Frequently Asked Questions
Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and their therapist. Grounded in dialogue, it provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who’s objective, neutral and nonjudgmental.
In therapy, you will meet a therapist regularly, and they will help you understand your problems better, while also developing ways of coping with them.
Therapy sessions are usually held weekly, preferably at the same time & the same day each week, for example: 10 o’clock on Tuesdays. If you need to change times due to your varying work hours, I am happy to accommodate this if my timetable permits it.
On request, I am happy to consider meeting fortnightly instead of meeting weekly, if this is required due to time constraints or for financial reasons.
Therapy sessions are usually 50-55 minutes long.
In short, there is no definite difference between the two, as each practitioner uses these words differently. I tend the use the two expressions interchangably precisely because of this.
To define the commonalities: both of them are talking therapies, and they can be either short or long. Most counselling training courses take at least two years to complete, while psychotherapy courses tend to take even longer; but this is not always the case. In short: it is better to judge the quality of the therapy/counselling based on the length of the training and the amount of experience the counsellor/therapist has.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is able to treat mental health disorders with medication. Psychiatrists tend to provide assessments or medical consultations only. They may provide you with a mental health diagnosis (like a diagnosis of “Bipolar II Disorder”) and they may prescribe you medication that suits the diagnosis and your presenting symptoms.
Psychiatrists do not normally provide talking therapy, unless they hold a secondary qualification in the field of psychotherapy or counselling.
Psychotherapists, on the other hand, specialize in providing talking therapy (e.g. hour-long therapy sessions). We can provide safe and effective treatment in the form of talking therapy for most diagnosable mental health problems, and additionally, we can help you work through difficult emotions that may be brought up by major life events such as: the death of a loved one; the dissolution of a long-term relationship; career problems, etc..
Psychotherapy / counselling can be used as a cure on its own, or it can be combined with medication provided by a GP or a Psychiatrist. Psychotherapists are not doctors, and therefore they cannot prescribe medication; we rely on other health professionals for that.
In New Zealand, only Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists and Educational Psychologists are permitted to carry out psychological assessments that lead to a mental health diagnosis – such as Major depression, Generalised anxiety disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, ADHD, and so on.
If you require such an assessment, you can choose to go through the public health system, or you can choose to use private health services, by contact a Psychiatrist / Psychologist who works in private practice.
If you choose to go down the public health route, your Psychotherapist can provide you a support letter addressed to your GP, recommending you to be referred for an assessment by your local mental health services (to be assessed and diagnosed by a Psychiatrist or a Clinical Psychologist). Your Psychotherapist will support you, regardless of your preferences.
Counselling can help give you the tools to cope with any difficulty you may be struggling with. However, ultimately it is you who needs to do the ’work’. Therapy will help increase your resilience, but the therapist will not solve your problems instead of you. To give an example, if you are struggling because you are going through a messy divorce, your therapist can help you by helping you recognise your feelings, and by helping you become better at managing them. However, the therapist will not give you practical advice and they will not manage the problem for you.
Common problems that children and young people may experience that can be usefully worked on in counselling include: all forms of anxiety (excessive worrying, timidity, fearfulness, social anxiety, phobias – such as fear of spiders, fear of the darkness etc..), eating disorders (eating too much or too little, being a ’picky’ eater), sleep problems (insomnia), nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting), low mood (sadness, frequent crying), moodiness, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, lack of motivation, problems in concentration, behavioural difficulties, problems with peer relationships, bullying, etc..
Child/adolescent psychotherapy and counselling requires different skills than psychotherapy/counselling with an adult. Therefore, there is separate training available for counsellors and psychotherapists who wish to work in this sector. To cite one of the main differences, adult therapy relies on talking (as it is often called ’talking therapy’), whereas therapy with children and young people often involves creative modalities, such as art, drama or play.
Family therapy is an approach where a therapist works with the whole family, viewing them as a functional unit. The focus is on changing patterns in the families behaviour, or communication style; all family members are encouraged to reflect and change. The therapist may see all family members in each session, or sometimes only one or two family members (usually, the parents).
By contrast, in child psychotherapy, the main focus of the therapy is the child. The therapist sees the child in one-on-one sessions, and helps the child by aiding them in expressing and communicating their feelings, thoughts, wishes and concerns. The therapist may also see the parents or care-givers periodically, to provide feedback about the work, to receive information about the child, and to answer any questions the parents may have – these are called ’Parent Review Meetings’.
Integrative therapy means that I work by integrating multiple psychological frameworks. In my case, I work based on the humanistic and psychodynamic approaches.
The length of short-term therapy can vary, but generally it is a therapy that is 12 weeks (12 sessions) long or shorter. 6 sessions are usually required to make lasting gains in therapy. According to recent studies, on average it takes 9 weeks for the average person to pick up a new habit; in therapy we are looking to help you make changes in your life, so it makes sense that it would take a while for these to become solidified.
Usually in short-term work I draw on CBT techniques and practices such as relaxation and mindfulness. Short-term therapy focuses on finding practical solutions for your problems; it may include learning stress management tools or a focused exploration of the topic that bothers you.
Short-term therapy may be a great option if there is one particular aspect in your life you would like to focus on, that you may wish to improve. Some examples are: you would like to resolve your insomnia, or you would like to learn how to manage panic attacks, or perhaps you just lost your job, or your romantic relationship has ended and you are not sure how to continue.
I will help you mobilise your own resources and also to create new resources so you will have the tools and the energy to deal with your problem.
At its most basic, open-ended therapy is simply a therapy that has no set, pre-agreed ending date. It means we meet once a week for a therapy session, and we continue to do so for as long as we feel that you are getting something out of this process, and we are working well together.
I prefer the term ‘open-ended’ (meaning that we do not agree on a fixed end date) rather than long-term therapy; because while indeed, some therapies could go on for six months, a year, or even longer, there will be plenty of instances where therapy will come to a natural ending point maybe after just a few weeks or a few months of weekly sessions.
Open-ended also means that you, as the client, are always in charge; you can decide to end your therapy whenever you wish to do so. I ask that you provide two weeks’ notice where this is possible, so that we have time to address the ending of our working relationship and we can reflect on our progress.
Open-ended therapy may be best if you do not have one clear, well-defined issue that you are bringing. Maybe you are just thinking of coming to therapy because things are ‘OK’ but not great. Or maybe many things are going wrong at the moment. Maybe you have some issues in human relationships; you always seem to attract the worst kind of people, whether it is a romantic partner, a friend or a boss, and you would like to figure out why. Or perhaps, you often feel tired for no reason and ‘under-the-weather’, and you wonder if there is a way to enjoy your life more.
The main feature that distinguishes short-term therapy from other forms of therapy is that it is time-limited; therefore, in each session, there needs to be a bit more structure than there would be in the case of open-ended therapy. If you do not like direction, or the feeling of time-pressure, this type of therapy may be less suited to you. However, if you enjoy a challenge, and you are ready to make changes in your life, short-term therapy may be exactly what you are looking for.
There is a myth that you need a reason to go to therapy, or that there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time to be in therapy. I believe that therapy has the capacity to increase anyone’s well-being and life satisfaction; whether you are going through a very difficult time in your life, or you are doing quite well, any time is the perfect time to start therapy – if you wish to do so. You do not need a specific reason, although usually you will have some idea why you are interested in it.
Usually the minimum length is 5-6 sessions.
It is your choice to end your counselling whenever you wish to do so; you may inform me in person or via phone or email.
Yes, it is safe, just make sure you inform me about the kind of medication you are taking and the dosage.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. CBT has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, sleep problems, panic disorders, phobias, and PTSD to name a few. Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.Source: National Health Service
When a child or young person is receiving counselling, it is usually beneficial for the parents to meet the child’s therapist occasionally, to discuss the child’s progress and to exchange information with the therapist. The therapist can also answer any questions the parents’ may have, and may offer expert advice around any topic the parents’ may be interested in. These meetings are always tailored to reflect the parents’ needs, as well as those of the child.