About Counselling

Arranging counselling

Please consider that you will need a quiet and confidential space at a regular time of the week, on the hour, Zoom (or a mobile phone) and online banking for payments.

For an understanding of the data privacy policy, please refer to the ‘GDPR policy’ section.

Counselling is currently offered via Zoom or telephone on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sessions start at 08.00 up to and including 17.00, cost £45.00 and last 50 minutes.

If affording weekly therapy is difficult, I also offer a scheme of 4 consecutive sessions, followed by ongoing fortnightly sessions – please enquire.

Contact: locusofsolace@protonmail.com

Please state:

  1. Your first name and surname and let me know if you prefer to be known by another name.

2. Your preferred email address for contact regarding appointments, if this differs from the one you are using.

3. Your mobile number.

4. Please do not give any further confidential information in the email.

5. Indicate times that would suit you for counselling sessions.

I will arrange a time to speak to you for the free initial 30 minute discussion, without obligation, in which you will have the opportunity to explain your reasons for seeking counselling and begin to discuss how the problems might be addressed. At this point we both have the opportunity to consider whether the counselling that I offer will match what you are seeking. If you decide to go forward, I will send information on how the counselling works and the GDPR policy and request your address and G.P. address (to be used solely in case of emergency).

Counselling FAQs

What is counselling?

Counselling is a talking therapy, which offers the opportunity to reflect on problems, to gain insights, fresh perspectives and find new ways of being and relating, with a qualified professional who is trained in techniques which support the process of personal growth.

How are counselling and therapy different?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but typically, therapy is long-term, in-depth work and counselling may be rather briefer and more narrowly focused.

What problems might be addressed through counselling?

Counselling seeks to address issues which affect our emotions, thoughts and behaviours. This could include a wide range of problems, including anxiety, depression, obsessions, compulsions, addictions, relationship problems and break up, bereavement, issues relating to gender or sexuality and feelings of purposelessness and emptiness.

What type of counselling should I choose?

Your counsellor will assess the nature of your problems in the initial consultation and early sessions. She will suggest a form of therapy that may be helpful for your type of problem. Cognitive behavioural approaches may be suited to focusing on one or two specific goals over a few weeks. Psychodynamic counselling usually takes place over a period of months or years and addresses deeper rooted issues.

Are there problems which are unsuitable for counselling?

Not all mental health problems and emotional issues are suited to counselling. Some problems may be better helped though psychiatric or clinical psychological interventions and some are better served by long-term psychoanalysis. Your counsellor will advise you if she feels that you would benefit from an alternative approach.

Is it confidential?

Counselling is confidential, but your counsellor will discuss specific aspects of your situation with a selected colleague to gain another perspective. Limits to confidentiality apply in cases of certain crimes or risk of harm to the self or others. Please be aware that counsellors are legally obliged to report (unspent) crimes revealed in counselling to the police. If you are concerned that you might fall into this category, discuss the issue with your counsellor in the initial consultation. Please refer to the GDPR policy for an understanding of how your data is used.

Why don’t counsellors give advice?

Every person is unique and is living their lives balancing internal and external limitations. We all have our own values, cultural norms, beliefs, life goals and aspirations. Counsellors seek to work with a client to understand what it is that they want from life, rather than imposing their own views. You are always in charge of your own life, the counsellor does not ‘take over’, however, with gentle exploration over time, you may work towards new understandings of what will work better for you.

I’m from a different cultural background, gender, age group or sexual orientation to my counsellor, will she understand me?

Your counsellor will not be an expert in everything and will listen to your experience of life with an open and enquiring mind. Counselling is collaborative work and, in explaining your view and experience of life, you will see your own beliefs and assumptions with a fresh perspective.

What is psychodynamic counselling?

Psychodynamic counselling seeks to make links between current life problems in the light of how past experiences have affected us. It looks at what is going on in our minds beneath the surface thoughts that we are all aware of and, over time, the counselling relationship develops to a point where new insights and understandings may be reached.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy looks at how the mind is working in terms of the way we think (especially when struggling with anxiety and depression) and unhelpful behaviours, such as addictions, obsessions and compulsions. The counsellor and client discuss negative thoughts and beliefs together, looking for new ways of viewing the self and the world. This is ideally suited to focusing on one or two selected problem areas.

Misapplication of CBT can be harmful. CBT is based on changing a negative, distorted view of the world (seen through a filter of anxiety and depression) into a more positive and realistic one. If, however, the client’s view of their experience is accurate (e.g. their relationship is abusive) trying to persuade them that all is well and their negative emotions are invalid is known as ‘disconfirming their emotional experience’ or ‘toxic positivity’. While positivity is encouraged, it is not at the expense of reality and full expression of negative emotions.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment, rather than backward or forward-looking. It encourages an awareness of thoughts, feelings and actions, without judgement on them, in the here-and-now lived experience, allowing new conscious choices to be made and greater satisfaction in being in the world.

What is Compassion Focused Therapy?

Compassion Focussed Therapy is based on the principles of CBT and evolutionary psychology. It involves looking at unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, but within an appreciation that the tendency to blame ourselves for our failings is unreasonable and unproductive. This is addressed through techniques rooted in the application of self-compassion to our problems. It is particularly suitable for those who struggle with guilt and tend to blame themselves for their fallibility.

I’ve been in counselling before and didn’t find it helpful. How could this help me?

Counselling can fail for several reasons and counsellors work in different ways. Counselling requires a time and financial commitment, which not everyone is in a position to invest.

Research has shown that the relationship built between the counsellor and client is the single most important factor in therapy. The counsellor should be non-judgemental and does not give advice. But she needs to look at the problems with honesty and an appreciation of the principles which mental health is based on, including the capacity to face reality both in the inner world of the mind and in what is happening in the external world. The counsellor will start from a point of concern for emotional well-being and recognise ways of thinking and behaving which are unhelpful. The counsellor needs to find a balance between helping the client to feel safe, cared-for and understood and gently challenging the client to explore deeper, while reflecting on the self and life experiences. If counselling is too superficial, self-reflection feels too painful or the pace too fast or slow, counselling may not move forward. Counselling requires some resilience on the part of the client to face painful and potentially shameful issues with honesty.

Counsellor training and qualifications provide the counsellor with a theoretical understanding of what it is to be human. However, patience, empathy, sympathy, compassion and care for others are qualities which are inherent within the counsellor. If either of these are consistently lacking, the counselling is unlikely to be successful.

I’m nervous that the counsellor will judge me.

Counsellors understand that life is often challenging and complex and we are all trying to balance our different hopes, wishes and fears, without any absolute answers. While it is important to look at problems realistically, compassion, rather than judgement, is the key to healing.

How long will it take?

Counselling is not like taking medication or having an operation, it is a collaborative endeavour, requiring effort from both counsellor and client, working towards progress in personal growth. It requires the building of a trusting relationship in order to look sensitively at deeply embedded painful issues and emotions. While insights and understandings may arrive early in the therapy, deeper psychological change happens at a naturally slower pace. Intellectual understanding typically arrives faster than changes at the emotional level.

I can’t afford private counselling, where can I go?

Your G.P. may be able to suggest alternatives to private counselling. Charities such as MIND and more regionally-based charitable organisations may be able to offer discounted counselling. Counsellor training organisations offer supervised trainees counsellors.

For an immediate opportunity to talk through problems, Samaritans (Freephone 116123) offer a listening service. There are many other helplines which offer listening or advisory services for more specialised problems. If suicidal thoughts are intruding, the Stay Alive app and the Samaritan’s website are useful resources. The G.P. is the initial point of contact for a person who is having serious thoughts of suicide. In case of suicidal intent in the moment, the point of assistance is the A & E department, failing which, the police.

Additionally, there are many practical self-help books, including workbooks, on mindfulness, Compassion Focused Therapy, self-compassion and CBT and meditation apps, all of which may help with lowering anxiety and promoting a more positive, accepting state of mind. Breathing techniques may be helpful for reducing anxiety and panic attacks in the moment.

Counselling Framework Agreement

This framework represents the commitment of the client and the counsellor to working together cooperatively.

Appointments for counselling sessions

  • Counselling sessions are held regularly, on the same day, at the same time each week by online videoconferencing (or telephone) and last 50 minutes. They will start and end as close to the agreed time as possible. Regular weekly attendance is encouraged.
  • If you are unable to be available for a session, for whatever reason, please send an email to locusofsolace@protonmail.com
  • If you require a break from therapy, please discuss this with the counsellor. Where more than two sessions in a month are missed without agreement with the counsellor, the counsellor reserves the right to terminate the therapy.
  • Ordinarily, if the counsellor will be unavailable for a session, you will be given two weeks notice. If the counsellor is unavailable for a session at short notice, you will be informed by email, text or phone call.
  • Fees
  • Fees are agreed at the start of counselling and subject to review in March.
  • If your financial circumstances change, you can discuss this with the counsellor.
  • You are not charged for sessions where the counsellor is unavailable or for sessions which are cancelled with 12 hours advance notice.
  • Missed sessions where notice is given prior to the session start time are charged at £10 regardless of the reason.
  • Missed sessions without informing the counsellor are charged at £20 and the counsellor will wait 30 minutes before assuming that the session will not be attended.
  • Confidentiality and the limits of confidentiality
  • Please ensure you are in a confidential and private space during each counselling session.
  • The content of sessions will remain confidential, except in rare and exceptional circumstances, where you speak about a crime for which you have not been charged or indicate intent to harm another person or a plan to take your own life. Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to report the crime to the police or to alert your G.P. of your plans. Under specific circumstances where the counsellor were compelled in law to do so, including under a court order, appropriate information might be released to your GP and/or other relevant authority. In the case of potential risk of suicide, it would be normal to discuss with you any concerns and proposed actions.
  • Reports or letters about the content of your counselling are not provided.
  • Aspects of the work with clients are occasionally discussed, in confidence, without full identifying details, with one or more senior colleague therapists.
  • Once your counselling has ended, your client records will be retained for six years. You may request to see your records by writing to locusofsolace@protonmail.com
  • Please refer to the locus of solace GDPR policy for further information in the section ‘GDPR policy’.
  • Client conduct
  • If you appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol your counsellor may refuse to continue with the counselling session on that occasion. If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at more than one session, such that the work cannot be continued, the counselling will be ended.
  • The counselling will be terminated where there is threat of, or actual acts of, physical or sexual aggression or verbal abuse.
  • Good Practice
  • Your counsellor is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and bound by its policies and practices, including the BACP Ethical Framework and its complaints procedure.
  • Counselling is a regular weekly therapy, where clients are safe to explore any thoughts of taking their own life. Additionally, in the case of on-going suicidal risk management, it is appropriate for the G.P. to assess and advise. However, in the case of immediate suicidal plans, the freephone Samaritans listening service (116123) is available 24/7 to talk through concerns and staff at the hospital A & E department will assess risk of suicide.

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