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 will 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
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 arrange an exploratory conversation in which to decide if we feel we would like to work together. This will give you the opportunity 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.
There is no charge for this first meeting or any obligation to take things 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. 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 are able to 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 relationship based on respect, honesty and empathy.
Counselling takes place via weekly, 50min long sessions. We would contract at the beginning to work either for 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?
The most important thing to say here first is that your commitment to regular sessions is important to the outcome of your therapy.
At the beginning of our work together we will agree a regular 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.
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 colleague, who would let you know and take care of my notes appropriately.