What to expect from therapy
The first session is free of charge. This is to give us both an opportunity to get a feel for one another, and to decide whether we wish to carry on working together. I usually ask the following questions:
What has led you to contacting me?
Have you any past experience of counselling and psychotherapy, and if so, how did you find it?
What is it you want to get out of the experience?
It is also a chance for you to ask me anything you feel you need to know about myself and the therapy experience.
I recommend taking 24 - 48 hours after our first meeting to decide whether you wish to work together. If for whatever reason we decide not to work together, I am very happy to recommend other local psychotherapists.
Although some people come into therapy with a specific goal in mind, it is far more usual for people to have sought help due to a general feeling of discontentment. They do not know what is bothering them exactly, or what they want to change, but they know that they do not feel how they want to. This is a perfectly good place to start therapy from, and we can work together to unpick some of what is going on.
Our second session will consist mainly of completing an intake form with you. This is in order to get an overview of your history and begin to understand a little bit of your story.
On Going Sessions And Common Experiences In Therapy
After our first two sessions, the “real” therapy starts. The psychotherapist/client relationship is a unique one. I may ask you, (what seem like), strange questions sometimes. If you are ever wondering why I have asked something, please feel free to ask. I am happy and willing to explain my thinking at any point.
Sometimes you will leave a session feeling ‘better’. Sometimes you may leave feeling ‘worse’. This is all part of the process. Confronting issues may stir up painful feelings, but these will pass. Psychotherapy really can help, and there is reason to feel hopeful even at times of difficulty.
To achieve meaningful change in therapy, it is advisable to attend weekly (at least in the beginning). This means that sessions usually flow more easily into one another, which in turn usually results in issues being resolved more quickly. Sometimes people prefer to come twice a week for a period of time, and I am happy to accommodate this.
To get the most out of the experience it helps if you reflect on what happens in the therapy room between sessions. What did you get out of the last session? What did I do or say that you found helpful? What did I do or say that you found unhelpful? What feelings did you experience? What thoughts have you had since? Reflecting in this way, and bringing anything that particularly stands out for you to psychotherapy the next week, can aid the therapy greatly.
Deep therapy work is more about your process (i.e. what you feel and tell yourself when something happens) than the content (i.e. the details of an event). We often need to first explain the content in order to get to the process, but it’s helpful to keep in mind that the process is what often really matters in therapy.
As with most things, the more you put in, the more you will get out of the experience. Change doesn't just happen in the 50 minutes per week that we see one another, but also in the days and hours in between sessions. The more willing you are to implement some of the changes we cover in therapy, and experiment with being different in the world, the more likely you are to see meaningful, long term change.