What Therapy is About
“You can’t remake the world, without remaking yourself. Each new era begins within. It is an inward event, with unsuspected possibilities, for inner liberation.”
From Mental Fight by Ben Okri
Looking at your mental heath does not mean that your whole life is broken. You might be really OK in many areas of your life but there’s that grey area that you have been avoiding or putting up with that still interferes with living life the way you want.
There is effective therapeutic work being done with all types of Black, African and Asian people (including professional men and women), people struggling with work issues, people who feel life is going nowhere, professional couples working on their relationships, people who feel that they are ready for a change in their lives and also those with serious mental health struggles.
Making a decision to see a therapist is a big step for many people. Acknowledging that you are suffering and vulnerable, and arriving at the point where you are ready to do something about it, is a journey in itself. Whilst it isn’t a counsellor’s job to provide specific answers, a counsellor will help you keep your focus on the important aspects of your situation.
On the one hand, it might feel uncomfortable talking to a complete stranger about things that are distressing or even embarrassing. On the other, it can be much easier to speak to someone you do not know; someone that will not judge you and who has no expectations of you.
Not every therapist is going to be qualified to provide the support for your particular issue nor is there going to be a “meeting of minds” with every therapist who might have the qualifications. Therapy is a very personal experience and you must have faith in your therapist’s abilities. If you’re worried about the intensity of your feelings or thoughts, then don’t be. Whatever you say, your therapist most likely won’t be shocked.
What Therapy can help with
Here are some of the issues that psychotherapists and counsellors can help you address.
|Depression||Mental Health Foundation / Mind / Sane|
|Domestic Violence||Southall Souls sisters|
|Eating Disorders||Mental health foundation|
|Grief & Loss||Mind|
|Hearing Voices||Mental Health Foundation|
|Sex and Sexuality||Mind|
|Stress||Mental Health Foundation|
Frequently Asked Questions about Therapy
I've got lots of friends whom I can speak to, why will a therapist be different?
Talking to friends and loved ones can be very supportive, and it’s great if your problems are sorted out in this way, but sometimes it is difficult for the people we know well to be objective and honest because of their feelings for us and for their roles in our lives. You may be reluctant to share certain aspects of your life with them or you may be concerned about overwhelming them with your problems. Furthermore, our family and friends cannot recognise the type or seriousness of a psychological problem nor the best way to help us cope with it. Talking to a trained professional can provide the outside perspective you need to understand where you are stuck and how to take steps to get better.
I thought only "crazy" people went to counselling and therapy.
Many people come to therapy, including those who do not have a mental illness. Everyone has problems at one time or another and sometimes it can come to a point when you are not able to find a solution to your problem on your own. Not being able to find a solution to one’s problems does not mean you are “crazy”. It means you are human.
What should I expect when I go to see a therapist?
You can expect your therapist to listen to your experiences and ask you pertinent questions about your life. Your therapist will probably ask you some questions about your background, including your family and your relationships with others. The therapist will also ask what you hope to get out of therapy or what your goals are. Most people come to therapy once per week for 50/60 minutes.
Therapists are individuals, so their style will vary from person to person. However there are some things that you can expect from every therapist. Firstly, there will be an assessment session where you can get a feel for the therapist and the therapist can get a feel for you to see if there is mutuality in working together. There is then a further assessment phase. When the assessment phase is complete, your therapist should have a good understanding of your problems and what may be causing them. He or she will help you develop an understanding of how you can resolve these problems, and will come up with a treatment plan for how the two of you might work together. The length of the treatment plan will depend on the complexity of your concerns.
What are my rights as a client?
You have every right to expect your therapist to display respect for you and to convey this respect by keeping appointments as scheduled, by contacting you if scheduling changes are necessary and by giving their complete attention to you during therapy sessions.
At any point during therapy, you are encouraged to ask questions regarding your therapist’s qualifications, training, experience, specialisation areas, limitations and personal values. You should receive thoughtful and respectful answers.
Since your needs are primary to your treatment, you are encouraged to negotiate therapeutic goals and renegotiate them whenever you wish. You are further encouraged to ask questions regarding the therapy process, specific treatment methods, therapy fees, methods of payment and estimated length of treatment.
You may refuse any intervention or treatment strategy suggested by your therapist and you may refuse to answer any questions.
Within the limits of published ethical standards and the law, information you reveal to your therapist will be maintained as confidential and will not be communicated to another person or agency without your written permission. The rare legal limits to confidentiality will be clearly described at your assessment session.
How do I make the initial contact with a therapist?
When you phone or e-mail a therapist, you can say a little about what area your difficulties lie in and ask whether the therapist can work with you. You can then set up an initial assessment where you can get a feel for the therapist and the therapist can get a feel for you to see if there is mutuality in working together.
How much will it cost?
The cost of therapy sessions start at around £30 per session. Some therapists offer a free assessment session. There are organisations around the UK that offer free services, but these are often subject to a waiting list in most cases.
What do therapist’s qualifications mean?
Certificate – normally one year of training
Diploma / MA / BSc – normally a four year training course with around 250 to 450 supervised client hours
UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy), BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) BPC (British Psychoanalytical Council), BMA (British Medical Association) registered – Post-qualification registration with monitored continual professional development, a set minimum amount of supervised client work a year, an ethical framework within which to work and disciplinary procedures. You would normally need to be registered to work in Government agencies.
Senior Trainee – has or is nearing completion of a four year training course and is working towards full qualification
Choosing a Therapist
You may find it helpful to ask some of the following questions of your prospective therapist. The therapist may not always answer the question, but you will get a sense of how they respond to you, even if you don’t get a direct answer.
- Professional Orientation
- Business practices
- Comfort and Chemistry (questions to ask yourself after the initial meeting)
- What was your training?
- What qualifications have you been awarded?
- How long have you been practicing counselling or psychotherapy?
- Where else have you worked besides your present position?
- What jobs or careers have you had besides being a therapist?
- What non-professional experiences have you had to qualify you for the work you are now doing?
- Are you a member of any professional organisations? Which ones?
- Are you Accredited or Registered by any professional therapy associations?
- Have any complaints been filed against you with any professional ethics organisation?
- How do you describe your professional orientation to therapy?
- Which of the major schools of psychotherapy are the most attractive to you?
- Have you treated other people with problems similar to mine?
- How do you determine how often we should meet?
- Can you prescribe psychoactive medications if I need them? If not, do you work with a physician or a psychiatrist who can evaluate me and prescribed medication?
- Are you willing to consult with other mental health or medical professionals with whom I have worked?
- Do you consult with other professionals regarding individuals on your caseload?
- How do you safeguard my right to confidentiality in those situations?
- Are you willing or able to see my family members or life partner if that should seem necessary? If so, can or should I be present?
- Will you ever meet with them without my being present?
- Have you ever been sued for malpractice?
- What was the outcome of that lawsuit?
- What is your fee?
- Is there a sliding scale? If there is a sliding scale, how does it work?
- Are you able to accept medical insurance?
- How do you handle the paperwork?
- Do you or I have to fill out the paperwork?
- What is your telephone availability?
- Do you encourage or discourage telephone contact between meetings?
- What is your personal experience as a client in psychotherapy?
- How do you feel it benefited you?
- Did you feel understood?
- Did the therapist understand your reason for being there?
- Did you feel liked by the therapist?
- Did you like the therapist?
- Did you like his or her values?
- Did you agree with them?
- Did you have an initial feeling of trust in the therapist?
- Did the therapist appear to be sensitive to your feelings?
- Did you feel respected by the therapist?
- Did you feel he or she was treating you as an equal?
- Did you feel comfortable talking to the therapist?
- Were you able to say what you wanted to say?
- Were you able to be yourself?
- Did you feel a need to hide anything?
- Were you honest?
- Did the therapist convey a feeling of personal warmth?
- Did the therapist seem to have a sense of humour?
- Was he or she overly serious?
- Did you get a feeling this person was wise? Knowledgeable?
- Was he or she able to go past theories and understand the nature of the issue?
- Did he or she convey an interest in you and your reasons for being in his or her office?
- Did the therapist make eye contact with you? Was that comfortable for you?
- Did you get any feedback from the therapist? Was it helpful? Insightful?
- Did you come away with any greater understanding of yourself than you had before the first meeting?
- Did you disagree with the therapist at any point? How did that go? Was the therapist defensive or shut down?
- Could he or she disagree with you in a comfortable manner?
- Do you look forward to talking with the therapist again?