What’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) do not distinguish between the two, choosing instead to use the term ‘therapy’ to describe all talking therapies. Whether or not there is a distinction is a contentious issue, and remains a topic of much debate. However, my personal view is that psychotherapy treatment generally involves a much more comprehensive assessment phase. This includes collaboratively discussing and exploring client’s life history in depth, and the use of ‘treatment formulation’, which involves formulating client’s problems, issues and any symptoms into a coherent type of map which can then be used to inform treatment. Counselling on the other hand can often involve more focus on the ‘here and now’ aspects of client’s life and difficulties. Exploring and identifying potential aspects of client’s lives that they may wish to change, whilst collaboratively working towards creating potential solutions to identified problems may also represent valuable aspects of the counselling process. There is of course a lot of overlap between these two therapeutic approaches.
Where are you based?
I currently practice from two different locations, one in central Manchester, and one in Salford, a couple of miles outside of the city centre. Having the two separate locations increases access and flexibility in meeting individual clients needs. The Remedy Lounge is a comfortable, accessible and welcoming clinical room on Deansgate in Central Manchester which is literally minutes away from public transport stations/stops. Sorrel Bank Treatment Centre offers clinical treatment rooms as a part of a busy medical centre in Salford, is easily accessible by public transport, and has car parking and wheelchair access. I offer flexible daytime and evening appointments throughout the week, with some weekend slots available.
How long will therapy take?
This is both a very common and of course important question that people have, but it’s unfortunately very difficult to answer in a general sense because of the number of factors involved. The types of issues clients are struggling with and the treatment outcomes or ‘goals for therapy’ they may have will need to be considered, along with what types of treatment approaches may be effective. Whether the treatment will likely be short-term (6 – 12 sessions), medium term (20 – 40 sessions) or long-term (40 plus sessions), will be something we can discuss at the beginning of our work together, and all work incorporates regular reviews of progress and treatment planning.
What can I expect during the first session?
The first session will generally involve you having an opportunity to discuss any problems that you’re currently struggling with and your needs and expectations of therapy, along with exploring potential ways that therapy may be able to help. I also have written contracts that I use with clients, one for individuals and a different one for couples, that I will go through with you, and if you’re happy with I shall require you to sign. The contracts include information regarding the service I provide, and the limitations of of my work, along with boundaries around important things like confidentiality, and frequency and length of sessions. These contracts do not hold you under any obligation regarding continuing therapy, as of course you may choose to stop at any point. However, I do ask clients that they try and notify me of their intent to end therapy with at least three sessions notice if possible, as this allows us some time to bring our work to a close and develop some sense of a structured ending. The first session also gives us both an opportunity to explore potential ways of working together that may be able to assist you more effectively. The most important thing to remember is that it is your time and your space. Therapy should never be about having things ‘done to you’, but is actually about your therapist working ‘with you’, because collaboration is extremely important and necessary for any therapy treatment to be effective.
What if I don’t necessarily know what I’m struggling with, or what I need?
Then that’s perfectly fine, and believe it or not is actually very common for people seeking therapy. People can often put themselves under a lot of pressure to expect to know specifically what it is they need, and also assume that if they see a therapist that is something that will be expected of them. This really isn’t the case, and the opposite is often true. Sometimes a big part of our individual therapy journey may focus on exploring feelings of general unease, discomfort or a lack of fulfillment with our lives which we’re not necessarily able to put our fingers on or fully understand. Therapy can provide a useful space and a safe relationship with our therapist where we’re able to discuss and explore such issues without fear of judgement.
How do I know that you’re going to work ethically and safely?
As a registered mental health professional I have a professional duty of care or legal obligation to my clients and the public interest, to work ethically and safety. As an accredited member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), I am ethically bound to adhere to their ethical framework for the counselling professions. This ethical framework is accessible within the public forum, and I have included a link that will take you to to it by clicking here.