What does therapy involve?
Therapy offers a safe, confidential place to talk about any issues that may be confusing, painful or difficult.
At the first meeting, I will listen carefully to what brings you to therapy and then explore in more depth how this impacts on your life. This includes emotions, thought patterns, bodily experience and relationships. Sometimes it may take two or more sessions to build a picture of your life difficulties and strengths including the influence of your upbringing, relationship history, past traumas or losses as well as the wider impact of family, school, work based or societal pressures. Depending on the issues you are bringing to therapy, I would usually then work with you to understand as clearly as possible what is happening in your life and support you to choose what is most important to work on in our subsequent therapy sessions, if that is what you want.
I usually review how you are experiencing therapy after 6 sessions or so. This allows you the opportunity to reflect on whether you are finding therapy helpful, whether we are focusing on the right areas of your life and to agree any changes that might improve your ongoing experience of therapy. Sometimes I offer a short-term period of therapy if that is suitable (eg. 6-14 sessions) and other times I offer longer term therapy (one year or more), particularly for more complex difficulties and life challenges.
I view you as an equal partner in this process of exploration, growth and change. At any point, I will encourage you to give me feedback on how you are finding our therapy sessions. At times, especially in the first weeks of therapy, it is normal to experience some increase in emotional distress as part of the therapeutic process. Navigating through these times is often an essential part of successful therapy. This process has sometimes been compared to gently unbandaging a wound that has been covered over for a long time. Through opening and gently allowing space for it to breathe, a healing process becomes possible. I will support you within a safe, confiding space during these times if they occur.
Ultimately, therapy works best if both therapist and client have a strong working alliance so that each can bring their full experience and resources to bear on the problems and areas of life that are most important. Therapy can be an enriching experience for anyone, irrespective of background, and can lead to lasting positive change in terms of our self-esteem, relationships, habitual patterns and recovery from trauma or grief.
For further information about what clinical psychologists do click here.