What is Counselling or Psychotherapy?
Counselling and Psychotherapy are 'talking therapies' and in practice they're very similar and often overlap.
Counselling is more often thought of in relation to shorter term work (e.g. between 6-12 sessions) which tends to focus on immediate and specific concerns (e.g. reducing work-related anxiety levels) that are troubling you now. Counselling can help you gain more clarity about your particular issue, to identify realistic options, to gain a better understanding of how you really feel and what you want moving forward.
Psychotherapy is longer term work and often open-ended. In psychotherapy we explore your present and past experiences in more depth and detail. If you find yourself caught in a repetitive pattern of thinking or behaviour that you seem to have no control over then the roots of this may lie in earlier life experiences, perhaps in early childhood. Exploring your past and talking about your life history can often shed light on, and give a new perspective on, your present difficulties. It also brings you greater self awareness and self understanding and consequently more control over your path ahead. Psychotherapy is either weekly ongoing or we can work to an agreed time limit (e.g. 20 -30 sessions)
The number of sessions that you need depends on the type of issues you bring . Some people find a short sequence of sessions sufficient but others may need a longer time to explore their issues in depth. I offer both short and long term work - the decision lies with you how long you wish to come for and what you want to focus on in our work together.
What happens in the first session?
It may seem a bit daunting coming for psychotherapy or counselling for the first time and it may feel strange to talk about personal experiences to someone who is unknown to you. This is why it is important to find the 'right' therapist for you as an individual. This basically means they need to be someone you feel at ease with, able to trust and talk to freely. A good relationship between us is key to the effectiveness of counselling or psychotherapy.
In the first meeting our main task is to discuss and think about your concerns together and find out if the way I work is going to be helpful and meaningful to you; whether you feel at ease with me and we are able to engage with working together. We also talk about whether you are thinking of coming for short term counselling or more longer term psychotherapy. Often it doesn't become clear which is more appropriate until we have seen each other a few times. There's no obligation to continue after the first session if you decide not to.
If you do decide you want to continue after our initial meeting then therapy sessions take place at a regular time each week for 50 minutes. Initially, I usually arrange to see you for six sessions. At some point during this time we'll have a review session where we can agree to continue for a set number of further sessions, to work open ended for the longer term, or to end therapy.