Not every therapist works in the same way and so, here is a guide, I have tried to put together answers to the kind of questions that most clients ask….
At our first meeting we can start to get a feel as to whether we can work well together to focus on what prevents you from getting the most out of your life and relationships. I will talk you through a working agreement so you will fully understand what you can expect from counselling and my service. You will be given one copy of this agreement to take away; a signed copy will remain on file here. My records are confidential and you are under no obligation to inform anyone you have come for counselling if you do not wish to. It will not be on your medical records and you do not need to inform your GP if you do not wish to. Although you have signed a contract that doesn’t mean you are locked in to having a set number of sessions and I cannot say for definite how many sessions you will need. Clients always want to know – “How long will this take?” and my simple answer is: “I do not know!” A rough rule of thumb for many people, between one and six meetings with a counsellor are sufficient to make a real difference to what was troubling them, where appropriate longer term counselling can be offered, generally the longer you have had an issue then the longer the therapy takes. Endings have their own natural feel and ideally we would recognise that the work is coming to an end we would set a date and spend some time discussing that ending, but life is seldom ideal. What I want to emphasise at this point, even before we have met is that it is clients who choose when to end the counselling process.
The longer the therapy goes on the longer we should take to create our ending. Long term counselling work will include a review every six weeks to ensure that we remain focused on what is important to you.
I do sometimes make notes and you are welcome to see them. But the notes are confidential and I would not show them to others unless legally obliged to do so. There are also some other exceptions to confidentiality. Most sane people, at one time or another, have thought of suicide or not wanting to live, and they may talk about that in therapy, however, if you make it clear to me that you are actually planning to take your own life and you are taking action towards that end then if I cannot persuade you not to do that, I will call your doctor.
Other legal exceptions to confidentiality – If you tell me of a child who is presently being abused, then I am legally and morally bound to pass that information onto social services. Similarly, if you tell me that you are going to commit an act of terror I have to inform the police – so now you know.
Sometimes I bump into clients in the street or socially – this happens. If I do see you in the street I will not say “Hello” or wave unless you do and this in not because I am being rude, its simply to allow you your confidentially. If we are introduced and I ask “How are you?” – do not tell me – under those circumstances, these words are a social nicety, not a therapeutic enquiry: again this is for your own feelings of safety.
Unfortunately, if you are late then you miss some of your sessions. If you come 30 minutes late then you only get a 30 minute session. Your session time is yours, you have bought it and it belongs to you, so it’s up to you how you use it.
I have a sliding scale of charges for service personnel, ex-service personnel, and their immediate family members. I also provide discounted counselling for psychotherapy and counselling trainees.
This guide is a “work in progress”. If you have other questions please email them to me and I will be glad to help