The Initial Assessment
The relationship between client and therapist is a real relationship. We know from research that the successful outcome of therapy depends on the quality of this relationship. Our first meeting will be an initial consultation to discuss in more detail the issue that has brought you to counselling. This will help you decide if I am someone you feel you could trust and be comfortable talking to before you commit to regular counselling. There is no charge for this initial consultation and it will not place you under any obligation to continue with therapy.
How many sessions?
Once we are both confident that I am the right person to help you, we can schedule further sessions. I am often asked how many appointments will be needed. The answer is that some clients may need only a couple of sessions to enable them to feel that their relationship is back on track. By contrast, some couples use the counselling sessions over many months to change deep-rooted defensive patterns that have developed over decades. The important thing is that I do not want you to come to therapy for a moment longer than necessary. I work collaboratively with my client so I will be checking our progress with you frequently and assessing whether we have reached your goals.
Very early on in the process I will suggest you each come for one individual session. In my experience, these individual appointments accelerate the counselling work and clients welcome the opportunity to concentrate on their individual perspective. In some circumstances – particularly when the issue concerns an affair – I have found that a greater number of individual sessions can be beneficial.
My work is underpinned by the study of two influential theoretical approaches:
Systemic theory emphasises the idea that everything we experience happens within a particular context. It takes account of the role played by factors relating to culture, gender and language. My knowledge of systemic concepts enables me to help clients understand how one partner’s behaviour influences that of the other, creating damaging defensive patterns.
Transactional Analysis (T.A.) is a theoretical model which explains our individual personalities and how we interact with others. My knowledge of T.A. means I can share with clients concepts which will help them make sense of the ways they instinctively think, feel and behave. It offers couples ways of mapping their interactions with each other, revealing the changes they can make to diminish conflict and separation, and foster intimacy.