Counselling

Group counselling where people are sitting on chairs in a circle

It’s normal to feel low when experiencing health issues or going through changes in your life. This can affect your relationship with yourself as well as your relationships with friends, family and colleagues. 

It may be helpful to talk to a trained counsellor about anything you’re struggling with. This can help identify any triggers and find solutions that may help you.  

What is counselling?  

Counselling is a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with your emotions. 

Counselling can help you cope with:

  • a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety (link to new page)
  • being diagnosed with or living with a health condition
  • dealing with a difficult life event, such as losing someone you love, a relationship breakdown, financial burden, or work-related stress
  • identifying triggers that cause you to follow negative patterns
  • difficult emotions – for example, low self-esteem caused by your health condition or feeling angry about your situation.  

When should I seek help? 

The first thing to realise is that you're not alone. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what’s right for you.

You should consider seeking help such as counselling if you identify with any of the factors listed above or if you feel like talking to somebody can make your life more manageable.

You can go to a therapist at any time. A therapist is there to listen and help you overcome emotional issues, and help you find your own solutions. Asking for help might be what you need to do so that you can talk about what you’re going through and find ways to move forward. 

The most important thing you can do for your mental health is to talk to a friend, family member or a professional about how you’re feeling.

If you’re not ready to speak to anyone yet, you can try keeping a diary or write about your health problems as a way to help your recovery. 

If you are going to cardiac rehab you can discuss any concerns with one of the nurses as part of the recovery process. 

How does counselling work?

Talking about your concerns may help you feel more in control of the situation. At your counselling session your therapist will encourage you to talk about your feelings and emotions. The therapist can help you to better understand your feelings and find your own solutions to problems. Remember that your therapist is someone who is there to listen and support you without judgement, and your conversation is confidential. 

Counselling can take place:

  • face to face 
  • in a group or with your partner 
  • over the phone 
  • by email 
  • online through live chat services. 
     

You may be offered a single session of counselling, a short course of sessions over a few weeks or months, or a longer course that lasts for several months or years.

It can take a number of sessions before you start to see progress, but you should gradually start to feel better with the help and support of your therapist.

How to find a therapist

You can get free psychological therapies, including counselling for depression, on the NHS. You don't need a referral from your GP, but it can be useful to talk with your GP if they know your medical history. 

You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service. Find a psychological therapies service in your area. Some companies will also have counselling services, so check with your workplace.

The length of time it takes to access services near you, can vary depending on where you live.

You can also contact the organisations below for details of approved therapists. However, there may be a charge to see one. 

Support available that may help

Whether you need practical advice or a sympathetic ear, there is support available: 

  • Talk to your healthcare team or cardiac rehabilitation nurse 
  • Talk to your GP who’ll signpost you to support
  • Call our Heart Helpline. We can provide you with information and support on anything heart-related – call 0300 330 3311 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) 
  • Find a Heart Support Group near you
  • Join our online community to talk to patients and carers, and read other people’s experiences and tips for living with heart and circulatory disease 
  • Speak to your workplace to see how they can support you.

List of helpful organisations:

  • Samaritans - Offers confidential emotional support for anyone who wants to talk to someone supportive and non-judgemental. Call the helpline (24 hours): 08457 90 90 90 or email Samaritans
  • Anxiety UK helpline - To speak to someone about your anxiety call 08444 775774 (open 9.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Mind Infoline - For information on mental health problems and treatments. Call 0300 123 3393 or email Mind
  • Relate - For relationship and family counselling and advice: in person, online and by phone. Call 0300 100 1234.
There’s also an increasing number of mobile apps that promote emotional wellbeing. Visit the NHS app library or the overview at mental health charity Mind for more information.

Want to know more?

Want to know more?

Order or download our publications: