A diagnosis of cancer, a course of treatment, the illness or death of a partner or friend can all create shock, fear and confusion. Established ways of doing things, strong emotional ties, familiar patterns of coping and old certainties may be disrupted.

While some people are fortunate and get the support they need from family, friends and community, others feel isolated. Even those surrounded by supportive and loving well-wishers often feel deeply alone. People are often encouraged to "be positive" by their families when they want to express the difficult feelings they have.

Counselling with its combination of understanding, concern and neutrality can help people in this situation. Like a good friend or partner, the counsellor is warm and caring. However, the client doesn't need to worry about overburdening the counsellor, as they might with a friend or partner.

Since the counsellor is not involved in the client's life, this enables him or her to bring an objective view to issues, which the client may urgently need. The open-mindedness and impartiality of the counsellor can help the client to explore thoughts and feelings without inhibitions. The client may also need to release bottled-up emotions such as anger, guilt or helplessness.

The benefits of counselling include:

  • alleviating feelings of loneliness

  • increasing the ability to communicate, improving relationships

  • promoting the deeper understanding of emotions

  • increasing a sense of control

  • providing a fresh perspective and tapping into creativity

  • reducing tension and stress

  • putting people in touch with their resources of imagination and intuition

  • helping people to find meaning in what is happening to them