a number of medical problems and concerns.
Practitioners will recommend counselling to patients they feel will benefit from this form of supportive assistance. Patients requiring support because of complex social problems, a history of trauma or severe depression will be referred to a psychotherapist or community mental health team.
How Effective is General Practice Counselling?Counselling provides a very effective form of person-centred therapy and helps patients overcome personal difficulties. It is a good alternative to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and can work as effectively as some medication. Counselling also works extremely well alongside other forms of mental health treatments and therapy.
Brief counselling sessions can help encourage patients to take up physical exercise, improve their diet, reduce smoking and generally to take more care of their wellbeing.
- A GP referral to a counsellor means that the patient does not need to seek out a counsellor.
- General practice counselling provides convenient access to supportive care.
- Counselling provides a means of exploring feelings and thoughts and can help clarify emotions, and can help with bereavement counselling.
- Counselling provides a welcome alternative to medication, and can enable patients to reduce negative habits.
General Practice CounsellorsCounsellors who primarily work with general practice patients and clients tend to specialise in this area. These professionals will be highly qualified – with additional counselling skills and certificates – and a continual interest in their own self-development and career advancement.
A counsellor’s person-centred skills can enable the professional to work in a number of different supportive environments where he/she can provide relationship-based counselling consultations. Working in close contact with GPs, and other medical and therapeutic professionals, can allow a counsellor to expand their skills in the community.