What is counselling?
Counselling provides a safe, confidential space in which you can explore whatever it is that's troubling you. It is different from talking to a friend or colleague because it is a contractual agreement that sets out times, dates, costs, number of sessions etc and counsellors work within an ethical framework which guides and informs how they practice.The sessions are protected by rules around confidentiality meaning you can feel safe talking about anything without worrying about people around you finding out (see section on confidentiality and it's limits). Counselling also differs from talking to a friend because we don't give advice or come up with solutions. Counselling assumes that the client is the best person to decide what's best for them but it does provide the space and support to uncover what this might be .
Where does the session take place?
I have a counselling room on the first floor of my house in Brixham, Devon. Unfortunately, this means the room is not accessible to those using a wheelchair or with mobility problems. There is plenty of parking in the roads around the house.
How long are the sessions?
Sessions are for one hour.
What happens at a first session?
Once we have introduced ourselves I will usually give a brief outline of who I am, what I do and how I work. I will then offer you the opportunity to tell me a little bit about what's bought you to counselling and what your expectations are. We will then discuss how counselling may help and look at the practicalities of sessions e.g. times and costs. We also discuss confidentiality. I have a short agreement form which we will fill in if you decide you want to go ahead with sessions. But sometimes a client may want to go away after the first session and have a think about what they want to do and that's absolutely fine.
How many sessions will I need?
It's difficult to say how many sessions each person may need as everyone is unique. However, at the first session we will agree an initial number of sessions and then review as we go along. The process is collaborative so we will decide together what feels right.
What is your approach?
I am integrative counsellor which means I will talk through with you what is troubling you and then work out what approach may be most helpful. I believe that the relationship forms the central basis for the work. I feel that being really heard and listened to in a warm empathic way, sometimes for the first time, can be a very transformative experience. I am also very interested in some behaviour therapies, particularly Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which can be very helpful in looking at how thoughts and actions are inevitably linked. Within this I also find Mindfulness to be an invaluable skill to develop particularly in helping with anxiety.
I also use some creative approaches including Sand Tray work. For some people it's too difficult or intimidating to talk directly about intimate or personal feelings or thoughts. Or they may not really be able to put those thoughts or feelings into words. The sand tray can be a really useful way to help in this process by providing an alternative way to express or look at thoughts or feelings.
I have also recently undertaken some training in Psychosynthesis which I feel has added another dimension to my work.
What areas do you work with?
I have experience of working with many of the challenges people face including loss and bereavement, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, chronic illness, relationship worries and stress. Clients often worry that a counsellor may be shocked, disgusted or overwhelmed by something they bring to therapy. So I would like to reassure you that whatever issue you bring will be met with compassion and empathy.
What if we don’t get on?
Counselling involves a relationship between the counsellor and the client and I believe this relationship is at the heart of the counselling process. Sometimes a client may feel angry, hurt, irritated or annoyed with their counsellor. They may feel unheard or misunderstood. If this happens I would encourage a client to share those feelings with me. They can often reflect a parallel with how a client feels in relationships outside the counselling room and talking them through safely and without judgement can be a crucial part of the work.
However, sometimes a client may feel that we just don’t “click”. They don't feel comfortable and are maybe looking for something or someone else. If this happens then it's fine!! I can support you in looking elsewhere for someone who may be a better “fit”.
What if I don't want to come back?
If, after the first session, you decide you don't want to continue then that's okay. You don't need to explain why if you're not comfortable with that, although it can sometimes be helpful for me to know why. If we have started counselling sessions and you decide you no longer want to continue then it's often beneficial to talk it through and if sessions are to stop then to have a chance to say goodbye. However, obviously there may be circumstances where sessions have to end abruptly and that's okay.
Are sessions confidential?
All sessions are confidential which means whatever we talk about remains between us. Any notes or personal information I hold is kept securely locked away, only I have access to these records. I see a supervisor every month and may talk through my work with her to ensure I am working safely and appropriately. During supervision I may talk about our work together but focus will be on my work rather than what you bring to sessions. My supervisor will not have access to any personal information about you.
The only time I will have to break confidence would be if I was worried that you may be a threat to yourself or to those around you or I was worried you may harm yourself. Legally, if I suspected you were involved in terrorism or money laundering I would also need to break confidence.
If you have any questions about confidentiality please feel free to ask for more information.