Questions And Answers
Everyone has a few questions as they start psychotherapy or counselling. Here are just a few of them:
IS IT CONFIDENTIAL?
As an accredited member of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), I respect, protect and preserve the confidentiality of everyone I see in practice.
It is also important to understand that there are legal and ethical limits to this confidentiality.
In rare circumstances I might need to disclose confidential information to a third party. However if this should happen, we will always discuss this, if possible. For example:
* If there is a possibility of harm to yourself or others or in cases of crime.
* Due to a request by a court of law, a child protection agency or the terrorism act.
* If a referring agency require a report.
All psychotherapists have supervision. I will therefore share some of the content of our sessions with my clinical supervisor though your full name and personal details will not be shared.
I may keep notes and records, and these are kept securely locked away at my place of work in accordance with the Data Protection Act (2018). You have the right to inspect your notes and records should you so wish, and this request will be fulfilled during a therapy session.
LONG TERM? SHORT TERM? OR A QUICK FIX?
A question many people ask is if they should do open-ended/long term therapy or could they do something shorter?
The decision is usually based on several factors, including your prior experience of therapy. It might be that you have done some workshops, or short-term counselling or CBT in the past and now you want to go deeper. Or it may be that you are ready to explore childhood or relationship patterns in greater depth.
Open-ended or long-term psychotherapy is a both a time and financial commitment and only you will know when it is right to take that step. The process of open-ended work will not be linear, it may be challenging or even frustrating at times, but it can be extremely powerful.
Short term work may give you a taste of all of this and it can also be impactful. Sometimes we need a 'witness' to our experience or support at a difficult time such as bereavement, a career change, or a relationship breakdown.
Of course, a 'magic wand' is always appealing but I am not sure about the long-term benefit of a 'tips and tricks' approach. Good therapy is about working at depth and with all the complexity and nuance that may bring up over time. There is no quick fix and I would be mindful of anyone who promises that.
WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF THERAPY, HOW DO I CHOOSE BETWEEN THEM?
Just some of the modalities of psychotherapy include classical psychoanalysis, relational psychoanalysis, existential, integrative, gestalt, and person-centered. There is art therapy, drama therapy, CBT, body work and eco-psychotherapy, and that's just the start.
Empirical research shows that the 'therapeutic relationship' is key to the effectiveness of psychotherapy and counselling - the type of therapy is rather less important.
I practice integrative psychotherapy which is probably the most popular way of working these days. Integrative psychotherapy is about the 'integration' and self-acceptance of all those different parts of your 'self' that make you the complex and unique human being that you are.
As a process, psychotherapy is not about me telling you what to do, rather I encourage curiosity and self-reflection and together we will begin to explore what makes you 'you'.
Whilst I usually work in the room face-to-face, there are opportunities to take the therapy outside. I live near Epping Forest and have been offering walking therapy. If this is something you are interested in please do ask me about it.
WHY WEEKLY THERAPY?
I offer weekly psychotherapy. There are many reasons why I believe this is preferable. It establishes a clear parameter which creates a more 'holding' or 'containing' environment.
If sessions are done twice monthly or once a month they can become 'catch up'.
Whilst there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ it is something to consider.
Sometimes when people have been doing long term psychotherapy - over a year - less frequent sessions can be part of the ending process.
IS IT ALL ABOUT THE PAST AND MY CHILDHOOD?
Psychotherapy has always been interested in childhood and family dynamics, for good reason: we are formed by our childhood experiences.
But of course, there is more to it than just that including culture, society and biology.
Together we may explore how old narratives get replayed in current relationships, including in the therapy room, and how our experiences of gender, race, sexuality and class interact with our developmental and relational history.
Sometimes the sessions may touch on big 'existential' themes, such as purpose and meaning.
Or we may get creative with art, storytelling and dreams.
WILL THERAPY FIX ME?
Many people embarking on therapy ask if it will fix them. It is a good question. After all, the anticipation of change is at the heart of the psychotherapeutic process. Anticipation usually presents itself as hope and expectancy but of course, as we all know, there is no 'magic wand'.
There is plenty of empirical evidence that some therapeutic techniques can help people reframe their issues - giving them space to be more flexible and self-reflective.
But I also hold this observation from psychotherapist Thomas Moore in his book The Care Of The Soul:
'The trouble with some of our modern therapies and psychologies is that they aim at goals that are known, fantasies or normality or unquestioned values ... but there are times when we may need to be weak and powerless, vulnerable and open to experience ... in relation to the symptom itself, observance means first of all listening and looking carefully at what is being revealed in the suffering. An intent to heal can get in the way of seeing. By doing less, more is accomplished.’
HOW DOES THERAPY END?
Usually by agreement between us.
Endings can trigger all sorts of thoughts and feelings and it is important to acknowledge and explore that as part of our time together.
For this reason, I always suggest that we take at least 2-4 sessions to process the ending.