I am feeling uncomfortable about 'opening-up' to a stranger, is that normal?
It is completely normal to be scared of starting this journey, and this can be a good thing to talk about to ‘break the ice’ during the first session. Although it can be difficult, there are many benefits of speaking with someone who is impartial and non-judgmental. There can also be a huge relief to talk about something you have been holding in. It is my job to put you at ease and help you feel comfortable, encouraging trust to form a therapeutic relationship. Hopefully by the end of the first session you will feel a bit ‘lighter’, and the fear will have receded somewhat.
What if I don’t know what to say?
There is no ‘right or wrong’ way to approach therapy. Whilst some people may talk a lot, others might find it difficult to express their feelings. It is fine to start a session with, ‘I don’t know what to say’. Some people like to make notes about what is bothering them beforehand, to bring along to help them during the session. As you then get used to the sessions, more things will naturally emerge that you want to talk about.
Is Counselling really confidential?
Yes, counselling is confidential. I am ethically bound to keep what you share private. However, there are some limits to confidentiality, for example if you told me you were going to harm yourself. These issues are listed in the Counselling Contract which we will discuss during our first session.
How many sessions will I need and how often?
Normally people have one session per week, (though we can discuss varying this). Each person and situation are different, and there is not a fixed number of sessions. We can discuss your needs when we first meet, and will regularly review how you feel it is going. More complex issues may need more time.
In terms of finishing counselling, you can end when you feel you are ready. Planned endings are more beneficial, so this is normally a collaborative decision, to ensure that you are prepared.
What happens if we meet someone I know whilst walking?
This is something we can discuss when we look at the contract. There are several ways to approach this, we could just say ‘hi’ and carry on, or you could introduce me as a friend, it is up to you. If I meet someone I know whilst walking, I would normally say ‘hello’, but not stop to talk.
Another thing that is discussed during contracting is if we were to meet outside of the counselling environment. Again, this is entirely up to you whether we say ‘hello’ or not.
What is the counselling contract?
The Counselling Contract outlines the responsibilities and commitment between the Counseller and client. It ensures that I follow ethical guidelines, and that sessions are undertaken in a safe and professional manner. Some of the most important aspects of the Contract are things like confidentiality, boundaries, payments and safety issues.
What if I miss my appointment, and can I change my appointment?
I understand that life can be unpredictable, and unforeseen things can happen, so if you need to cancel a session, if you can give me as much notice as possible, please. Two days' notice as a minimum is preferable. We can arrange another session according to availability. Cancellation within 24 hours or failure to attend, would normally be charged as a full session.
If I need to cancel a session, I will give you at least 48 hours' notice and try and arrange another time slot.
How do I find you, or arrange to meet you?
The address is on the Contact page, and once we have arranged our first session, I will send you a map and directions. I will also send information about parking etc. Other meeting places can be discussed face to face.
How do I pay?
Payment can be made by bank transfer before the session, or by cash on the day. I will send my bank details to you with the contract.
What about data protection/storage?
I take confidentiality and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) very seriously and adhere to regulatory guidelines from the UK and France.
I may take paper notes regarding our sessions. Your name will never appear on these notes, and they will be stored in a locked cabinet.
All Counsellers are obliged to have a Supervisor to aid them in their work. If elements of your case were to be discussed in this situation, your name or any identifying aspects would never be mentioned. We will discuss GDPR in more detail during contacting.