Frequently Asked Questions
How long will I need counselling for?
This varies a great deal, but you are in control. When we first meet we could either agree a fixed number of sessions or agree to have open-ended counselling. Some people will feel that six sessions are enough – certainly in this time it is possible to gain insight into current difficulties and work out strategies for dealing with the situation. Other people may want to take more time to explore underlying issues and look at any repeating patterns. If you are having open-ended counselling and decide you want to finish, it is often useful to have a couple of further sessions to complete our work together.
Isn’t it just like chatting with a friend?
There are some similarities but there are significant differences which mean that counselling is a unique kind of relationship. Counsellors are trained in theories that give them an understanding of why people may relate and act towards themselves and others in particular ways that may be unhelpful. Counsellors are also trained in techniques which support clients in talking through thoughts and feelings to gain a fresh perspective on old problems. A counsellor listens attentively, treats us with respect, does not judge, does not demand attention and does not impose their own advice and opinions – this is very different from what we may be used to in other relationships.
Is counselling effective?
There is plenty of research evidence to show that counselling is effective in many different situations. Its benefits for people with depression are often equal to or better than anti-depressant medication. Many studies show a high level of satisfaction amongst clients. In addition, there is good evidence to suggest that counselling has an important preventative role in relation to mental illness: counselling has the capacity to reduce demand on psychiatric services by preventing less serious problems from becoming more serious, and by helping people to maintain good levels of mental health.
Will the fact that I’m having counselling be on my medical records or will anyone else know?
Whatever is said in counselling sessions remains confidential, and no one else will be told that you are coming for sessions. Counsellors who are members of BACP, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, are required by their Code of Ethics to have regular supervision. This involves the counsellor talking about their clients with a suitably trained and experienced person again within a confidential setting. The purpose is to ensure that the clients’ needs are being addressed and that the counselling they receive is as effective as possible. Our counsellors will therefore discuss some of the issues raised by you with their supervisor, but they will only identify you by first name or initials. Supervisors are also bound by the rules about confidentiality so this information will go no further.
How can I find out more about counselling before I make an appointment?
Look at the list of books and website links on our About counselling page. You will find lots of ideas there for finding out more about counselling. You can also ring any of the counsellors on the About us page - we would all be happy to talk with you about counselling, what sessions with us will be like, and what you can expect to gain from having counselling.