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Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions that are not answered below, please contact me.
What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
The main difference is related to the level of training and educational qualification obtained. The term 'counselling/counsellor' and 'therapy/therapist' are not protected titles, therefore no qualifications are necessary to use them. However 'psychotherapy/psychotherapist' are protected professional titles that require a high level of training and qualification. The levels of training, if any, inform the ways in which questions are asked, how answers are heard and if conversational processes are understood and developed to facilitate positive change.
Who needs to attend an initial therapy assessment session?
Depending on the problem and who this involves, I recommend that the individual experiencing and/or identifying the problem (and/or symptoms) preferably with a parent(s) and/or significant other(s) attend the initial assessment.
Can an assessment take more than one initial session?
Yes. The majority of problems can be assessed within a 90 minute initial assessment session, however if several family members are involved and/or there are additional complexities to consider there may be a need for a further assessment session(s) to be arranged.
On average how many sessions will it take?
Of course this varies a great deal depending on the problem, aims of therapy and/or who is involved. However generally speaking 6 to 9 therapy sessions are the average amount attended, but after 3 therapy sessions you would hopefully have a sense of whether the therapy was helping or not.
Can therapy make you feel worse?
Yes. But hopefully only initially for some people. The intention of therapy is to help you and others feel, think and/or behave better, so if feeling and/or behaving worse continues for several sessions with no suggestion of improvement then taking a break or stopping therapy may be recommended. Therapy often involves emotive talking, thinking and listening that can be emotionally challenging, this inevitably may result in a temporary headache or feelings of fatigue. However these temporary responses could be considered a normal reaction to therapy and can actually suggest that a meaningful engagement in therapy is occurring.
What if I/we are asked something I/we don't want to answer or talk about?
If a question is asked that you don't want to answer or talk about then simply say 'I don't want to answer that'. It helps me to know why and we may need to consider what effect or impact not answering/talking about a particular matter may have on the therapy and/or our understandings. However I am not here to make you talk about anything you don't want to talk about. I can not know what you do not want to talk about before asking though (unless you tell me), so your open feedback is important to ensure we can continue talking effectively together. It is important to remember that the more open you are the more you can potentially gain from the therapy.
If we talk about someone who is not in therapy with us will you tell them?
My involvement and our conversations are strictly confidential which means by law and by my professional code of conduct I am not permitted, nor would I want to, share or discuss any details with any individuals not present. I may suggest that certain individuals are invited to join therapy, but only with your agreement. All therapists work within the Limits of Confidentiality which are explained on the website.
What happens if someone refuses to come in or leaves the room/session?
You know yourselves and your family members best so it is your decision and responsibility to respond to a family member that is leaving, withdrawing and/or avoiding therapy. There may be times when I can make suggestions or advise you on how to manage certain behaviours, however I am not able to leave family members alone in the room, nor am I able or willing to 'force' someone to join. If a family member leaves the session I ask that they take a break at the front of the house within eye sight otherwise the session would need to end. Consideration would then need to be given as to whether ongoing therapy continues with or without the individual withdrawing from the session. It may also be possible that after a short break the individual feels able to return to the session and/or attend on another date for therapy together to continue.
Are there problems that you can not or do not provide therapy for?
I work with most relational, behavioural and/or emotional problems, symptoms or difficulties. I can also work with people who are struggling with dilemmas, change or challenging circumstances. However I do not have any direct professional experience treating individuals with significant addiction problems including substance misuse, nor sexual functioning problems, or significant speech or learning difficulties. These specific issues usually require specialist services and/or a specialist therapist for successful treatment. I am however able to offer therapy for significant others related to such issues, including children, for example that may have been adversely affected by a family member's addiction problem or behavioural difficulties. There are some emotional, social and mental health needs that can present with significant risk to self and/or others that may require additional or different services and/or professional involvement, however this would be openly discussed in the assessment or sessions with you should I not be able to offer or continue therapy together at this time.
What age is the youngest person you offer therapy with/for?
I am able to offer therapy for all ages. Of course the needs and abilities of different age groups informs the therapy processes, aims and outcomes. Talking therapies, such as Systemic Psychotherapy, are most effective working with individuals able and willing to verbally contribute to conversations. However the systemic approach can also be most helpful for parents/carers of very young children, even babies, seeking a change that they would both benefit from. Here most of the conversations are between the adults and therapist, however creating ways to engage the very young child may also be an aim for a successful outcome of therapy.
As explained on the website systemic therapy can also be useful for people concerned or worried about an individual who is not willing or able to join sessions, for example the therapy may change and improve an individual's experiences that are not even be present in the room. Age is not a barrier for systemic change. However, it is important to add that children under 16 years of age can not independently consent to therapy sessions unless assessed to be 'Gillick competent' to do so (which can be as young as 12 years old). I would however be encouraging any teenager to inform their loved ones and consider therapy together for some sessions. Parents/carers can consent to therapy on a youngsters behalf, if they want to attend without their parent(s)/carer(s) present.
How will I/we know if therapy is helpful for us?
This may depend on what is considered the problem and who it affects. At the initial assessment session and after 3 and/or 6 sessions, a simple questionnaire is available to complete that may help measure certain issues and potential effects of the therapy sessions. It is hoped that positive change(s) in feelings, thoughts, relationships and/or behaviours during the course of therapy (or soon after) would be noticeable and/or identifiable that would indicate to you and/or others that the therapy is/has been helpful.
Are there any rules to follow in therapy?
I ask that all mobile phones are turned off during the therapy sessions. If this is not possible for any reason then we may agree for phones to be placed on to silent mode. Eating/snacking is also discouraged as it can distract from the conversations needed. Of course drinking a non-alcoholic drink is fine, water will be provided at every session. It is most helpful to arrive on time for sessions as they will need to end at the arranged time and yet you would still be charged for the full session (60 or 90 minutes). Like any therapy setting, I remind you that everyone is entitled to feel physically and emotionally safe during therapy and therefore highly offensive, volatile and/or abusive comments and/or behaviours will not be tolerated, and may result in contacting appropriate authorities and/or therapy being terminated. It is important that everyone present intends to remain respectful of each other despite our differences and/or difficult emotions experienced.
Can I/we contact you between sessions?
Yes. However I would advise this to be via email, at least initially, as depending on what is raised it may be important for us to discuss and explore this openly in therapy together. If it is a simple matter of changing appointments and/or other house keeping questions etc these are also better to answer via email. A time when I would advise that a phone call between sessions may be necessary is if you are worried about someone's personal safety or that raising an issue may result in avoiding/ending therapy. This may also be a time when I suggest you/they attend sessions separately with me before coming to therapy together again.
What and how will the information we share be stored?
During the initial assessment session a form is provided to complete for your contact details and experiences of the problem, the help you need and your hopes for therapy. I also take brief notes during the sessions to document important and/or significant insights, ideas or developments to inform future sessions and/or provide a summary of your therapy together. The assessment form and sessional notes are uploaded onto my protected computer and/or locked in a filing cabinet. You can ask to see and/or have a copy of any sessional or summary notes at any time.
Are there additional resources available that may support me/us?