Below I have endeavoured to answer some of the questions I am most frequently asked, as well as providing some information I think it may be useful to know before starting therapy.
What is a consultation session?
The consultation session is a regular 50-minute session and will be held online via Zoom. It is a no-obligation first session which provides you with an opportunity to get a sense of the way I work and to see what a typical therapy session might look like. At our initial session I will ask some questions about what brings you to therapy and will also ask some questions about relevant past experiences. It can be anxiety-provoking to meet with a therapist for the first time so it’s important to know that it’s up to you how much you choose to share in a first session. At the end of the session there will be some time for any questions you may have.
What is the difference between short and long-term therapy?
Short-term therapy, also known as ‘time-limited therapy’ or ‘solution-focused therapy’, usually focuses on finding strategies to manage or talk through a difficulty that is present in your life right now. Short-term therapy seeks to enhance awareness and find solutions to that present difficulty and generally consists of six to twelve sessions.
Longer-term therapy tends to view current issues as symptomatic of underlying issues stemming from patterns of behaviour and ways of relating. These are often unconscious or we may be cognisant of them but feel unable to bring about change. While short-term therapy may also view current issues the same way, the main difference is that short-term work will focus more on the symptoms whereas longer-term work aims to understand and address the underlying patterns of behaviour, coping strategies and relational ways of being that we learn in live and usually become an integral part of who we are.
How long are sessions and how often do I need to come?
Sessions are weekly and are a ‘therapeutic hour’ which is 50 minutes. Regardless of whether you attend short or long-term therapy, regularity is really important to get the most out of therapy so committing to weekly sessions is an essential part of the therapeutic process.
What type of therapy should I choose?
There are many different therapeutic approaches and it can be a minefield trying to navigate them when looking for a therapist. For example, a psychodynamic approach may focus more on early life and experience as a way to understand the now, whereas therapies such as CBT and Gestalt therapy are traditionally more focused on the here-and-now, on the basis that whatever is going on now is inherently informed by our past. Some people may find one more useful than the other but I believe most therapies are aimed at the same thing but from a slightly different angle. That is, for us to have greater awareness and understanding of ourselves – the thoughts, beliefs and patterns of behaviour that shape our experience.
Current research shows that the most important factor for successful therapy is the ‘therapeutic relationship’, i.e. how the client and therapist work together to bring about beneficial change. Therefore, choosing and working with a therapist that you feel comfortable with is likely to be of higher importance than what style they trained in. Having said that, training is important so in the next part I discuss qualifications, training and recognition by governing UK bodies.
Do you offer in-person sessions? And is online therapy effective?
I am currently working online and I have found this to be a very effective method of working for most people but there are some important points to consider when deciding whether online therapy is suitable for you.
Online therapy is often more convenient than travelling for weekly sessions and being in the safe space of your home can also be beneficial, especially at the end of sessions where being able to take some moments to have a cup of tea after an emotional session can feel less jarring than having to go back out into the world to make your way home. However, it is important that you do have a space that feels private where you can speak freely. Attending therapy sessions via a laptop or desktop where you have a reasonable sized screen is also important, especially for EMDR work.
Do you feature testimonials on your site?
As a registered member of the UKCP (United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists) I abide by the relevant UKCP Code of Ethics for practitioners which states that members “must not make any claims which you cannot demonstrate to be true or include testimonials from clients in any advertising.” As such, I do not ask clients for testimonials nor do I feature them anywhere on my site or advertising but if you have any questions about the way I work or about therapy, please do get in touch.
What is the difference between a counsellor and psychotherapist?
Training for psychotherapists is longer than that of counsellors (generally four vs. two years) although this isn’t a guarantee that the former is better than the latter. Experience, insight, empathy, and further training are all important ‘ingredients’ and, as mentioned above, the way you and your therapist work together is paramount so finding a therapist that ‘gets you’ is really important.
How do I know if a therapist is suitably qualified?
The terms ‘counsellor’ and ‘psychotherapist’ are not protected titles in the UK which means that anyone could, in theory, call themselves either. However, there are two bodies in the UK who uphold standards for counsellors and psychotherapists and these are the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy) respectively. In order for practitioners to register with these bodies they need to have trained in either counselling or psychotherapy at an establishment that these bodies recognise as meeting their standards of quality so I strongly recommend choosing a therapist registered with one of these organisations.