Frequently Asked Questions

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Counselling FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. If you can’t find your answer below, click the CONTACT ME button to make an enquiry.

Counselling questions

How can counselling help me ?

The short answer

Counselling provides a safe environment for you to explore your issues, helping you gain a greater understanding of them and of yourself. During this exploration, your increasing awareness can enable you to find ways to cope and to move forward, providing you with increased motivation and an improved sense of wellbeing. This can increase your resilience and confidence so you are better able to manage stressful situations.

The longer answer

When we get injured or ill, we experience physical pain so that we know something is going on which needs our attention. Similarly, the feelings we experience are trying to tell us something in relation to what is going on in our lives. By exploring our feelings we can get a better sense of their meaning and how best to respond.

Such exploration is not always possible by ourselves because of the judgements we hold about the thoughts and feelings bringing us difficulties. For example, we may experience them as ‘silly’, ‘wrong’ or ‘unacceptable’ and so develop ways to distort them, rush over them or shut them down. In other words, we put them into boxes which limit our ability to understand them. The judgements we hold are not born in a vacuum, but are based on the judgements we have received over time from the people around us. For this reason, it is often very difficult to share our painful or frightening thoughts and feelings with others. All too often, people will reduce or dismiss what we share in the hope of helping us ‘get over it’, avoid the situation because it is too intense for them or respond with harsh judgements. We can then end up feeling stuck, not knowing how to address our problems.

In such situations, counselling can provide you with the help you need. A non-judgemental and confidential relationship provides you with the safety needed to share what you are experiencing. Hearing yourself express things you would otherwise keep inside and having your therapist respond with empathy gives you the freedom to be more honest with yourself and get a clearer sense of what it all means to you. Your therapist will not push you to places you do not want to go, but will encourage you in exploring as you make sense of your world and move towards the root of your issues at your own pace. As you gain a greater understanding of your feelings and thoughts and how you usually respond to them, you will begin to learn new ways to respond which are more in line with your needs and empower you to have more control over your life. With this comes greater fulfilment, flexibility and resilience.

How can I make the most of counselling?

Therapy if often both challenging and rewarding. Although there is no ‘right way’ to be a client, I find that those who commit to attending each session, engaging as openly and fully as they can, tend to gain the most.

I have listed some suggestions which can help below. These are much easier said than done and no client is always this way so the focus is very much on the trying:

  • Strive to be honest with yourself, expressing your various feelings and thoughts and bringing all the different aspects of your personality into sessions.
  • Try to focus on your own experiencing in relation to your difficulties. Venting about others can be helpful, providing great relief and validation. But, it will be hard to find new ways to respond to situations unless you bring the focus back to yourself.
  • Aim to take the honesty you develop with yourself outside the therapy room so you can continue to notice patterns and learn about yourself between sessions. Keeping a thoughts and feelings journal can help with this further.
  • Try to give me feedback about what is and what is not working for you. No therapist can always get things right, but your honesty can allow me to be my best for you and can also strengthen the therapeutic relationship.

How many sessions will I need?

I offer both short and longer term therapy. My experience is that the number of sessions necessary comes down to individual need and can vary widely. I usually suggest booking 6 sessions to begin with. On the 6th session we will review how you are finding counselling and you can decide at that point whether you wish to extend. I am however flexible and if you wish you can just book a single session and decide thereafter whether you wish to have more.

How regular are sessions and long does each one last ?

Sessions are on a weekly basis. Each one will last for 50 minutes. This is what is considered to be the optimum amount of time for most people. If you wish to book a longer session you are always free to ask. It will depend on the availability of counselling rooms.

How confidential is what I discuss in sessions?

As a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), I am committed to its Ethical Framework and this holds confidentiality with the utmost importance. Without it, there could be no trust in the therapeutic relationship and as such whatever you bring to the counselling room will remain strictly confidential.

I see a clinical supervisor to go over client work and take brief notes after sessions to ensure I remain at my best. However, your name and anything which could identify you will always be anonymised. All notes and any other details are stored in line with my data protection policy. Counselling contracts are stored separately from client notes which are anonymised using a code.

If I bump into a client or former client outside of the counselling space, then I leave it to them to decide whether they feel comfortable to acknowledge or greet me. I fully respect my clients’ needs for privacy so do not consider it rude if they choose not to.

Only in exceptional circumstances, do I reserve the right to breach confidentiality. I would only consider this if there was a serious risk of harm to yourself or others. In such rare circumstances, I would always discuss my concerns with you during the session and (when reasonably practical) approach my supervisor for advice before taking action. If I did decide that the situation was severe enough for me to breach confidentiality, I would approach your GP or other emergency services.

There are also a few circumstances in which a therapist is legally obliged to breach confidentiality. This area of law is highly complex and so I would always seek professional advice before taking any action and would discuss the situation with you if it is legally permissible. The relevant situations are as follows:

If a client disclosed that they were involved in, or had information about, acts of terrorism either being planned or which had already taken place, the Terrorism Act 2000, section 38B would oblige me to contact the police about it, without informing the client that I had done so.

 

    • If a client disclosed that they were the driver in a road traffic collision, and I was then approached by the police for further information about the incident, the Road Traffic Act 1991, section 21 (2)(b) would oblige me to pass on what I had been told.
    • If a client disclosed that they had information about the whereabouts of a missing child who is in care, under police protection or subject to an emergency protection order, a court order under section 50 of the Children Act 1989 could oblige me to pass on the information as outlined in subsection (3)(c).
    • The courts may also order disclosure of information in other circumstances. It is a highly complicated area of law and I would always seek professional legal advice if approached to do so.

Do I need a counsellor of the same background, gender, or sexual orientation as me?

Some people feel apprehensive about whether they will really be understood and receive the support they need if their counsellor is of a different background to themselves. This is especially the case when they have experienced discrimination or oppression in the past.

I hold a strong commitment to working with diversity. Through extensive training, I have developed a keen awareness of how the cultures and groups I represent can influence the counselling relationship. Along with maintaining a non-judgemental attitude, this has enabled me to engage successfully with clients from a diverse range of backgrounds. If you have any concerns around such issues, then please feel free to discuss these with me.

What if I have suicidal feelings?

People may avoid talking about suicidal feelings. Not just because they are concerned about other people’s reactions, but because there is a common misconception that talking about it can make someone more likely to do it. This is quite simply not true. It is often the case that talking about suicide helps people reduce the feelings and thoughts behind it, even when they are feeling actively suicidal.

If you come to me with suicidal thoughts and feelings, I will give you the space to talk about it freely. I would look to get the best understanding possible of how strongly you feel like carrying it out and of anything which affects the intensity of this feeling. We would also look together at what you might do for help when you are feeling at your worst. Feeling suicidal does not necessarily mean that someone wants to die, but that they are finding their life as it is unbearable. Getting the right help at the right time can help you manage as you struggle with these feelings. It can give you the time and space to find a way other than suicide.

If the situation arose that a client was absolutely determined to take their life, I would go over things with them and make every effort to contact my clinical supervisor for emergency advice. Following this, I would very likely need to breach confidentiality and contact the client’s GP or the emergency services so as to meet my duty of care.

If you are feeling desperate right now you could try contacting of the following numbers:
Samaritans

116 123  (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)

Switchboard (LGBT+)

0300 330 0630   (10am-10pm, 365 days a year)

Papyrus (people under 35)

0800 068 4141 (10am-10pm weekdays, 2pm-10pm weekends/bankholidays)

The Silver Line (people over 55)

0800 4 70 80 90 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)

Can I have someone with me for support at sessions?

I understand that you may feel apprehensive about coming to therapy at the start. Although you are always welcome to be accompanied by a friend , relative or carer to the counselling rooms, the sessions themselves are strictly between the client and counsellor for reasons of confidentiality and therapeutic effectiveness.

Do you have regular supervision?

Yes. It is part of standard ethical practice to have regular supervision. I have one-to-one supervision and peer supervision to allow me to be my best for you. In supervision, I do not reveal any information which could identify you. Both my supervisor and peers are members of the BACP and as such abide by its Ethical Framework.

Do you keep records?

Yes. I write brief notes after sessions as part of my commitment to supporting you. These help me with reflection and in supervision. All notes are anonymised and stored securely.

Please see my Data Processing Notice for full details on how I process data and keep it secure in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Do you belong to any professional bodies?

I am a registered members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the largest professional body for psychological therapies in the country. This means I have met their requirements for training and follow their regulations around supervision and continuing professional development. It also means I adhere to their strict ethical and professional guidelines for practice. The BACP operate a register accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. I can be found on this.

Practicalities

How quickly can I start sessions?

This depends entirely on my availability. I always aim to reply to your initial contact within 48 hours and to see clients within 2 weeks of the initial contact.

Can I take a holiday during therapy?

Yes, of course. However, I ask that you give us as much notice as possible if you cannot make a session for any reason. Sessions cancelled less than 48 hours beforehand will be charged at £25 to cover room hire costs and other expenses. Sessions missed without notice will be charged at full fee. If you wish to take an extended break I cannot guarantee to be able to keep your current session day and time available unless you are able to cover the £25 expenses per session missed.

If I am going to have a holiday, I will always give you as much notice as possible. In the unlikely event that I cannot attend a session for any other reason, I will aim to give you at least 48 hours’ notice.

How do I end counselling?

It can be important to pay attention to the ending of the therapeutic process so that you can gain maximum benefit. For this reason, I suggest that you give me a minimum of three weeks’ notice before deciding to end therapy.

This does not apply when in your first block of six sessions. In this case, you will be able to use your sixth session to review your experience during therapy and decide whether or not you need to extend.

How do I pay for sessions?

Session are payable in cash or by by direct bank transfer when paid for in a block of six.

More Questions?

If you have any further questions, then please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to assist you.

For general information on counselling and psychotherapy, you can visit the BACP website.