Counseling - or psychotherapy - is a professional relationship that focuses on personal problems. The counseling relationship differs from both social friendships and patient-doctor contacts. Unlike friends, counselors are able to be objective; they are not involved in your daily lives. Unlike most doctors, counselors don't give specific advice or tell you what to do. Instead, they serve as skilled listeners who help you to clarify issues, discover your true wishes and feelings, and deal effectively with problems.
The length of counseling varies. Some problems lend themselves to a one- or two-session consultation. Others require a series of appointments.