What happens in a first counselling session?


This covers what will happen when we meet for a first face to face session and it assumes that we have already had a free introductory session for up to 30 minutes. Please view online counselling for more details about a first session via zoom or telephone. Please take a seat at reception and I will come and direct you to our room when your session time starts. I will make you welcome and we will both take a seat (counselling very rarely happens with anyone lying on a couch!) I will offer you a glass of water and ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. I would like you to feel as at ease as possible so please try to relax. You are welcome to bring your own hot drink, I will have water available in the room. I will always have my phone switched off. In order to make the most of this dedicated time, could you please do the same - or put on silent if you need to be contacted in an emergency. I am always interested to know if clients have had counselling before so we will probably start with this. I will then ask you about the problems that have brought you to counselling and will ask you if there is something specific that you hope to get out of counselling. There are different types of counselling available so I will describe how I work and also ask you if you have any questions about this. If you are ok to proceed, we will start by going through a few details such as your GP, next of kin and I will also explain why these details are needed. We will then talk about our 'counselling agreement' which covers things like confidentiality. Then it is over to you and whatever you wish to talk about.




What can counselling help with?


There are so many things that counselling can help with but some some of the problems that I have worked with include grief and loss, abuse, anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, relationship difficulties, self esteem problems and emotional distress. Counselling gives you the opportunity to talk through your difficulties with someone who is totally impartial and non-judgemental. I will never tell you what to do because I believe that you are the expert in your life. Together we can find the real you, and build your inner strength so that you can live your best life.




What should I look for in a counsellor?


Your counsellor should be qualifed to Diploma level or above BUT it is important to check that this qualification included a minimum of 100 hours of counselling in placement with regular supervision. Your counsellor should be registered with a professional body such as BACP, UKCP or NCS. Beware of counsellors who completed a 'Diploma' through an online course over a few days, counselling training takes years! In order to reassure you, these are my qualifications. Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies (CPCAB) This course included 90 hours of guided learning Level 4 Diploma in Person Centred Counselling (CPCAB) This course was over 2 years and included 100 hours of supervised work with clients Level 5 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling (CPCAB) This course was over 1 year and included 60 hours of supervised work with clients Your counsellor should undertake regular training and development to ensure that their skills and experience are kept up to date. Many will not list this on their website but should provide you with details if you ask. The most important aspect of counselling is the relationship that you have between you and your counsellor. A good relationship normally achieves the best outcomes. For this reason it is important that you feel a good vibe with your counsellor. Don't expect this to happen at the first session but you will most likely know after a few sessions if you are the right fit. A good counsellor will be non-judgmental, will not tell you what to do and will maintain good ethical boundaries. Most importantly, a good counsellor will believe in you!




Is counselling completely confidential?


As a counsellor, I have a legal and ethical duty to protect your confidentiality at all times. This extends to the content of what is discussed in our sessions, and your basic details such as name and address. For full information about the details I may need to hold about you, please visit my privacy policy. Whatever we talk about will stay strictly between us. There are rare exceptions when I may need to speak to another professional such as my supervisor or your GP. An example of this would be if you were at an immediate risk of harm or if you made me aware of a current child protection concern. To take this action would never be done lightly and I would expect to be fully accountable for any decision made. Before breaking confidentiality within these legal limits, I would always aim to discuss this with you beforehand and ideally, to gain your consent for this. Confidentiality will always be discussed at your first counselling session and if you have any concerns we can talk about this in more detail then.




What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?


This can be a grey area and you may get different answers from different people. In general, I feel that counselling is generally shorter term and focuses very much on current life situations. Psychotherapy is normally longer term and at a much greater depth. I can offer both long or short term counsellng/psychotherapy and our approach would be very much individual to you.




Will you tell me what to do?


I will not be telling you what to do. In our lives we have enough people telling us what to do so in counselling we will focus on what you want and need and what you feel is the best direction for you to take. I believe that you have all the answers inside you. I will help you to discover these answers by listening carefully without judgement and by gently asking questions to encourage deeper exploration. I may offer you ideas or suggestions that you are welcome to try or research for yourself but would never tell you what you should do.




Do you offer discounted rates?


I have a limited number of discounted rates for counselling students who are required to have their own therapy as part of their training. If this is of interest to you please contact me for details. In addition to reducing my fees for students, I volunteer at a local counselling agency and I am unable to offer any further reduced or free sessions.




Can I contact you in an emergency or if I am in crisis?


Counselling is not an emergency service. If you feel that you cannot cope and are at risk of harming yourself (or someone else) please: -dial 999 or go to your nearest A & E department -call the Samaritans on 116 123 (free of charge) If it is not an emergency but you would still like support before your next counselling session you may wish to make an urgent appointment with your GP or contact one of these resources. Sometimes it may be possible to bring your appointment forward with me provided I have an available slot but these are rarely at short notice as I have limited availability.




Will you judge me?


Absolutely not. If you are anxious about being judged then believe me, I understand. This was one of my biggest fears when I had my own counselling. As your counsellor I am here to understand and help you, not to judge you.




How effective is video and telephone counselling?


I have found both to be just as effective as face to face. Telephone counselling can be very empowering for some clients as they are able to talk about things which may just be too difficult when they are 'seen'. I have also found video counselling to be beneficial for numerous reasons. Clients say that it can be easier to fit into their day for example they might be able to have a session when their children are asleep in bed or it takes less time away from work as there is no additional time required for travel and parking. It is particularly beneficiial for clients who struggle to leave their home for physical or mental health reasons. More details about telephone/video counselling.




What happens in a free introductory session?


This free consultation is an opportunity for you to find out more about me and how I work and for us both to see if working together feels 'right'. At the end of the 30 minutes we would each agree if we would like to work together. If you decide that I am not the right person for you then I may be able to signpost you to counselling colleagues if that is something you would like. It is really important to find someone that you feel comfortable with. If the reason you are coming to counselling is something that I would not normally work with, or do not have experience with, then I may signpost you to another service.




How and when do I need to pay?


Please pay just before the session. You can do this via bank transfer or paypal. I will provide you with my details when we book the first session. My cancellation policy states that any cancellations made with less than 24 hours notice will still be charged. Please give as much notice as possible should you need to change your appointment.




How often will I need to attend and how many sessions will I need?


This is very difficult to answer as it is entirely individual. For some people just a few sessions is all that they need. Other people attend therapy for many years as part of their ongoing self care. There is no doubt that consistent and regular attendance contributes to the best outcomes and this is why I always recommend weekly sessions, particularly in the beggining. Missed sessions or sporadic attendance will always have an impact on how much can be acheived.





Common questions about counselling.

I have listed some questions which clients often have about counselling. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact me.