Haven Counselling and Coaching

Frequently Asked Questions

Counselling FAQs

What kind of counselling do you offer?

My training and qualifications are in psychodynamic counselling which takes the approach that a sizeable chunk of the way we handle life is controlled by our unconscious mind. That’s to say patterns of belief and feeling, of which we are unaware, shape many of our responses and choices. Psychodynamic therapy works on the idea that who we are today is in large measure shaped by our past experiences and that as we become more self-aware, we open new possibilities for shaping a different future. It doesn’t promise that life will necessarily become easier but that if we become more self-aware, we are likely to be freer and more flexible in how we cope with ourselves, with others and with the business of living.

Psychodynamic therapy stands in a long tradition of world-class therapists going all the way back the Sigmund Freud, its founding father. As a psychodynamic counsellor, I am trained to listening very deeply to what you bring to sessions and to support you in working through often very difficult feelings and issues.

Although my main model is psychodynamic therapy in practice each client is different and the way I would work with you would be somewhat unique.

Does your kind of counselling work?

Research has shown that counselling is usually more effective than no treatment at all and, frequently, psychodynamic therapy can lead to increases in effect even after treatment. Of course, there are no guarantees, but we do know that the most crucial factor for success is not the type of psychotherapy used but the quality of the relationship between therapist and client. Whether you chose this model or not, the important thing is for you to find a therapist you feel you can trust and work with. In some circumstances it may be advisable for a client to seek more specialised help and I would advise you of that if I felt you would be better served elsewhere. For more information on psychodynamic therapy and other models click here.

What might happen in a counselling session?

No two sessions are ever identical. Sessions will usually go in the direction you want, following and exploring the things you bring up. I will listen very deeply to what you want to say and will also be listening for what is not said. Part of the work may involve exploring dreams you’ve had or feelings and thoughts that surface in the session. I am particularly trained in using my own responses to what you say to allow us to explore things that may be difficult for you to say. The work together only goes at the pace you are happy with and it can take time to feel brave enough to share deep feelings or difficult matters. As we work together, we may notice patterns of thinking, feeling or behaviour and explore ways in which they help you or hold you back. We may well work on alternative ways of responding.

How long do I have to come to counselling for?

You don’t have to come at all and the decision on how long to stay is always in your hands. I offer both short and long-term counselling. Short-term counselling would typically last anywhere between 6 and 20 sessions and longer-term therapy would normally last for a maximum of three years. If you book an initial session, we will use that time to work out what your needs are and make an initial suggestion of how long we might work together. I will generally review therapy with long-time clients after 6 weeks to discuss together how we feel things are going and whether this is the best way forwards for you.

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

The roles are often the same with some professionals calling themselves ‘psychotherapist’ and others ‘counsellor’ (see here for more detail). Some people like to think of counselling as less intense and less long-lasting but there are counsellors and psychotherapists working with very similar difficulties and some counsellors (including me) will work long-term with some clients, depending on their need.

How much do you charge for counselling?

My fee is between £35-£50 per session with you deciding what you can reasonably afford. Initial (consultation) sessions are all £20.

Do I have to come to counselling every week? (breaks etc.)

To be effective it is important that the work we do together is regular and so I work on a weekly basis with my clients. Of course, there will be times when you will need to be elsewhere (e.g. for a medical matter, a work commitment or a holiday) and I will try to re-schedule your appointment if possible, if you give me enough notice. I am unlikely to be able to hold your place for an extended period of absence.

Can I still have counselling if I can’t travel to you?

Yes, soon. I will be offering Online Video-stream Counselling in the future if you are within the UK. If you struggle to get here owing to a disability or difficulties with transport, this can be an excellent alternative. I use Zoom as a platform because it is highly secure and encrypted. In some circumstances I may re-direct an enquiring client to work with a counsellor (or other professional) face-to-face if I feel online work may not be helpful for your needs.

Coaching FAQs

What is coaching and what sort of coaching do you do?

Coaching is generally different from counselling in that it is less therapeutic—less about ‘mending’ things that we feel need ‘fixing’ and more about maximising our potential and reaching different goals. That said, the distinction can be misleading because although a person may come for coaching to achieve certain changes, they may find these changes also involve dealing with unresolved patterns, feelings and thoughts that are holding them back.

My coaching draws on a number of models—particularly Psychodynamic Coaching and Narrative Coaching but can also draw on aspects of Positive Psychology, Motivational Interviewing, NLP and Existential Coaching. While I think setting goals can be valuable, I believe it can also become limiting, so I tend to work more with the ‘stories’ being played out in your life than with impersonal targets.

How long should coaching continue?

Coaching can be short or long term, as with counselling. We can tailor the length of coaching to your needs and decide on a maximum length together. Having an ending in sight is important as it lends focus to the work together. Typically coaching will last for about 12 hours (but may be more or less) which I work on a regular, weekly ‘same place, same time’ basis.

What might happen in a coaching session?

A coaching session will often start by revisiting your overall aims/ goals before reviewing what seems to be happening around you and within you. We may look at the past’s role in shaping your present situation as well as considering the possible significance of what’s going on now for your future. The aim is always to help you get a greater handle on the obvious and not-so-obvious dynamics at play in your story, so you can be a stronger author of the future that you want.

Example: Take an imaginary client we’ll call James. He wants to earn more without sacrificing his entire life to the office and yet always seems to miss out on promotions. He can’t figure out why. Our work may involve examining his thoughts and feelings about his work, the organisation, his competing demands, his skill-set, his relationships in the workplace, his sense of himself and his self-worth, his superiors and his team. Part of the work will be trying to find out what we think may be happening and the other part will be reflecting on what could be changed. It might become clear to both of us that he struggles with allowing his strengths to be made clear while others are happy to push themselves forward. We might also uncover a lack of confidence in his ability to lead that makes him fear being the one everyone looks to. The pattern has a history: as a child he learnt to hide his light under a bushel as the youngest sibling with an older brother who needed a lot of support and took much of his parents’ attention. Together, we work on ways he can accept his strengths and feel OK about letting others see them.

How much do you charge for coaching?

My fee is between £35-£50 per session with you deciding what you can reasonably afford. Initial (consultation) sessions are all £20.

Can I still have coaching if I can’t travel to you?

Yes, soon. I will be offering Online Video-stream coaching in the future if you are within the UK. If you struggle to get here owing to a disability or difficulties with transport, this can be an excellent alternative. I use Zoom as a platform because it is highly secure and encrypted. In some circumstances I may re-direct an enquiring client to work with a counsellor (or other professional) face-to-face if I feel online work may not be helpful for your needs.

Other FAQs

Do I pay if I miss sessions?
Because that session is set aside for you it is difficult for me to offer it to another client (because they would need it in the following weeks too) and so I do reserve the right to charge you for it should you cancel. I operate this with some discretion (clearly, I wouldn’t charge for a one-off emergency) and I allow clients up to two planned missed sessions a year for holidays etc. if we are doing long-term work. If you know you need to miss a session, I would ask you to give me as much notice as possible and 48 hours’ notice as a minimum. In the event that I cannot be available I will not charge you and will give you as much notice as I can. I do take breaks during the year.
How can I pay?
You can pay by cash or by bank transfer. Card Payment may be available in the future.
How can I contact you to set up an appointment?
How do I get to you? What about parking? What if I arrive early?
Do you have toilet facilities?
Yes. The toilet facility is in an adjacent bathroom off the main counselling room should you need to use it.
Is what I tell you confidential?

Yes, it is confidential, but I do not promise absolute secrecy. It is of the utmost importance to you, as the client, that you know that I am ethically bound to hold the content of your sessions in confidence. That said, there are a very rare occasions when I might need to talk to another trusted professional adult about what you tell me. If I felt you were likely to harm yourself or others, I have a duty of care to consult with other relevant professionals. If you reveal risk to vulnerable children or adults, or involvement in serious crime (for example rape, murder, money laundering, drug trafficking, acts of terrorism), I would need to consult with other professionals. If subpoenaed to attend a court of law about what took place in our sessions, I would have to go, even though I wouldn’t want to. Beyond this, you should also be aware that my professional body (BACP), like other professional counselling organisations, require me to have regular supervision of my client work which would involve my discussing your material but, again, this is kept confidential.

Are you qualified?

Yes, fully. Although (surprisingly) there is no requirement for qualifications or registration to call yourself a counsellor in the UK, I am a fully qualified Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, trained and registered with the BACP, one of the main highly-regarded professional bodies.

What records do you keep and why do you keep them?

I hold records in the form of brief notes on our sessions for up to seven years as required by my insurers. They are kept to help me keep track of our work together (see Privacy policy)

Are those records part of the National Health Service System?
No. The NHS would not have access to them which is just one of the benefits of having private counselling.
How are those records stored?
Paper records are securely stored under lock and key. Electronic data is password protected and encrypted. Furthermore, any notes connected to your counselling are pseudonymised, meaning that they are kept apart from information that could identify you like your name, address and so forth.
Can I contact you between sessions?
You can contact me if we need to change arrangements, but I wouldn’t normally do counselling work with you between sessions. Any work I do agree to do with you or on your behalf (beyond, say, a 5-minute task) will be charged pro rata according to your session rate.