Counselling Coventry

0 COMMENTS One Man's Search for Meaning...
Posted by alskiffingtonsmith

One Man’s Search For Meaning…

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. I watched a documentary back in March 2015. I like watching documentaries, and I’ve seen a lot of them over the years. It was titled ‘The Lost Gold of The Highlands’, 2014-2015, Storyville - BBC4. I found it to be a remarkable representation on one man’s search for meaning.

It was about a man called Garnet Frost who - due to a series of events that happened to him over twenty years previously - believes there’s a lost fortune in gold that belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie hidden in a Scottish loch. In the documentary Garnet reads his ‘Nearly’ poem out loud. I was so struck by the power of his words that I wanted to include it here so others might enjoy his poem as much as I did:



Of all the things I've nearly done,

I nearly met the Aga Khan,

I nearly buzzed the southern piers with Avis in his death machine,

I nearly traversed 'cross the desert on a camel with the Bedouin.

I nearly painted golden towers,

I nearly practiced the guitar for hours.

I nearly saw the purpose of a suffering soul,

I nearly stormed the pitch and scored a goal.

I nearly entered my account on time.

I nearly was an honest man.

But of the things I've nearly done,

When all that's nearly done is through,

What's done, what isn't, when the bell has rung

And there is nothing left to nearly do,

If I can't grasp a late degree

I'll ever say it was for lack of loving thee.

So let my heart be open and my way be true,

And let me put aside the things I've nearly done,

And bring me daily closer to the things that I do do.

A poem by Garnet Frost.


You can view a clip from the documentary online:

Sadly the whole documentary isn’t currently available.

0 COMMENTS Counselling Coventry - Getting Your Money’s Worth
Posted by alskiffingtonsmith

Attending A Counselling Or Psychotherapy Mutual Assessment Session

After making contact with a therapist of your choice who has availability, you‘ll be invited to what’s usually termed a ‘mutual assessment session’ or ‘initial appointment’. This is where you and your potential counsellor or psychotherapist meet face-to-face. Before you go it’s important to think about what you want to say. Sometimes this task can be made easier with some questions. Try asking yourself the following: 

  • ‘What is it that’s troubling me?’
  • ‘What do I think about it?’
  •  ‘What are the major points that stand out to me?’

In addition to this see if you can think of anything else about your situation that you feel would be important to mention, such as important life events or anything that you think might be less obvious. Spend a little time on this. You might find it beneficial to note your responses down. You may want to take your notes with you. If you do it’s more than okay to pause and refer to your notes whilst you’re in the session. All this will do is let your potential therapist know that you’ve taken time to think about what you need to say, which is a good thing. Your potential therapist may ask how you feel about the things that you talk about. Don’t be put off by this, it’s not meant to try and catch you out. What your potential therapist will be doing is putting together an initial understanding of your emotional responses.

The assessment session is also a time for you to get to know something about your potential therapist. If you feel a bit stuck on the day about what to ask, here are some general questions that you might consider:

  • ‘Are you qualified?’
  • ‘Are you a member of a professional body?’
  • ‘How long have you been practicing?’
  • ‘Do you have experience in working with the issue or issues that I’m bringing?’

Some people might think that asking a therapist questions might not be the done thing, even rude, but this is not the case. Asking questions isn’t wrong as long as you do so in a respectful manner. In fact I’d encourage you to ask at least a couple more. Here are some further questions that you might ask in a mutual assessment, if they haven’t already been covered:

  • ‘What is your policy on confidentiality?’
  • ‘What is your policy on cancelled sessions?’
  • ‘What is your policy on rescheduling if I need to cancel a session at short notice?’

In the counselling and psychotherapy world confidentiality is regarded as one of the cornerstones of best practice. Your potential therapist should conduct the assessment session and any further therapy you agree to take part in with a high degree of confidentiality. During the assessment session your potential therapist will probably want to gather some information about you and your present day situation that you may not have talked about. They may ask about your childhood, your family relationships and history, and your present day support systems. This additional information will help them understand you and the situation around you in more depth.

Your potential therapist will also assess you and what you are bringing to therapy in relation to their experience and ways of working. This will allow them to come to a decision on whether it is appropriate for them to offer to work with you or it is better for you to be referred to a more experienced and/or specialist practitioner or service. Don’t be alarmed by this. It’s not that you’ve done something wrong. If your potential therapist does decide that they think it would be better to refer you, then they’re doing this out of their professional responsibility to you and they have your best interest in mind.

During the assessment session it is important to check out with yourself how you are feeling. If you’re left with a more or less positive feeling when you consider the idea of working with a therapist, then this may evidence a good enough match. However, if you’re left feeling uncomfortable or you don’t feel safe, for whatever reason, don’t overlook or dismiss this. This may evidence that the match between yourself and your potential therapist is not right for you, and you may need to look elsewhere. When I’ve suggested this to people in the past, some have said that they couldn’t be sure one way or the other. If this is the case then allow yourself time to sit with the unsure feeling and see how it develops. It’s okay to say to your potential therapist that you’d like to take twenty-four hours to think things through before you make a decision. They’ll understand that you’re taking the decision seriously.

Should you and your potential therapist agree to work together, then you’ll need to understand how that is going to happen. This is usually referred to as a ‘Contract’ or ‘Agreement’. Although some therapists do work with a verbal contract, the majority of therapists work with a written contract. If your potential therapist does, they should provide you with a copy of this document. It will cover areas like: confidentiality, fees, cancelled sessions, contact information etc. It is important that you read this. If you want to take this document away with you and read it through more thoroughly then it’s okay to ask to do this. Remember; don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about anything that you feel unsure about. In line with best practice any questions you do ask should be taken seriously. 

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to agree some mutually convenient days and times to meet to commence your therapy sessions…

0 COMMENTS Counselling and Psychotherapy - Getting Your Money's Worth
Posted by alskiffingtonsmith

Contacting a Counsellor or Psychotherapist for Face-to-Face Therapy

There are more people choosing to seek private counselling and private psychotherapy than ever before. Changing perceptions about counselling and psychotherapy as well as cutbacks being made to NHS services are probably the two main drivers behind this shift.

Despite this change there is no doubt that thinking about contacting a counsellor or psychotherapist for the first time can be anxiety provoking. Not knowing what to expect and not being sure of what to say are probably in the top ten reasons why many people decide not to do it.

One of the first things you can do is to carry out an online search of your area. A couple of good search terms to initially use are ‘Counselling (your area name)’ and ‘Psychotherapy (your area name)’. This should bring up a few pages of links for you to look through. There are a number of professional organisations in the UK, each with their own entry requirements and code of ethics that provide searchable registers of therapists, e.g. UKCP, BACP, BPS and BABCP etc. There are also a growing number of independent organisations springing up that offer searchable databases of members’ contacts, e.g. Counselling Directory, and other more specific organisations like Pink Therapy etc. If you are looking for low-cost or no-cost therapy then there may well be a charitable organisation in your area that can offer this. An online search followed by a few phone calls can lead to a low-cost and/or free service, although you may be required to meet certain criteria to qualify. Don’t forget you can also ask your GP what is available through the NHS.

For reasons of space I will focus on how you might approach a therapist working in private practice, although some of the following suggestions may well be transferable to different situations.

A useful question to ask yourself at this stage might be ‘What am I looking for in a therapist?’ Do you have no preference or a number of preferences? Do you have a preference of the gender of your potential therapist? It may be useful for you to consider the following: your potential therapists gender, age, race, sexuality, class, religious beliefs... (insert anything that you feel is important to you here) etc.

When you have narrowed down your search and are thinking of contacting a potential therapist a good question to initially ask is ‘Do you have space for a new client?’ Think beforehand about what days and times you have free. You may have a lot of flexibility or you might only be free on a specific day and time; either way, try to be clear about your availability so that you and your potential therapist can decide if it is feasible for you both to meet. If you can’t, then recognise this and carry on looking. There will be more therapists out there available to work with you; you just need to find them.

Should you find a potential therapist whose availability fits then some further useful questions to ask might be ‘Do you charge for the assessment session?’ ‘How long is the assessment session?’ ‘What are your fees should we decide to work together?’ ‘Where is your practice located?’ If you have mobility issues or you use a wheelchair don’t forget to ask ‘Does your practice have disabled access?’ Should your potential therapist not have disabled access to their premises then don’t be afraid to ask if they can see you at a venue that does. On issues of equality in access to therapy and anti-discriminatory practice your potential therapist should be willing to look at providing this for you. Don’t forget to ask about how to get there, e.g. practice address, bus routes, parking availability etc, as well as any other questions that you may have.

Your potential therapist may ask you questions like ‘Have you had therapy before?’ and ‘Can you tell me a little bit about why you are seeking therapy?’ as well as any other questions that they may have. With this in mind it can be a good idea to think in advance about how you might answer these questions. Sometimes writing down a few sentences about why you are currently looking for therapy can help you feel more confident about making contact with a counsellor or psychotherapist on the day.