Frequently Asked Questions
Though we’ve tried to answer all the commonly asked questions we know you might have more. Please feel free to get in touch with us here if you’d like to know more on a topic before starting your counselling journey.
About Counselling & Coaching
There are a lot of private therapists and a lot of different therapies so choosing one can be a minefield. I always recommend contacting a few people and seeing if you like their response. Therapists are just people so it’s important that you feel you would get on with them. You can give a few details about the work you want to do, ask if they have experience in that area, ask if they are a member of a professional body, and find out about appointment times and prices.
These two directory websites also have good information on how to choose a therapist:
It’s so important that you get on with the person you are working with so you can be completely honest. Qualifications and experience are important but it’s also whether you think you can talk openly with me and feel that I understand you.
I have been working as a counsellor and coach since 2005 and have 15 years of experience. I am Senior Accredited with the BACP and work to strict professional and ethical standards. You can find out what ‘accredited’ means here.
I am warm and friendly and try to make our relationship as ‘normal’ as possible. I do talk! I don’t just sit and listen because I like to ask questions and find out as much as possible about you. My clients say that I make them feel calm, and looked after and that I can be funny and challenging. You can read what some of my clients have said in my Reviews section.
I am an integrative therapist which means I draw on theories and techniques from different therapy models. The main ones I use are:
Person-centred or humanistic – you are an individual human-being, not a collection of problems to be fixed. I offer a warm, friendly, and safe place to be you, talk about anything you want and have a relationship that will help you feel listened to and valued and understood
CBT – the thoughts you are having and the way you behave because of them may well be making life difficult. We will explore these together and see if there are ways you could change them to help you function and feel better.
Psychodynamic – you may be put off if you know anything about Freud and Jung but they developed ground-breaking understanding of human development, how childhood affects us, our sub and unconscious and dream states and how we use strategies to protect ourselves from suffering. I use these theories to help us explore the deeper parts of who you are and understand how you have come to be the way you are now.
You probably won’t notice which of these models we are using. I ‘integrate’ them so we can move easily between talking about your past, present and future and cover all bases. As I am also a coach, some of our sessions may involve action-planning and goal setting but we can’t jump to that without doing some of the other work of understanding first.
I am a general coach rather than one who works specifically on career or personal development or corporate leadership. My style of coaching is therapeutic so it draws on my experience as a counsellor, but we will agree our goals of working on improving your present and future situations, rather than exploring the past too much. I use a model based on the ‘wheel of life’ so we will look at how your life is working as a whole and then work out the areas to prioritise.
I also offer various packages to work on some of the most common and specific areas people like help with. You can have a look at these in my Coaching section for more information.
Counselling is a process of self-discovery. It’s about working out how you tick, how your life experiences have affected you and how you see yourself in the world. Often it means we talk about your past as much as your current situation. It might involve some work to do between sessions but we’re not action planning so much as working through things as they come up.
Coaching is about having a specific goal in mind, for your future, and working towards making it a reality. We might identify concrete tasks you need to do, or areas you need to work on to help you complete those tasks. It’s about ‘doing’ things differently to improve your future rather than looking at the past to help find answers.
As I work as both a coach and counsellor, sometimes the two merge and you could call it therapeutic coaching. If you’re not sure which one might work best for you, let’s have a conversation and we can work it out together.
It really depends on what you are trying to achieve, and how you feel on the day. There is no fixed agenda and the session flows like a normal conversation. I will ask how you are, and how your week has been, and we’ll go from there. Each session lasts 50 minutes and there is a bit of a beginning, middle and end, but it’s not formal. There is no couch but just us sitting on chairs, or, if we are working remotely, us talking via video or on the phone.
It’s ok if you just want to talk and download your over-thinking mind and I will listen and offer you space and understanding. At other times you might be up for doing something more concrete like exploring your patterns in diagrams, or working on a lifeline, ‘better-worse’ scale, or maybe a self-esteem drawing. We decide together what will help you the most on the day.
CBT stands for cognitive behavioural therapy and it works by looking at you how your current thoughts affect your behaviours. We all have ‘negative’ thoughts but if you have too many, or they are too unhelpful and give a distorted view of your reality, they can negatively affect how you behave in the world. For example, if you repeatedly think ‘I’m boring’ it can stop you being able to engage in conversations and build meaningful relationships. CBT is the main therapy used in the NHS, so you are likely to be recommended CBT by your GP. It can be effective for changing current patterns of thought and behaviour but doesn’t really explore issues from your past.
You can read more about CBT here:
I work with a lot of people who have had CBT and it usually helps to some extent. It’s a very practical therapy and will teach you tools and techniques to manage your everyday situation better. But it doesn’t really help you understand your history, and, although you can learn to change your thoughts and behaviours, often that doesn’t change how you feel deep down, where you are holding old sadness and fear. I use CBT as part of the way I work so we would revisit what you learned in previous sessions, but we would also explore your past, where you may have picked up hurts you’re still carrying, talk about how those affect you and see how we can help you lay them to rest. Often people say they talk with me about things that never came up in CBT and those may be the things that need addressing.
I work with all kinds of problems. The most common are anxiety and depression as these come in many forms and can be current and new, or you’ve felt them for a long time. Other problems that I can help with are loss and bereavement, stress at work or in your work-life balance, low self-esteem and self-worth, trauma and abuse, not knowing who you are or what you want, poor relationships and communication, lack of boundaries and assertiveness and feeling sad or lost. If you are having problems with your partner, I can help you understand your part in that, but I don’t work with couples and it may be that, after some individual work, you decide you need to work together with your partner in couples therapy.
Loneliness is horrible and draining. I’m so sorry if you’re feeling that way and, sadly, a lot of people do. Therapy isn’t just a place to come and talk though. It’s not just having a chat. If you are feeling lonely then there will be reasons, either your circumstances or how you feel about yourself, or both. I can help you explore what is happening in your life, or what has happened, and perhaps we can find ways to help change things a bit. You can learn to cope better with being on your own, build your confidence in making connections and find new ways to reach out to other people.
You can find support on dealing with loneliness here:
No. I can’t fix you. You’re not a broken boiler with a manual that says what isn’t working. You’re a complex and unique individual with a lifetime of your own, very personal, experiences. And a bit like if you break your leg, the doctor can diagnose that and give you a cast, but it will take time to heal and you’ll need to do physio exercises yourself to help the leg to grow stronger. I can help you work out what’s gone wrong and we can look together to find out if something in you has broken, but I can’t fix it for you. I will support you in the process of healing and getting stronger, but it will take time and commitment from you to do what is necessary to help yourself.
The definition of ‘advice’ is ‘guidance and recommendations’. Sometimes I might suggest various exercises or resources to help manage anxiety or depression, or to understand your history, or to change how you are behaving in a current relationship. But the exercises are a way of helping you to understand more about yourself and learn to help yourself with coping strategies and techniques. I am never going to say, ‘do this, be this way, stop doing that, change to be like this’. My role is to guide and support you, not to tell you what to do or how to be.
Everything discussed stays between us. I will not contact or share information with your employer, GP, family, or anyone else, nor would I disclose the fact you are attending sessions if someone asks. There are always exceptions to complete confidentiality, but these are extreme and only occur where I am bound by law or concerned about the safety of yourself or someone else. Then we would discuss who I need to talk to and ask for your consent.
If you require a written assessment or report for any reason (for example, a GP referral or to authorise health insurance sessions) then this report would be shared with you first for your approval. All written material (including your contact details and counselling agreement), are protected by General Data Protection Regulations.
I’m so sorry you’re feeling that way. Hang in there because there is help available. You can call the Samaritans right now on 116 123 or look on the Useful Links page to find other helpline numbers. I can’t help if you are in immediate crisis but if you can wait to book an appointment and feel ready to start therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Following the current government guidance I am working from home offering sessions via Zoom, Skype or on the phone. I don’t offer email or text sessions. An online session has the same format as a face-to-face – it lasts 50 minutes, we talk and work on the problems you are having and then, at the end, we book a time for our next session. Payments are made via BACS prior to the session on the day or as a block booking. We have a contract where we agree how online therapy will work and all sessions are in line with the guidance from the British Association of Counselling Professions and covered by my professional insurance.
Since the Corona virus pandemic, we have all got used to a lot more video chats and phone calls. Online or phone therapy can seem strange at first, but therapy is about having a conversation and it can work well. It’s important that, during our sessions, you won’t be in any danger, you won’t be disturbed, and your phone and other devices are switched off. We will agree our plan B if technology fails during the call so we can finish our session another way.
It is really hard to guarantee absolute confidentiality with anything on the internet and none of the current online providers say that it is. We can make things as confidential as possible if you find a place to talk where you will be undisturbed. I work in a room on my own using headphones so you will not be overheard. My computer is security protected and your details are kept secure in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations.
At the moment, I have no answer for this. The therapy centre where I work is closed and, when it reopens, I work in a fairly small room which might not be safe for sitting together for 50 minutes. All therapy services I know of, including the NHS, are currently working on phone or video, so for the foreseeable future, therapy has become an online service only. Whenever the situation changes, I will update this information.
Booking, Cancellations & Payments
All sessions cost £50. I accept BACS transfers and prefer you to pay on the day of your appointment, or beforehand if we have not spoken before. I will send you bank details when we confirm. Some people pay for each session as we go along or pay for a block of 2,4 or 6 depending on when you get paid.
I offer a limited number of concession places for key workers, self-employed and part-time workers, or if you are a counselling student. If you are on a low income or benefits, it’s important that you can afford to see a counsellor without added money worries so I would recommend talking to your GP or contacting one of the low-cost services listed on the Useful Links page.
If you have health insurance either privately or through work, you may want to check to see if your policy covers counselling therapy. Most policies have an annual allowance to see a registered therapist so your sessions would be paid for, minus any policy excess you may be liable for when you make a claim. The content of the sessions is kept entirely confidential and no record of what is discussed is shared with your insurance provider. You would need to contact them for authorisation details and then contact me to make a booking.
I am currently working from home to offer video or phone sessions so there is no danger of catching the virus this way. When the therapy centre in Moseley reopens it uses all government guidance on keeping the building and its visitors safe and there is hand sanitiser available on entering and leaving the building as well as a toilet with sink to wash your hands. If anyone I know or work with informs me they, or someone close to them has been ill, I will switch to working from home for the required quarantine period.
I try to offer an appointment as soon as I can, but this can be a week or two. Daytime appointments are more likely to be free but appointments after 4pm get booked up. The more flexible you can be with your availability, the sooner we can book an appointment. If I am fully booked, then I will let you know when I think the next available time will be.
I work Monday – Thursday. I don’t offer appointments on Fridays or over the weekend. I do have evening appointments at 6 and 7pm Mon – Thurs but there can be a longer delay for one of these appointments as they get booked up.
It’s a real worry if someone you care about is struggling. And if they’re always talking to you about their problems it can feel draining. But they may not want or be ready to talk to a professional. You can suggest it, and you might even want to show them my website. You can also contact me on their behalf but only if they have asked you to, and I would need to confirm with them by email or phone to make the appointment.
An assessment or initial session is a chance for me to get an idea of what is going on for you and to see if I can help. It also gives you a chance to get to know me and to decide if you think I am the right person to work with. If I think you would be better off with a different service I will be able to give you referral details. The session isn’t free because it is a full 50-minute session and most people find it’s useful, even if we decide not to continue to another session together.
There is no straightforward answer to this. Some people come for a few sessions, other people come for a months or years. It depends on what you need to work on and what we find out as we work together. I offer a 6-session block to start as that gives us both a good idea if our relationship is working well and, after that, we will have regular reviews to check we are working on the right things. Sometimes, it might be that we only need a few sessions but 6 is usually a minimum.
Therapy is a process and it works better when I have a chance to get to know you. Weekly sessions work best, particularly at the beginning, so that we can build a relationship and you can have a regular, safe place to talk. It doesn’t really work if it’s a one-off chat, and I can’t offer crisis support. If you need to talk to someone urgently, please look at the Useful Links page to find numbers.
You are always in control of whether you choose to continue. It helps if you can give some notice or let me know you want to stop. If you think the sessions aren’t working, or I’m not right for you, then I would really like to be able to talk about it as I would be happy to recommend some other services that might work better.
I have a 48-hour cancellation policy so if you need to cancel or change your appointment with less than 48 hours’ notice I will charge for the session. This is because I have saved a space for you in my diary and I can’t offer it to anyone else at short notice. Any changes before 48 hours are ok and I will try to offer a new appointment as soon as possible.