A safe place to talk and think
Psychotherapy, or counselling, offers a confidential, regular and supportive time and place to talk about your difficulties, concerns or questions in life.
It allows you to examine your experiences and relationships, share your problems, develop your understanding of yourself, and consider your choices. It is somewhere for you to do your own thinking, with the support of a professional alongside you.
Psychotherapy and counselling may not be helpful for everyone or for every problem. It isn’t a place to get advice, or quick answers. It can take some time to explore unclear, complicated or long-standing issues.
And sometimes it can be emotionally difficult – as well as rewarding – to inquire into yourself and your situation.
What do people talk about?
People come to talk for a wide variety of reasons. These are often issues that cause emotional or mental distress and that they wish to understand or overcome, which might include:
- relationship difficulties
- sadness, depression, emptiness, loneliness
- anxiety, stress, panic, fear
- goals, choices or questions in life
- obsessive or addictive behaviour
- issues with eating, weight or body image
- family issues
- identity, values, meaning and purpose
- anger, guilt, shame, mood swings
- bereavement or other loss
- self understanding
- shyness, lack of confidence, low self-worth or self-esteem
- death and dying, health, ageing
- sexuality, sexual activity, gender identity
- career and work issues, including bullying
- studying and academic stresses
- self-harm, suicidal thoughts
The topic(s) are your choice, and you don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to.
What happens in the first session?
The first session is usually a chance to find out about each other and see if we feel comfortable in conversation together. It gives you a chance to talk about what brings you to therapy and what you would like from me. And you can ask me questions about how I work, what I can offer, and discuss any practical matters like fees and session times.
How long does therapy take?
There is no simple answer. It depends on how you choose to use counselling and psychotherapy, and what you find helpful. We can talk about that in the first session if you wish, and review that as often as needed.
Regular weekly sessions are generally helpful to build a trusting relationship, and to maintain some consistency or momentum.
Some people feel they only need a handful of sessions to address an immediate worry. Others want to address long-standing issues or learn more about themselves in a way that may take months or even years.
And while some people want to come continuously over a long period of time, others prefer to come for shorter repeated periods, with gaps in between, or may need to take some time away from therapy for various reasons and then return to it later.
It’s a bit like physical fitness or sport – you may want to see a trainer to address something very specific briefly. Or you may enjoy maintaining your health or developing skills over a longer period. It’s up to you and how you want to use the therapy.
Other information resources on psychotherapy and counselling
If you want to know more about counselling and psychotherapy, or how to choose a psychotherapist or counsellor, below are links to information and advice from two of the main professional associations for counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK, and a video from the BBC:
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
BBC Like Minds