The National Counselling Service (NCS) provides free counselling to some people age 18 or older. To access the service, 1 of the following needs to apply to you.
- have a medical card
- experienced childhood abuse or neglect
- are a former resident of a mother and baby home
What NCS can help with
We can help with mental health difficulties that affect your daily life, including:
- anxiety, panic and phobias
- relationship problems
- bereavement and loss
- physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect
- adverse childhood experiences - for example, living with people who had substance use or mental health issues
- coping with difficult situations such as injury or illness
What NCS cannot help with
We cannot help with:
- severe mental health difficulties - this is when you have many symptoms that make daily life extremely difficult
- addiction issues
Ask your GP about support for these difficulties.
Being ready for counselling
Counselling takes a regular commitment.
To get the most out of counselling, think about if you are ready to:
- regularly attend appointments
- talk about yourself and your problems
- try different solutions or positive coping strategies
How to access NCS
How you access counselling from NCS depends on your situation.
If you have a medical card
You need a referral from your GP to access counselling from NCS.
This service is called counselling in primary care (CIPC).
If you experienced childhood abuse or neglect
You can refer yourself for counselling if you experienced childhood abuse or neglect. You do not need to have a medical card.
If you are a former resident of a mother and baby home
You can refer yourself for counselling if you are a former resident of a mother and baby home. You do not need to have a medical card.
After we get your referral
When we get your referral, we'll check if:
- counselling may be helpful for you
- NCS is the right service for you
To do this, we may:
- offer you an assessment appointment - where you and your counsellor talk about how counselling may help
- ask your permission to contact other mental health services for more information - if you are attending other services
If counselling with the NCS is the right service for you, we will offer you a counselling place when it is available.
If counselling is not suitable at the time, we may:
- refer you back to your GP or primary care team
- tell you about other services and supports
What happens during counselling
We offer counselling in person, by phone or by video call. In-person appointments are available around the country and usually happen in a primary care centre.
Counselling may involve:
- talking about your difficulties
- identifying positive ways of coping
- making changes
- developing new skills
- improving relationships
- finding other supports that may help you