Caring can be lonely and isolating. You may not want to ‘burden’ friends and family and consequently keep how you are feeling to yourself. Many carers feel guilty if they have negative thoughts or lose patience, but this is all natural and part of caring. Sometimes it can help to talk to people who are not emotionally involved with the situation and other carers who may be sharing similar experiences, thoughts and feelings.
I just want to talk to someone who understands. Can I do this?
I feel I need a bit more time to explore how I am feeling. What about counselling?
How do I find a counsellor?
What other counselling is affordable or free?
I need to see someone quickly and can afford to pay. How do I find a counsellor?
I would prefer to get out and talk to other carers. What’s available?
Who can I talk to at night when I feel at my lowest point?
I need to see a counsellor about a relationship problem
I am struggling to cope after a death, what help is there?
CarersLine is Carers Support Centre’s confidential phone and email service, which offers emotional support. You can ring or email. Some people find writing their feelings and thoughts in an email easier and some people prefer to speak to someone directly.
You may also want to consider a Carers Assessment. This is an opportunity for you to talk about your caring role face to face with a Carers Support Worker. For many people it may be the first time that they have had the chance to discuss caring and how it is affecting them. It is a good starting point for getting support for you and to take a bit of time out with someone who will listen and understand.
Counselling is an opportunity to talk about how you feel with a trained professional. There are different types of counselling and you may want to find out a bit about different kinds of counselling on offer to work out which one is best for you. You may try a couple of different types of counselling or see a few different counsellors before finding one that ‘clicks’.
NHS Choices has an overview of different types of counselling and talking therapies.
Talk to your GP and see if they can refer you for counselling. This is a way of getting free help if you qualify for this.
Alternatively, you can refer yourself to NHS funded talking therapies. They may not offer counselling immediately but may suggest other things first, such as courses and groups, which cover things like stress, anxiety, low mood and mindfulness.
- in South Gloucestershire, the service is delivered by South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies.
- in Bristol, the service is delivered by Bristol Wellbeing.
There are various local organisations that offer low cost or free counselling.
- Network counselling offers affordable counselling to people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire
- The Harbour offer free counselling for people affected by life threatening illness.
- Wessex Counselling offers counselling with fees based on income.
- Womankind provides free or affordable counselling to women in the Bristol area. Women in South Gloucestershire can access their private counselling service.
- Low Cost Counselling are a group of counsellors offering home visits at affordable prices.
- Meeting Minds is an affordable counselling service run by Bristol Mind and is for people with mental ill health. This service is only open to people in Bristol.
- South Gloucestershire parent carers offer low cost counselling to parent carers. You can find out more information by emailing email@example.com.
If you decide to access counselling privately, check that the counsellor is registered with an appropriate body, what kind of counselling they offer and practical details such as fees and where you would meet with them. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) have a register of trained and accredited counsellors which is a good place to start.
You can also use the Counselling Directory to find out about counsellors and there is lots of useful information about counselling for carers.
Another good way of finding a counsellor is to ask for recommendations from friends or family members.
- Carers Support Centre runs a variety of carer support groups and courses and workshops which are a good way to meet other carers.
- there are other local carers groups run by different organisations. Some are especially for carers of people with, for example, mental illness or dementia; whilst others are for all carers.
- you can find details of other groups on the Wellaware database.
Caring can feel particularly difficult in the evenings when you are alone with your thoughts and feelings. Here are some useful contacts you may want to make a note of:
- Silverline is a helpline for older people. Most callers are over 60 but they don’t have a strict age limit. Tel: 0800 470 80 90.
- Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal. Their helpline is available 365 days a year and is open 24 hours a day. Tel: 116 123.
- Carers UK forum is an online community where you can talk to other carers. They may understand what you are going through and be able to support you through everything caring has to throw at you. The forum is open to all carers over the age of 18, whatever your circumstances. It is moderated by volunteers – all of whom have caring experience themselves – with the back-up of staff. The forum is for peer-to-peer support and is not monitored by professional advisers.
Most counsellors should be able to help with this but Relate specialise in this area. The Carers Trust website has a section on relationships which includes an online relationship guide covering situations such as caring for your partner or parent. They have recently added a guide to caring for a disabled child which includes advice about maintaining a good relationship with your child and partner.