Some questions you may have! If there is a question that isn’t answered here, do get in touch and I will add it if appropriate!
Does Counselling Really Work?
Emphatically, yes! Of course it depends on what the problem is, the length of the counselling process, and a range of factors such as the strength of the relationship between you and your counsellor, other things going on in your life – but I have worked with enough people, and enough issues, and seen and heard so many positive changes, to have a strong personal belief in the process which is also borne out by the assessment tool I use (CORE 34 also used by the NHS) which shows my clients achieving significant improvements to well being and functioning. There is no space here fully to describe how counselling works, it is something which has to be experienced. I believe we can’t underestimate the power of being understood and respected by another person, unconditionally, which for me is at the heart of the counselling process – it is empathy, acceptance, honesty and respect which are the driving forces of change in counselling. My personal approach involves one of the the more challenging aspects of counselling, “congruence” which involves me being a real, genuine person in the relationship, open to hurt, reality, rejection and all the other factors which influence our relationships. When we work together I am fully and unconditionally me, no pretending.
Will I Feel Better Straight Away? And if not, how long will it take?
A tough question to answer! Some people find that having someone listen, and understand them, and not judge them, sometimes for the first time in their life, is in itself a transforming experience, and begin to feel relieved that someone is finally acknowledging their feelings and reality. I have seen people for whom a single session has been enough to relieve their immediate pressures and find emotional release. For others, taking the lid off previously blocked issues and feelings can be a very painful and long term process.
It might be tempting to put that lid back on as quickly as possible, perhaps even by abruptly ending the counselling process and going back to familiar (but self destructive) strategies and patterns of behaviour. I strongly encourage people to commit to the process, it is hard work, but anything worth doing usually requires time and patience, and this is especially true when it comes to looking after our emotional well-being!
Although our minds and emotions are more unpredictable than our bodies, I sometimes liken the therapeutic process to physical exercise. If you signed up to a 3 month gym membership, you wouldn’t expect to go once, use every machine effortlessly, and have a nice physique the next morning. The process takes time, determination, and hard work! So it is with counselling. Ultimately, it is your choice whether you are willing to go through the hard work that might be involved. As a counsellor, all I can do is be there for you as long as you need and choose to make use of my skills, experience and presence.
As an ethical practitioner, I will not encourage you to stay in the counselling process longer then necessary, and will be open and honest with you when we review progress and discuss how many more sessions we might need at various stages.
As a counsellor, are you “sorted”, perfect, know all the answers to life’s questions?
I wish I did! As a counsellor I have done a lot of personal development work, I strive to build and maintain my self awareness, and maybe I have learned a thing or two! But I am a human being and while I will be strong and consistent for you, I do experience the whole range of human emotions and and am just as affected by life’s everyday challenges as other people are. I am capable of experiencing great highs and happiness, as well as deep lows and sadness. I have experienced profound loss and grief, and battled various demons over the course of my life. It is this experience I use to help my clients – I am not separate from you or above you, I am with you on this sometimes wonderful, sometimes puzzling, and sometimes very challenging and difficult journey that we call life.
Do you charge for missed appointments?
I value my time, and there is much more to counselling than simply being available at a certain time. For example, I always make sure I am not involved in any stressful activities on days when I offer counselling, keep space free around sessions, and I do spend time before appointments reflecting on work with clients, reading through notes, and getting the therapy space ready, both physically and mentally! This is because I believe in the importance of the process, and take extra steps to make sure I am ready to give you my full, undivided presence and attention. For this reason I have a 24 hour cancellation policy, if I receive notice of cancellation more than 24 hours before appointments there is no charge, but for same day cancellations I reserve the right to charge 50% of the fee, and the full fee for sessions unattended without notice.
I will generally ask for advance payment to confirm sessions, especially if you are a new client. I realise this can appear very untrusting, but unfortunately I do get people who book sessions, and then don’t turn up and don’t let me know, which often results in a lot of wasted preparation and/or travel time (especially for city centre sessions – I only travel in if I have appointments in the diary, and in the past I would travel in for one appointment only to have to return home, taking up about 3 hours of my time in total). I find it regretful that I have to use this system, but I do it so I can protect myself and continue to offer new and existing clients a professional and committed service.
Do you see couples?
I am willing to work with couples, whether this is a couple in an intimate relationship, or a family relationship (such as father and son, brother and sister). It should be needless to say, but I am happy to see same sex couples or work with relationships from alternative lifestyles. What I offer is not relationship guidance, but a non directive facilitation enabling people to talk through their concerns and issues with an impartial third person present to give feedback and make sure both parties are heard by each other. I do not have an agenda or fixed views on what your relationship should or should not be. Because so much can happen in a single session, I charge my full rate for the first session, which will include an assessment, discussion and contracting.
Do You Work With Children/Teenagers?
My current policy is that I only work with people who are 16 or over.
Do you do EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) Counselling Work?
Yes, if you are a business or organisation and wish me to contract to work with your employees, I am happy to discuss this. I have experience of time limited counselling and working with employees whose counselling is funded by their employer.
I saw you in the past, it didn’t work out, but I would like to see you again as things have changed for me?
If you want to come back for more sessions with me, I am happy to work with you, and to explore whatever you want to bring to our sessions. I may explore why you left, but also acknowledge your inalienable right to make whatever decisions you need to make in your life. As a counsellor I do feel pain when my clients leave, but also know that this can be part of what you need to do, and you are always most welcome to return if you choose.
I was a client of yours somewhere else (for example at an organisation or charity), and have found you on the internet, I would like to drop you a line to let you know how I’m doing?
If I have worked with you and you wish to drop me a line, I would be happy to hear from you. Although I need to maintain professional boundaries and cannot enter into discussion of the work we did together, the connection we had during our sessions was real, and something I valued and continue to value immensely, and believe me, it was a genuine privilege to work with you and I will certainly remember you!