Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the initial session like?

If you have decided to try counselling, the idea of a first session can leave some feeling a little worried. Taking that first step to get support and address what you are facing can take a lot of courage and should not be made light of. Hopefully knowing what to expect can prepare you a little for that initial session.

This preliminary session is usually between 30 and 50 minutes long (we will decide this together during our initial contact) and consists of me asking what it is that has brought you to look for some extra support. This time can help build a picture of the way in which you see yourself and the world around you as well as who you are as an individual. I will also very likely ask what it is you hope I can do for you and we will discuss this together.

I will give you little bit of an overview of how I work, including aspects of confidentiality, with the intention that you are as well informed about what I am able to offer you before you leave the session to make a decision about if you feel I am someone you would like to continue to work with.

If, after this initial session, you decide that you do not feel as though counselling is for you then that is completely fine. Likewise, if you feel you would like to continue counselling but would like to see a different counsellor I can give you some names of other counsellors or refer you onto a specialist service. There are no obligations and I do not ask you to make a decision while you are in the room with me

What happens in counselling sessions?

We talk. Well actually, you talk. I have no preconceived ideas about you because I don’t know you in any other context than the counselling room which means that whatever you bring I will be hearing from your perspective and experience. My hope is that you will feel safe in the space which I offer so that you can say whatever it is which needs to be said knowing there will be no judgemental responses or expectations being placed upon you. Then, together, we can explore your reactions, feelings and thought before moving towards helping you to continue forward in your life.

Sometimes, we will discuss upsetting emotions and painful memories. Bringing these up can be difficult to start with and can sometimes feel extremely challenging emotionally initially, but it’s important to remember that everything we’re doing is designed to help you in the long run, even if at the beginning it doesn’t feel like it.

Counselling isn’t a quick fix and, sadly, I don’t have a magic wand which I wave that will make everything better. I won’t tell you what to do to make everything right for you because counselling is a journey of exploration which we go on together, making discoveries as we go along.

How can counselling help?

This completely depends on you. For many, the fact that counselling offers a safe and confidential environment to speak is all it takes. Outside in daily life, what we say to others can sometimes affect relationships and the way people see each other. Counselling eliminates this problem and offers you the space and freedom to explore your own thoughts with an unbiased party.

While I may not give you concrete advice or a checklist of things to make everything feel better, what I will do is help you discover your own insight and understanding of problems and then, hopefully, provide you with the tools, which we have worked out together, which will help you to resolve them on your own.

Counselling can help you understand yourself and the way you think in a more thorough way, which will ultimately help you develop a clearer understanding of whatever it is you may face. The more that you understand yourself, the easier it gradually becomes to find your way through difficulties so that you can come out the other side. Counselling can also help you understand other people’s point of view, shedding light onto the way you interpret words or actions which you feel have been directed at you.

How long does counselling take?

Essentially it is completely up to you. Counselling is a journey, and it takes time and consistency to work effectively.

Short-term counselling is usually 8-10 sessions and will tend to tackle one specific problem. Long term or open-ended work is suggested if there are a number of areas to be explored or which seem to be interlinked.

I do, however, encourage individuals to start with a minimum of 10 sessions as then we have time to get to know one another, build an understanding of how you experience yourself and the world around you as well as a chance to explore the challenges you are facing.

In the case of longer term work we will regularly review the work we have done together and will, together, discuss an agreed ending date when you begin to feel as though you would like to move on from counselling.

You are more than welcome to come back again if later down the line you feel as though you could benefit from further support. That doesn’t mean the counselling ‘hasn’t worked’, it just means that our lives change around us and bring different things up for us at different times and, therefore, having sessions again might be beneficial to get through this particular stage.

How confidential is confidential?

What you bring to counselling is often extremely personal and close to your heart and, therefore, it can be a worry to think that other people will find out about things you have said. I hope to reassure you with regards to this, and if you have any questions please feel free to ask when we meet.

I am registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and I follow GDPR guidelines. All records are kept securely and I will assign a reference code to your name which is kept separate from your personal details. In all note taking I will only use your reference code so as to keep your details anonymous.

As a counsellor I have monthly supervision which is to ensure that I have accountability for my work with you and that it is in keeping with the ethical guidelines and standards which I am bound to as a qualified, professional, counsellor. As part of supervision, I may share a general overview of what you bring however only your initials will be used, and the focus of my supervisor is offering insight into how our work together is best supporting you.

There are some limitations with regards to confidentiality. There is a legal obligation for me to disclose any admissions in relation to terrorist offences and drug trafficking. I will also use my professional judgment to inform appropriate parties when I feel as though your safety, the safety of children or vulnerable adults, may be at serious risk. However, where appropriate, I will speak about this with you first and explore options of how best to address the situation.

Why Sliding Scale Fees?

With waiting lists in the NHS and other free services being anywhere between 6 months to a year long (and sometimes longer), I wanted to be able to offer lower fee sessions in the hope it would allow individuals whose only other option is to wait access to support sooner. This might also allow those services to be freed up for those who genuinely cannot afford even the lower fees so that waiting times could begin to be reduced.

For me the sliding scale aligns with the principle of equity. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to access counselling provided by someone who is at a high level of qualification, experience and professionalism without finance being a barrier.

My hope is that having individuals paying at different pay scale points I can continue to offer that lower fee without compromising my commitment to being under ethical bodies, having comprehensive insurance, continue my professional development and knowledge through ongoing training every year as well as personal supervision. All of these aspects mean that I can continue to offer my clients the highest possible standard of support that I can offer.


Verdant Haven Counselling