FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Answers to some of the common questions you might have
WHAT IS PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Psychotherapy is a safe, confidential and non-judgemental collaborative relationship where you can explore feelings, beliefs, thoughts and events with a trained professional. It aims to help you gain insight into some of the difficulties you might be experiencing, process past events and take responsibility for how you might be unwittingly maintaining some of these difficulties. It can lead to a greater understanding of conscious or unconscious behaviours and motivations, promoting the opportunity for growth and change.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUNSELLING, PSYCHOTHERAPY, PSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHIATRY?
These terms often cause confusion to people seeking support - there are some key differences and similarities.
A psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who has specialised in mental health and generally will diagnose and prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists may also go on to do additional psychotherapy training.
Psychologists have usually completed a clinical doctorate and may work in research, or psychological testing and diagnosis or manage therapy services. Counselling Psychologists have trained as general therapists, sometimes with an interest in a particular approach. Some psychologists may also go on to train as psychotherapists, to gain a specialism in a particular therapy.
Psychotherapist, counsellor and therapist are often used interchangeably. All are primarily concerned with therapeutic change via dialogue with a client/patient. Psychotherapists tends to have undertaken longer or more intensive trainings and may work with people with longer-term, more complex difficulties, whereas counsellors often work shorter-term with a particular focus, but the reverse can also be true. I tend to call myself a psychotherapist and counsellor, to demonstrate I work both long and short term and with mild to severe presenting difficulties, though my training was as a psychotherapist.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED TO HAVE?
It isn’t possible to predict the exact duration of the therapy as it depends on the issues you want to work on and what comes out of our first meeting. I am experienced at working both short-term (4-12 sessions), medium term (3-6 months) and longer term (1 year +) depending on need. At our first session, we can explore together the possible duration of the work. I find it useful to start with a minimum of 4 sessions and reassess at this point.
HOW LONG ARE SESSIONS AND HOW FREQUENTLY WILL WE MEET?
Sessions are 50-minutes each.
To gain the most from therapy it is recommended that we meet once a week, ideally on the same day and at the same time, for consistency. Occasionally we might decide to have two sessions per week if you are going through something particularly difficult and need extra support.
I sometimes work with people fortnightly or less after an initial period of weekly therapy.
ARE SESSIONS CONFIDENTIAL?
Everything you tell me will be held in strictest confidence. The only exception to this would be if you were to tell me something that I believed meant imminent harm to either yourself or someone else. In these rare occasions I may need to involve others, but I will talk with you about it first.
I will never record your sessions and any notes I take will be locked in a secure drawer or encrypted computer (See GDPR section below).
WHAT ARE YOUR FEES?
My standard fee is £100 per session. I can offer some reduced spaces to students or those out of work.
My fee for couple's work is £150 per session.
I welcome open discussions about session fees and will consider your individual circumstances if I am able.
WHY IS THERAPY SO EXPENSIVE?
Therapy is expensive, but I would also say that it is a worthwhile investment in your personal development that can pay dividends both up front and further down the line. Prioritising your emotional and mental health can have a significant positive impact on your wellbeing, relationships, and work.
HOW DO I PAY?
I send an invoice at the end of each month with details for a bank transfer. For my international clients I use PayPal.
WHAT IF I CAN'T MAKE A SESSION?
Just let me know as soon as possible and I will try to reschedule if possible. Usually a text is best, failing that, an email.
WHAT IS YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY?
If we are working together over a period of time I ask that you let me know about any upcoming dates that mean you will not be able to make your usual session. If you need to reschedule I will do my best to find an alternative for you, but I will charge for the session if this is not possible.
This can be frustrating for some, but it's important to understand that your space is reserved for you and it is usually not possible to fill it, especially with short notice.
DO YOU TAKE HEALTH INSURANCE?
Yes, I accept most major health insurers. You will need to request a 'pre-authorisation code' from your insurer in order to begin sessions. Some health insurers do not pay me full fee and a small amount may be payable per session.
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?
I have a consulting room in Highbury, London N5, UK, but my work is currently fully online.
I offer virtual sessions globally and welcome enquiries from those who speak English (I'm currently improving my French and Spanish, but not yet up to standard!).
WHAT ONLINE PLATFORMS DO YOU USE?
I use all the main platforms, but find Zoom is the easiest and most reliable. I also use WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime as backups. I also offer telephone sessions if you prefer not to be seen on screen or those who are unable to find privacy at home, to enable you to walk and talk.
DO YOU FOLLOW GDPR GUIDELINES?
Yes. I collect, store and process certain information about you, including your name, date of birth, contact details, payments made for sessions, personal information – including health and medical issues, GP details etc – and your domestic arrangements. This is necessary to enable me to run my therapy practice and to provide you with a safe and ethical service. This is done upon the lawful basis of 'legitimate Interests' for the purposes of health and social care. I am happy to use a pseudonym in my notes upon request but I do not use surnames in my notes.
All information that I collect and store about you is either anonymised, locked away and/or password protected. I may keep this information for up to 7 years following the date of our last session, as per my insurer’s terms and conditions, at which point it will be securely deleted.
You have the right to view this information, which will be provided within one month of request, and to ask for changes to be made.
I may use this information to track the progress of our work together or in discussion with a supervisor, for reflection and guidance in a way that respects and protects your anonymity. Your name and contact details may also be passed on to my appointed therapeutic executor so that you are informed should I be seriously incapacitated and unable to attend a session or communicate directly with you.
You have the right to object to holding and processing information about you, although I may need to retain certain information for legal purposes (e.g. to comply with our Insurer’s Terms and Conditions).
HOW CAN I GET THE MOST OUT OF THERAPY?
Whilst it is not possible to guarantee success in therapy, research has proven its effectiveness given the right conditions. There are several things you can do to maximise the potential for positive change.
Practically, consistency is key - try not cancel too often otherwise momentum can be lost. Make time for your sessions so that you have a little time beforehand as well as afterwards, if possible, to digest and transition back into your day.
Your session is your space and I encourage you to be as open and authentic as possible. This might mean that you express anger or disappointment or reveal something that you feel is deeply shameful about yourself or your past. Know that I will not judge whatever you tell me - I am curious to understand and support you.
I also encourage you to bring any difficulties you might feel about the therapy, or about me, to the session. For example, you might feel therapy isn't working but are afraid to tell me or I might have said something that might have caused offence or misunderstanding. These discussions are an important part of therapy and give an opportunity to have difficult conversations in a safe space, which can be useful for other conflicts in your life.
Ultimately I'd say the capacity to develop a trusting relationship is key. This can't be hurried, but once established, therapy can really begin.