Questions people often ask us
Can just talking really help?
Therapy is known as 'The Talking Cure.' It works in a number of ways.
It brings relief and comfort just to share what is happening to you with another human being, in this case someone who is specially trained to listen and help you to make sense of things
The insight you gain from sharing and exploring in this way is immensely empowering: you know why you are feeling the way you feel, and no longer feel bewildered and out of control
Releasing feelings which have been 'put away' - sometimes for days, sometimes for years - is freeing. Stored feelings never really go away, they always remain to be re-triggered and trip us up. A trained and careful therapist can help you to process those feelings and manage them differently
Finally, therapy works through the special relationship which develops between client and therapist, in which painful or problematic experiences, feelings and memories, which on our own we feel unable to face, understand or deal with, are made gradually more manageable. Change takes place at an emotional level, and this is the area in which we work together, building trust over time.
How long will it take?
How long is a piece of string? Probably the best way to answer this is to say that there are different kinds of problems and difficulties, and that these take varying amounts of time to deal with. Relatively straightforward issues, where you are really looking for someone to help you think something through, and where you have a specific goal, can be dealt with more quickly than more deep-seated issues which go back a long way, and which you are aware have troubled you for a considerable time.
Generally, the former tend to be able to be dealt with in counselling, and take a number of weeks or a few months. The latter tend to benefit more from psychotherapy, and this may take months or even several years.
Your therapist will discuss this with you at your initial assessment session, and you can continue to review and discuss how things are going as you progress. If you wish, you can stipulate a specific number of sessions, or you may both agree that it makes sense in your case to work in an 'open-ended' way: not setting the number of sessions, but working until it is clear that things have changed, and are feeling better. The essential point, really, is that YOU will know when you are feeling better, and that will be the time to discuss an ending.
What about confidentiality?
We offer a discreet, respectful and confidential service, and would not normally discuss client matters with a third party without the client's specific permission. That said, all responsible practitioners take their caseload to supervision (this is normally a meeting with an individual supervisor once a month) to ensure good practice. This, too, is bound by confidentiality, and care is taken to ensure client anonymity.
There may be specific instances in which your therapist would ask your permission to speak to a third party (usually your doctor) and these are to do with issues around your personal safety. Your permission would be sought first, however. There may also be legal requirements in certain instances (like issues of child protection). At your assessment session, your therapist will outline any such exceptions to you. In all other aspects you can take confidentiality as absolutely assured.
How can I be sure my therapist is qualified?
As the media constantly warns us, until such time as this profession is properly regulated, anyone can set up in practice and call themselves a counsellor or psychotherapist, and have done no more than a few hours' training. Prospective clients need to have a way of ensuring not only that their therapist will behave responsibly and professionally, but also that they have adequate training and experience, and will not do them harm.
Clearly, when you trust your mind and your feelings to a stranger, or those of someone close to you, you want to be sure that you are entrusting them to an experienced professional. Your therapist should be registered as an accredited practitioner with one of the UK's professional organisations, such as the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Never be afraid to ask about your therapist's training, qualifications and experience: a lot is at stake, and any registered practitioner will respect and appreciate your desire to know.
Can therapy help everyone?
Most people actively benefit from therapy, and some feel its benefits so strongly that they say they think it should be compulsory for everyone! However, there are some contra-indications, which may include: Anyone who is actively using alcohol, drugs or solvent abuse to a degree which makes therapy currently untenable
Anyone wanting a 'quick fix' and who cannot tolerate the frustration and work involved in a 'talking cure.' Therapy is effective, but is certainly not a soft option
Anyone who is not psychologically minded, and so is unable to work at becoming self-aware
Anyone who sees all their problems as being other people's fault, and is unable or unwilling to explore their OWN part in difficulties
Some people suffering from serious mental disturbance, for whom therapy would be unsafe
Part of the assessment process involves getting a good idea of whether or not a prospective client is likely to benefit from the process of therapy. In those rare instances where your therapist feels that therapy is inadvisable, every effort will be made to refer you to more appropriate help.
What is the difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy?
Counselling and psychotherapy are on a continuum. In general, however, counselling focuses on aleviating, or helping you to manage, problems which are either current or of reasonably short duration (e.g. a life crisis such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown). Psychotherapy focuses on deeper seated difficulties, of much longer duration, and often having their roots way back in our early years.
The style of working is therefore rather different, in that in counselling you will largely work in the 'here and now' on the impact of current issues, and in psychotherapy you will work in the 'here and now' on the impact of the past in the present.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PSYCHOTHERAPIST< A PSYCHIATRIST, A PSYCHOLOGIST AND A COUNSELLOR?A Psychotherapist is someone, normally a graduate, who has undergone several years of clinical training at postgraduate level, which has included intensive personal therapy, a placement in a mental health setting, an extended period of child observation, and extensive supervised clinical practice. A psychotherapist specialises in working with psychological and emotional difficulties, and in their training will have focussed exclusively on working therapeutically with clients
A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has undergone further training in psychiatry. A psychiatrist specialises, therefore, largely in the diagnosis and medication of mental illness
A Psychologist holds a degree in psychology, and is trained to use diagnostic tools - such as psychometric tests - to diagnose psychological disorders. They are also trained in research and statistical analysis. If they work in clinical practice, and not all do, they tend normally to specialise in cognitive or cognitive-behavioural therapy
A Counsellor who is accredited may or may not hold a degree, but will have undergone a significant training comprising both theory and practice, and will have considerable counselling experience, normally, but not always, gained in a generic counselling setting