How does counselling work?
What's the first step?
Give me a call, or send me an email with your name and contact details. If you'd like to tell me a bit about yourself and why you're thinking about having counselling, that can be really helpful, but if you'd rather wait until we speak, you get a feel for me, and you feel more comfortable telling me about yourself, that's absolutely fine.
Why do you suggest having a chat before we book any sessions?
I have a phone/online chat with most clients before we book any sessions, for two reasons:
1) For counselling to work, it's really important you feel comfortable talking to me. Hopefully having a chat will help you decide if I'm someone you feel you could talk to about what's bothering you.
2) It's also helpful for me if we can have a quick chat about what brings you for counselling, so I can decide if I'm likely to be able to help. I totally understand that you might not feeling comfortable spilling your guts to someone you've known for five minutes, and I won't push you to talk about anything you're not ready to. But there are some topics, such as adoption, where I would be legally required to refer you to a specialist, and I want to be able to tell you that up front rather than wasting your valuable time.
What happens before the first session?
Once you've decided you'd like to go ahead, I will send you my counselling agreement to read through. We can then discuss it in our first session and I can answer any questions you have.
I will also send you a couple of forms to fill out with some basic information about you.
We will arrange a time for our first session, and I'll take payment from you.
What happens at the first session?
We'll go through the paperwork and I'll explain everything and answer any questions you have.
We'll have a chat about how many sessions you would like. Some clients have a specific problem they want us to work on, and know that they only want five or six sessions. Others might want more open-ended therapy, so we'll just agree to check in every few sessions about how things are going.
We'll talk about any goals you might have for our work together. Sometimes clients have specific goals, like "I want to set boundaries with my parents about how we spend time together", and sometimes clients just want to feel better and aren't sure how to make that happen.
If you think it would be helpful for you, I have a short set of monitoring questions I can ask you either every week, or every few weeks. These include questions about how you are sleeping, whether you are feeling anxious or stressed, and whether you are feeling good about yourself. Some of my clients like to also set their own questions, e.g. 'How motivated am I feeling at work this week?', 'Have I been struggling with self-harm this week?', 'How critical of myself am I being?' and so on.
After that, we'll usually have some time left to talk about what has brought you to counselling. It can be hard for some people to know where to start, and that's totally understandable. I'll help you to decide what to talk about first.
How many sessions do most people have?
It really varies! Some people find that two or three sessions is enough. Others come for months or even years. It depends what you want to work on, how quickly you want to work, and how much time/money you have for therapy right now.
Sometimes people might like to come for a few sessions to work on a particular issue, and then come back in a few months' time to talk about something else. That's OK too.
I'm feeling nervous! Is that normal?
It's really common to feel nervous or scared about coming to counselling. Often, my clients have been pretending everything is fine for a while, and it can be hard to finally admit to someone else that there's a problem. It can also be strange and intimidating to think about sharing really personal things with a stranger.
All I can say is that our sessions are your time, and it's up to you what we talk about and when. You can choose when, or if, it feels right to tell me something.
Should I have online, phone, or face-to-face counselling?
It's up to you. I can see clients in person at K&R Health Suites in Macclesfield, if you live locally to me in Cheshire.
Sometimes people feel more comfortable if I'm just a voice on the phone; it can feel less scary to talk when you can't see me. Other people would feel more comfortable if they can see me, whether that's online by video or in person.
Phone and online counselling can also be more convenient if you have a busy life, and you want to fit a session into your lunch break, or while the kids are napping. Not having travel time can make that more convenient.
Please note that my fees are slightly higher for face-to-face counselling, to cover the cost of the counselling room.
If you're not sure, I can talk it over with you and help you decide.
I have another question!
Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll see if I can help.