These are some of the answers to the more frequently asked questions that we’ve had from counselling and psychotherapy clients.
Are counselling and psychotherapy confidential?
Confidentiality in Counselling and Psychotherapy Sessions
In your therapy sessions everything that you tell us is confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone without first asking for your permission. The only exception to this is in a few extremely risky situations where we are extremely concerned about personal safety. We discuss this with you in the first session (an example would be if a client reveals on-going abuse of children or intention to harm himself/herself or others) . Sometimes letting your GP know that you are working with us is helpful and we would discuss this with you if we felt this to be the case. Except for this, all of the material that you disclose to us is confidential and would not be entered through your GP onto your medical records. See the GDPR section for more details.
How long do sessions last?
Duration of Therapy Sessions
Each session lasts 50 minutes (called a therapeutic hour) and starts at the allocated appointment time and ends within the booked time. So that means that if you are late, the session still ends at the time it would normal end.
Duration of Therapy
Counselling and psychotherapy can last anything from six weeks to being open ended if the issue that you wish to address is very loosely defined. This is discussed with you in detail at the first session. At Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy we work in a clear, straight-forward manner as we are interested in you moving on. We therefore always have an agreed number of sessions to reach a defined objective (usually 6 weeks to start with, and then 10-sessions "contracts" if you wish to work on other issues in therapy). At each point progress is reviewed.
What is Confidentiality and the GDPR
Your right to confidentiality
We operate under the principle that we will not normally disclose any information about you to anyone without your consent.
GDPR compliance is maintained as your personal and sensitive data - which may include case notes, emails, letters, reports and copies of referral documents - are not shared without your explicit consent. Electronic records which are used to record notes and emails which include clinical information will be electronically deleted as soon as regulatory authorities allow after a 3 year retention period. However text messages and emails in relation to appointment dates will usually be deleted after use or within 3 months. We are required to hold financial records for 5 years and they are destroyed after this time.
An on-line system is used to record clinical information which is provided by a company trading as "Write-upp" who specialise in the counselling and therapy field of electronic management and record keeping (EMR). Where hard copy such as letters or client intake information is transferred to this online system through laptops/desktops encryption is used on each machine to prevent disclosure of information in the case of theft etc. Counsellors may use text to communicate on occasions with clients where you have given us permission to do so - for example where there are issues around changing an appointment - but we would not store your contact details on our phones and would use first names or first initials only. Telephone communication is passed on by a Receptionist through email to the counsellors. Email is not usually retained as it is not clinically relevant. If clinically relevant is would be added to your client record
What we discuss within sessions will be confidential. Confidentiality will be maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act but there is a limit to confidentiality with the following exceptions:
- Where the client gives consent for confidentiality to be broken.
- Where there is a requirement on the Counsellor to do so by a court of law.
- Where the information is of such gravity that confidentiality cannot be maintained. For example, where there is the possibility of harm to self or others and in cases of fraud or crime.
- Where a GP or referring agency require a report. In this case a copy will be signed by the client prior to submission to the agency.
- During professional supervision – all psychotherapists and counsellors are required to do this. Everything discussed during supervision is confidential and remains between the Supervisor – a professional colleague – and the practitioner (the therapist – myself)
- Vignettes which do not identify the client and may be used for education or training purposes.
When disclosing information we aim to provide the least information necessary in the circumstances.
Under a Subject Access Request you can ask for copies of your personal records which will be provided within 30 days of your verbal or written request.
Records are kept for 3 years and then destroyed. All computer data is erased within 5 years.
You are entitled to see your records.
How can counselling and psychotherapy help?
The Benefits of Counselling & Psychotherapy
Counselling and Psychotherapy helps by creating a supportive setting which has at its heart the purpose of assisting you to work on your issues safely in a confidential setting. This then helps you to gain perspective on your issues and can support and empower you to live the life you want.
Therapy helps you to discover yourself and helps to support you through both periods of crisis and through long term issues. Counselling is good for everyone, young and old, in every walk of life. It is a relatively small, but smart investment in yourself.
We could write a long list of the huge range of issues that people resolve through therapy. Some of the more common one's include:
- Bereavement counselling
- Improved emotional control (e.g. anger management)
- Counselling for depression
- Anxiety counselling
- Abuse counselling
- Anxiety counselling
- Addiction counselling
- Work and career counselling
- Relationship counselling
At Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy our experience and training as counsellors and psychotherapists means that we are able to deal with the vast majority of the issues that clients bring and are able to refer to specialist colleagues in the unusual case that someone has a specific need that we cannot meet.
What are you fees?
Fees for Counselling & Psychotherapy
We are a professional therapy practice working from warm & comfortable business premises in central Newcastle. This is in keeping with our straight forward approach to help you to sort out your issues and move on with your life. We use modern and traditional techniques in an integrative approach to your treatment. Since 1st August 2015 we charge you for individual sessions the first time we meet you. It is important for you to feel comfortable with us and our way of working and there is of course no obligation to continue after the first session. For couples we do charge a full fee for the first session as, after carrying our research on this, this works best for both clients and ourselves. Therapeutically this seems to encourage a higher level of commitment and participation from the start of sessions.
Remember that by coming to therapy you are investing is something very worthwhile and valuable, something that you will take with you everywhere - yourself! A standard counselling and psychotherapy fee of £60 is normally payable for each session. You may wish to reflect upon how much you pay for your car servicing or getting your domestic appliances fixed... Some lower fee slots are sometimes available based upon circumstance and availability. Please ask about these.
Fees are payable at the start of the session by cheque or cash or the fees can be paid monthly in advance. We take payment by debit or credit card and BACS can be set up either weekly or monthly in advance.
Sessions last 50 minutes and begin at the time booked.
The therapist holds your time available each week as the "same time same place" each week is an important element of therapy. If you advise us more than 24 hours in advance we will look to find you an alternative appointment time but missed or cancelled appointments are charged in full.
Are counselling and psychotherapy different?
What's the difference between counselling & psychotherapy?
These terms are today sometimes used interchangeably. However, counselling can be thought of as more short-term and a very practical approach to achieving personal or professional goals. It can be more behaviourally orientated. Some issues respond very well to a brief approach. For example, “I want to be able to ask my boss about holiday entitlement but in the past I have either got tearful or angry” appears to be more straight forward and would be likely to respond to counselling.
Psychotherapy on the other hand, is more in-depth and looks at underlying issues which affect the reasons that you do things. It is often more loosely focused. For example, I’m unhappy and I’m not really sure why and don’t know how to move forwards” is an example of an issue where it would probably take more time to get to the root of the issue and sort it.
At Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy we offer both counselling and psychotherapy in our central location in Newcastle upon Tyne. The choice really depends on the treatment plan which is usually put in place following the first session. This therapeutic plan is then modified over time, depending on your goals. Many people stop when they have reached their agreed goal, whilst some then go on to explore deeper issues.
What happens if I miss or cancel an appointment?
Cancelled or Missed Appointments
Your therapist keeps your appointment time for you every week as the "same time, same place" is an important element in therapy. An appointment missed or cancelled with less than 24 hours notice will be charged in full.
At Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy we operate a policy that if you inform us in good time we will endeavour to arrange an alternative session in the same week. If this is possible and you attend the rearranged session on the same week this, there is no additional fee payable, just the normal sessional fee.
If your therapist is forced to cancel a session you will not be charged.
Often you will have agreed a "contract" to work on an issue for a set period of time (say ten weeks). The "contract" of work comes to an end when the sessions are completed, although the number of sessions may be extended beyond that first agreed following discussion with your therapist.
Endings are an important element in therapy and it is important to discuss the end of therapy with your therapist so that it can be managed. This allows you to review with your therapist the work that you have done together. Notice of four weeks is usual and allows the process sufficient time.
Is what I say in therapy confidential?
Confidentiality in Counselling and Psychotherapy Sessions
In your therapy sessions everything that you tell us is confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone without first asking for your permission. The only exception to this is in a few extremely risky situations where we are extremely concerned about personal safety. We discuss this with you in the first session (an example would be if a client reveals on-going abuse of children or intention to harm himself/herself or others) . Sometimes letting your GP know that you are working with us is helpful and we would discuss this with you if we felt this to be the case. Except for this, all of the material that you disclose to us is confidential and will not be entered on your medical records.
What will therapy be like?
What will it be like?
What we do is to take care to find out about you and work up-front on the issues that you have agreed. It’s a practice based upon reality: a warm relationship, in which we collaboratively work to solve your issues. As the purpose of therapy has been agreed with you at the outset we move towards achieving your goals at your pace.
History repeats itself
If you consider that we all develop habits - a bit like history repeating itself - then it is important to understand them in order to reformulate them and do something more positive. Thus, at one level we might be working out what repetitive behaviours or thoughts cause a problem and how we might overcome these whilst at another level, the therapy may be providing an outlet for emotions and feelings which you become aware of having blocked out. It is important to remember that this can make it uncomfortable when these come out.
What is the format of therapy?
The normal format is one where you bring whatever issue you wish and the work continues from there. It is difficult to describe the process as it needs to be experienced. The main format is verbal. However, it may be that we decide to work together creatively with images or imaginatively: it really depends on what is the most effective with the issues that you bring. This way of working is all very open and inclusive and how you work with your therapist will be discussed. At Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy it is important to us that you are fully involved in this process.
I am a little anxious about the first session. What will it be like?
The First Session
Before your first session you will have had the opportunity to speak on the phone to a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This initial discussion is really important from our point of view as it is vital that you are comfortable with your therapist. The first session can seem a little intimidating but we are experienced at putting you at ease. Once you've arrived and made yourself known to the receptionist, you can have a seat and we'll come to collect you.
Should I do any preparation for the first session?
You just need to bring yourself to the first session there is no need to prepare for it. That said, some people find that jotting down a brief note of things that they want to speak about can be useful.
In the first session we will ask you a few questions about your situation and tell you some more about how we work. Often clients say that they find that the time really flies.
Written Information & Your First Session
We have written information which explains basic details such as confidentiality and its limits, as well as counsellor and psychotherapists fee and cancellation policy. We will discuss this with you and will ask you to sign the form to say that you have received it.
I am wondering how to choose a Therapist as it is so confusing.
How do I choose a Counsellor or Psychotherapist?
Starting any form of counselling or psychotherapy involves a meaningful commitment from you in time, effort and not least money. It is therefore important that you make an informed choice. It is also important to recognise that not all therapist or types of therapy are equal! Counselling and psychotherapy is further complicated by the seemingly endless types available: Cognitive Behavioural (CBT), Solution Focussed, Gestalt, Person-Centred, Analytic- to name but a handful. However, what current research shows to be important in all types of successful therapy is the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client. You need to feel that the therapist understands you, your issues and where you are coming from. And also that you are comfortable in working with them on what can at times be difficult issues. Indeed, if they were not difficult issues you would have fixed them yourself!
Our Standards and Quality
At Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy therapists members of the main counselling and therapy regulating bodies: the UKCP (The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) and/or the BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy). The best therapists have generally spent time refining their skills and often this is represented in a Post Graduate qualification. The requirement to undergo therapy is part of the best training courses making this a considerable commitment as the training can last over 5 years – for some therapists it is even longer.
Four Top Tips
We have created "4 Top Tips" on choosing a counsellor or psychotherapist here:Top Tips to Choose a Counsellor