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Counselling - when you need to talk about it

counselling; solving problems; worry; anxiety; counseling; mediation; honesty ;


What is counselling?

counsellingTalking things over with someone, listening to their problems, helping to find solutions and supporting them through the bad times, is what counselling is all about. Families and friends often take on counselling roles for each other. But sometimes the problems are within the family and it is hard to get the help that you may need.

What kinds of counsellors are there?

At school

  • Your school may have a Peer Mediation Program where older kids can act as listeners and help you to sort out problems you may be having with other students.
  • Your class teacher may be able to help you.
  • Your school may have a special school counsellor.
  • Your Principal or Deputy Principal may be able to help find a counsellor outside school, and your mum or dad may make an appointment for you.

At home

  • counsellingYou may talk to someone who is on your network of trusted adults. (See our topic Keeping yourself safe from child abuse if you don't know about 'trusted adults').
  • You may talk to your doctor, priest or vicar if you know them well enough to feel comfortable talking to them.

Professional counsellors

  • You could ask your parents or caregivers to make an appointment with a health care professional who is trained in counselling.
  • Your school, community health centre or your doctor can help mum and dad find a counsellor for you.
  • Some counselling services are free but there may be a long waiting list.
  • Some counsellors can be very expensive, so parents or carers will need to shop around.
  • You could call a telephone counselling service like Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) to help you work out what is best for you to do. (It's a free call.)

Why use a counsellor?

Life is so full-on that sometimes there isn't any time to sort out the little problems, and before you know it, they've grown into giant problems.

For kids, these could be:

  • counsellingproblems at school, eg. not coping with work or being bullied
  • problems with friendships
  • problems with parents' relationships, eg. divorce
  • problems caused by alcohol or drugs
  • problems caused by money
  • problems about body image or self-esteem
  • feeling unsafe or uncomfortable with what is happening
  • feeling depressed
  • feeling afraid of being hurt
  • feeling very angry
  • feeling confused or worried about your feelings
  • worrying about body changes during puberty.

Different types of counselling

If you do go to a professional counsellor, then the counsellor will spend time getting to know you. If you don't feel comfortable with that person, you may ask to see someone else, eg. you may prefer someone who is the same sex as yourself.

You will be doing most of the talking, because you are the expert on your problem. The counsellor will be listening and helping you to work out what your problem is and what you can try to fix things.

  • You may be one-to-one with the counsellor.
  • counsellingYou may be part of a group working with the counsellor (but only if you are happy about that).
  • You may be working with one or more of your family and the counsellor.
  • You may learn some ways of coping with the problems.
  • You may learn how to relax in different ways.
  • You may have to keep notes or a diary to write down your thoughts and actions or reactions.
  • You may be encouraged to draw or paint or listen to music to help you work out your problems.

When you and your counsellor feel that the problems are at an end and you can cope alone, the counselling can end.

Seeing a counsellor

In the past, some people have thought of counselling and psychotherapy as being only for 'serious' problems, or for 'crazy' people. Going to see a counsellor was often seen as a sign of weakness.

This could not be further from the truth, and people these days realise that talking to a counsellor about their problems can be a very positive experience. Counselling might also be called therapy or psychotherapy.

Going into a room with a stranger to talk about your problems can seem like a scary experience, but the counsellor will be working towards making the process safe and supportive.

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate"Everyone is special and deserves to be listened to. If you are worried and unhappy about something talk to your trusted adults and keep talking until you find someone who listens and can help you. Our topic on conflict resolution can give you some ideas. Remember that to sort out a problem, everyone has to be prepared to lose something to get something that they want. If one person is the winner and the other person is the loser then the problem is not solved".


Life can get so busy,
Life can move so fast
That sometimes it's a blessing
As bad things cannot last.
Try talking to an adult
Who helps you work things out
In your heart and mind,
When you're not sure what it's about.
Someone who can listen
And keep your secrets too.
We all need a hand sometimes.
It's okay if it's you.


Did you know that writing down what is worrying you can help you to sort it out?

Some kids like writing poetry. Poetry is a good way of getting a message across to others and thinking things out for yourself.

Conflict in the school yard
Can make some people's life hard.
But it may be hard to find
Someone who has got the time
To help you sort your problems out.
To make your life without a doubt.
To make a world where, fully free,
Everyone will be happy.

by Amy
I had a problem with a family member.
I kept it secret for a while.
It then turned into a big fight,
So I ran away that very night.
The next day I saw a counsellor.
I was amazed because she just listened.
When I was done she said to me,
"Okay you are not alone in this."
She gave me some ideas
And I chose just one.
And in the end everyone won!
My family is now a family again.
If you have problems you can do the same.

by Kara

Want to know more?

Reachout and Youth beyond blue are two Australian websites that have a lot of information about issues that young people may experience and where to get help - including about counselling and counsellors. 

Youth beyond blue  

Reach out

Kid's Helpline For children, teens and young adults who want to talk about things that are worrying them 


If you want to talk with someone urgently, call Lifeline Ph: 13 1114 

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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