If you’re new to counselling, or thinking about starting therapy for the first time, it’s perfectly natural to have questions about what to expect. Here are a selection of the questions I’m frequently asked by people unfamiliar with the counselling process. If yours aren’t answered here, or you’d prefer to ask me directly, please email me via my contact page.
Sometimes it’s easier to start with what counselling is not… Counselling is not about me telling you what to do, or giving you advice (although I do offer suggestions and encouragement), or diagnosing you with a mental illness and dispensing treatment from on high. Counselling sessions are a safe, quiet space, where you can open up on a regular basis and talk about whatever you need to talk about without fear of being judged or rejected, and where you can begin to explore new possibilities for your life. It’s respectful and supportive and goes at your own pace.
That’s impossible to say for certain. I’ve seen amazing transformations happen for some clients in just a few sessions, while others may need ongoing support for months or even years. The couples counselling program I offer runs for 8 sessions. A lot depends on what you want to get out of the process and to some extent what you’re willing to put into it. A lot of ‘therapy’ happens in between sessions, as thoughts and feelings are processed or new behaviours are practiced. We talk about your goals for therapy in the first session.
What’s said in the counselling relationship is confidential, because this is the way to build trust in the therapeutic relationship between you and your counsellor. There are important exceptions to this though when it comes to imminent risk to life or involvement in very serious criminal activity such as terrorism, abuse of children and vulnerable adults, or drug-dealing. I also undertake regular clinical supervision as part of my professional fitness-to-practice, but client identities are protected at all times. If you’d like to know more before booking, please contact me.
I trained as an integrative therapist which means I draw upon a wide range of tools and techniques, some of which come from CBT, to help my clients. Just as we are all unique individuals, there’s no standard one-size-fits-all counselling package; integrative counselling allows me to offer a broader variety of helping techniques tailored to suit you. Underpinning it all though are the core values that drive me as a therapist – respect for you as my client; genuine interest in and curiosity about the person you are; a non-judgemental acceptance of your life choices; and a desire to help you reach your goals.
Sessions for individuals normally take place weekly, cost £50 and last up to an hour. Sessions for couples take place fortnightly, cost £85 and last 90 minutes. Payment is due 24 hours before the scheduled appointment time and paid by bank transfer. When we confirm our first session, I’ll send you my bank details and will confirm receipt by email. I also offer a block booking discount and you can find out more about that on my Fees page.
Individual sessions are usually weekly, at least in the beginning, as this helps build a strong working relationship and momentum. But I know this can be difficult for financial or practical reasons so I’m happy to discuss what’s feasible for you in an initial, no obligation chat before booking. Couples counselling usually takes place fortnightly.
I’ll do my best to reschedule your session within the same calendar week but as I’m currently very busy, I can’t guarantee this will be possible. Cancellation must be made 24 hours before the session time or the full fee will be charged. This enables me to hold the space for you.
I don’t call it homework because that sometimes has bad connotations from schooldays! But yes, I often send information sheets or worksheets especially in the early weeks of therapy; these might include Mindful Breathing – an exercise to do whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed; or My Life in Chapters – a timeline of your life to record important or influential experiences; or Nourishing vs Depleting – an invitation to note how your regular activities affect your energy and mood. Often these spark deeper conversation or new awareness of problem areas and are an important part of the therapy.
I can’t put a firm date on that for now. Like many of us, I’m keeping a close eye on infection rates locally and assessing levels of risk both to myself and to my clients. As the vaccination rollout continues and infection rates fall, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to resume face to face sessions at some point this year but, as we’ve all come to understand, there are no guarantees. Online counselling has been incredibly effective for many people and I’ll be continuing to offer it regardless of the future course of the pandemic.
Yes, and you can find more information about this on my Counselling for Couples page.