Mental Health & Psychological Support

See below for information on the following:

  • What is counselling?
  • What can counselling help with?
  • What to expect from counselling
  • Can you get free counselling on the NHS?
  • Private counselling
  • Charities and voluntary organisations
  • Finding a qualified therapist
  • Other talking therapies
  • What other support is available?

Forres GP Practices are often asked to host student counsellors who are working towards a recognised counselling qualification with an accredited body, and who are willing to provide their services free of charge.  These counsellors will be under arranged supervision which meets the standards of their accredited body and can provide information to patient on request.  Patients over 16 years of age can directly self-refer to these services (no need for the GP to do a referral).  During Covid, most of these counselling sessions are online however counsellors may arrange face-to-face sessions once restrictions are eased and we will try to accommodate these at the Health Centre whenever possible.  If you feel that counselling may be of benefit, please arrange a routine GP telephone consultation to discuss this in the first instance.

While these resources may be useful sources of information and self-help, we are unable to accept responsibility for these services and patients should always request information and perform checks to ensure they are fully informed before entering into a counselling agreement. 

If your symptoms do not improve or indeed become worse, it is likely that self-help is insufficient to meet your needs, and it is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of your GP regarding the most appropriate treatment options.

What is counselling?

Counselling is a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with emotional issues; this could be person-centred counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or others such as psychodynamic psychotherapy.

What can counselling help with?

Counselling can help you cope with:

  • a mental health condition, such as depressionanxiety or an eating disorder
  • an upsetting physical health condition, such as infertility
  • a difficult life event, such as a bereavement, a relationship breakdown or work-related stress
  • difficult emotions – for example, low self-esteem or anger
  • other issues, such as sexual identity

What to expect from counselling:

At your appointment, you’ll be encouraged to talk about your feelings and emotions with a therapist, who’ll listen and support you without judging or criticising.

The therapist can help you gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes, and find your own solutions to problems. But they will not usually give advice or tell you what to do.

Counselling usually takes place face to face but during COVID is more likely to happen via video or telephone.

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.

Can you get free counselling on the NHS?

You can get free psychological therapies, including counselling for depression, on the NHS.

You do not need a referral from a GP.

You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service.

Or you can get a referral from a GP if you prefer.

Private counselling

If you decide to pay to see a private therapist, make sure they’re qualified and you feel comfortable with them.

The cost of private counselling can vary depending on where you live, with a session costing anywhere between £10 and £70.

Many private therapists offer lower rates for students, job seekers and those on low wages.

You should ask about charges and agree a price before starting a course of counselling.

You can access a list of counsellors available in Scotland on the COSCA website –

Charities and voluntary organisations

Some charities and voluntary organisations also offer counselling – see link below.

These organisations usually specialise in a particular area, such as couples counselling, bereavement or family guidance.

You do not need a referral from a GP for an appointment for these services, but you may have to pay a fee to cover the cost of your sessions.

You may also be able to access support groups through your local community, church or social services.

Finding a qualified therapist

As counselling involves talking about sensitive issues and revealing personal thoughts and feelings, your counsellor should be experienced and professionally qualified.

Reputable therapists will be registered with a professional organisation that’s been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This means they have met the PSA’s required professional standards to practise.

You can find a qualified therapist in 3 simple steps on the PSA website (

Other talking therapies

As well as counselling, there are many other types of psychological therapies (or talking therapies) that involve talking to a therapist about your feelings or problems.

This may be one-to-one, in a group, online, over the phone, with your family, or with your partner.

The therapist helps you find answers to the problems you’re having.

For some problems and conditions, one type of talking therapy may be better than another.

Different talking therapies also suit different people.

  • CBT – the aim of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is to help you explore and change how you think about your life, and free yourself from unhelpful patterns of behaviour.  You set goals with your therapist and may carry out tasks between sessions.
  • The Listening Service – we also have the CCL listening service who are able to provide support – see attached info

What other support is available?

There are a variety of resources and support available, ranging from self-help Apps to 1:1 individual support.

The attached guide gives details of some of these which have been collated by Forres GP Practices – this does not encompass everything which is available but is a list of recognised resources which GPs will often signpost patients to and which they may find helpful.

Contact your doctors online

Fill out a simple online form to ask for advice and treatment from your GP. To use this service you must be a patient of VARIS MEDICAL PRACTICE (Dr Kelly, Dr Neison, Dr Clarke, Dr Marshall, Dr Munro, Dr Pecchia, Dr Crawford, Dr Reeves).