Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
How do I know if you are the right therapist for me?
It is vital that you feel comfortable with the therapist that you choose to work with. I’ve written an article about how to choose a therapist with some questions for you to think about.
The best way to find out if I’m right for you is to contact me so we can discuss what you want to focus on in therapy. If I can help, I will let you know during this conversation. You can then choose whether you want to book an assessment appointment.
If you decide at any point that you would rather see another therapist that’s fine. Just let me know, and if you would like me to, I can recommend another therapist and immediately transfer your care. We do not need to spend further sessions discussing this – I trust you to make the decision for yourself.
Is everything I tell you confidential?
Yes, with two exceptions.
If you are at risk of harm, or you tell me about someone else being harmed or at risk of harm, especially where children are involved, I am required to inform the appropriate authorities. If at all possible I would discuss any breach of confidentiality with you first, unless to do so would increase the risk to whoever is in that situation. This is a very infrequent occurrence.
All therapists have regular clinical supervision as a matter of course, so our therapy sessions may be discussed with a supervisor to ensure that you are getting the best possible service. Supervisors are bound by professional ethics, and none of your personal information is shared beyond this consultation apart from the rare circumstances detailed above.
What happens once I book an assessment appointment?
Assessment takes between one and three sessions, depending on how complex your difficulties are. When we’ve talked about what is bringing you to therapy, we’ll work together to understand how these problems came about and what keeps them going. At this point, I will offer you some choices about how to proceed and we can decide together how to progress.
What happens after the assessment process has been completed?
At this point, we will discuss what you want to do next. If you choose to go ahead with treatment sessions we will book those in and start your therapy. I usually suggest a review of your progress every four sessions to keep us on track, fine-tune our approach if necessary, and highlight your achievements and your strengths.
Will I have to come for ages?
Most cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) treatment plans last for between eight and twenty sessions, depending on what you want to work on.
It is harder to predict in advance how many sessions will be needed for counselling. I have worked within the NHS using a 6–12 session model for many years and have seen people make amazing changes in this time.
Some people benefit from longer-term therapy. I have experience of providing this so it is available if you wish.
I have a positive, solution-focused approach to therapy. Whatever kind of help you need from me, it’s my aim to work with you to achieve your treatment goals as soon as possible. Regular review sessions help us monitor your progress towards those goals.
Do sessions have to be weekly?
Not at all. We can negotiate what works for you.
Sometimes it is difficult for people to attend weekly due to other commitments. Sometimes it can be therapeutically useful to have bigger gaps between sessions, for instance when you are coming to the end of therapy, or when you are trying to achieve particular goals before your next session.
It is usually advisable to attend weekly at the beginning of your treatment plan so you can get started with necessary changes and establish new thinking and behaviour patterns.
Do I have to attend on my own?
No, if you prefer to bring someone to support you during your sessions that’s fine.
People who are close to you may have a valuable contribution to make, and there may be times when having someone with you makes the difference between being able to attend and not being able to attend.
There are some situations where it’s not helpful to have others with you. For instance, if the person who comes with you tries to use the time for their own issues, this will hamper your therapeutic progress.
In another example, if you have anxiety issues, having someone there to make you feel safe can prevent you from learning that you can manage on your own. In this situation we would negotiate a gradual withdrawal of that person from the sessions as your confidence grows.
What happens if I need to cancel an appointment?
Life throws unexpected things our way and sometimes it is necessary to cancel an appointment. If you do so with more than 48 hours notice there is no charge. If you give less than 48 hours notice you will incur a charge of £35 unless there are mitigating circumstances. This is to cover my office rental, travelling and other expenses. For less than 24 hours notice without mitigating circumstances, full fees will apply.