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There are many reasons people seek counselling. You may have been through a recent event that you found especially upsetting, traumatic, or that has created changes in your life or your health. It can be helpful to talk through such events, to process what has happened, gain clarity about it and consider various ways of managing the changes.
Some people come because they are struggling in their relationship/s and they want to understand better how they can improve or change things. This may be an intimate relationship, a family relationship or perhaps just relationships in general.
Some people want support with work issues, with stress, addiction problems, poor self-esteem or body image issues. Some people aren’t always sure what they need help with, they just know that they need to talk, they need to change something in their lives, and having an objective professional to listen can provide a freedom that is hard to find sometimes with family and friends.
The reasons people seek help are varied and diverse. The “type” of people who seek help are equally diverse, coming from different social backgrounds, different cultures, religions, sexualities.
If you are uncertain about whether counselling is for you, or if your concern is “valid”, please get in contact. We can talk on the phone or by email, and I hope I will be able to reassure you. There is however no obligation to proceed with counselling.
Every person who comes to counselling is individual. You will come with your own subjective experience, and this is informed by your own unique life history and perspective. What you “achieve” from counselling will depend on what you want to change in your life, and having realistic goals. We will discuss your expectations and aims or goals for counselling in our first session/s. One important achievement will be gaining more understanding and clarity around your concern.
A session is the term used to describe the meeting time between the counsellor and client. A session is usually 50 minutes in length, although sometimes a longer session will be booked in for a first meeting when more information and enquiry is anticipated by both parties. Sessions usually take place on the same day and time each week. Attending sessions on time is an indicator of commitment for both parties.
As stated in the Counselling Service section of the website, the number of sessions you will need depends on the nature of your individual concern and your personal expectations. Some people will come with very clear objectives that are more easily attainable, whereas others will want time and space to explore in greater depth their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and the counselling may extend for months or even years.
Our counselling will be confidential with two important exceptions. First, it is an ethical requirement that I receive regular supervision from another qualified practitioner to enhance and support my practice. Any discussions with my supervisor will be done in such a way as to preserve your anonymity, and the supervisor will maintain the same level of confidentiality and professional conduct as me.
Secondly, if during our work together I feel especially concerned about your safety or the safety of another person, we can discuss the possibility of contacting a relevant third party.
If at all possible, another session will be scheduled for a different time. If this is not possible, the next session will take place at the usual time a week later. If sessions are missed on a more regular basis, the counselling contract will need to be reviewed.
Payment will be requested for sessions that are cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.
There are a variety of different professionals who can provide counselling support. These include counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists (Counselling or Clinical) and psychiatrists to name the most common. The main difference between the professionals is the length and type training received, the types of difficulties that they can work with, and also the professional bodies that regulate them. In addition to these significant differences, there are also lots of similarities in their work. Below you will find a brief description of each type of professional.
Currently, in the UK, there is no minimum level of qualification that needs to be reached in order to practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist. However, this is likely to change in the near future as counselling and psychotherapy become regulated professions.
Most counsellors and psychotherapists are members of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) or the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), and these professional bodies require the practitioners to be trained to a required level, receiving professional supervision and adhering to their stated code of ethics and practice.
Counsellors can practice after receiving relatively short training, although some have many years of experience. It is generally accepted that counsellors provide shorter-term therapy. Most counsellors are members of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP).
Psychotherapists train usually for a minimum of four years on a part-time basis. The clinical training consists of intensive treatment of individual patients of different ages, carried out under supervision. Clinical discussions combining theory and practice are held throughout the period of training. Psychotherapists are also required to undertake personal therapy throughout this time. Psychotherapists are usually accredited with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the Association of Child Psychotherapists or the British Psychoanalytic Council. Psychotherapists are usually trained in one or more of the psychotherapy modalities.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combines cognitive and behavioural therapies. The approach focuses on thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions, and teaches clients how each one can have an effect on the other. CBT is useful for dealing with a number of issues, including depression, anxiety and phobias.
The psychodynamic approach is based on the idea that past experiences have a bearing on experiences and feelings in the present, and that important relationships, perhaps from early childhood, may be replayed with other people later in life. The approach stresses the importance of the unconscious. The therapist focuses on the client/therapist relationship (the dynamics) and in particular on the transference. Transference is when the client projects onto the therapist feelings experienced in previous significant relationships. The Psychodynamic approach is derived from Psychoanalysis but usually provides a quicker solution to emotional problems.
Person-centred counselling was devised by Carl Rogers and is also called “Client-Centred” or “Rogerian” counselling. It is based on the principle that the counsellor provides three ‘core conditions’ (or essential attributes) that are, in themselves, therapeutic. These are:
- empathy (the ability to imagine oneself in another person’s position)
- unconditional positive regard (warm, positive feelings, regardless of the person’s behaviour)
- congruence (honesty and openness)
Again, the counsellor uses the relationship with the client as a means of healing and change.
It is my job to provide a safe and confidential environment in which you can talk openly about your concerns, without fear of judgement. I will listen to your story carefully, enquiring about aspects of your experience that have most relevance. I will apply my theoretical knowledge and professional experience so that we can fully understand the extent of your concern/s, and assist you to manage your issue/s more effectively, and according to your individual needs.
My objective is that you will feel valued, heard, respected and empowered to make any chosen changes to your life.
The BACP provide a really useful factsheet on their website about what therapy is about and what therapists should do. You can find it here.