There are many reasons people seek counselling. You may have been through a recent event that you found especially upsetting, 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 these 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 for their anxiety, low mood, or depression, all of which are increasingly common concerns. Others have work issues, stress, poor self-esteem, gender or body image issues. Some people aren’t always sure what they need help with, they just know that they want 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, genders.
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 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 three 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 or persons, we may discuss the possibility of contacting a relevant third person, such as your GP or the local mental health crisis service.
Finally, as part of my professional conduct, I keep brief notes of our sessions. These notes, whilst confidential and accessible only to me*, may be requested in cases of medical negligence or in other legal cases. This is extremely rare.
*In the case of my death or incapacity, another designated therapist will access the notes and process them as required, i.e., destroy them securely.
Wherever possible, please provide 24 hours notice of any missed sessions. If you do not provide this, you will be asked to pay the full session fee.
Where notice is provided, I will try to provide an alternative appointment as soon as possible, or alternatively we will just meet the following week (as usual).
In the case of holidays, I would be grateful if you could provide as much notice as possible and I will do similarly.
There are so many different types of psychologists and counsellors. Tell me about Counselling Psychology?
The Division of Counselling Psychology writes: “The focus is on working with an individually tailored psychological formulation of an individual’s difficulties to improve psychological functioning and well-being. Counselling psychologists understand diagnosis and the medical context to mental health problems and at the same time work with the individual’s unique subjective psychological experience to empower their recovery.” The practice of counselling psychology requires a high level of self-awareness and competence in relating the skills and knowledge of personal and interpersonal dynamics to the therapeutic context.
Counselling psychologists undergo specialist and often very lengthy postgraduate training to be able to provide counselling support. We work collaboratively with people across a diverse range of human problems. These include helping people manage difficult life events, such as bereavement, past and present relationships and working with mental health issues and disorders.
CBT is based on the concept that our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviour are all interconnected, and that by challenging how we interpret events and associated thoughts and feelings we can change our experiences.
CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.
CBT is effective in 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, motivations and feelings in the present, and that important relationships, particularly from early childhood, may be replayed with other people later in life. The approach stresses the importance of the unconscious. The therapist is mindful of 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 gain clarity about your concerns, and if requested, 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 at: http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/what-is-therapy