Counselling is a ‘talk therapy’ where people can safely discuss their problems and feelings with an experienced counsellor. It’s an experience and a process in which you can discover, explore and understand yourself and your concerns. Through this understanding and experience, it’s hoped that there will be greater freedom and choice and the ability to live in a more fulfilling way.
People come to counselling with a variety of concerns including, academic worries, bereavement, eating problems, self-harm, pregnancy, anxiety, depression, homesickness, family problems and so on. There is no particular ‘problem’ that you have to have – some people, for example, might simply want some space to take stock of their life or think about the future.
The issue of confidentiality is taken very seriously in counselling and is framed by a strict code of ethics. Both the fact that a person sees a counsellor, as well as the information given to a counsellor, will not be divulged to anyone else outside without your specific written permission. The exceptions to this are where the law applies, such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and in very rare situations where someone may pose a risk of causing serious harm to themselves or others. In this last case steps would still be taken to obtain your permission.
Clients can expect confidentiality, a non-judgmental attitude and respect from a counsellor. A counsellor should respond to a client sensitively and honestly and work together with them to build up a trusting and supportive relationship. I’d make a commitment to sessions at mutually agreed times, usually weekly, and contact you if I have to cancel a session.
It’s expected that you’ll make a serious commitment to counselling and to take responsibility for your own growth and change. You should be on time for your appointments and inform me with the best possible notice if you need to cancel. Appointments not kept are time that might have been used by someone else. Finally, counselling is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and non-violence.
You’d usually make an appointment by phone or e-mail and this would be my first opportunity to make contact with you. We’ll briefly discuss the problem to establish if I’ll be able to help with your particular problem or circumstances. We’d then organise a time suitable for a session.
My first session with you can take up to 90 minutes. The reason for this is to get to know background information, help you to feel relaxed and comfortable enough to be able talk about your problem and help build a good rapport between us. Each subsequent session after that is 60 minutes.
When you come for a session, we usually start with warm introductions. I’ll then take some general details such as name, address, contact details, background history, family of origin and reason for seeking counseling i.e. history of the problem and circumstances surrounding it.
We’ll spend most of our time together talking but it won’t be like the conversations you’re used to. As my job is to understand you and your problem as much as possible, I’ll spend most of my time listening while you talk, I’ll also set guidelines in the case of a couple or family so that each person has an opportunity to be heard and listened to by all parties.
There is no pressure to have to talk for a certain period of time. You may find that there are times when you don’t really know what to say or you may want to think about something for a while before you say it. This is all fine by me and I’m happy to wait until you feel comfortable and want to talk.
During our interaction I’ll be trying to understand how you are experiencing your world and what is happening for you and remain sensitive to your circumstances. I’ll often reflect back to you my understanding of the problem and maybe offer another perspective that you may not have considered before.
A very important point in our counseling relationship is that I’m not interested in judging you, the type of person you are or your behaviour. My only interest is in helping you understand better and help explore how you can make your life more satisfying and workable for you. There is no doubt about it, change always occurs during counselling and that change will be because you want to, not because I think you have to. Everything discussed remains completely confidential.
It is believed that expressing emotions can be a healing process, so that you don’t have to use up all your energy trying to keep old hurts and pain buried. During counselling, options can be explored and you may decide to change some things that are not helpful in your life.
I’ll always try to encourage you to recognise and take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
I always bring human qualities to the counselling session and a dash of humour when appropriate. I believe the best way to promote growth and change for my client is by example of who I am and how I continually make decisions about the kind of life I want to live.
My hours are very flexible, many couples find it easier to make appointments in the evening due to work commitments or child care problems. My last appointment in the evenings is 8pm but I’m not available weekends after midday.
Individuals and couples. Often one partner comes first to see if counselling would be helpful to their relationship.
Individual and Relationship issues ranging from A-Z:
Lack of emotional well being:
Intrusions to the boundaries of the relationship:
Helping couples heal and rebuild trust and respect following an affair
It’s usual at the beginning of the counselling session for you to set goals or objectives on what you would hope for the best outcome.
It’s your responsibility to tell me about the changes you wish to occur and my responsibility is to ensure that your goals are attainable and concrete enough so that we’ll know when we’ve got there.
You’ll understand what you did to find a solution to your problem and it may be something that you can apply to other situations in the future.
You’ll have a clear idea about what may be the early signs that things have started to deteriorate and will know what to do if it were to happen.
You’ll feel empowered (equipped with the tools to solve your own problems as far as possible).
The average counselling contract lasts for six sessions and this is generally the contract that will be offered to you. There is some flexibility to work longer but this depends on the demand that I’m currently under. Some people also find that they may not need all six sessions. I recommend that you discuss this with me rather than simply stop coming.
At times of high demand I have to operate a waiting list. It’s more difficult to find an appointment for someone if they have limited availability so it is worth contacting me if you are on the waiting list and you find yourself with more time. Please also tell me if you urgently need counselling.