What is the difference between psychotherapy and counselling?
There is some contention as to what the terms psychotherapy and counselling mean and how they differ from one another. Psychotherapy and counselling both refer to a form of talking therapy and the terms are often used interchangeably. I tend to view counselling as time limited and dealing with one particular difficulty. I consider psychotherapy as open ended and tailored to more complex or multiple issues.
How can counselling or psychotherapy help me?
There are multiple ways in which I believe counselling or psychotherapy helps. Being able to talk things through with a trained professional, someone other than your friends or family, can bring a great sense of relief. Sometimes embarrassment and the desire not to burden loved ones can mean that our deepest concerns are left unspoken; which can bring about more suffering. Beyond simply talking to someone new about your concerns, counselling and psychotherapy can also help by bringing you new understanding about your patterns of behaviour and ways of relating to others. It can help you to look at reasons why you have faced the difficulties that you have and look at how things could be different in the future. Counselling or psychotherapy can bring new levels of awareness that makes life easier to manage and the possibility of other ways of being in the world.
What can I expect from my first session of counselling or psychotherapy?
The first session is an opportunity for me to find out more about you and your difficulties and for you to decide whether you would like to continue to work with me. First sessions last 60 minutes; longer than our usual sessions which will last 50 minutes. I will ask several questions to find out more about you and I may jot down a few notes. This will be very different from our ongoing sessions as these will predominantly be led by you and I will not be taking notes after the first session. We will discuss what you would like to achieve from counselling or psychotherapy and you will be given the opportunity to ask about how I practice. Following the session I will give you some time to go away and think about whether I am the right psychotherapist for you - there will be no pressure on you to continue if you realise that you are not ready. The decision to engage in counselling or psychotherapy can be a difficult one and therapy will only work when you feel ready.
How frequent will sessions be and how long will they last?
All counselling and psychotherapy sessions will last 50 minutes (apart from the first session which will last 60 minutes). We will meet at the same time and the same day each week. Counselling and psychotherapy sessions will always start on the hour. Some people may benefit from psychotherapy twice a week and, if you feel that you might, we can discuss this.
How confidential are counselling and psychotherapy sessions?
Counselling and psychotherapy sessions are strictly confidential. The only exception to this is if something arises that suggests danger to yourself or others; in which case I would discuss my concerns with you and whom I might need to contact. For example, if you were at risk to yourself we might agree that I should liaise with your doctor. None of this would be done without your prior knowledge and, wherever possible, would be agreed upon with you.
What type of counselling and psychotherapy do you offer?
I have trained as a psychodynamic psychotherapist and find psychoanalytic ideas useful when working with people. I believe that our childhood experiences can have an impact on how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others and how we live in the present moment. Saying that, counselling and psychotherapy is not just about looking into the past - it is just one key to finding out more about yourself and exploring how to change. I place emphasis upon the unconscious and believe that some difficult feelings are pushed out of awareness and that these inner conflicts show themselves in our current day problems. Shining a light on some of these difficult feelings, with the help of an empathic and gentle professional, can help to relieve suffering. I also believe that our problems or 'symptoms' have a meaning and that it is our job to work out what they are trying to communicate to us.
As well as incorporating psychodynamic ideas into my work with clients, I also integrate systemic, attachment and cognitive theories into therapy and am led by clients' individual needs and our therapeutic relationship.