Frequently asked questions…
Counselling and psychotherapy provide very effective help and support for people in distress! This is a fact and research has proven the benefits many times. Although help and recovery is now only a phone call away, it still may feel difficult to pick up the phone and make that call. There are so many reasons and although those reasons are very understandable, they rarely reflect the truth. I will try to help you make this call and will engage with the most common fears and doubts about counselling in the following paragraphs:
Most human beings go through a period of personal crisis at some time of their life. We are all wired to respond differently to our issues and have different ways of coping. Many of us struggle without support, but is that a good idea? Think of it this way: Very few of us question the logic of visiting the hospital or a GP when we’re physically unwell. So why do we tell ourselves, it’s acceptable to neglect our mental health, or tell ourselves we need to overcome e.g. anxiety and depression on our own? To my mind, taking care of our general well-being and mental health is a necessary condition of survival. Reaching out and seeking help with counselling makes sense. It is a sign of courage to acknowledge your problems. There is strength in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Reaching out for support when you need it, can come as a real relief to yourself and others who are close to you. It does not mean that you accept all the blame, or that there is something wrong with you.
Every human being is an individual and reacts differently to certain life events. What can be distressing to one person might not cause any distress to another person. The reason for that is that we all made different experiences in our lifes. It might help to think about the following example: A person might be very frightened by a dog, even if the dog is very small. This person avoids any encounter and might have feelings of anger and fear towards the dog because this person was bitten by a dog like this in the past. Another person who didn’t make this negative experience might approach the same dog, touch it and have nothing but friendly feelings towards it. Although this example is simplifying the matter, it still demonstrates that emotional distress and pain are subjective. What is important, is the level of pain / distress felt by the individual and not the issue what is causing it.
Counselling will not rob you of independence; in fact it will rather do the opposite. Professional and qualified counselling will help you gain greater clarity about your thoughts and feelings, as well as the choices available to you for personal growth and recovery. Ultimately, you are the person who makes the necessary changes and puts what you have learned into practice.
This is a common fear and it seems to mainly stem from the fact that we often don’t understand why we feel, think or act a certain way. We tend to conclude that something must be wrong with us and we often feel shameful about our thoughts and emotions. The truth is, that through counselling we learn to understand why we feel, think and act a certain way. There are good reasons for our behaviours and once we understand them they became less frightening and threatening to us. You will not be seen by the counsellor as someone who is dysfunctional or unable to cope, but as someone who is aware of their issues and wants to change their life for the better.
Counselling is about getting to know yourself better and about understanding the reasons why you feel, think and act a certain way. Within this process it is possible that you discover things about yourself and others which might feel distressing to you. A professional and qualified counsellor is trained to support you and also to help you find the right pace in this process. It is important to note that emotional distress is temporary and will usually be outweighed soon by the positive effects of this process.
These are very important questions since you need to feel safe and understood in order to engage in the counselling process. People tend to believe that a counsellor with a certain age, sex, nationality, educational background or certain life circumstances etc. might be better suited than a counsellor with different attributes. There are various reasons why people think that way and in some cases it might be helpful in deed to pick a counsellor who falls into a certain bracket. However, what is more important is the therapeutic relationship between you and the counsellor and the ability of the counsellor to “walk in your shoes”. A qualified counsellor is extensively trained in that matter and has done a lot of work on him / herself. Attributes like sex, age and others are secondary and will usually become less important and less influential during the course of counselling. Sometimes it might be necessary to see more than one counsellor before you can engage in the process. If you do not feel comfortable with a counsellor for any reason, you should address this issue with him / her. A qualified counsellor will have no hard feelings and will discuss your concerns openly with you.
In the first session I usually explore the issue(s) together with the client. There is no pressure and the client can thereby share as much as he / she is comfortable with. I might ask questions to gain a better understanding of the situation and to understand the clients’ needs from counselling and psychotherapy. The last part of the session will usually involve some practical matters such as confidentiality, cancellation policy, fees and appointment times etc. There will be also time to discuss remaining questions.
Usually there will be a decision made about a number of initial sessions. I normally recommend at least 6 sessions after which I will review the progress together with the client.
The duration of counselling is different from person to person. Everyone is an individual and each person’s experience is unique, so the duration of counselling cannot be predicted. It can vary from a few weeks up to a few months or longer. Most of my clients will feel some improvement already after a few sessions. It is always up to the client to decide whether or not he/she wishes to continue with the counselling process. There will always be time to discuss this with me. Periodic reviews are offered to mark progress and to look at the future focus of therapy. Ending therapy is discussed and planned in advance.
The standard fee for a 50min session is €70. I also offer a limited number of reduced rate spaces (€50) for people who are on a low income, students and people who are unemployed. These reduced cost spaces are subject to availability and are currently limited to Swords and Ranelagh. If you want to avail of a reduced cost space please mention it in your inquiry. The fee for online counselling is €70 for a 50min session.
Try to see counselling as a partnership with a warm and empathic professional who can offer you support, without judging you, as you gain greater self-awareness. Someone who can identify the triggers behind certain emotions, help you express your feelings and thoughts with more clarity, or explore patterns of ingrained behaviour that remain outside of your conscious awareness.