Frequently asked questions about Counselling

 

How long do I have to wait for an initial appointment?

As I work full time as a private Independent Counsellor, I can usually see you within a week or less of your initial enquiry. Obviously, this depends on the days and times you want to attend. Evening appointments are usually more in demand than daytime ones.

Being seen quickly is obviously a benefit over seeing a counsellor through the NHS or an agency, where there might be a long waiting list.

What are your office hours?

Mon – Fri 11am – 8.15pm

What types of clients do you work with?

I work with late teens, adults, older adults, and couples. I also work with clients who are referred and funded by their employer.

My services are available to all without regard to gender, marital status, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or social background.

What type of sessions do you offer?

I offer face-to-face counselling, telephone counselling, and online counselling using Skype video.

I have concerns about coming for counselling. Is this normal?

Many people have concerns about coming for counselling.

For example, you may be concerned that coming for counselling is a sign of weakness or an indication that you are somehow “flawed”.

Or you may be worried that I will judge you or not take your issues seriously.

Or perhaps you are anxious that if your friends and family found out you were coming for counselling, they would tease you, or see you as self-indulgent.

Often clients think that their issues are not serious or important enough.

Sometimes potential clients worry that they will have to lie on a couch or that I will read their minds. Neither is true.

These are just some of the concerns, which potential clients may have.

I believe that making a decision to come along for counselling, demonstrates courage and maturity on your part. It is not easy to reach out and ask for help. It can seem so much easier to try to keep a stiff upper lip and to continue to suffer in silence.

Attending counselling is a very positive step and shows a high degree of determination to overcome your issues.

What are your areas of expertise?

I run a general practice working with the main issues which clients seek counselling and therapy for such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, relationship problems, anger management, sexuality, personal growth, men’s issues, and such like.

What type of counselling and therapy do you offer?

I try to tailor the counselling I offer to the needs of each client.

I have trained in Person-centred Counselling, Gestalt Therapy, and Relationship Counselling. I have also taken shorter courses in CBT, Solution-focused Therapy and Psychosexual Counselling.

However, at the end of the day, I firmly believe that it is the therapeutic relationship between the client and the counsellor, which makes a difference, not any particular approach or set of tools or techniques.

Prospective clients seldom ask me what type of counselling I offer, in terms of approach. Most people are much more interested in whether or not I could potentially be of help to them.

How much does each session cost and how do I pay for sessions?

Click here for information on fees and payment methods

How many sessions will I need?

This is a difficult one. We can discuss this during our first meeting. You may only need a few sessions. Alternatively, you may need to come for a few months or even a year or more.

There are several factors to consider as to whether short-term or more open-ended counselling would be suitable for you. These include whether your difficulties are relatively recent and to what extent they affect your life. Also, do you want to concentrate on a specific issue or attend to several?

At the end of the day, I always respect my clients’ right to choose how long they wish to come to counselling for.

How often do I need to attend counselling?

I prefer to see clients once a week. If it is not possible for you to attend weekly, then coming once a fortnight is a possibility. But if you cannot commit to attending either weekly or fortnightly, at this moment in time, then I am probably not the right counsellor for you. I believe that attending sessions on a regular basis is very important, in order for us to make progress.

Do I need to come on the same day and time each week?

You can if you want. This way, you can be sure that a particular appointment time and day will be yours for the duration of the period you attend.

However, I find that the majority of my clients appreciate the flexibility of coming on different days and times each week, which better suits their circumstances. This is especially so for people with child care responsibilities, those who work away from home, and people who work shifts.

What happens if I need to cancel or miss a session?

If you need to cancel a session, I ask for 48 hours notice. Otherwise, the full fee will be charged. Likewise, if you miss a session, without giving any notice, the full fee will be charged.

Is what I tell you confidential?

Counselling is a strictly confidential activity.  There are a few exceptions, however. For example, if you told me that you intended harming yourself or someone else, I might be obliged to take some action.  However, I would attempt to discuss with you what I intended doing, prior to doing anything.

Furthermore, as a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, (BACP) I am required to attend monthly clinical supervision for at least 1.5 hours, with a more experienced Counsellor, to discuss my work. However, my supervisor is also bound by the rules of confidentiality and when I am discussing my work, I always keep my clients’ identities anonymous.

Will you tell my GP I am attending Counselling? Will the fact that I have Counselling appear in my medical records?

I will never contact your GP unless you ask me to, and in this case, I would need your written permission. Consequently, the fact that you have attended Counselling with me will not appear in your medical records.

Do you keep notes of what I tell you during our sessions?

No, I don’t keep notes of what we discuss during our sessions.

What should I expect in the first session?

The first session gives us a chance to meet and for you to decide if I am the right Counsellor for you. This is very important.

It also gives me an opportunity to figure out, whether given my skills and experience, I can be of assistance.

The majority of the first session will be taken up with you telling me about yourself, and your issues. Some people come to their first session bursting to talk, while others can be a bit unsure of where to start. If this is the case, I can help by asking you some questions to get you started. After all, my job is to enable you to feel comfortable.

Is there anything I need to do to prepare for the first session?

You could take some time to think about what is bothering you just now in your life and what you would like to change.

Try answering the following questions:

What do you feel is the issue or the problem?

How long has the issue been present in your life?

Why do you think it is causing stress at this time in your life?

What impact is it having on you; on people in your immediate and wider family; on your friends and colleagues?

What do you think has made this issue persist?

What has most helped to alleviate aspects of the problem? And what least?

Are there any links between the problem that you are describing and previous difficulties or problems that you have encountered in your life?

What words can you use best to describe it?

What do you think could happen if it gets worse?

What might you advise a friend who was experiencing a previous difficulty?

What do you want to be different in your life?

What can I do to make sure I get the most out of Counselling?

Both the client and the counsellor have a part to play in making counselling work.

Click here to find out what you can do to make sure you get the most out of your experience.

How will I know that counselling is working?

The answer really depends on what brought you to counselling in the first place.

Click on this link to read about how you might benefit from counselling

Sometimes, it can be hard to put your finger on whether counselling is working for you or not. There’s just a gut feeling that it is working.

Positive feedback from friends and family about the changes they see in you, can be another indicator that counselling is working for you.

And don’t forget that research shows that 80% of counselling clients do experience a benefit!

Do you do reviews of how the counselling is going?

I think it is a good idea to have fairly regular reviews of how you feel your counselling is going. For example, do you feel heard and understood by me? Are we discussing the issues that you think are important? Does the way that I work suit you? And finally, do you think there is anything missing from your counselling experience with me?

However, I am open to feedback at any point during our work together. You don’t need to wait until we have a formal review.

Will I have to do homework?

Not usually. But I may ask you to do certain things between sessions such as keeping a note of your thoughts and feelings, read a relevant article or book, or practice relaxation exercises, for example, depending on how useful it might be. Homework exercises can be useful in couples therapy.

How will I know when it is time to stop counselling?

You may well have a strong feeling about when it is either time to have a break from counselling or to stop completely.

Alternatively, you may feel that you have achieved what brought you to counselling, in the first place.

Or you might just feel that counselling is not for you, at this time in your life.

Obviously, we can discuss whether you feel you want to stop and I can support you to come to a decision that feels right for you.

How does counselling end?

Endings can be as significant in counselling as in any other areas of life. I suggest that we discuss ending counselling in order to give us the space and time to end in a therapeutic manner. This is especially important if you have been attending for some time and if you find endings difficult.

As we near the end of our counselling relationship, we can review the work we have done, the achievements you have made, and any possible disappointments, as well as areas that you might consider working on in the future.

After I have stopped coming to counselling, is it possible to come back and have counselling with you again?

Yes. In fact, quite a few of my clients do this. Counselling is not necessarily something you do once in your life, and never again. There may be times when it would be useful to come back. And because I know you, and your story, it means you do not have to start from scratch.

I am concerned about my partner/relative/friend and think they need counselling. What should I do?

It’s probably a good idea to discuss the issue with the person and get their thoughts about it. At the end of the day, however, no one can be “sent” or coerced  into counselling. If they think it would be a good idea to explore coming for counselling, then why not give them my contact details?

Have you had counselling/psychotherapy yourself?

I have been a client myself at various points in my life. So I know what it’s like to sit in the client’s chair.

I firmly believe that it is my own therapy which has helped me to become the counsellor I am today, much more that any training courses, clinical supervision, or books I have read.

There is a debate about how necessary it is for a therapist to have had their own therapy, and to what extent it contributes to their effectiveness with clients. I can only speak from my personal experience. However, I would never attend counselling with a therapist who had not experienced their own therapy.

I have some other questions which are not covered in this list.

If that is the case, please don’t hesitate to call me and I will be happy to answer them.

If you are looking for a mature, experienced and compassionate counsellor to help you solve your problems, I can help.

Call me now on 07970 860 711 to:

1. Book a therapy appointment.
2. Or, schedule a free 15-minute telephone consultation.