how counselling can support you

One of the most common ways to treat anxiety and depression is counselling. But how does it work, and why does it work? Let’s break down what the process is like, and if it could benefit you.

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what is counselling?

If you feel constantly overwhelmed, this exposure to long-term (chronic) stress can have a real impact on your physical and mental health.

Most people seek counselling with a desire to change some aspect of their lives they’re unhappy with.

A qualified counsellor will listen and help you move through the problems you’re facing, develop new strengths, and improve your wellbeing.

  • deal with difficult life events like bereavement or relationship problems
  • process and resolve emotions like guilt, grief, anger, or sadness
  • cope with a crisis
  • work through conflict
  • improve low self-esteem
“I would say that counselling was crucial for me. Somehow it makes you able to carry on, because you know someone is there to talk to.”


caba client


how could you benefit from counselling?

There are many different forms of counselling including marriage counselling, anxiety counselling, relationship counselling etc.

A study from Kings College London and Maudsley NHS Foundation has shown that talking therapies can change the brain. It does this by encouraging you to change the way you think about, and respond to, difficulties.

Changing those thoughts and behaviours strengthens the connections in your brain (the neurons) associated with a more positive outlook.

The focus can be on you to direct the therapy, meaning it’s up to you to put change into practice. That doesn’t mean you have to do it alone - you’ll be supported by your therapist, who’ll adapt the direction of your sessions based on your experiences.

When neurons are repeatedly stimulated by these new thoughts and behaviours, changes in your brain take place. The more you focus your attention in one direction, the stronger those neural networks become. Over time, you’ll get better at thinking and behaving in a certain way.

Think about when you learned to drive, swim, or cycle - these are all activities you had to practice repeatedly to become good at.

And now, for many of us, those things require less effort than when we first learned them.

What you focus your thoughts on grows in the brain.

“I had never thought about counselling before. I felt that I needed to do something so I phoned and I am glad I did as it is a process that changed my life and continues to do so.”


caba client


Is relationship counselling for me?

Relationship counselling is for everyone, regardless of if you’re married, living together, single, or LGBTQ+. If you’re looking for couples counselling, it will provide a caring and supportive environment for you to work through things, regardless of what your age or background is.

Family counselling, for example, can be beneficial during changes to the family structure because of things like divorce, separation, bereavement, or stepfamilies. It can also help when family members aren’t getting along.

Counselling sessions usually last 45 minutes to an hour. You can receive counselling on your own, or it can involve your partner or other members of your family. There may be times when your counsellor also recommends some one-to-one sessions.

Evidence suggests that healthy relationships help us to live longer, boost our self-esteem, and improve our health. But they don’t just happen overnight - we have to work at them.

Relationship counselling has a number of benefits, including:

  • helping you to maintain or strengthen relationships
  • looking into relationship issues
  • improving concentration
  • boosting confidence

What happens in a counselling session?

During your session, your counsellor will ask questions about your situation and how it makes you feel. Even if you feel apprehensive, sometimes just talking to someone who isn’t involved can be helpful.

Counsellors are there to listen and provide non-judgemental support and encouragement. Everyone in the family is welcome, and they’re encouraged to share their feelings regardless of age. Being listened to in this safe, supportive environment can be particularly beneficial to children.

After seeing a counsellor, many young people feel happier and feel better able to deal with their problems. This can help them concentrate at school or college and improve relationships with their friends and family.

If you’d like to improve your love life, sex therapy can help. This is a talking-based therapy which will help you learn how to deal with the problems you may be having in your romantic life. According to Relate, 93% of couples who’ve used their sex therapy service said it improved their sex life.

We’ve partnered with Relate to offer confidential relationship counselling, family counselling, young people’s counselling, and sex therapy to ICAEW members and their families.


when is the right time for counselling?

There’s no right or wrong time to go for counselling. It’s common to delay it because of feelings of anxiety, but the sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll feel better.

Many people see counselling as a break-down service to help them when they’re in serious difficulty, but it’s more like an annual service - a regular activity where you can talk through challenges and see how you’re coping.

Counselling needs to come at a time where you’re comfortable exploring your feelings and opening up about things that might be difficult to talk about.

join our mindfulness for beginners course to learn more about self-compassion

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At caba, we can provide short-term support, and help you identify the steps you need to take for long-term wellbeing.

Your GP is also important for planning your long-term support and should be one of the main people to help you put together a plan.

Counselling is perfect for helping you learn how to manage your wellbeing long term. If you need immediate help, please contact Samaritans via phone, email, or their self-help app.

where to find support?


When you get in touch with us, our specialists will talk over the situation with you, then refer you to our counselling service. There, they’ll conduct an assessment and recommend the right short-term support based on your individual needs. This is usually done within seven days of you contacting us. Counselling can be online or over the phone.


We also have a partnership with Qwell.

Qwell is a free, safe and anonymous online mental wellbeing community for adults. Their support includes an online magazine, community forums, and professional text based support and counselling through our online platform.

It also has a wealth of resources like journal templates, to help manage your mental health.

Find out more about Qwell here

your GP

If you feel you’re in need of long-term help, reach out to your GP. They’ll be able to talk through the different options available to you, and help you put together a long-term action plan to help you going forwards.

It’s important that you feel comfortable talking to your counsellor so that you can get the most from your sessions. If this doesn’t happen, you always have the option to switch counsellors. There’s no harm or offence in changing if you feel someone’s approach isn’t the right fit for you.

It’s up to you what you discuss in your session. Our counsellors can help you move through whatever you’re facing. They can also direct you to other organisations for information, advice, and support.

find out about our emotional support

There are everyday and exceptional things that affect us all at some point in our lives. We're here for you. We can arrange for you to receive counselling sessions to help you work through any difficulties you're facing. Our support is free, impartial and confidential.

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further reading

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what is good mental health and why is it important?

Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It’s about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with everyday life. Here we take a closer look at mental health and how you can maintain a positive relationship with yours.

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Sleep struggles can cause lasting effects on your mental health. Our expert guidance can help you improve your understanding.

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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