What will happen during the first meeting?
I will provide you with some information about counselling and the process of counselling. I will explain that counselling is not about giving advice. I will discuss confidentiality issues with you and will go through my agreement with you. I will answer any questions you may have about my qualifications, experience, professional memberships or about counselling in general.
I will invite you to talk about why you have decided to seek counselling and what changes you hope to make in your life as a result of counselling. If I feel that I do not have the necessary training or experience to help you then I will discuss this with you and refer you to another therapist if you would like me to do so. Sometimes there is an underlying medical reason which explains feelings of depression or anxiety and you can discuss this with your GP. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for you to decide if you would like to work with me.
What happens after the first session?
If you decide that you would like to start counselling we will make an appointment at a time to suit you.
How many sessions of counselling will I need?
Many clients find that they feel better after up to 6 sessions of therapy. For longer term problems more sessions may be required and this can be discussed on an individual basis. It is important to learn how to deal with any future problems you may experience during the process of counselling and not to become ‘dependent’ on your therapist. I will regularly review our work with you and we will mutually agree an ending for our work.
Will you discuss what I tell you in counselling with anyone?
This is a common question and it is answered fully at the beginning of counselling. Anything that you tell me during counselling is confidential. However, there are some exceptions to this:
- If you disclose that you intend to seriously harm yourself or another.
- If you disclose a child protection issue.
- If you disclose a serious crime.
- If requested to do so by a court of law.
- In addition, as an accredited member of the BACP, I am required to discuss my work in clinical supervision. I do not reveal the identity of my clients in supervision.
I feel anxious about seeking counselling. Is that normal?
Many people feel anxious about making contact with a Counsellor. This may be because they have never had counselling before and do not know what to expect. It may also be because they want to talk about problems that they have not discussed with anyone else. This can create feelings of embarrassment, shame, guilt or stress. I understand these feelings. I have experienced them too. I know that your experience will be different from mine. We will work together and find a way for you to express what is troubling you and will work at a pace which fits with your needs.
I think my partner / family member / friend needs counselling. Can I make an appointment for them?
This is a common question. It is understandable that you would be concerned if someone you care about is experiencing distress. However, it is not possible to impose counselling on someone and it is not ethical to discuss a client with a third party. It is important that the potential client contacts me and arranges an appointment. I recognise that this can be difficult but it is an important first step in terms of recovery and taking responsibility.
Does counselling work?
It is hard to predict the outcome of counselling. It depends on a number of factors which include:
- Your engagement with the counsellor.
- Timing – your readiness to start counselling.
- Therapist competence (which often predicts your engagement).
- Pacing – this means that your therapist ‘meets’ you where you are at the moment.
- Appropriate balance of support and challenge by your therapist. Growth depends on support and challenge. Counselling is not a cosy chat. It is about change and change involves hard work, tenacity and commitment. I will encourage you to tell me if you are not happy with your counselling so that we can try and resolve any problems.
There is, however, much evidence to support counselling as being effective to help people. If you are interested in finding out more about this subject then ‘The Facts are Friendly’ by Professor Mick Cooper in ‘therapy today’, September 2008 is an interesting and accessible article. This is available to read online.
How much do sessions cost?
My fee is £40 per session for individual counselling and £65 per session for couples counselling. Fees are payable by cash or cheque at the end of each session.