Frequently Asked Questions
How much do you charge?
My usual fee is £40 per hour session, payable by cheque or cash each time. Sessions which commence from 5.00pm onwards, and those on Saturday morning (when available), are £45. In the event of hardship, I may be willing to reduce the fee. I review fees annually in April.
How many sessions will I need?
You probably won't be surprised that I am unable to answer this question. Some people are helped significantly within about six sessions, while others, with more deep-seated issues, may attend for several months or even years.
Is counselling confidential?
The issues of confidentiality and trust are crucial to a good counselling relationship. I would not discuss your case in any way which could identify you to anyone else. Nor would I inform anyone that you were attending counselling, without your express permission. However, there are exceptions to these principles. Firstly, all BACP counsellors, however experienced, have supervision/consultation with another counsellor. This is considered good practice, enabling the counsellor to work effectively with clients. It is possible, therefore, that your case may be so discussed. However, your full name would not be used, and every effort would be taken to protect your identity. In any case, the supervisor would be bound by a similar code of confidentiality. Possibly the more serious exception is when the counsellor becomes aware of a serious conflict between the client's interests and those of society. Thus, if a client reveals that they intend to harm themself or someone else, if there is a child at risk anywhere, or if they know of a serious (typically violent) crime which is going to be committed, then I would consider, in consultation with my supervisor, whether to breach confidentiality. The interests of my client are primary, but on occasions are outweighed by society's interests. It must be stressed that breaches of confidentiality are extremely rare, and normal practice would be to inform the client in advance.
How do I know if you are any good at your job?
You don't. As mentioned earlier, counselling in the UK is currently unregulated, which means that anyone can set up in practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist, having done a weekend course, or indeed with no qualifications whatsoever. Qualifications, experience and registration/accreditation with professional bodies such as BACP, UKCP or BABCP provides a certain level of credibility, but ultimately it is better to talk to any prospective counsellor for yourself, and gauge whether you feel comfortable with them and confident in their ability. Don't be afraid to ask searching questions. Some clients choose to "interview" a number of therapists before deciding which one to go to. Indeed, some counsellors offer a free trial session. Although this is not my practice, I am more than happy to talk to you and discuss any concerns you may have on the telephone, with no obligation. Furthermore, a first session, although chargeable, does not commit you to anything. I firmly believe that it is very wise to be cautious and choosey when looking for a counsellor.
How can talking help? Surely it won't change anything?
Bob Hoskins, in in the old BT advert, said "It's good to talk". I never cease to be surprised by how often I hear these or similar words from clients. The skilled counsellor is able to ask questions which allow the client to voice things they may always have had in their mind, but never put into words. They may also see connections between ideas or aspects of the client's life which the client had never realised before.
Will I be brainwashed, or hypnotised or otherwise have my head messed with?
People harbour all sorts of fantasies about what counselling is, and the harm it can do. Unfortunately, these ideas are sometimes reinforced by stories of unscrupulous practitioners, typically reported in the tabloid newspapers. While the process of counselling or psychotherapy can be a very powerful one, the ethical practitioner will always have the client's best interests at heart. The way in which I personally practice always involves explaining, and being very open about, any processes which might occur.