Questions about Counselling
What is Person-Centred Counselling?
Person-Centred counselling is a type of ‘talking’ therapy that aims to offer the client a warm and understanding environment in which to discuss concerns and issues about their life. It is an opportunity to develop your self-awareness and for you to be able to make sense of your life and experiences.
It is not the kind of therapy where you will be given advice or told what to do. The person-centred therapist is often characterized as being ‘alongside’ the client on their journey of self-discovery. The counsellor is an attentive and fully present companion, and is there to help the client to make sense of, and gain perspective of, his or her experience. The person-centred counsellor trusts in the client’s own resources to work things out in the way that is best for them, and believes that the client is the ‘expert’ on their own life, not the therapist.
I endeavour to create a safe space and a genuine, warm and accepting relationship where the client is free to explore thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. The relationship between the client and the counsellor is pivotal in helping to facilitate this, and can allow someone the freedom to make choices that are right for them.
If you would like to learn more about the Person-Centred Approach an excellent introduction can be found in “Person-Centred Counselling in Action” by Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (2007, Sage, 3rd Edition).
What problems can counselling help with?
Counselling can be helpful for many different issues such as:
· Coming to terms with loss (e.g., divorce or bereavement)
· Coping with changes in life circumstances (e.g. moving country, retirement)
· Dealing with a crisis
· Relationship difficulties
· Eating disorders
· Alcohol or drug problems
· Sexual abuse
· Anger management
· Problems with self-esteem
How do I decide if you’re the right counsellor for me?
Finding the right person to work with is a very important step in your counselling and it can be helpful to talk to different counsellors before making a decision. I offer a free initial assessment session of about 30-40 minutes for us to see if we want to work together. I am not obliged to accept a client if I feel I am unlikely to be able to be of benefit to the client. If we decide to proceed with counselling then we will agree on a contract, outlining the responsibilities of both the counsellor and the client in the relationship (see The Counselling Contract as a guide).
What happens in a counselling session?
That really is up to you. We generally have around 50 minutes for a session, and that time is entirely devoted to you. We will probably begin by exploring what has brought you to counselling and the concerns and issues that are uppermost in your mind. As we begin to discuss things it is likely that other thoughts and feelings will emerge which you might also wish to examine.
How long does counselling last?
Again this is up to us to decide. I am happy to work with clients in the short, medium or long-term, depending on their needs. We will probably agree to meet for a few weeks (usually 4-6 weeks) and then review how things are going. Reviewing the situation every few weeks will help us to see how things are progressing, and if something in the counselling relationship needs to be addressed. However, the decision about whether to continue or to end the counselling relationship will be yours.
Is Person-Centred Counselling effective?
Recent research shows that Person-Centred counselling is as effective as other major psychotherapeutic therapeutic interventions such as psychodynamic psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (Elliot, Greenberg & Lietaer (2004).