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Talk to somebody

You might want to talk through your feelings about sight loss with someone outside your circle of family and friends. This is where counselling can help.

What is counselling?

Counselling means talking things over with a skilled listener. It can help you understand your feelings and think about ways of coping with the changes in your life. Counselling is not direct advice. Instead, it helps you explore your situation so that you can work out what’s right for you. Although few counsellors have experienced sight loss, they are all trained to support people going through changes and loss, and many of the feelings will be similar.

Should I have counselling?

Some people will want to deal with practical things before they talk about how they feel. Others may find they can cope when they’re first diagnosed but feel low in their quieter moments. Whether you’re recently diagnosed, or you’ve been living with sight loss for some time, getting counselling is a matter of when you feel the time is right – it’s not something other people can decide.

How much does counselling cost?

Some counselling is free, for example on the NHS, or in the workplace. Some charities offer low-cost or sliding scale charges based on income. Private fees vary.

How does counselling work?

Counselling is based on seeing the same person every week for around an hour. It may be open ended or for a fixed number of sessions.

It may be possible to find counsellors who:

  • Work with couples and groups.
  • Use telephone and email rather than face-to-face sessions.
  • Visit you if you have mobility difficulties.

Counselling should be confidential, apart from rare exceptions based on decisions about your safety or that of others.

Find a counsellor

Counsellors should be members of a professional body, such as the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy or the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.

Here are a few options:

  • Sight Loss Counselling Team. As well as helping you find out what counselling is available in your area, we can provide counselling over the phone and online. We usually offer eight sessions with a trained counsellor and can help partners and children too. Our team understand the impact of sight loss and can offer a huge knowledge of all eye conditions. You can contact us by emailing [email protected] or call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 and ask to be referred to the Sight Loss Counselling Team. We also have a list of RNIB accredited private counsellors who have completed an RNIB training course on 'Counselling for Sight Loss'. They offer face to face, telephone and online counselling across the UK and Ireland.

You can find out more about RNIB’s Counselling and wellbeing services in our factsheet:

  • Your GP: Some GP surgeries have a counsellor based at the practice or can refer you to a hospital or community-based service.
  • Your local social services department.
  • You can ask your local social services department for an assessment of your needs following sight loss, including your need for counselling.
  • Local societies for blind and partially sighted people.
  • Some societies offer counselling as one of their services. Other voluntary counselling organisations may also be able to help. You can find local organisations using the Sightline Directory.
  • Your employer, trade union or professional association.
  • Counselling may be available through your workplace. Your trade union or professional association may also be able to help.
  • Services for young people and students.
  • There may be a counselling service at your school or college. You can also find out what’s available in your area from Youth Access.

Contact details for organisations

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can send details of private counsellors in your area. Or you can search the BACP Find a Therapist database.
Telephone 01455 883 300
Email [email protected]

The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy can send you details of qualified and registered therapists in your area.
Telephone 020 7014 9955
Email [email protected]

Relate provides counselling for relationship difficulties. They can see you with your partner or by yourself.
Telephone 0300 100 1234 for details of your local branch.
Email [email protected]

Sign Health, a healthcare charity for deaf people, can provide accessible counselling for deafblind people
Telephone01494 687600
Text 07966 976 749
Email [email protected]

The Macular Disease Society has a telephone counselling service for members, their friends, families, and carers.
Telephone 0845 241 2041
Email [email protected]

Sane provides a helpline offering information and emotional support to anyone affected by mental health problems.
Telephone 0845 767 8000
Email [email protected]

If you’re in distress

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day.
Telephone 08457 909090
Email [email protected]

Advice and support from RNIB

We’re there when you need us.

Our information on coming to terms with sight loss can help you come to terms with some of the feelings you may experience when you are diagnosed with sight loss.

We also have more information on the different emotional support available from both RNIB and other organisations in our Emotional Support leaflet, which is part of our Starting Out series of leaflets.