Counselling can help people who wish to make changes in their lives or gain a better understanding of why they are feeling the way they are. Recognising ‘how things are’ offers you the option of deciding what, if anything, needs to be done about it. However, specific advice is not given.
I offer one or a series of confidential, professional appointments in a suitable private setting.
• You have identified that there are aspects of your life which you might wish to change.
• It is an opportunity to make sense of your individual circumstances
• A therapist who will help to identify the choices for change
• A therapist who will support you during your process of change, or acceptance of things which cannot be changed.
• Ideally, you will be better equipped to cope in the future, with the ability to recognise how you react in different situations, and utilise new skills to help you deal with life.
We usually work face-to-face employing a range of techniques to suit your circumstances. However, with the advent of the Internet, some therapists might also use a mixture of telephone, online via the internet, and video conferencing. Face to face will always be preferable, especially from the perspective of maintaining client confidentiality.
Different therapies have different styles. For instance, in cognitive behavioural and sex therapy there will be ’homework’ to do. In bereavement therapy, there would be a lot of emphasis on supporting you through some difficult emotions. A psychodynamic counsellor would look at your past while another type of therapist might focus solely on your life in the present-day. Some therapies concentrate on the future.
Many approaches regard your developing relationship with the therapist as a kind of model which may reveal the patterns of behaviour that cause you problems. Others look at your family relationships and who wielded the power in your house when you were growing up. Others focus on your thinking style and changes in behaviour. There are big distinctions between therapy where you do most of the talking and those which involve much more of a dialogue. But don’t worry, whichever approach is adopted you should be able to make the changes you are looking for. The first appointment, sometimes called an assessment session, is an opportunity to explore issues that could affect the relationship between you and the counsellor/psychotherapist as well as your personal needs for counselling
The goal of any talking treatment is your increased self-awareness, skill acquisition and independence. During therapy, you may develop some feelings of reliance upon the therapist. Although a normal reaction it can, at times, feel worrying. But a professional therapist knows exactly how to handle these feelings and is genuinely interested in helping you make progress.
Therapists practise in all walks of life and all parts of society – from an NHS clinic to the Boardrooms of top companies. We are trained in situations as diverse as: coping with anxiety and bereavement, relationship difficulties, educational dilemmas, sexual and racial issues, personal problem-solving as well as helping victims of child abuse and trauma.
Some people use the terms ‘counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’ interchangeably. Others, from well-established traditions, distinguish between them. There is much overlap between the two.
Any reputable practitioner will be happy to explain their approach to be sure that what they offer is appropriate for you, before there is any commitment.
Counselling and psychotherapy is a contractual arrangement where a practitioner meets a client, in privacy and in confidence, to explore the distress the client may be experiencing. This could be any type of issue, and the ultimate aim of counselling or psychotherapy is to help the client regain some control over their lives, by understanding how their thoughts and behaviours impact.
Counselling and psychotherapy are always undertaken at the request of the client and no-one can properly be ’sent’ for counselling or psychotherapy. There are many situations these days where people with influence in our lives (perhaps a relative, manager at work, or teacher) will suggest talking therapies as a solution to a problem, but nothing can be achieved unless the client is willing to enter into the process.
A reputable practitioner will not tell you what to do – but counselling and psychotherapy will help you make your own decisions.
You can use BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and its directories to find a therapist. Always enquire whether a potential therapist is bound by BACP’s ethical guidelines and professional conduct.
You can contact BACP via its minicom service on 0870 4435162 for assistance in trying to locate accessible practitioners or services.
Ask about the time, place, cost and duration of meetings plus any charges for cancelled appointments and holidays. You may also wish to enquire about the counsellor or psychotherapist’s professional membership, experience and training. During this time you will build up an idea of what is involved and you will be able to make up your mind if this is a person you can work with. It is important to be clear about what you want and what the practitioner is able to offer.
Everything you discuss is confidential between you and the counsellor or psychotherapist. There can be certain legal exceptions and the practitioner should clarify this with you prior to the establishment of any agreed contract for working.
All BACP therapists need to be in supervision which is a form of consultative support and must therefore discuss their work with at least one other person. But a supervisor is also bound by rules of confidentiality so in practice there is no likelihood of any breach of trust.
Costs can vary widely – fees are usually higher in the big population centres – so it is important to establish how much you will be paying before entering a mutual contractual arrangement. You could expect to pay anything between £10 and £80+ per session.
If you are on a limited budget then fees can sometimes be adjusted to meet your situation and your ability to pay.
During the Assessment or first session be prepared to trust your instinct because your relationship with the therapist is at the heart of the work. If you are unsure about the practitioner seek another one. Having confidence in your practitioner is very important and will enable you to get the best out of the time you spend together. Always remember it is you who are the customer.
There are a number of counsellors now offering an online service. Before entering into any contractual arrangement you should satisfy yourself that the practitioner is qualified to provide the service and is a member of a professional body like BACP. Although in some situations there are benefits to counselling through the Internet, confidentiality is a key concern. For example, you may wish to ask if your notes are protected by passwords and encrypted? Are printouts held in a secure cabinet? What happens when there are technical problems or the practitioner is away? Remember that online discussions must pass through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) where security may not be a high priority.
Ask. Any reputable Counsellor or Therapist will recognise that you are entitled to be concerned. You can also ask if your Counsellor is a member of one of the professional organisations.. BACP is the largest voice of the talking therapies in the UK, and members are covered by an Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a Professional Conduct Procedure.
There is also the UK Council for Psychotherapists Register of Psychotherapists (UKCP), the UK Register of Counsellors (UKRC), the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC), the British Psychological Society Register of Chartered Psychologists (BPS), COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland), and practising members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy who are properly supervised
Some practitioners are multi-lingual. In the BACP Directory these languages are listed. If you would prefer to communicate in language other than English then ask the practitioner or check with BACP.
Every effort will be made to see you at a time to suit. Sometimes demand for individuals or in organisations for counselling/psychotherapy can mean waiting lists.
You cannot. A person cannot be ’sent’ for counselling or psychotherapy. They must wish to use the service and make the approach themselves. By all means, find out the names of therapists on their behalf but please encourage a direct approach by the person who needs the help.