Frequently Asked Questions
Below you'll find the answers to some common therapy questions.
How is seeing a counsellor/psychotherapist different to speaking with a friend?
One of the major differences is that therapy and counselling is completely focused on you – your priorities and feelings. This can be a welcome change from other relationships where you may feel compelled to be entertaining or accommodating. Instead, you have an opportunity to go deeply into your experiences, patterns and perspectives in a way that is rare in day-to-day life.
Counsellors are trained to listen, be present and give you their undivided attention. They don’t judge, give unsolicited advice, silver line your challenges or interrupt you. As well as being trained and experienced in working with people in distress, we are also supported by clinical supervision, so you don’t need to worry about burdening us with your difficult stuff or putting a brave face on things.
The therapeutic relationship is supported by boundaries – that means, amongst other things, that we don’t have a relationship outside of these sessions. This set up allows you the safety to talk about things that may otherwise be too difficult to share with someone who is more closely involved and means you can benefit from the perspective of someone who has distance from your life.
What should I expect in the introductory video meeting?
This free 20 minute video call is a chance for us to find out more about each other. Research* shows that the relationship between counsellor and client is important to how effective therapy is and it’s very difficult for you to find out if I’m the right therapist for you without meeting me. This is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions or share any concerns you may have. Booking a free session doesn’t mean you are committed to starting therapy.
If I don’t have experience in the area you are seeking help with, or think you may benefit more from another approach, I may suggest other therapists who could be better placed to support you.
Do you only offer Online Therapy?
Yes, at present my practice is solely online. I have received specific training in working with clients remotely and in my experience there are many benefits to working in this way, with research* in the field consistently showing that online therapy is as effective as face-to-face.
It is important to note, however, that online therapy isn’t suitable for everyone – issues such domestic violence, eating disorders and mental health emergency can present particular challenges for remote therapy and I am not currently able to support clients in these areas, see my resources section for organisations providing help in these areas.
Other things to consider include: How confident do you feel using technology? Do you have a safe, confidential space to conduct therapy sessions in? Can your internet connection support video calls? We will discuss this in more depth before you start, to make sure online therapy is a good match for you.
* External link: Live psychotherapy by video versus in-person: A meta-analysis of efficacy and its relationship to types and targets of treatment https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33826190/
What should I expect in the first counselling session?
This will be a more in-depth look at your background, your current experience and your goals for counselling. We will agree a general focus of our work together and discuss review periods to help check in with how things are going for you.
We will also discuss the counselling contract, looking at practical issues such as the confidentiality and cancellation policy, to make sure you understand and are happy with the logistics of how the sessions will be delivered.
How long will I need to come for?
This is something clients often want to know, but which is quite hard to answer because it depends on many factors such as the issue you are coming to counselling with, your current level of support and your history. In general, long-standing issues will need more time that problems which you’ve only been experiencing for a short time.
We can work in an open-ended way for as long as you find useful, or we can arrange a fixed number of sessions – this will be discussed more in our first session.
How often will I need to come?
Usually, clients come to therapy once a week and this is what I recommend at the beginning of our work together so as to develop the vital therapeutic relationship. As time goes on, we may agree to schedule our sessions fortnightly.
In order to see the changes you want it’s important to be able to attend therapy consistently. It’s worth thinking if now is the right time for you to attend, both in terms of the financial and time commitment.
Does coming to therapy mean there’s something wrong with me?
No, is the short answer!
People often come to counselling for help with a specific difficulty they can no longer manage alone. Being a human is hard and messy and sometimes life sends really tough things our way.
In the UK our education system doesn’t teach us basic psychological skills and knowledge such as how to identify or manage our emotions, how to communicate effectively or how the nervous system is affected by trauma. It’s no surprise that many of us get to adulthood without this vital information which could massively help us navigate psychological difficulties.
There is no shame in getting help with this stuff; I fundamentally believe we are all worthy of care and support. I also firmly believe that therapy isn’t selfish, as well as helping us it’s something that often benefits our friends and loved ones.
You don’t have to have something ‘big’ you’re struggling with to benefit from therapy, I believe that counselling can be very useful in helping prevent us from getting to crisis point. Maybe you just feel like you’re holding yourself back in some way, maybe you feel a bit ‘meh’ and know things could be better, or maybe you want to invest in preventative care so you’re more able to handle future difficulties. Counselling and psychotherapy can help with all these things.
Is counselling confidential?
Confidentiality is key to building trust in counselling – I will listen to you in confidence and not tell anyone else what you say. However, there are certain circumstances when I may have to pass on information about you, including if I believe that you or other people are in danger. The limits of confidentiality will be discussed fully in the counselling contract and in our first session together so you can check you understand and are happy with these arrangements.