Thinking about counselling or psychotherapy in 2019?
Here’s what happens when you contact a therapist
It can be very daunting for clients to even consider getting in touch with a therapist. If you are thinking about trying counselling or psychotherapy, you can have so many doubts, questions, attempts at predicting what will happen, that you get into a state of ‘analysis paralysis’. Especially if you are experiencing depression, anxiety, panic, low confidence, trauma or indeed any mental health or personal dilemma, then taking the first step towards change can seem like an impossible mountain to climb.
So, here’s a guide to what you should expect when you take the first small step towards beginning counselling or psychotherapy.
The short version:
Please call, text or email to set up a free 50-minute consultation and assessment. In this consultation we will talk about what difficulties you want to target and what you want to get out of therapy. We will complete a client-therapist agreement prior to beginning work together to make sure we are both clear on the focus, methods and boundaries of our work together. Then, if you’re happy to continue we will set up a second session, and plan to continue weekly/fortnightly or as often as required until you feel ready to finish.
In case you’re wondering, no you will not be lying on a couch! Many preconceived ideas about therapy are outdated or inaccurate.
After the free consultation and assessment, my fees are £50 per ‘50-minute hour’, however I do offer concessions for clients or organisations experiencing financial difficulties, in order to provide a service which is accessible to as many people as possible.
I need more details! What can I expect?
If you phone (please leave a message if I cannot answer), text or email me I aim to get back to clients within 24hours or less. From here, we can arrange a suitable time for a free 50minute consultation. It is useful for this consultation to be face-to-face, but I can do this over the phone or secure video calling if necessary and appropriate.
Face-to-face meetings will take place at my pleasant and confidential therapy room, which is at Cheadle Holistic Therapies (37 Broadway, Cheadle SK8 1LB). Here’s a picture of the comfy chairs we can use:
At the consultation we will establish what it is that you feel you need help for, and agree on how we might work together, including how often, how long for, what methods or type of psychotherapy or counselling would be most helpful, and what the cost will be.
There is no expectation that you will book your first session at this point, instead I will provide you with a client information sheet which will outline what I offer and what you can expect. This is a personal document which is negotiated between us, and does not mean you cannot adjust the details or end therapy when you feel ready to.
If after the consultation and after reading your information sheet, you decide you would like to commence therapy, we will arrange a suitable time to meet and proceed from there. It is usually helpful to meet regularly, weekly if possible, in the beginning.
There is also no obligation to book a block of sessions, as treatment can be adjusted according to need, including on an ad-hoc basis for if you just feel that you need some support ‘as and when’. You will be invoiced each time we meet, and payment is due within 7 days of the session.
What happens in a therapy session?
We will start off by settling into the room – you may wish to use the toilet facilities, have a drink of water, hang your coat up, remove your shoes and/or get comfy in the chair or on the floor, depending on your preference.
Then, we will usually establish what the main focus is for you that day or that week – perhaps something in particular has been on your mind in the previous week or for a long time (if it is your first session we would probably discuss things in the longer term as well as recent events).
Or perhaps there is something that is very prominent for you on the day. Either way, we will ‘map out the territory’ and start where it feels important for you to start, exploring the matter by discussing it. We will also establish what your goals, aims or intentions are, and find ways to work towards these.
How we act on these desired changes depends on the nature of the problem and your needs as an individual, but we might use creative or present moment experiencing methods, skill building, making plans or simply uncovering new insight by talking.
We would then usually finish the session by reviewing what we have worked on and perhaps agreeing on some tasks to work on at home. This could be as simple as remembering what we spoke about as you go through your week, writing things down, or performing a new behaviour.
We will also agree on the time/date of the next session if continuing, and make sure you feel ready to leave the session.
How long will therapy take? When will I get rid of my issue(s)?
Many people find that they achieve meaningful insight or progress in their situation fairly rapidly, within the first 5 sessions, however this is not the case for everyone. Each situation and individual is very unique, so we will need to adapt therapy to you and your current needs.
Sometimes issues are resolved for a long time and then resurface again later. Clients can forget the progress they made in their thinking and behaviour and this is to be expected. Or, clients can make a lot of progress in one area of their life, before discovering that there is something else they want to work on. Whereas, other clients may resolve a problem, learn a new way of life and never feel the need to resume therapy.
Either way is healthy and normal, so it does not mean you are ‘broken’ if you relapse with a problem for time to time. Lots of clients benefit from occasional ‘top up’ sessions every few months, for example.
Taking the very first step is the hardest part, and it is my number one priority to put you at ease straight away and make the process as comfortable as possible.
There are no ‘silly’ questions and I look forward to hearing from you!