What should I look for when choosing a counsellor?

When deciding whether to start counselling or not, choosing the right person for you is very important. It is vital that the counsellor is either a member of the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) or the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy). The counsellor must be Registered and preferably 'Accredited' or 'Senior Accredited'. If they have accreditation, this means they have met an extra, demanding level of professional competence that shows they are ethical and decent practitioners. It is also important that you interview your chosen counsellor to see whether they seem suitable for you, and whether you feel comfortable, before deciding to work with them.

What happens in the initial meeting?

The initial meeting is an opportunity to discuss the framework of the counselling relationship (i.e, what you can expect in terms of confidentiality, sessions, fees etc) and explore your expectations, as well as giving you the chance to talk about the circumstances that bring you to counselling. I will enquire about your background and current situation, and see if we can establish what the focus of the counselling may be. This is a chance for us both to see if we can work together, and as there is often a lot to cover, this session lasts one hour and twenty minutes. Normal therapy sessions last for one hour.

What should I talk about?

You can discuss anything you feel able to bring, I am not going to judge you and I have no agenda.

Will you tell anyone what I say?

Everything that is said in the counselling room is kept completely confidential, unless I believe you are at serious risk of harming yourself or others, or if required by a court of law to provide evidence in legal proceedings. I would always discuss the need for disclosure with you first, and go through this in greater depth in your initial meeting. As stipulated by BACP guidelines, I undertake regular supervision to discuss my work with another qualified psychotherapist. However none of your personal details will be disclosed during these sessions.

How many sessions will I need?

The number of sessions you need can only be determined by you and is something to be raised in the sessions. If we make the decision to work together, we will initially agree on a set number of sessions to start off with (typically six), and then review our contract together after three or four weeks.

What if I miss a session?

I will always try to rearrange a session for you within the same week, if possible. If this is not possible, fees will be payable in full for the missed session. If you give me 48 hours’ notice of a cancellation, I will not charge you.

Do I need to pay when you are on holiday?

No, I will always give at least one month’s notice of my holidays wherever possible, and generally will give you a list of my planned holiday dates at the start of our work together.

Is there something wrong with me?

Most people come to me convinced there is something wrong with them, or that they are suffering from a mental illness. While I inevitably encounter significant levels of distress or suffering in my clients, I prefer to focus on your experience and your feelings, rather than labelling you.

Do you offer couples counselling?

I only work with individuals but I do have good links with other therapists across Hertfordshire and London who offer couples counselling. I am happy to refer you to them if you are interested, please just ask.

Can I arrange counselling on behalf of someone else?

While we can be desperate for other people in our lives to have counselling, particularly if they are impacting us, it is vital that the person in question contacts me themselves to arrange to meet, unless they are physically unable to do so. Counselling has to be a voluntary undertaking, or there is little or no force for things to change.