Frequently Asked Questions about Counselling
What is meant by client confidentiality?When you speak to your counsellor, what you tell them is held as confidential; in other words the counsellor is not permitted to disclose any details about what is discussed in the counselling session. This includes not divulging your name and your appointment times to anyone, including friends and family (unless you give permission.) Any notes and information are kept under lock and key with contact details kept separate from session notes. I am also registered with data protection.
There are some limits to confidentiality though- counsellors will take work to supervision. This is a confidential process where the role of the counsellor’s supervisor is to ensure your counselling is going well.
Your counsellor can break confidentiality if he/she has good reason to think you might harm yourself or others, and they are also required to break confidentiality if there is a child protection issue and if you report or commit a crime.
At Amaranth Counselling, if confidentiality was to be broken it would be in these very rare circumstances and you would be informed by the counsellor about what was going to happen.
Does counselling work?The short and sweet answer to that question is -Yes!
You may say, "well you would say that!" but actually there is extensive evidence in the research literature that counselling is an effective treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety.
In my own practice, I have collected data from over 200 clients over five years and I have found that for a client entering counselling and presenting with moderate to severe symptoms and after an average of six sessions they have achieved statistically significant improvement. I do use assessments to monitor your progress and I also see counselling as a cooperative process where your feedback is invaluable in helping me shape my approach.
Can I make an appointment for someone in my family?
The short answer is no! It is common for people to phone and ask if they can make an appointment for a member of their family. I will normally ask them to get that member of the family to get in touch with me and make the appointment. There are two good reasons for this; the first reason is that I believe the client should choose the counsellor. As I explain later on, the choice of counsellor is really important, so it is best to let them find their own therapist. I recommend the East Lothian Counselling directory for local counsellors.
The second reason is quite simply the person may not be ready to go to counselling. You might be convinced that they really, really need to go (and you are probably right) BUT if a person isn't ready then the counselling will be a waste of time and they invariably fail to attend.
It is rare for someone to contact me after a family member has initiated a counselling query and it is probably because they aren't ready and they don't feel I am the right counsellor for them.
This is a tricky one because I could say “how long is a piece of string”; it depends on the issue and the client. There is research that suggests that 50% of clients achieve significant relief of symptoms after 10 to 20 sessions, as I stated in my previous question I have seen change within six sessions but the more severe the symptoms the longer it takes. I normally ask people to commit for 6 sessions and then review to see if they are making progress and extend to 10 or more weeks. A weekly commitment is best, as it allows a good foundation to be laid for the work.
How long might I be expected to attend counselling?
The single biggest contributing factor to successful counselling is the relationship between the client and counsellor. Find a counsellor with whom you feel safe and relaxed, someone that you feel you can open up to and that you can trust. Needless to say, establishing this relationship takes a bit of time, hence the reason I ask clients to commit to 6 sessions.
What should I look for in a counsellor?
At Amaranth Counselling, I aim to provide a safe, welcoming environment that will help you experience counselling as something positive. If however, you do not feel that has been achieved, please let me know, I would hope that you would not dismiss counselling as a waste of time but rather seek out a counsellor who suits you.
Most counsellors will hold a diploma in counselling and should be a member of a professional body (in the UK this would be BACP, UKCP or COSCA) and subscribe to a Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. Counsellors have regular supervision for their work and should be happy to answer questions about their qualifications. My qualifications are listed on this website.