Frequently asked questions about counselling

If you are considering counselling or psychotherapy for the first time, you’ll probably have lots of questions about it. Others may tell you of their experiences but the truth is, everyone experiences therapy in a unique way.

With this in mind, I’ve provided some simple answers to a series of common or frequently asked questions (FAQ). If the answer to your question doesn’t appear below please contact me. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.


What is counselling?

When we experience difficulties or dissatisfaction with our personal life, it can cause varying degrees of psychological tension. Someone in this state may experience a range of feelings such as anger, confusion, apathy, anxiety, indecision, fear or despair. A counsellor provides an opportunity for a person to explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe and confidential setting. The counsellor will listen without judgement and, as far as possible, try to understand the situation and difficulties the person is experiencing. The relationship formed between counsellor and client is a major factor in helping to reduce psychologial tension.

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

There is little to distinguish between the terms ‘counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’. The terms are often used interchangeably. The same approaches, skills and techniques can be used with equal effectiveness by someone who is practising as a counsellor or as a psychotherapist.

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What does a counsellor or therapist do?

A Person-Centred counsellor or therapist will:

How could therapy help me?

By being willing to focus on yourself and share your situation with someone who is willing to really listen, you can set the therapeutic process in motion. Counselling and psychotherapy are often called “talking therapies”. Through this process of talking a person has an opportunity to learn more about themselves and develop or discover internal resources to live a more fulfilling life. However, therapy is not always limited to talking. Some people feel happier expressing themselves in other ways such as art or writing.

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Where does therapy take place?

The counsellor will have a suitable room in a safe and confidential setting. If you are unable to travel, some counsellors/therapists may agree to visit you at home.

What happens during a typical session?

This is difficult to answer as there rarely is a ‘typical’ session. As individuals we each develop very different ways of dealing with difficult situations. So counselling is tailored to suit each individual. A therapist will work with you on subjects agreed during your first meeting but there is often no set topic or agenda for individual sessions. The counsellor/therapist will listen, empathise and occasionally challenge, in sensitive way, to facilitate exploration or personal growth. Generally, advice or opinions are not offered.

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How much will it cost?

Fees for counselling or therapy can differ greatly depending on many different factors. However, whichever counsellor or therapist you decide to work with, the fee for each session will always be made very clear and agreed well in advance. Fees for each session (usually 50 minutes) start at around £30. Some counsellors will work for a reduced fee with no/low income clients. During your first session you will discuss and agree how many sessions you are likely to require. This is usually open to negotiation at any time. (My fees)

What is Person-Centred Counselling?

This is a theoretical approach developed over many years by American psychologist Dr. Carl R. Rogers. It is a common way of working for counsellors. Through his studies, Rogers found that the quality of the relationship between counsellor and client was a significant factor in the therapeutic healing process rather than any techniques or methods applied by the counsellor. There are many other types of therapy in common use such as Psychodynamic, Solution-Focussed, Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Analysis (TA) and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). However, recent studies have suggested that the approach or way of working is less important than the relationship that is formed between counsellor and client. Further information about Person-Centred and other therapeutic approaches can be accessed via my links page.

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What does BACP mean?

Find out about BACP

BACP stands for British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. Although currently there is no government regulation of counselling and psychotherapy in the UK, the BACP is one organisation that defines standards in training and ethics for practitioners. All members of the BACP are bound by the “Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy”. A link to this document can be found on my links page.

How do I choose a counsellor or therapist?

Decide whether a male or female therapist is important to you. Then find two or three in an area convenient to you. Check they are members of an organisation with a published ethical policy, such as BACP. Speak with the counsellor or therapist and ask them about their way of working, fees, qualifications and experience. Some will offer the initial consultation at no cost or a for a reduced fee. To get the best from counselling or therapy you will need to find someone you can speak openly with. If you don’t feel that you will be able to build a trusting relationship with a particular counsellor or therapist, then it may be better to look for someone else.

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