What is Therapy Like?
... Therapy is like a journey
I think of therapy as a journey of the self. When you take your therapeutic journey with me, I will walk the path of exploration, healing and growth with you, whatever we find on the way and wherever it takes us. I will have your back and I will stay the course with you, always holding your best interests in mind. My aim is for you you achieve the positive changes in your life that you seek, and to arrive at a place where it becomes easier to breathe.
Counselling and psychotherapy is very often called a “talking therapy” because it gives you the opportunity to talk about what is troubling you. It is time and space set aside regularly just for you, where you can let go, explore and feel safe in knowing that you are being heard and understood by someone who is trained to help you express your thoughts and feelings and explore what comes up when you do.
In a safe, confidential* and non-judgemental space we will explore what you feel is important to speak about. These may be your memories, beliefs, assumptions, feelings, body sensations and style of relating. Making new connections and gaining new insights into your past and present experience, will assist you to develop the inner resources you need to be better able to manage difficult experiences and to move forward.
On this therapeutic journey, sometimes the focus will be on you and your relationships, and sometimes it will be on ‘us’. This is because I believe that our deepest emotional and psychological wounds occur in relationships, and that is where they also heal. Gentle, non-judgemental exploration in a safe therapeutic relationship yields important insights, healing and growth, particularly in the areas of self-esteem, confidence and relationships.
* There are some exceptions to this and I will make you aware of this when we meet. You can also read more here.
My role as your therapist
I consider my role as your therapist to involve walking alongside you on your journey, whatever we find on the way and wherever it takes us. I deeply trust your innate healing process and I will not force you down roads you are not willing or able to go. With a well trained, committed and trusted guide the biggest of problems becomes easier to address and the hardest of journeys becomes easier to take. No matter what the path looks like I will stay by your side, assisting you develop the resources you need to walk forward in life with more ease, capacity and confidence.
Will You Tell Me How To Solve My Problems?
No I won't tell you what to do or how to solve your problems. I will however help you to explore different ways of dealing with a situation, but the choice of whether or not you do anything about it is yours.
Will I Have To Talk About Things I Would Prefer Not To Discuss?
I will encourage you to talk about many aspects of your life, and to express your feelings. Your wish not to discuss a particular matter will always be respected.
Your role as client
The first step of any journey is to decide to take the trip, to shake up what has become familiar or accepted and to put yourself in the position for something new to happen. The more commitment you make to your therapy journey, the more you will benefit from it. Making a conscious commitment to your individual path of healing and personal growth is helpful, as is a willingness to explore in sessions what feels challenging. The journey is yours though and your choices are the foundation of our therapeutic work together throughout.
Meeting together for the first time
Meeting with a therapist for the first time can be a rather daunting experience. I will do everything I can do make our first encounter as easy and relaxed as possible. We will meet in my private office (pictured below), which offers a discreet and safe place in which to meet. During our first session together I will discuss with you how I work and will explain to you my policies around confidentiality, payment, holidays and cancellations. I will invite you to begin to discuss what brings you to therapy and explore your expectations of therapy. We can also talk through any concerns or anxieties you may have regarding the counselling process, and there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions if you are unsure of anything. If we then decide to work together, this will ensure we can do so within safe and clear boundaries. If you are comfortable and feel that we can work with each other or would like a little more time to decide, we will then discuss how we are going to proceed. Therapy may not always be the right way forwards and should this be the case then I can signpost you to other sources of help as appropriate. There is no obligation to continue after this first session, and you are always free to end therapy at any point.
What does a therapy session usually involve?
Every therapy session is unique and is catered specifically to each individual and their specific goals. Generally, in each therapy session you will have the opportunity to explore the issue or concern you want to work on within a safe and supportive relationship. During sessions I will help you to talk about your feelings, behaviours and thoughts. Together, we might also look at the relationship you have with yourself, the relationships you have with others, as well as the relationship we have with each other, which will help you to see your difficulties in a new light and put into practice new healthier ways of being. Though I won't give advice or tell you what to do, I will give you space to talk, listen to what you say, try to understand as best I can and ask questions to help you consider things from a different angle or see things from a new perspective. You can read more about my approach by following the link. I understand from experience that this process might feel difficult or strange to begin with and it's my job as your therapist to support you through this. You might find yourself crying, getting upset or angry. This can feel unsettling and intense, however you won't be alone and, as your therapist, I will welcome all aspects of your experience and be there to help you process and cope with any emotions that come up.
How many sessions will I need?
This depends entirely on your situation, the difficulties you are encountering and your personal preference. Therapy does not always offer an immediate solution to long standing and often painful problems. Some issues are better suited to short-term therapy (1-20 sessions) and some to longer-term therapy (20+ sessions). There is no upper limit to the number of sessions you can have, and you may continue in therapy for as long as you feel the sessions are of use to you.
Generally speaking, if you want to focus on one specific issue, or are looking for more focused work aimed at increasing here-and-now coping, short-term therapy is appropriate. Working this way we would focus carefully on a particular problem, and assist you to use your existing strengths and resources in new ways to help you manage better in your day-to-day life.
For more complex issues, issues concerning ingrained personality traits or behavioural patterns, abuse and neglect, or to support ongoing personal growth, open-ended, exploratory long-term therapy with no defined end point may be more effective. Working this way will enable trust to be built up gradually over time, and will provide a consistent and reliable space for you to come to conceptualise and resolve more deeply seated emotional and mental health difficulties. It will also give you the time to come to understand and accept yourself more fully, which will lead to positive and lasting change, often in unexpected ways.
Ultimately it is up to you how many sessions you have and you may have your own ideas about what you are likely to find most helpful - we can discuss this when we meet.
It is common for us both to develop a sense of when our work is done. Ending therapy will be led by you and is often a process in itself. For both long and short term work, it's beneficial to factor this in and, although you will always be free to end therapy at any point, it’s best not to stop abruptly, and I would encourage you to make a proper end and allow some time to work through what comes up.