What happens at the first session?

The first session is an informal assessment session where I gain an idea of what is going on for you now and an impression of your background. It is a two-way process, so it is also a chance for you to assess me and clarify any questions you may have.

What happens in subsequent sessions?

There is no set formula. You may know what you want to achieve from therapy, or you may be unclear about this. You may suffer anxiety, stress or low mood. We can look at your underlying feelings and work through these so they are gradually processed and understood as opposed to being bottled up. We can work on establishing goals for you and examine the options open to you. With support it can be a safer journey – and the goals therefore more achievable – than trying to cope on your own.

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Historically psychotherapy was seen as more ‘in depth’ and longer term than counselling but these days the boundary between the two has become very blurred. There is so much overlap that many counsellors and psychotherapists use the terms interchangeably, which is the practice I also adopt.

Is it confidential?

Yes. There are some exceptional circumstances where this might not apply, for example if I felt you were a risk to yourself or to others. But before informing your GP I would try to agree this step with you first. In practice, breaking confidentiality is a rare event.

How many sessions will it take?

This depends on three main factors: your motivation, what you want to get out of the sessions, and how deep-seated the issues are. We can have a review at the third session when you can then get a clearer idea of whether it is likely to be short-term or longer-term.

So what is meant by short-term and long-term?

Short term counselling (or brief therapy) is usually interpreted as anywhere between six sessions and several months of sessions. Long-term therapy can be anything over that.

Have you come across my problem before?

You may be anxious about not being understood, or concerned the therapist may think you – or your problem – are strange or odd. In reality, therapists who have been in practice a substantial time (39 years in my case) will have worked with a whole range of issues, although naturally they may have particular experience or expertise in certain areas.