Glossary of counselling terms

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Counselling jargon and abbreviations

Sometimes as counsellors, we talk our own language, filled with counselling jargon and abbreviations. We will of course do our best to avoid this, but thought it polite and useful to list some of the commonly used definitions. This page could extend for miles, so we have limited this glossary to those terms that are most commonly used in the counselling world. You will find other useful information and definitions throughout this site and should you not understand anything or need a specific counselling term to be defined, we encourage you to ask! Please do not let the barrier of counselling terms be a negative in your counselling journey.

To discuss counselling or book an appointment,
email or call Karen Cherrington today on 07832 195924

“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.” ― Sigmund Freud

Common counselling terms


This term, when used as ‘BACP Accred’ is evidence of the therapists standing as measured by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) and that the therapist is an accredited counsellor, psychotherapist, trainer or supervisor. Accreditation results from significant levels of both training and experience, as measured by and evidenced to the BACP. Other counselling organisations have their own terms to define a therapists experience and qualifications.


This counselling term defines the professional relationship that exists as a client:counsellor relationship, where boundaries are used to define the ‘limits’ of that relationship, ensuring that both parties fully understand what is acceptable.


This defines and agrees that subject to certain legalities, that what is discussed within a counselling session, shall remain confidential and private. Confidentiality defines a level of client ‘ownership’ in respect of conversations that take place and that sharing such information, in a way that would identify the client, would only take place with their prior consent. An agreement of confidentiality would be sought during the first counselling sessions, at which time, legal responsibilities would also be explained.


A counselling contract is provided to all new clients and merely sets out to explain certain practical considerations. Aspects of a counselling contract would include: location of counselling, duration of appointments, costs, missed appointments. Counselling contracts go hand-in-hand with issues of confidentiality and defined boundaries.


This counselling term merely defines the telling and sharing of information from client to therapist. Equally, ‘disclosure’ can define a counsellor sharing confidential information, from within a counselling relationship, to another agency. Subject to legal responsibilities, such disclosure could only occur with a clients prior knowledge and agreement. The terms of such ‘outside’ disclosure normally form part of a counselling contract.


This is a vital part of any counselling journey. What starts, must end and it is crucial that an ‘ending’ to a counselling relationship be clearly defined and acknowledged. An ‘ending’ can simply be the natural conclusion to a course of counselling, where a therapeutic conclusion has been reached.


This is simply the process by which a client might be introduced to (referred) by a medical health professional (or other) to a counselling professional. Similarly, a client can self-refer themselves and seek their own counselling introductions. Referral is also the term used when introducing a counselling client to another agency.


This is an essential professional support mechanism whereby counsellors receive formal consultative support from a Counselling Supervisor. Supervision is required of all counselling professionals as a means to ensure high standards, whilst also protecting the best interests of clients. It is important to note that supervision does not break confidentiality and that identifiable client details are never disclosed.

To discuss counselling or book an appointment,
email or call Karen Cherrington today on 07832 195924