Louise Rodgers MSc MBACP
Counselling and Psychotherapy
in South-East London
Counselling Questions and Answers
Here are some common counselling questions and answers. If your concern isn’t covered here, please get in touch.
Q. What is counselling actually like?
A. A counselling session is time dedicated to you and your concerns, with the support, encouragement and professional expertise of your counsellor to help you.
In a counselling session you can look at many areas of experience: feelings and thoughts; your past and your hopes for the future; your relationships; pressing dilemmas and possible solutions. Counselling is often cathartic and can be a time of great emotional release and relief. It can also be a time of learning as you realise things about how you tick.
It needs to be said that counselling can also be challenging. For example, you may need to explore aspects of yourself that you don’t like or which are completely new to you. But this kind of exploration never happens until you are ready and counselling always goes at the pace that is right for you.
Q.Is there a difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
A. Counselling and psychotherapy are both terms used to describe ‘talking therapies’. Traditionally, ‘counselling’ has been used to describe shorter-term and more goal-orientated therapy, while ‘psychotherapy’ has been used to describe longer-term, deeper and more exploratory therapy.
However, nowadays the terms can be used interchangeably and this is how I am using them on this website. I offer both short-term and longer or more ‘in-depth’ therapy. How I work depends on your needs, how deep you want to go and the type of problem that you bring to counselling.
At the start of therapy we will discuss why you’ve come, look at your therapeutic options and make a decision about the best way forward for you. But it’s the nature of therapeutic work that this isn’t set in stone; your needs may change and how I work with you may also change. So it’s usual to have periodic reviews throughout the counselling process, to assess what’s happened so far and decide what’s needed now.
Q. There are many people worse off in the world; isn’t counselling self-indulgent?
A. Certainly there are many people in the world who are going through times of great difficulty. But you also have your own problems and concerns which are real for you.
Ignoring your problems because other people are worse off, is usually just a way of not doing anything. Actually daring to look clearly at yourself, getting to grips with the way things are and then seeking healing and solutions, is a pro-active thing to do. It’s also courageous. It’s the complete opposite of laziness or self-indulgence.
Q. What kind of people come to counselling?
A. There is a huge range of people who come to counselling, both male and female, of all different ages, ethnicities, nationalities and religions, employed and unemployed, and of different sexual orientations.
They share a common desire to do something about their issues and concerns and to improve their lives – as far as that is possible.
Q. How long is each session?
A. Sessions last 50 minutes.
Q. How much does counselling cost?
A. Counselling costs £50 per session, which covers my fee, room hire, my supervision, my membership of professional bodies and my insurance, all of which are necessary to make sure you receive a professional service. You can pay by cash, cheque or bank transfer.
Q. Do you offer reductions?
I have limited hours each week which I give to low-waged or unemployed clients at a reduced rate. Please contact me for details. If you cannot afford to pay at all, you can contact your doctor, who may be able to arrange free short-term counselling.
Q. How often do sessions take place?
A. Ideally, counselling sessions take place once a week at the same time. This is because regularity and timing are seen as contributing to the therapeutic effectiveness, and can help you to make steady progress at a rate which is encouraging but not overwhelming.
However, in practice, it may not always be possible or appropriate for you to come at the same time, so it is perfectly acceptable (and not detrimental) to come when it suits you best.
Some people prefer fortnightly sessions, perhaps for financial reasons. Some need ad hoc sessions, or flexible times which change each week because of work commitments. There are also clients who wish for more intense therapy and come several times in a week, perhaps while they are going through a very difficult time.
Q. Isn’t counselling expensive?
A. The cost of counselling is the same as that of other personal services such as haircuts or massage therapy.
It may help to realise that the cost includes many things; not only my years of training and experience, but also the cost of the room rental, insurance, membership of a professional body, ongoing training, supervision and tax.
All these elements are essential to ensure you receive the best quality of service that is safe, professional and up-to-date.
Q. How long will it take?
A. For focussed or limited issues just a few counselling sessions can be enough. For more complex issues or issues which have been around for a long time, longer-term work will be more appropriate. Many people come to therapy for a few months in total. At the other end of the spectrum, there are clients who find counselling beneficial for several years.
It’s usual to come to a decision in your first session on an initial ‘course’ of sessions. Often, this course lasts for six sessions, though some people prefer a more open-ended contract. After those six sessions, and then at regular times throughout the therapy, it’s usual to have reviews, to look at what has changed so far and what is needed now.
The experience of change varies from client to client. Many clients feel a sense of huge relief early on in therapy, because they have finally taken the plunge and spoken to someone about their problems. After that, change and development happens at different rates for different people and depends on the nature of the problems that are concerning you.
Q. Is counselling confidential?
A. Counselling is strictly confidential. This means you can be sure that no one else in the family or neighbourhood or at your workplace, will know what you talk about, or even that you are attending counselling.
Breaking confidentiality would only be considered in exceptional circumstances, for example if your counsellor was concerned about the risk of harm to you or someone else, particularly a child. The counsellor would always do their best to discuss such issues with you first, before informing anyone else (for example a GP or emergency services).
The one person with whom I discuss my clinical work, is my supervisor. Talking to a supervisor is a basic requirement for good ethical practice. The supervisor ensures that I receive the support and guidance I need and that you continue to get the best possible service possible.
Q. How do you work?
A. As you can see from my ‘How I Work’ page, I use a variety of techniques and approaches in my work and choose the ones that are the most appropriate to you and your needs.
It may help to know that I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which is the largest regulatory organisation for therapists in the UK.
I also attend ongoing CPD trainings to ensure that my work is up-to-date and of the highest standard.
Q. I would like to go ahead and have counselling. What should I do now?
A. To ask any particular questions you have, or to arrange an initial session, please send me an email or give me a ring. If I’m in a session and can’t answer your call, please leave a brief message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
An initial session has no obligations for the future. It’s a chance for you to get a feel for me and the way I work and see if that is what you are looking for. You can ask any counselling questions you may have. I can also check that what I offer is right for you or if it would be best to refer you on to another specialist. The initial session is also a chance to begin therapeutic work and start to look at the concerns that have brought you to counselling.
What to do now
For more information, BACP has a useful page of counselling questions and answers, called ‘What is Therapy?’ You are also welcome to contact me with any counselling questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you.