Frequently Asked Questions

If help is available it may not remain an easy process to go about deciding to find the right person to talk to. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions around starting therapy 'on the right foot'.

 

Q: What is therapy?
A: Therapy is an opportunity for you to talk safely in a confidential place about your life and all that may be confusing, painful or uncomfortable. The therapist is someone who is academically trained to listen attentively so as to help you cope better.

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Q: How will therapy make me feel?
A: Therapy is a process which is personal. Going through painful experiences may feel as if things are worse than when you started. In the long-run however therapy should help you feeling better. If it doesn't after a while you should let your therapist know that things are not improving.

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Q: Will I feel better straight away?
A: Apart from rare occasions where a single session is enough it usually takes a number of sessions before therapy starts to make a difference.

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Q: Does it work for everybody?
A: No. Because everyone is different (therapist included) everyone will feel the therapeutic process differently. Some therapy are successful, others are less. The relationship with the therapist is central to any progress.

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Q: Will I be able to have therapy that understands my cultural background?
A: It is important that you find a therapist you find yourself comfortable with, which could mean that you want to search for someone who is aware of your cultural background. Having said this it should not matter for the therapist.

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Q: Are therapy all the same?
A: No. There exists different methods and approaches in therapy and you might want to discuss the various modalities with your therapist so as to be sure his or her way of working will be all right with you.

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Q: What types of therapy are there?
A: Many different types of therapy are available. However it is often found that your relationship with the therapist is central to the progress of therapy.

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Q: How long does therapy take?
A: Sometimes only one session is enough to feel better. However, as the therapy progress it may be the case that sessions continue over several weeks or months. It is common practice after 6 or 12 sessions to review how therapy is going for you, and discuss whether you feel it is important for you to continue or not.

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Q: How long is a session?
A: Sessions usually last fifty minutes to one hour. However it is also the case that some modalities extend or shorten this time

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Q: How often will I see my therapist?
A: Usually people see their therapist once a week. However this frequency can change if you wish a more intense therapy. This should be made clear from the start in the initial session with your therapist.

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Q: What questions should I ask the therapist before therapy begins?
A: The following are a list of recommended questions, however do also ask your therapist any others that you think of:

  • How many sessions will I have?
  • What type of therapy do you offer?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What happens if I miss a session?
  • What happens if I want to take a holiday, will I still have to pay?
  • Will the counselling be confidential?
  • Will you make notes during the session, and if so, what happens to these?
  • Can I contact my therapist in between sessions?
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Q: What should I look for in a therapist?
A: The initial assessment is a chance for you to ask about the qualifications the therapist has and whether he or she is a member of a professional body such as:

You might also want to check whether the therapist has any experience and/or training in any particular area of concern important to you.

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Q: How can I be sure this particular therapist is right for me?
A: Trust your first impressions. If might just be that after a few minutes you feel you can trust the therapist and that you are comfortable talking. If on the other hand you feel not quite at ease, you may want to reconsider your choice of therapist.

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Q: What if I don’t like my therapist?
A: If after several sessions you don't like your therapist you may want to address the matter with him or her. This might just be part of the therapeutic process iself (transference). If after a while there is still a real and long lasting discomfort then you may wish to consider seeking another therapist.

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Q: What can I do if it doesn’t seem to be working?
A: If you feel that after a while there doesn't seem to be any difference for you, it is important that you discuss this with your therapist. If then nothing changes then you may wish to go to another therapist.

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Q: How do I know if my therapist is qualified?
A: 400-450 hours college-based therapy training is the number of hours BACP recommends as a minimum. You may want to ask your therapist for the details of their qualifications. Don't hesitate to ask questions. If you still feel unsure, do contact the therapist’s professional body in order to verify their qualifications.

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Q: Does a therapist have to be licensed?
A: Currently there is no legal requirement for therapists to be licensed. However, it is wise to choose a therapist who is a member of a professional body and who is insured to practice.

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Q: I want to end therapy. How can I do it?
A: If after a while you would like to end therapy it is preferable that you first discuss it with your therapist in order to bring things to a clean end. If this seems too difficult to do face to face, you may want to give notice of wishing to end therapy in writing. Please do bear in mind any agreement you made at the beginning of therapy with regards to ending sessions.

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Q: Will I be charged if I cannot attend a session?
A: It is important that you discuss this when you make your agreement with your therapist at the start of therapy. Because the rooms I am using require me to be charged on an ongoing basis unless in exceptional circumstances I am charging for missed sessions.

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Q: What if I am on holiday and so will miss a session?
A: This is important to clarify this at your initial session with your chosen therapist. For reasons related to hiring the rooms I personally expect payment for missed sessions including holidays.

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Q: Will what I say in therapy be reported outside the room?
A: What is being shared in therapy is confidential to the extent that it will not be reported to anyone except a supervisor who, for the protection of the client also offers his or her own interpretations and make sure no harm is being done. In other circumstances however, if there appears to be a serious risk of harm to you or to others the therapist should inform you of his or her intention in dealing with this situation. This is usually done with your permission. These circumstances should be explained to you at the beginning of your therapy.

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Q: How much will I have to share with my therapist?
A: What you tell your therapist is entirely up to you.

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Q: Will the therapist contact my doctor?
A: Therapists usually ask to have your doctor’s contact details in case they feel there is a serious risk of harm to you.

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Q: Is it possible that I bring a friend?
A: This is not encouraged. The therapy is for you and is safe because what you talk about is explored in depth between you and your therapist. If there are communication difficulties, it would of course be understandable to have an interpreter in the room. If you feel you would rather be with other people in therapy you may consider group therapy.

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