How Might Counselling Help You?
Sometimes, just being able to talk to someone in confidence about your problems, anxieties, relationships or other difficulties may be really helpful. You may gain fresh insights, grow in self-awareness, process difficult events and learn helpful strategies. As a result you may experience less distress and feel more confident, comfortable and content. I will really listen to what you say and offer you a respectful, honest and empathic space in which to explore any issue that is of concern to you at the moment.
Julia Samuels, bereavement counsellor and author of 'Grief Works' and 'This Too Shall Pass', beautifully sums up what counselling is in her hands, in this blog. It closely describes what counselling is, in my practice too ...
What Sort of Issues Would You Like to Explore?
Here are some examples of the kinds of issues that clients bring to counselling - it's not an exhaustive list!
- Stress, which could include from work, parenting or caring for a relative or friend
- Panic attacks
- Low self-esteem
- Bereavement, loss and change
- Coping with illness
- Eating/weight issues
- Self harm
- Suicidal thoughts
It is important that you have a clear idea at the outset, what you hope to get from therapy. I will then be able to work with you, to support your process in reaching your desired outcome. Therapy is unlike medicine - I am not a doctor and so I do not diagnose, prescribe and advise; neither am I a rescuer or a magician! I am psychologically trained, informed and minded; I am a compassionate facilitator, listener and educator. My hope is that we can form a helpful therapeutic relationship and that you will play an equal and active role in your therapeutic journey.
How Do You Decide If I'm The Right Counsellor For You?
In order to establish an effective therapeutic relationship, it is important that we feel comfortable with one another. Therefore, if you think that you might like to see me for counselling, we can either arrange a short online exploratory conversation or an assessment session, which may be face-to-face or online. This would provide an opportunity for us to decide if we think we would like to work together. It will also allow you to get more of a sense about me and the counselling process and to ask any questions that you may have about therapy, practical aspects such as duration and payment or anything else that you would like to find out.
There is no charge for a brief exploratory conversation.
An assessment session is the same length and cost as a standard session. This may give you more of a flavour of what therapy with me might actually be like; and it allows me to more accurately understand your needs and my ability to support you.
In either case, there is no obligation to take things any further.
How Do I Work?
The Humanistic and Integrative approach that I use is underpinned by Person-Centred theory and an understanding of human development and existential thought. It may also draw on my knowledge of Gestalt theory, Transactional Analysis and analytical psychology. I use a neuroscientific and trauma-informed perspective, including Polyvagal Theory, when needed. In addition, I sometimes make use of some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) techniques, Mindfulness and creative activities. I make use of whatever seems applicable for each individual - everyone is unique and prefers to work in a different way.
I will work with whatever you bring to each session - I don't have my own agenda. I may sometimes suggest a different way of working, for example, to use a creative activity such as sand tray work or pen and paper, alongside the therapeutic dialogue - but the choice is always with you.
My role is not to give advice or tell you what to do; rather it is to facilitate your autonomy so that you become more able to self-regulate and choose to make changes in your own life, which may ultimately lead to greater satisfaction and contentment.
My aim is to support you in your personal growth and development, through the creation of a sound therapeutic relationship based on respect, honesty and empathy.
Counselling takes place via 50min long sessions. We would contract at the beginning to work either for a single session, a fixed number of sessions or to work in an open-ended way but with regular reviews to assess how we feel the work is going and whether your aims from therapy are being met.
How Is My Work Monitored?
All professional counsellors must have regular supervision. This is with an independent, experienced counsellor or psychotherapist and it enables us to review the work that we are doing, to gain support, guidance and further knowledge - and to check that we are working competently. Client confidentiality is maintained during supervision.
It is a requirement of my membership of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) that I work according to their strict code of practice and ethics (the 'Ethical Framework'); that I am practicing currently; that I undertake a minimum of 30 hours of further training each year; and that I have adequate, current and ongoing professional indemnity insurance.
What Happens if You Miss a Session?
At the beginning of our work together we will agree a time slot and discuss and sign a working contract between us. This is simply to make sure we both understand and agree how the counselling process will work - it is not a commitment to a particular number of sessions. This contract mentions that you will give me 24 hours notice if you need to cancel a session, so that I can reschedule the time slot. However, I totally understand that this is not always possible and we could discuss unusual situations on their own merit.
If you are late for your session I will be able to work with you for the time remaining.
If your circumstances change and you need to change your regular time slot, I will be as flexible as possible although, at busy times and because I only see clients on three days each week, I may not be able to offer an alternative day or time.
You will not be charged for sessions you have given me advanced warning that you will not be able to attend, for example for a holiday or work commitments but you will be charged for cancellations with less than 24hr notice, unless we are able to re-arrange within the same week - this will depend on my schedule.
I will give you advanced notice of any times that I will not be working. In the event of something unexpected like illness, I will notify you as soon as possible and offer an alternative time. You will not be charged for any sessions I cancel.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
Everyone is different.
In the broadest sense, it generally takes three or four sessions to establish a helpful therapeutic relationship and more to complete the required work - but there are no set rules.
Single sessions may be an option, following an exploratory conversation - or if we have worked together previously, when one or two 'top-up' sessions are often sufficient.
I will be led by you and will regularly review with you how you feel things are going. The end of therapy is as important as the beginning so it is imperative that we discuss when you feel ready to bring the sessions to a close, so we can plan the end of our work together.
Record Keeping and Data Protection
My data records are compliant with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
I keep brief, anonymised notes of sessions with clients, which I store safely and securely. Personal details are stored separately. I do not routinely store notes or personal details electronically.
Our work would be completely confidential, unless you tell me something that I am legally obliged to report - for example, information about a crime such as money laundering or drug dealing. I might have to hand over my notes, if I am ordered by a court to do so. In any of these circumstances, I would thoroughly explore the situation with you first, if possible. Circumstances like this do happen but are rare.
Should anything happen to me, I have an arrangement with an experienced professional, who would let you know and take care of my notes appropriately.