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What is psychotherapy like?
It is difficult to explain in writing what a counselling or psychotherapy session is like since each session is different, and each client brings something unique. Underlying each session are the following principles:
- You and your personal experiences are distinctive to you and to be respected.
- There is therefore no ‘one size fits all’ therapy. How we proceed in sessions will depend on what you bring and what you need.
- Our role together is to sensitively uncover the roots of your difficulties, at a pace you are comfortable with.
- I will do my utmost to provide you with the conditions for personal growth and healing: non-judgemental acceptance within a confidential, safe and secure space.
What kind of therapy do you offer?
My approach is known as integrative psychotherapy. This means that I have integrated a range of different approaches, taking the best of what is available in order to work with clients. United by a belief in the importance of a warm and caring therapeutic relationship, my integration derives largely from transactional analysis, object relations and person-centred therapies, combined with research into early attachment, bereavement, trauma, and the effects of formative experiences.
I work with all presentations of emotional distress, and specialise in personal trauma, including post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and bereavement.
What happens in the first few sessions?
First we have a telephone conversation of around 20 minutes to find out what your hopes are for therapy.
In the first session I will carry out an assessment. This means I will ask for some basic information such as your address, phone number, etc., and formulate a summary of what brings you to this point. I will also ask what you would like to achieve in therapy, and there is no problem if your answer is not completely clear, as sometimes it takes a few sessions to emerge. The rest of the sessions are shaped by the needs you bring.
What is the difference between psychology, counselling, psychotherapy, and psychiatry?
Psychology is the study of any cognitive and emotional process and its accompanying behaviour.
Counselling and psychotherapy are sometimes used interchangeably, while others wish to make a clear distinction between the two. In the latter case, the difference is that counselling is short-term and issue-based, such as wanting to work on confidence to be able to drive again after an illness or an accident, whereas psychotherapy is medium to long-term and is personality-based, such as finding it difficult to trust anyone or fearing closeness. In academic terms, psychotherapists are more highly qualified.
Psychiatry uses a medical model, and ranges from treatment for people who, for example, hallucinate vividly, through to the emotional-relational traumas of clients also seen by psychotherapists. Since psychiatry has a medical model, it therefore uses terms such as ‘disorder’ to characterise behaviour, often prescribing psychoactive drugs. There is no research which establishes a medical basis for emotional trauma.
How long are sessions? How many sessions? How often?
Sessions are 50 minutes long, starting from the agreed time. The number of sessions is usually open-ended. When referred by an employer, sometimes the number of sessions is set. We usually meet once a week at the same time.
What are your working hours?
Sessions are usually in the day, Monday to Friday. I try to be available when clients need sessions, so some evening and weekend times are available.
Do you have sessions on the phone or on Skype?
Our first contact on the phone is to establish your needs. Once we meet regularly face to face, all other sessions are usually in person. On rare occasions, once the therapeutic relationship has been established, we may have a one-off session on Skype or on the phone if you are physically unable to make the journey due to illness or injury.
How will we know when it is time to stop?
We should expect to see real personal change and a shift in self-understanding and experience over the course of our sessions. For some clients, a couple of months is sufficient, other clients still continue to benefit after more than a year. Each person is different in this respect and the timescale is therefore unpredictable. In my experience, clients always know when the work is done, as the way of thinking and feeling that troubled them has undergone a positive change.