How do I know if I need counselling?

Counselling usually works better if you seek it out yourself. You may not get the best out of it if you don’t really want to be there.

When counselling may help

You may prefer to talk things over with someone when you are first diagnosed with cancer. This can help you to sort out your feelings during treatment.

Or the full emotional impact of having cancer may not hit you until treatment is over, and counselling might help you better then.

Your problems and counselling

Counselling might help with:

  • feeling very anxious, depressed, sad, tired or angry
  • difficulties coping with everyday issues such as work or socialising
  • problems with sleeping and concentrating
  • relationship, sexual or financial problems

Remember that many of these symptoms can be side effects of your cancer and its treatment. Though it may take a while, they are likely to go away once your treatment has finished.

Always let your doctor or nurse know about any symptoms you have.

Worries about counselling

You might be put off counselling because you feel it’s a sign of weakness, you are going mad, or you’ve failed to cope with things on your own.

Accepting help

It is important to remember about going to see a counsellor:

  • is not a sign of weakness
  • can help you to cope and to feel better about things
  • doesn't mean you are going mad
  • doesn't mean you can't cope

Not everyone who has cancer needs counselling. People handle stress in different ways. It all depends on:

  • the type of person you are
  • your genetic make up
  • how much support you have
  • your life experiences

So if you feel that counselling could help, don’t feel it’s a weakness to ask for it. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to seek help from a counsellor. It shows that you’re taking control of things.

Choosing counselling means that you recognise that you need someone to talk to at this point in your life. You need help to sort out your thoughts and feelings.

In the long run, it may make you a much stronger person and help lessen the struggle you’re going through.

Giving yourself time

An hour a week devoted to just you can be of real benefit during or after your treatment.

It is time to think about how you feel, what you want and what’s happening in your life right now. You can say whatever you like, and it will stay between you and your counsellor.

The emotional pressures of a cancer diagnosis can be immense, both during treatment and afterwards. Talking to a counsellor gives you a chance to talk about what it really feels like, and to share and let go of some of your feelings.

Talking to family or friends

Not everyone who has cancer needs to get professional counselling. Of course, many of us have people who regularly listen to our worries and problems.

You may have family members, friends, a religious adviser or a caring neighbour who will be all that you want and need.

It may be easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you

Family and friends aren’t always enough. Sometimes, it’s easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you quite as well.

Some of the advantages of talking to a professional counsellor can mean that:

  • you don't have to worry about upsetting or worrying them
  • they will not judge you or what you have done
  • you may find it easier to sort out and talk about your deepest feelings
  • they won’t say something just because it is what they think you want to hear
  • anything you say is completely confidential
  • Cancer and its management, 7th edition

    J Tobias and D Hochhauser

    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

Last reviewed: 
04 Nov 2022
Next review due: 
04 Nov 2025

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