Got any questions?
Below are answers to some common questions about counselling, but you can always ring or email me too.
How does a counselling session work?
Counselling sessions tend to be 50 minutes long, and generally take place weekly. Often, counsellors will do an initial “intake” session with a new client, so the client and the counsellor can both explore whether they feel they can work together. The counsellor will ask the client a few questions about themselves, and will provide the client with a contract, which summarises the work the counsellor and client will do together.
If both the counsellor and client want to work together, a second session can then be scheduled. Some counsellors will work to a set number of sessions (somewhere between 6 – 12, usually), whilst others practice open-ended counselling. This approach means the client and counsellor can continue to work together as long as they feel it is useful.
What can I talk about with my counsellor?
No topic is off limit in the counselling space. Clients are encouraged to explore any subject, situation or feelings they wish, and the counsellor will do their best to create a safe space for a client to share. Importantly, no problem is too big or too small to bring to a counselling session.
There are times when a client might bring a problem to counselling that the counsellor doesn’t feel able to help with – perhaps because they don’t feel well-qualified enough on the topic, or for personal reasons. In this case, a counsellor might refer a client to another counsellor, in the hope of finding the client the best possible help.
Will what I talk about stay between us?
Confidentiality is a vital part of counselling. The client can feel reassured in knowing that anything discussed in the counselling room will stay there, and that the counsellor will not speak of it with anyone else, apart from possibly their supervisor (where client confidentiality will be maintained).
The only time when a counsellor might have to break confidentiality is if the counsellor believes there is a potential threat of harm, either to the client or to others. In this instance, the counsellor will contact someone such as the client’s GP or the mental health services, but the counsellor will always raise this with the client before doing so.
What are the different types of counselling?
There are three main schools of counselling, commonly known as Psychodynamic, Humanistic, and Cognitive Behavioural. Each has their own slightly different view of how best to help people in distress. Some counsellors will stick to one particular school, whilst others might pull theories or techniques from all three; they will often refer to themselves as Integrative counsellors.
I define myself as a Humanistic Integrative counsellor, which means my approach is grounded in humanistic theory, but that I might use other theories or techniques if I feel they may be of help to my client. Humanistic theory believes that all human beings have the potential within themselves to find their own solutions, and that by providing a safe and non-judgmental space to explore, a counsellor can support a client in finding their own answers to problems. This means humanistic counsellors tend to be client-led, allowing the counselling sessions to flow freely where the client wishes to go.
What is the BACP?
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is the professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK. I am a registered member of the BACP, which means I adhere to their Ethical Framework about how I work with clients. Part of my responsibilities as a registered member of the BACP include attending regular supervision, and continuing to expand my knowledge by taking part in continuing professional development. I am listed on the BACP's Therapist Directory.
What is supervision?
Supervision is where a practicing counsellor meets with a fellow counselling professional (usually someone more experienced, and who will have trained as a supervisor) to discuss – confidentially – clients the counsellor is currently working with. Supervision provides the counsellor with the opportunity to reflect in depth about all aspects of their practice, in order to work as effectively, safely and ethically as possible.
Supervision is beneficial to both the counsellor and the clients they see, and the BACP mandates it for its members.
I have more questions about counselling, or am concerned about how my counselling is going - where can I turn to for answers?
The BACP's Ask Kathleen service provides confidential guidance and support for clients undergoing or considering counselling, and can be accessed via email or over the phone. On the Ask Kathleen webpage, you can find frequently asked questions about counselling, such as what to look for in a counsellor, or what to do if you have concerns or would like to lodge a complaint about your counsellor.
What are your qualifications?
I hold a Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills, awarded by the AIM Awards, which is a national awarding organisation. I also have a First Class degree from Warwick University and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge.
Beyond my formal counselling qualifications, I have undertaken additional counselling courses on topics such as eating disorders, anxiety and depression, Existentialist therapy, and self-harm and suicide. I am a registered member of the BACP.