What To Expect from Counselling
Making the decision to attend counselling is a positive step and can offer support beyond that available from family or friends. It offers a safe and confidential space where you can express your feelings and gain deeper insight into your difficulties. That confidential space means that you can talk about things you might not feel comfortable discussing with anyone else.
The aims of counselling include:
- Helping you find better ways to understand yourself.
- Exploring ways to bring about changes in yourself.
- Helping you manage the way you think or behave.
- Supporting you to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.
However, many people can feel anxious about counselling, not knowing what to expect. Here are some of the most common FAQs:
Everyone is invited to attend an assessment appointment, this allows us to gather some information and determine if counselling is a suitable intervention for you at this point.
Your session will last 50 mins, with the last 10 mins at the end to round up the session.
The first session allows you to be introduced to your therapist, explore your goals, and share expectations.
Some organisations have a set limit of sessions - for example, for CBT many therapists offer 6 or 8 sessions. This is often the case for therapy accessed via an employer programme. Within Liber8, we suggest having a review session after 6 weeks; this gives an indication of where you are in therapy, and it allows you and the therapist to discuss continuing or preparing to end the sessions. Each individual is different, and this is best discussed with your therapist at the time.
Sessions may take place via different mediums:
- Face-to-face sessions will be held in our counselling rooms. At present, due to increased safety measures, we have staggered appointments to ensure social distancing.
- Online sessions using an internet video platform.
- Telephone sessions.
Childhood is when you learned what, and how, to feel; this is why therapists often ask about it. For example: How did you learn to manage your emotions? Were there emotions that weren't OK to feel, like anger or sadness? We are all constantly evolving and growing, and therapy is designed to help you do just that. Talking about your childhood is not an end in itself; it’s an exploration. It’s not a constant licking of your wounds, but rather the doorway to understanding.
On the other hand, some people, when they start therapy, they know that the past has affected them in profound ways. They know they experienced trauma of some sort: physical, sexual or emotional abuse; neglect; death or illness of a close family member; living through a challenging divorce; or illness of their own when they were young. And now want to address this to allow them to move forward and free themselves from recurring thoughts.
It's common to feel a range of emotions after a therapy session, depending on the content of discussion. For example, you might come out of your session feeling:
- Relaxed. You may feel you have started the process of feeling better.
- Relieved. You may have shared something important with your therapist and during this, you felt heard and understood.
- Energised. You may have started to understand something new about yourself or set yourself a new goal to work on.
- Exhausted. You may have found the session challenging or hard work.
- Frustrated. You might not have achieved what you wanted out of your session or didn't feel heard or understood.
- Upset or overwhelmed. The session may have brought up very painful or difficult memories or feelings.
In most cases, yes. Confidentiality is an important part of building trust with your therapist. However, there are some exceptions to this, which are:
- Safety. If your therapist is concerned that you are at serious risk of harming yourself or someone else, they may need to inform your GP, a healthcare professional or someone else. They will always try to speak with you first if they're going to do this.
- Supervision. Therapists always discuss clients regularly with their clinical supervisor who also must maintain confidentiality. It would be unethical for a therapist to work without supervision because it is good practice – this means someone else is ensuring that your therapist is treating you with the most appropriate methods. Supervision also helps your therapist look after their own mental health so they're better able to support you
- Organisational confidentiality. This applies to the whole organisation on a need-to-know basis. For example, administrative staff will process your case file - should your therapist become unavailable and you are offered a different therapist, they would be able to see your file.
Liber8 has a Data Security Framework aligned to GDPR and Data Protection, making sure your data is used correctly and appropriately.
Liber8 ensures when employing therapists that they provide evidence of their qualifications, experience, and membership of their governing body. We have a minimum standard of Diploma in Counselling accredited by one of the governing bodies of COSCA/BACP/BABCP. All staff and volunteers must attend Clinical Supervision and Peer Support Groups to ensure good practice. We also require all staff and volunteers to be members of the PVG scheme.
In addition, Liber8 has operated a student placement scheme for 16 years. Our relationship with universities and colleges has provided an enviable practice area for their leading students. Over the years we have permitted opportunities for students to gain their practical experience and required hours to enter the therapeutic discipline, assisting their progression along the accreditation route. All students pass a ‘fitness to practice’ element within their training and only students from fully accredited training providers are engaged in Liber8’s scheme. This means they are governed by the same bodies, utilise the same practice, and uphold the same Code of Conduct and Ethics as qualified or accredited therapists.
Attending Clinical Supervision is a requirement for all therapists; it basically means that the counsellor uses the services of another more experienced, qualified counsellor, known as a Clinical Supervisor. The Clinical Supervisor reviews their work with clients, their general practice, and professional development. Clinical Supervision is provided to ensure standards and to enhance quality in therapy.
Supervision is a professional service - it is not a managerial role. For counsellors who work in Liber8, and in most other places, their Clinical Supervisor is an external person - often self-employed. The supervisor acts not as a ‘boss’ or a ‘manager’, but as a consultant. The Clinical Supervisor works in the best interests of the supervisee (therapist), the client, and the organisation.
Counselling governing bodies COSCA/BACP/BABCP consider supervision to be essential in order to protect the clients and to improve the skills of counsellors, better equipping them to help their clients. No therapist should be practicing without having a Clinical Supervisor.
Liber8 has gained COSCA’s Certificate of Recognition (Scotland’s professional body for counselling and psychotherapy) for the last 15 years. This is a nationally recognised scheme for Counselling in Scotland and forms part of COSCA’s quality assurance framework which aims to identify and raise awareness of good quality service provision and safe practice.
To meet the criteria of the scheme, Liber8 must demonstrate ethical practice in a range of areas, including governance, performance management, and risk. The scheme is monitored through external assessment and validated by COSCA. Liber8 is also a COSCA accredited training centre.
Liber8 ensures organisational memberships of the governing bodies of COSCA / BACP / BABP. All our students and counsellors also hold individual memberships too and must uphold and align their practice to the governing bodies’ Code of Ethics. Liber8 also implements its own governance through a range of policies, procedures, and protocols. We are also registered by OSCR the Charity Regulator in Scotland and the PVG scheme.
No, Liber8 is an independent charitable organisation. We access funds from a range of grant-awarding bodies which allow us to provide free therapy. We have previously held contracts from NHS to provide counselling services but not at this time.
We also utilise final year students who require their practice hours or who are working towards accreditation; this allows us to provide free therapy to everyone who needs it.
Anyone can donate toward their sessions - we have small envelopes in our counselling rooms where you can donate if you are able to. These can be passed to your counsellor at any session.
You can also donate online.
There are several signs that highlight your therapy is coming to a natural end:
- You don't have much to talk about anymore.
- You turn up to sessions with stories of success about therapeutic techniques that you have applied to your life.
- You have no new difficulties.
- You feel like you need to make things up to discuss.
- You are no longer concerned about the mental health problems that brought you to therapy in the first place. You may feel like what you initially came in about has changed and you are feeling better having developed effective coping skills.
After time, a question that clients can ask themselves is - do I just like going to talk and get things off my chest? Or is my therapist still helping me actively work through my problems? Sometimes after the actual therapy goals have been met, it is common for clients to enjoy going to therapy simply to talk; this is a sign that the therapy has worked and it’s time to end.
Your therapist will also discuss endings and together you will decide when the time is right.
You could feel a full range of emotions in the days and weeks after you’ve finished with therapy. You might feel grief and sadness, or you could feel freedom and liberation. It is different for everyone. Hopefully, you got something special out of the therapeutic relationship and left the sessions with techniques and coping strategies in place to help you continue. Having a toolbox of coping strategies, new ways of thinking, and a greater understanding of self and others, will hopefully allow you to act early should the thoughts and feelings which brought you to therapy return.
If you have a question about counselling that is not covered in any of the above, please get in touch.