What is Counselling?
Contrary to popular belief, counsellors do not give advice or answers. Instead, they are trained to listen to you non-judgmentally and from a neutral standpoint, thereby offering you a safe environment to air your concerns.
Counselling, then, can be thought of as a collaboration between you and your counsellor during your sessions, where you both explore ways to better manage your emotions or difficulties. These may include delving further into issues to attain a better understanding of them or picking up new skills.
Zooming out to the counselling Singapore scene, we see that counselling is becoming increasingly commonplace, with many having tried out online counselling for the first time during the pandemic.
Our Counsellors in Singapore
Counsellors are professionals with relevant qualifications in counselling (TYHO’s Professional Counsellors all have at least a Master’s in Counselling degree), and are highly skilled in applying integrative therapies to provide support to individuals working through their personal and emotional issues.
While their expertise may differ, most counsellors adopt a person-centred approach that centres on their clients’ general well-being when guiding them to overcome their various challenges.
Abigail specialises in separation, grief and loss, relationship issues, couples counselling, existential issues, trauma & PTSD.
In-person: Marina Square
Fion works with individuals facing anxiety, stress, depression, burnout,
family issues, trauma and
Lenca specialises in anxiety, depression, self-esteem, work-related stress, grief, elderly issues, life transitions, anger issues & cultural adjustment.
In-person: Paya Lebar / Temple Street
Joseph specialises in depression, mood instability, work stress, burnout, BPD, health issues, LGBT issues, habit change & suicidal ideation.
Counselling Singapore: How Does it Work?
In terms of counselling, Singapore has many options available. These options vary by organisation, type of issue or difficulty, mode of counselling sessions, fees, as well as length of therapy.
Where Can I Get Counselling in Singapore?
There are various ways to get counselling support in Singapore. These range from individual hotlines for specific purposes (eg crisis support, family violence, mental health difficulties, women’s issues, pandemic-related struggles, and so on) to numerous private practices which cover a broad array of issues. There are also Family Service Centres (FSCs) located in different areas which offer social and emotional support for the lower income population and / or vulnerable residents within the community. You may find your nearest Family Service Centre using this locator.
What are the main aims of counselling in Singapore?
The goals of counselling may differ depending on the issues and goals of the clients. Clients are not told what to do or how to behave during sessions. Instead, their therapist endeavours to help them recognise and make sense of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours so they may resolve their issues and experience positive changes in their lives.
Some common aims of counselling are as follows:
Work on their challenges and explore next steps: In the initial sessions, individuals may gain deeper insights into their issues by identifying patterns in the ways they think, feel, and act with their therapist. They can then weigh their options and the suggestions made, and decide what to do next.
Provide support in the long term: Growth is not linear and everyone handles their issues in different ways. Counselling allows individuals to receive consistent support from a professional who offers guidance and objective views as they journey towards their goals.
Build on the strengths of the client: Counselling also enables individuals to discover and develop their strengths, giving them the confidence to overcome their challenges.
What Types of Counselling Sessions are There?
There is great flexibility in terms of the types of counselling sessions as well. For instance, a counselling session may be for an individual, a couple, a family, or a group. Any of these sessions may take place online (by video, audio, or text) or in-person, depending on the preferences and needs of the person(s) seeking counselling.
Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO) offers a range of services including individual, couples, family, art, walk and talk, and hypnotherapy. We also deliver workshops and facilitate discussions on mental health and wellbeing as well as personal and professional development.
How is counselling delivered in Singapore?
Counselling can be delivered in several ways in Singapore. A therapist may see you in-person at their office / counselling centre or at your place (in the case of a house visit), speak with you online (via audio / video conferencing or live chat), or over the phone. Besides English and Mandarin, you may also converse with your Therapist in your preferred language (eg Malay, Tamil) or even dialect (eg Cantonese, Hokkien).
During your session, you and your therapist would typically engage in a discussion of your struggles and feelings. They may then employ relevant therapeutic approaches / techniques, take you through specific exercises / activities, or perform assessments to help you better manage your challenges.
In addition, different services (eg individual, couples, or family therapy) may call for different mediums. For instance, a family may find it easier to attend their family counselling session in-person than online. What matters is that you (and other person(s) involved), select an option you are comfortable with.
How Much Does a Counselling Session Cost?
The rates of a counselling session varies based on a number of factors. For example, counselling sessions for couples or families generally cost more than counselling sessions for individuals. In-person counselling sessions may also cost more than online counselling sessions due to overhead costs such as venue rental. In addition, there may be savings when counselling sessions are purchased in bulk. For more details on the prices of different types of counselling sessions, visit TYHO’s pricing page.
How Long Does Counselling Last?
Each counselling session typically lasts one hour. How many total counselling sessions are required varies greatly based on an individual’s (or couple’s or family’s) needs. Clients usually start out with weekly counselling sessions at the beginning of their counselling journey, as having regular counselling sessions helps to keep their progress going. Subsequently, the frequency of counselling sessions may increase or decrease depending on the client’s situation, as well as what the client would like to achieve from their counselling sessions.
Common Issues Treated in Counselling
Key findings from the Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) initiated in 2016 show that 1 in 7 people in Singapore has experienced a mood, anxiety, or alcohol use disorder in their lifetime. Major depressive disorder (MDD) was the most common with 1 in 16 people in Singapore having had the condition at some point in their lifetime, while alcohol abuse and OCD affected 1 in 24 and 1 in 28 people, respectively.
More recently, a national study found that about one in three youth in Singapore has reported internalising mental health symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, and loneliness,
Counselling can help with various concerns, such as:
- Mental health issues / conditions (eg anxiety, depression)
- Relationship difficulties (individual, couples, marriage, or family therapy)
- Grief and loss
- Anger management
- Work-related / career stress
- Academic stress
- Parental stress
- Caregiver stress
- LGBTQ issues (including gender identity, sexual orientation, etc)
- Minority issues
- Elderly issues
- Childhood trauma
- Major life changes / transitions
When Should I See a Counsellor?
People tend to associate counselling with life problems and difficulties. While that is one possible reason for seeking counselling, it is not always the case. People seek counselling for all sorts of other reasons, too.
Some examples include self-improvement, gaining clarity on one’s thought processes and coping, learning to draw boundaries more effectively, and learning to be more assertive, to name a few. A common goal in couples or family counselling is for partners or family members to be able to communicate more effectively with one another, which in turn prevents resentment from building up over time. If you go to the gym regularly to work on your physical muscles, why would you not go for counselling to work through your emotions?
Another common myth held by many is that a problem needs to be “severe enough” or “major enough” before one begins their counselling journey. Some people might compare their situation to that of others and mistakenly perceive that their situation does not quite “justify” the need to see a counsellor. They then wait for their problem to worsen, and find that coping becomes increasingly difficult as time goes by.
The reality is that each of us is unique; as long as something is important enough to you, and you would like to talk about, you may have a chat with a counsellor. Counsellors are trained to provide you with a safe and comfortable space for you to talk about your concerns. Some people only go to the gym for physiotherapy after an injury whereas others go to the gym out of habit, in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, without having to wait for an injury to occur. Working on one’s own emotions is not that much different.
Counselling can be beneficial for individuals of different ages – adolescents / youths, adults, and seniors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Singapore counselling: Where can I get counselling in Singapore? What are some of the different counselling services offered in Singapore?
In terms of organisations providing counselling, Singapore has many options. For example, there are hotlines that provide specific counselling assistance for particular issues. These include crisis support, help for victims or survivors of family violence, pandemic-related struggles, and women’s issues. There are also various private practices which offer counselling services for a large range of issues.
What types of issues do people see counsellors for?
Basically, there could be many different reasons why a person may seek counselling. Some examples include anxiety, low moods, relationship problems, grief and loss, anger management, work related stress, academic or school-related stress, burnout, loneliness, self-esteem issues, identity issues, minority issues, grief and loss, caregiver stress, elderly issues, and difficulty coping with major life transitions or changes. Besides, couples or families may seek counselling to work on conflict resolution or to work towards being able to communicate with each other more effectively.
Is counselling in Singapore free?
In Singapore, Family Service Centres (FSCs) offer social and emotional support for low-income and / or vulnerable individuals and families. You may use this tool to find out where your nearest Family Service Centre is.
How much does a counselling session cost in Singapore?
The cost of a counselling session depends on a number of factors, such as whether the session is taking place online or in-person, and whether the session is for an individual, couple, or family. In-person sessions may cost more than online sessions due to additional costs such as the rental of a venue, and couple or family sessions may cost more than individual sessions. For more information about the price of different types of counselling sessions, see this pricing page.
Online counselling Singapore: Can I go for free online counselling in Singapore?
If you are employed, you may wish to check with your company’s Human Resources department about whether your company has an existing Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This programme gives you access to fully or partially subsidised online counselling sessions, depending on your company’s specific EAP arrangement with the service provider.
Conversely, if you are currently a student, you may check with your school’s staff regarding counselling services available to you. Most schools in Singapore have at least one school counsellor, whom students may have counselling sessions with at no additional cost.
Can I book a counselling session if I am not based in Singapore?
Yes, you can! That is the beauty of online counselling; it can be attended from anywhere, anytime, as long as you have a good internet connection and your device has sufficient battery. Nonetheless, when you book a session, you may need to be mindful of any time zone differences and convert your session timing to the relevant time zone depending on where you are based.
Best counselling Singapore: How do I choose a therapist in Singapore?
A therapist may be a professional counsellor or a psychologist. Counsellors are highly skilled in applying integrative therapies to help people to work through their personal and emotional issues, while psychologists diagnose and manage more serious mental health illnesses and disorders non-medicinally over the long term.
You may wish to look through various therapist profiles before making a decision. The important thing is that you pick someone you feel comfortable with. Some people try out therapy with a few different therapists before finding the right fit for themselves; that is completely fine too.
How effective is counselling in Singapore?
There is no straightforward answer to this question, as the effectiveness of counselling differs across clients due to varying factors such as:
- motivations for seeking support;
- goals of counselling;
- levels of commitment; and
- client-therapist fit.
Moreover, what one conceives or determines to be effective likely diverges from another.
It may be helpful to note that after attending an average of 8 sessions (Foundation Psychology; Saxon et al., 2016), individuals report the greatest decrease in psychological distress and are most likely to experience positive changes in their lives. In addition, those who decide to withdraw within or just after 3 sessions are less likely to experience positive outcomes as things often start taking a turn for the better after the third session (Crago & Gardner, 2012).
TYHO is staffed by a team of qualified professional counsellors and psychologists who have a minimum of a Master’s degree and have received professional training.
Who can benefit from counselling in Singapore?
Counselling benefits those who are dealing with a wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as others who simply want an uninterrupted time to reflect and reconnect with themselves, work on their goals, or talk to someone.
One may thus view mental health as a continuum, where therapy is beneficial whether one is in crisis, struggling, surviving, or thriving.
Some common benefits of counselling include:
- Development of coping skills: Counselling allows one to confront their complex emotions, adjust or adopt ways to tackle their difficulties, explore alternative points of views, and build emotional resilience and internal resources.
- Increased self-awareness and introspection: Regular therapy sessions give one the time and space to reflect on their experiences, organise their thoughts and feelings, and better understand their needs. For instance, we may gradually begin to identify their emotional triggers by unpacking the various events that have caused us distress.
- Improved communication and interpersonal skills: In the process of getting to know oneself, one also learn how to better express their needs to those around us. In this sense, counselling also potentially benefits their loved ones (ie our partner, parents, children, friends, etc) as it strengthens relationships through clearer communication and fewer conflicts.
Is counselling confidential in Singapore?
Counselling is confidential, with a few limits to confidentiality. Generally, these limits to confidentiality involve situations in which there is a risk of harm to the client or someone else; in these cases, safety is prioritised over confidentiality. Therapists are also subject to the law as well as the ethical standards of their profession.
Are counsellors regulated in Singapore?
Professional bodies that represent therapists in Singapore include:
- Singapore Psychological Society (SPS);
- Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC); and
- Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS).
What is the difference between counselling and therapy?
Owing to the considerable overlaps between them, counselling and therapy are often used interchangeably. Most notably, both involve speaking about one’s issues with a mental health professional and working with them collaboratively to improve one’s wellbeing.
That said, counselling generally refers to talk therapy, while therapy may incorporate other elements such as art, music, and even physical movement (in the case of Walk and Talk therapy) throughout the therapeutic process.
For the most part, the key lies in selecting a therapist whose services and counselling style align with your goals. If you are unsure of where to start, it may be wise to take some time to reflect on your current difficulties as well as your expectations before booking your first session.
At TYHO, we collectively refer to our professional counsellors and psychologists as “Therapists”.