by James McComas
Do I need counselling? I don’t feel I have mental health issues. Other people have much worse problems than me.
Some clients come with pressing issues which are significantly affecting their lives and I am happy to work with a wide range of such difficulties. However, to benefit from counselling you do not need to have mental health problems, or an “obvious” issue like an addiction or trauma. I strongly believe all of us can benefit from being really listened to and having an impartial person to talk things through with, even if we would consider ourselves to be generally well adjusted individuals with few significant problems. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to family and friends and you just need that one person who takes the time to listen.
Just as people may visit a doctor when they aren’t sick — they might want a checkup, or to talk through a concern — therapy is not only for people with mental illness. I listen without judgement and regard all clients as individuals who are equally deserving of my time, regardless of their particular circumstances.
What can I expect to happen in my first session?
The beginning of the first session always involves an explanation of the format of sessions, confidentiality and how I work as a therapist. We will also discuss if you have any previous experience of counselling and your reasons for seeking therapy on this occasion. The rest of the session is typically taken up with further exploration of your current situation and what you wish to achieve from counselling. As a counsellor I will be primarily listening, but also reflecting, summarising, asking questions and making observations to assist the client in further exploration of their issues.
How many sessions will I need? How often will they take place?
This very much depends on your reasons for coming to counselling and how you wish to proceed. There is no definite limit on a number of sessions but we would regularly review the work we are doing and mutually agree when an ending might be appropriate. I would generally suggest a course of 6 appointments as a starting point.
Is it confidential?
Yes, what is discussed between us stays between us. I will not discuss details of sessions with partners, family members, employers or anyone else. Where sessions are conducted online or by phone I will always make sure I am alone in a room where I will not be overheard. Sessions are never recorded. There are a few specific exceptional circumstances where confidentiality could be breached to safeguard the client or others which will be discussed in the first session.
How much do you charge and how do I pay?
Sessions are priced at £50. Payments can be made by BACS, or in cash in person by request.
What is your cancellation policy?
I ask that any cancellations are made with at least 48 hours notice or the full fee will apply.
Are appointments available evenings and weekends?
I understand that many clients will be working during the day and I am available on some evenings during the week for appointments, as well as during the day.
Where are you located?
Face to face sessions take place in secure and comfortable counselling rooms in the centre of Inverness. I am happy to give further information and directions on request.
Why choose you?
I am a fully qualified counsellor who provides a safe place where clients can talk and just be – there is no pressure or expectation. My aim is always to treat clients fairly and without judgement; to listen with compassion and to respond honestly and empathically to what I hear. I know that many people experience an immediate sense of relief on talking about their issues and concerns with the realisation they are not alone. As the work develops there will be the opportunity to work through and resolve complicated feelings, and to recognise unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour. When the client is ready we can work together on identifying goals and developing a plan for a healthy fulfilled life.
I enjoy working with both male and female clients, but I understand that some people will be drawn to me as a male therapist because they feel more comfortable relating to a man. Some male clients feel that their situation will be undertood more easily, or that they will be judged less by a male counsellor.
Men are less likely than women to visit counsellors because there is more stigma preventing them from doing so. If a woman cries or is struggling, no one is going to say “woman up!” On the other hand, men are much more likely to feel pressure from society to ‘keep a lid’ on their problems. They may be brought up to believe, for example, that “big boys don’t cry.” Working with a male counsellor may make it easier for men to overcome some of this stigma.
Some women clients may also prefer to work with a male counsellor. This can be particularly powerful if a trusting alliance is formed in therapy where there have been problematic relationships with men in the client’s past. The partnership between counsellor and client can therefore help with working through and healing previous negative experiences.
What kind of therapy do you offer?
I am trained as a person-centred counsellor. In the person-centred approach we believe that the attitudes of genuineness, empathy and unconditional positive regard shown towards a client in therapy can bring about positive change.
My intention is to treat any client as an individual with unique needs and goals. In other forms of therapy, the counsellor or clinician may seen as the expert who diagnoses the patient and tells them what to do. Person centred therapy puts the client much more in the ‘driving seat’ with the client regarded as the one who ultimately has the answers. It is the counsellor’s job to help the client find these answers.
Person-centred counselling has been very well described by Tony Merry as “a sensitive exploration of a person’s inner world, a reliving in a safe and caring relationship of those things that hurt and damaged us” which can allow “the experiencing of the joys and sorrows of life more creatively and more authentically.”