I’ve never had counselling before and I’m a bit nervous about it.
- Don’t be! Anything new can seem a bit daunting at first. Most people feel easier once they’ve had their consultation and realise that therapy isn’t about being in the spotlight, being judged or made to feel awkward. It’s about raising self-awareness, self-esteem, positive thinking and confidence.
I still feel nervous; can I bring a friend or relative with me to ‘sit in’ the counselling sessions?
- I understand that the counselling process can seem very daunting at first. However, for therapy to be effective, it is important that the sessions are confidential and directed in a one-to-one basis. Asking a good friend or relative to drive you or accompany you on the journey to and from your appointment instead might make it feel a little easier.
Do I need to be referred by my GP?
- No. I accept self-referrals from clients, as well as referrals from GP’s, other health workers, agencies and EAP schemes.
How do I know which counselling approach will be most suited to me?
- There are a few established therapeutic approaches that I offer. These include Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Humanistic Counselling, Psychosynthesis and CBT. You may have an idea of what might suit you best, or experience of a particular approach that you’d prefer. Alternatively, it may be that you have no experience of counselling or therapy. In both cases, your thoughts and preferences can be discussed during the consultation.
Can I speak to you on the phone or via email about my problem in depth before my consultation?
- The initial consultation is a dedicated block of time where clients can bring any questions or concerns regarding therapy. During this process clients are invited to outline their problems, feelings or concerns. I use this time to explain about confidentiality and its limitations and discuss boundaries. Therefore I respectfully ask clients to only give a brief outline of their presenting issues when making the appointment for the consultation.
How many sessions will I need?
- Everyone is individual and the counselling is tailored accordingly to this. Important and influential factors include the nature of the problem (the presenting issue), affordability, and client commitment. Usually I arrange with clients to book 4-5 appointments, after which we have a ‘review’. After this, with the client’s verbal consent, another block of sessions can be arranged. Regularity is important for productive therapeutic progress. It is useful to note that clients accessing counselling through an Employee Assistance Programme or those who have funding through an agency will have a limited amount of sessions available to them as provided by their employer or agency.
How often should I attend?
- Regularity is important for productive therapeutic work. The standard format of weekly sessions is encouraged; however affordability and appointment availability and client commitment need to be considered.
How long does a therapy session last?
- The therapy session lasts an hour. This is broken in to two parts with 50 minutes of therapy and further 10 minutes to briefly sum-up and reflect on the issues raised in the session, discuss any homework that might be set and arrange future appointments.
Are the counselling sessions confidential?
- Yes. All the therapy sessions are confidential. No information will be shared with a third party without the client’s express written consent. The only times confidentiality is breached is when there is extreme concern for the client’s welfare or if there are concerns for the safety of a child under the age of 18. I would inform you before I took any concerns to a third party (e.g. G.P. or agency representative). During the initial consultation, I will discuss this with you. I access regular supervision and during this time omit information that would make the client easily identifiable and only refer to clients by their first name. An information sheet on confidentiality is in your information pack.
Will you be available to see me in a crisis?
- I am only available during office hours and at your scheduled appointment time. During an out-of-hours emergency or crisis you will need to seek other resources. During the initial consultation I give each client an Information Pack and there are some useful numbers in there for clients, should an emergency arise.
What if I miss an appointment?
- If you know that you’re not going to be able to attend an appointment, please let me know as soon as possible with at least 24 hours notice. On-the-day cancellations and missed appointments will be charged at half the hourly fee. Clients who miss three appointments in quick succession will be invited to discuss the option of postponing therapy for a future time.
I’ve noticed that you have mentioned having homework tasks to perform in between counselling sessions. Do I really have to do this?
- No, ultimately it’s your decision whether you complete the set tasks or not. Homework isn’t to be confused with school work or academic tests that will be given a mark out of 100% or graded. On the contrary, there are no right or wrong answers in the work set. Ultimately, homework is there to enhance the therapy and help my clients study a situation or feeling either more deeply or from a different perspective. Many clients find this work rewarding and enlightening and not like homework at all.
What is the BACP Register and why should it matter that my therapist is a member?
- The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy was founded in 1977. It is the largest governing body for counsellors and psychotherapists and was introduced to ensure the professional competence and ethical practice of its members and to oversee the protection and safety of the public who use their services.
- In a new scheme set up and developed by the Department of Health the BACP Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists only registers therapists who have met specific professional standards. For more information on what to expect from your counsellor/psychotherapist, visit the BACP website at bacp.co.uk