New to talking therapies?
If you are new to talking therapies, making your first appointment may seem a bit daunting. The world of therapy is full of its own language and ideas and I imagine that it feels pretty strange and a bit weird when you start looking into it for the first time. If you are looking into it though there must be some fairly strong reason or impulse to look for this kind of support and so again I imagine that you are struggling with conflicting feelings. In this section I will aim to describe how the whole thing works as far as I see it, and answer some obvious questions, with the intention of debunking some of the mystique and helping you to relax about the process. It’s in your hands after all. I may just repeat that. It’s in your hands after all!
How long are the sessions?
Sessions last approximately 50 minutes from the agreed time. If you are late for a session it will still end at the set time.
The initial session
Our first session, in my view would be an opportunity for both of us to interview each other! I will want to get to know you and hear what you want from the work. For your part I would expect you to be checking out whether you feel I am going to be able to help you. You can ask any questions you like in order to get a feel for this. In a broad sense I feel that what we are doing is working out if we are able to navigate the therapeutic territory together.
What happens next?
After the first session you may get a sense that this feels right and be clear that you want to continue, or you may want to go away and think about it before committing. You may already have sessions with other therapists booked. This is a good idea. After all – how do you know when you have met the right therapist for you if you’ve never met any before? It makes sense to get a feel for different approaches and I would recommend that potential clients have a good look around and be as conscious as possible when choosing their therapist.
Should you want to continue we would then set up a regular meeting time (usually weekly) and agree to meet for a block of at least 6 sessions before reviewing. The suggested 6 sessions is because it can take a little time to settle in to the practice of regular counseling and I feel it is really important that the client has some commitment to going through the initial difficulties that may arise.
How long does the process take?
This can be anything from a few sessions (often changes can start to be seen or felt within 2-6 sessions) to a few years. It all depends on what you want from the work and how complex the issues are. What I usually suggest is that we review our progress after the first 6 sessions and thereafter review regularly to make sure the work is going as you would like and if you would like to continue. The work is always your work – it is in your hands whether to stay or to go, and if it ever feels like you don’t have a choice in what is going on between you and your therapist then I suggest something is not quite right. The work requires a lot of trust but the trust of the client has to be earned by the therapist and should never be taken for granted.
What issues can we work with?
We can work with just about anything you’d like to bring. I welcome work with anxiety; depression; grief; relationship difficulties; sexual issues; anger; confidence issues. You may not know what your ‘issues’ are but just know that you are struggling to come to terms with something – perhaps a major life event. If I feel that something is beyond my safe capacity to work with, it is part of my ethical commitment to say that this is the case. This may be a difficult situation to deal with and my focus would be on helping you to understand that I have limitations and difficulties and to help you to find someone who is better able to help you move forward.
What is the difference between Counseling and Psychotherapy?
There is a lot of overlap between the two disciplines and some argue that there is not really any difference at all. My sense of it is that it is a question of time or depth – that Counseling tends to be shorter term (though of course this is not always the case) and Psychotherapy tends to work in the longer term and because of that has more space to explore underlying issues.
Often it can be difficult to know how long the process will take, and it may be that as you discover more about yourself you may want to continue further exploration into areas that at first you didn’t imagine. But as always this is in your control.
How to get started
I am currently working in Exeter on Tuesdays and in Crediton on Wednesday afternoons and evening. Other times are due to be available in the near future. Please get in touch about times that are suitable.
If you would like more information or are interested in setting up an initial meeting please feel free to email or text or give me a call for an informal chat. There is no obligation – I will welcome the opportunity to talk and find out what you need and if I can help.
I will respond to messages and am available for calls between 9.00am-7.00pm Monday to Friday. I may not respond to messages immediately but will respond as soon as time allows.