If you are approaching therapy for the first time you may feel a little unsure what to expect and perhaps a little anxious. I see one of my tasks as helping you to feel at ease. To help out, below you’ll find a list of frequently asked questions.
What actually happens in the course of a session?
There is no typical counselling session. It is time set aside for you and what you talk about will vary according to your needs. You are free to speak about whatever you wish, from everyday events, dilemmas, feelings, thoughts, regrets, aspirations, and memories in a confidential, private, safe place. What you may bring to therapy maybe a recent, or current event, or something from your past that is affecting you in the present moment. Sometimes clients don't even know why they are feeling sad, angry, owerwhelmed, unsure, stuck or dissatisfied with the way they are living. Counselling can serve as a safe space to bring to life the causes of concern that often remain hidden. A large part of our work would be to explore, understand and clarify periods of time when the path does not seem clear.
During our work together I will respond in a positive, constructive and non-judgmental way to the matters you wish to talk about. I will ask questions to deepen and clarify our mutual understanding of you and your life. I will also help you to find coping strategies and plans of action whilst supporting you throughout with the changes you wish to make. It is difficult to be more specific because so much depends on the issues you bring.
What happens when we meet for the first time?
Our initial meeting would be an opportunity for us to get a sense of each other. It gives you a space to talk about the issue that is currently causing you difficulties. It would also be an opportunity for me to learn something of your personal history and for you to decide if you would like to work with me. You are under no obligation to continue beyond the first appointment.
How long do sessions last?
A session is 50 minutes long and begins at the time booked. Sessions are normally arranged on a weekly basis, at the same time and at the same place, but I offer some flexibility for those whose patterns of work or life are changeable.
How many sessions will I need?
I offer both short term (up to 12 sessions) and long term (open ended) counselling. I offer therapy in blocks of six sessions. Some clients find that just six sessions are enough to get them through a difficult period or event. It can be remarkable how just a few hours with a professional counsellor can help you to talk through your problems and find yourself in a better place. A few sessions are not always enough for some people, maybe because the material that they wish to talk about is emotionally complex or difficult or perhaps a problem happened some time ago and is painful to recover. Some people negotiate a longer contract because they want a richer experience of self-discovery with the development of a greater understanding of themselves.
It is essential and ethical practice to regularly review our work together. An important part of my approach is to discuss how you feel your therapy is progressing, making sure our sessions are working for you. Only you can be the best judge of the time you believe you actually need.
You are free to stop therapy at the time you choose. Notice of at least two weeks should normally be given before ending therapy, so that we can review our work together and have an appropriate and safe ending.
When should I seek counselling?
There are certain times when we may need help addressing problems and issues that evoke emotional distress or leave us feeling overwhelmed. If you are experiencing these types of difficulties, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional. Counsellors can offer assistance that we often need during these stressful times. A counsellor can help you identify your problems and assist you in finding the best ways to cope with the situation.
Will I have to reveal everything about myself?
Trust is an important part of the therapeutic process. As trust builds in therapy, you are likely to reveal more about yourself and then discover more. The therapy sessions are yours and you have a right to share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
How is therapy different from talking to a good friend?
Many people find it helpful to talk to a professionally trained person, outside of their family or circle of friends. A counsellor has no particular personal involvement and also has experience and training in dealing with various issues. Counsellors are trained to listen and focus in a different way from how a friend may hear you. Also knowing that what you share during the session is held confidential can be very reassuring.
Will you give me advice?
I will not be giving you any advice on what to do. However, I will help you to explore what options you have and help you to clarify what it is you really want or need. I may sum up what I understand you have been saying in order to help you reflect upon it, and to ensure that I have understood you. I will assist you to make your own decision on what is right for you.
Do you abide by ethical guidelines?
Yes, I am a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and I abide by their ethical framework and guidelines.
Do you receive regular supervision?
I receive regular monthly supervision for my work and I am committed to regular professional training and personal development.
What happens if I miss or have to cancel an appointment?
If you are unable to make an appointment for any reason please inform me in good time and I will make every effort to reschedule a new session for you within the same week. An appointment missed or cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice will be charged in full.