What to expect
Counselling, in a nutshell...
Counselling is a talking therapy where you spend time with a trained, qualified counsellor or psychotherapist focusing on problems or concerns that are getting in the way of you living your life the way you would like.
Sometimes talking together is made more meaningful when complemented by a more holistic approach, so, if it feels appropriate, we might sometimes use relaxation techniques or creative or imaginative approaches.
We work together with the aim of helping you gain a new and more positive perspective on life, helping you respond differently or finding new ways to cope, so that you can move forward in a more positive and fulfilling way.
If you have never had counselling before you might find it unusual to share private or personal issues with someone you hardly know.
The relationship between us is different from a friendship because each session will focus on you and your needs. It's quite usual for clients to take some time building up a sense of trust with their counsellor. We will work at your pace and have regular informal reviews to assess how you feel counselling is helping you.
Therapeutic change often takes time. The speed at which you begin to feel different or better varies according to all sorts of things including you, me, the relationship between us, what you bring to the sessions, how ready or supported you feel, etc.
Talking about things that have been buried for a long time or that evoke painful or difficult feelings can be understandably hard. If a particular issue is too difficult for you to talk about we can put it to one side until you feel ready to look at it again. It can be really helpful if you can also try and find ways outside counselling to support yourself through any difficult times. This might simply involve some "me-time", a long relaxing bath, getting out for a walk, connecting with friends or pursuing a hobby for example.
My way of working is grounded in Gestalt practice, which is an holistic approach. I therefore work with the whole person. Your thinking mind, your emotions, beliefs and your body are all interlinking parts of the same whole - you. So although we will probably mostly talk we might also explore posture or breathing or take a more creative approach. Having said that, I will never insist that you work in a way that you are very uncomfortable with or that feels too challenging at that time.
Gestalt therapy combines this holistic view with exploring habitual cycles or repeated patterns in your life, looking at where and how you might feel stuck or feel as if you're always doing, saying, responding the same way. It's the "here we go again" feeling.
We are who we are partly because of the past. We can't change the past but we can change our reactions to it. You may have built up ways of being, living, reacting, that were useful to you 'back then' because they helped you to feel safe or resilient. Often these strategies are so much a part of you that you don't notice them any more. I invite you to explore the continuing relevance of your familiar, habitual patterns. Then, in the safety of the counselling setting, you can experiment with new ways of being, gradually moving towards therapeutic change. You might also find you can bring closure to something from the past or gain deeper understanding or insight about aspects of you.
Many people come to counselling simply to benefit from feeling listened to and supported at challenging times in their lives.
Whatever therapeutic approach we take, I aim to work with you in a respectful, professional way.
You and I will decide together how many sessions you might need, and you can, of course, change your mind at any time. Sometimes people feel better after a relatively short time – perhaps after about 6 to 8 weekly sessions – but other people's journeys are much longer. Every few weeks we will have an informal review so you can make decisions about continuing with counselling.
The next page tells you more about getting started.