Expressive Therapies are useful in helping people of all ages with a range of concerns, including relationship problems, unhappiness and depression, anxiety, life stress and discontent, difficulties in living and working with others and past physical and emotional trauma.
What is counselling and psychotherapy?
Counselling and psychotherapy practitioners work cooperatively with clients to develop responses to difficult life circumstances. Issues may include depression, self-esteem, anxiety, grief and loss, communication and relationships, work and career, stress, life transitions, and difficulties caused by addictions, trauma and abuse.
Counselling usually addresses particular issues or concerns for people. The counsellor will focus with the client on dealing with the feelings and reactions experienced, and will assist the client in developing his or her own resources to find a way of moving forward.
Psychotherapy is generally a longer term process that focuses on the self – both conscious and unconscious. Issues of personal meaning, relationship to self, and the impact of past events and trauma are dealt with. The psychotherapist works with the client to gain a deeper level of self-understanding in order to overcome core issues that underlie persistent or recurring problems in the client’s life.
Clients are supported to develop non-habitual responses, and new perceptions and abilities, in many areas of life. This involves a freeing of the individual from habitual patterns which have become fixed in the body and mind. Bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, beliefs and spirituality are all valued and explored as interrelated aspects of how clients organize their experience. Furthermore, the therapist attends to the social and cultural context within which the individual/client lives and the life circumstances that have shaped and are shaping their thinking, feeling and acting.
Through the processes of counselling or psychotherapy clients are assisted to gain insight, to become aware of choices they did not initially recognise, to find more effective ways of relating, and to develop personal resources and resilience.
The process of therapy
Psychotherapy is not easily described in general statements. It varies depending on the personalities of the therapist and client, and the particular concerns you bring forward. There are many different methods I may use to deal with the problems that you hope to address. Psychotherapy is not like a medical doctor visit. Instead, it calls for a very active effort on your part. The best results occur when appointments are regularly scheduled and attended.
Psychotherapy can have benefits and risks. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, psychotherapy has also been shown to have benefits for people who go through it. Therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific concerns, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. But there are no guarantees of what you will experience.
Our first few sessions will involve an evaluation of your needs. By the end of the evaluation, I will be able to offer you some first impressions of what our work may include and how we might proceed, if you decide to continue with therapy. You should evaluate this information along with your own opinions of whether you feel comfortable working with me. Therapy involves a large commitment of time, money, and energy, so you should be very careful about the therapist you select. Therapy may be long term or short term, with a frequency that depends on the stage of therapy and the client's needs.
If you have questions about my procedures, we should discuss them whenever they arise.
Benefits and risks of counselling/psychotherapy
Participation in therapy can result in a number of benefits to you, including improved interpersonal relationships and resolution of the specific concerns that led you to speak with me. Working towards these benefits requires effort on your part. Counselling and therapy require your active involvement, honesty and openness in order to change your thoughts, feelings and/or behaviour. You are welcome to give me any feedback on how your therapy is going and ask questions.
During the initial evaluation or course of therapy, remembering unpleasant events, feelings or thoughts may result in your experiencing considerable discomfort, strong feelings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. This will change as we progress in the process of therapy. Attempting to resolve issues that bought you into therapy may result in changes that were not originally intended. Therapy may result in decisions to change behaviours, where and how you work, substance use, schooling, where you live or your relationships. Change can sometimes be quick and easy, but more often it can be gradual and even frustrating. There is no guarantee that therapy will yield positive or intended results.
As a client of mine (or any counsellor/therapist) you have privileged communication. This means that: your relationship with me as a client, all information disclosed in our sessions, and any session notes, are confidential and may not be revealed to anyone without your written permission, except where law requires disclosure.
When Disclosure Is Required By Law:
All personal information gathered during your work with me will remain confidential except when:
- It is subpoenaed by a court, or
- Failure to disclose the information would place you and/or another person at risk, or
- Your prior approval has been obtained in writing to discuss this information with another person.
There are some situations in which I am legally obligated to take action to protect others from harm, even if I have to reveal some information about a client’s treatment. For example, if I believe that a child, elderly person or disabled person, is being abused, I must file a report with the appropriate state agency.
If I believe that a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another, I am required to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for my client. If a client threatens to harm himself/herself, I may be obligated to seek hospitalization for them or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection.
These situations have rarely occurred in my practice. If a similar situation occurs, I will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action.
Case Consultation for my Supervision
I have regular supervision in order to provide you with the best possible service. This means that at times I may discuss what takes place in our sessions with my supervisor to ensure I am maintaining the high standards of ethical and professional practice I aim for.