Counselling and psychotherapy fall under the umbrella term ‘talking therapies’, which allow people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. People seek counselling or psychotherapy when they want to change something in their lives or explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.
At a time when you might be feeling lost and nothing seems clear, counselling offers you a safe space to feel really listened to, understood and accepted. Your therapist will support you as you explore your hopes, fears, relationships and choices so that you have a better understanding of the issues in your life and can make more informed decisions that will be good for you.
How is counselling different to talking to friends or family?
Talking to a therapist can be helpful as they have no preconceived perceptions of you, no prior connection to your life and are not there to tell you what to do. Instead, the process allows you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking to help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of coping.
Everyone has thoughts and questions that are difficult to talk about but in the safety and confidentiality of the counselling room you can explore them with no judgement from the person sitting with you. As a trained professional your therapist can help you uncover your own insight and an understanding of your problems, providing you with the tools to help you to resolve them.
What’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
Counselling is a short-term process that can help you with ‘here-and-now’ issues by supporting you to identify problems and take steps to resolve specific issues or change unhelpful or damaging patterns of behaviour.
Psychotherapy is a longer-term, in-depth process that helps you to identify where your values and beliefs come from so that you can understand your feelings, thoughts and actions more clearly. This deeper insight gives you the opportunity to make conscious and helpful decisions about who you are in the here-and-now and the process can support you in letting go of or changing anything that may be holding you back.
What can therapy help with?
Counselling and psychotherapy can help with difficult experiences or feelings you may be experiencing, such as:
- Feelings of loneliness, sadness, anxiety, worry, depression
- Being unable to form or maintain intimate relationships
- Low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, feeling worthless
- Difficulty with family, friends or colleagues
- Professional or career challenges
- A sense that life itself no longer seems fulfilling
- Experience of grief, loss and separation
- Experience of abuse / trauma
- Sexual violence, including rape and childhood sexual abuse
- Addiction issues
- Anger management issues
- Issues relating to gender identity or sexuality
Some people start counselling knowing they want to deal with a particular issue in their lives, whereas others may feel that something isn’t right but they don’t know why. If this is the case, the early stages of counselling will look at what the underlying issues might be.
How do I get started?
If you feel counselling could help you please send our lead therapist, Alison, an email via our contact form here or you can call or text her on 07719 473 175. If she’s not available when you call, please leave a message or send a text asking her to contact you so she knows it’s safe to call you back.
When you make contact you can ask any questions you may have, ask to have a consultation session or request a phone call if you’d prefer to talk things through before going ahead.
Alison will call, email or text you back – whichever is most convenient for you. She’ll answer your questions and see which therapist would fit with your needs and availability. Once you’ve made an appointment for your first session, you will receive a confirmation email from your therapist with all the details you will need for your session, including our full address and a map with directions.
What happens in the first session?
Your first session is an opportunity to meet your therapist in person and see if you would feel comfortable working with her. A good relationship between counsellor and client is key to successful therapy so it’s important you feel it’s a good match. Your therapist will ask you about the issues you’d like to address and will ask you some questions so she can understand your background and circumstances. If you have any questions or concerns you can discuss them at any time.
If you decide you’d like to go ahead with further sessions you can then talk about how many sessions you’d like to start with, the goals you’d like to work towards and when and how often you would like to meet. It’s usual to have one session a week, though sometimes people meet more frequently if they need to or less frequently (e.g. fortnightly) to fit in with a busy schedule or a budget. One benefit of private therapy is that you don’t have to commit to a certain number of sessions – you can try it out and see if it’s for you and, if it’s not, you can stop at any time. If it is, you can continue as long as necessary to achieve your goals.
How long will it take?
There’s no easy way to answer this question as people come to counselling for lots of different reasons. Some people find a few sessions helpful and others may have sessions for several weeks or months. If people want to address deeper issues, they may have psychotherapy for a longer period of time to work through these difficulties.
Your therapist will be happy to discuss what type of therapy may be appropriate for the issues you’re facing and whether a shorter- or longer-term approach may be beneficial. Throughout your therapy she will ask you how you feel it is progressing and check that the work is focussing on your goals. By doing this she can ensure it is a focused and ongoing collaboration between you both.