So what kinds of therapy are there... what happens?

Counselling helps you to look at problems you are facing now. You might focus on a specific problem, process, decision or crisis for example. I'll help you talk about the difficult feelings you have about yourself and your situation, and identify things that help, and facilitate change. I ask questions that other people don't and I'll help you interpret the answers effectively.

Whilst many counsellors like to work in their own way, actually different approaches suit different people and/or issues in different ways. That is why it is important to choose a therapist who can work in a way tailored to your precise needs.  Because of this an initial ‘assessment’ session is really important. 

It shouldn’t be difficult to work out what sort of therapy you are being offered.  Ask what experience potential counsellors have with your type of issue.  Look for Accreditation and long years of training!  

...Most important to your therapy is the strength of the relationship you have with the counsellor.  You should feel safe, mutual trust, equal, empowered and not judged, patronised or feel like you are being told what to do...

Just a couple of different ways counsellors work (just because we've only listed a few, it doesn't mean these are the main or best or most widely used etc. Though chances are these are the models you are most likely to encounter in the first instance  There are many more - look at NICE or BPS website):

You may have heard about Cognitive or Behavioural Therapy.  CBT therapists aim to help people change patterns of thinking or behaviour that are causing problems.  Changing how you think and behave also changes how you feel.  It is a structured approach – you agree goals for treatment with your therapist and try things out between sessions.  There are no surprises, and you are never asked to do or sign up to anything that you do not think is a really sensible idea for furthering your treatment. 

EMDR.  If you are experiencing trauma, for example like an attack, domestic violence, accident - in it or witnessed it, war zone stuff, traumatic near miss, fire, flood, crash etc., EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) can help.  Google it!

Person Centred Counsellors feel that if they provide their clients with lots of time and space, unconditional positive regard, congruence and empathy, clients will find their own way to personal growth and understanding.  

...Indeed perhaps most therapists rely on these basic values in their work, of offering a safe and contained space, dedicated time, real honesty, a total non judgemental acceptance of the client's issues and viewpoints as valid and important, and an effort to understand what it must be like to be that client in the hope of reflecting back useful interventions...  a bit like holding a mirror up to the client so they can make discoveries and choices about personal growth...

Psychodynamic Therapy explores your (often early) experiences and identifies connections between present feelings and actions and past events.  We might make more sense of the ‘cause and effect-ness’ of your past on your present. I integrate these models and more. 

Existential Psychotherapy.  Oh gosh, not sure we can do this in a sentence without sounding depressing!  And actually, Existential Psychotherapy might be the single most helpful therapy ever!  This is how I see it.

Ok... The thing is... we are all going to die, and no-one can change the ultimate aloneness of life and death. (Though surrounding ourselves with loved ones and stuff might help a bit?)  And whilst we are around, there are not really any rules except perhaps ones we impose on ourselves either through society or culturally or habit. (Though we find it a bit easier to pretend that there are).  So, the fact that we are free (to do whatever); whilst it sounds good, is actually rather daunting and is perhaps a bit more like groundlessness than freedom.  (Though we concoct structure to feel a bit safer). And perhaps the worst bit (but the bit most easily remedied?) is the fact that life can be rather meaningless (though we do things to somehow change that).  Like showing dogs at Crufts (what is that all about??!!) or making birdcages, or going to church or joining a choir or playing football, or being miserable or ... well anythng, really.

...And of course we are completely free to make our own meaning! After all... why not? Yippee!...

Existential Psychotherapy grapples with these concepts (that whether we like it or not apply to all of us - and who knows how much they affect our daily choices) and provides a truly helpful framework for us to think about our more everyday issues (that often turn out to be rather more deep). 

...The good news!  Once we understand a bit more about what might be in store for us, we are perhaps able to take a bit more personal responsibility for our choices, and hence our happiness...

Thinking about it, my experience with clients is not so much that they are afraid of dying, but more of getting to that time and not having lived.

So unless you can be absolutely sure of 'dying at the right time', whatever it is, do not put it off!

Just a bit more...

I do not work Analytically (where the therapist doesn’t talk much). Hang on, that makes it sound like I talk too much... ok it's a fair cop...

Better explain a bit more:  So the traditional therapy where the client might even lay on a couch, and say anything that comes into his or her mind, and the analyst interprets what might be going on in the client's unconscious in the hope to make the unconscious conscious so realisations and change can occur.  Like Freud.  I don't do that.  Though I do have a beard.

Unless working with Couples or Families, sessions are usually one-to-one and last for 50 minutes. We do not offer ‘skype’ therapy as we feel that it’s better if fully present with you.  

I do not primarily work with addiction, sorry, though are happy to recommend a determined and professional clinician with many years of experience in treating substance misuse. Likewise with Family and Couple therapy.

I don’t offer ‘Hypnosis’ either.  Sorry.  Back in the room.

What sort of thing brings people to counselling?

We have encountered all of these presenting issues and client groups and counselling is an evidence based intervention with proven 'success' in many instances:

Depression        Work Stress        Negative Thinking         Uncertainty        PTSD    Worry      Relationship issues        Phobias        Anxiety         LGBT issues     Couples      Family difficulties        Fear        Loss         Low Confidence         Self Esteem      Sexual Problems        Panic disorder         Guilt           Miscarriage          Social Phobia     Workplace  Bullying         Anger        Mental Health          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome   Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)          Sexuality          Health Anxiety        PAIN       Illness      Chronic Diagnoses (Cancer, Diabetes)        Relationships          Breakdown      Affairs            Betrayals           Divorce           Grief           Bereavement             Rape           Abuse (Emotional, Physical, Sexual)        Obsessions          Debt        Stress      Adults     Students         Young People           Problems         Redundancy         Unhappiness     Cultural issues        Sadness       Confusion         Self Harm         Suicidal  thoughts    Trauma       Attack       Flashbacks        Pregnancy         Termination         Violence       Domestic Violence       Personality Disorder     Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse       Pet loss            Men's issues             Ageing               RAGE              Crying       Personal Development         Terminal Illness         Unwanted thoughts          Love     Disgust            Isolation          Meaninglessness           Groundlessness           Death      

...It is the job of the therapist to help make it easier for the client to talk about things, and to gently focus on the important parts of the process. 

You just need to come willingly to talk, reflect and make changes...