What is the difference between a psychologist and a counsellor?

As Doctors of Psychology, psychologists are trained to the highest level and have spent a minimum of between 7 to 9 years training in a range of therapies. They also spend time working with different age groups, for example, spending between 6 to 12 months working with different groups such as adults, children and older adults. They also have research training so that they can assess the effectiveness of the therapies they provide. This ensures that they have the ability to monitor and adjust therapies so that you get the most effective type of therapy for you given your particular situation.

Counsellors often work in similar areas also providing therapy but many only specialise in one type of therapy and their training can be variable from days to years.
If you are looking for a highly trained professional with experience and who can draw upon a range of therapies and not just one therapy as well as monitor its effectiveness then a psychologist is better placed to help you.

Why do therapists’ fees vary so much?

Variation in fees is a reflection of the therapist’s education, training, experience and expertise. Those that charge higher fees do so because it reflects their training and expertise. Psychologists train for a minimum of 7 years specifically in psychology and mental health. During training and subsequently, they have an opportunity to develop broad and high quality experience through working in the NHS. Psychologists also continue to develop their skills throughout their careers as required by their professional bodies.

All this should reassure you that they can give you a high level of service based on expertise, knowledge, skills and professional ethics. Counsellors and psychotherapists training and expertise is different so they may charge less for their services. When thinking about who you would prefer to deal with your circumstances you may have to consider these factors.

Are sessions confidential? Would you tell my GP?

I’m worried about the stigma of mental health being on my work or GP records.
No, I would not tell your GP.
Sessions are confidential. This means that I would not contact or discuss your sessions with your GP or anyone else unless you asked me to do so. I take notes in sessions to help me plan sessions and at the end of therapy I destroy those notes to protect your confidentiality.

There are a couple of rare situations where confidentiality may have to be broken, for example, if you were to tell me that you, or someone you know, was at imminent harm I would then have a legal obligation to do something to protect you or another. Confidentiality will be fully explained in your first session but please call me if you would like more information.

Will I have to lie on a couch?

No I prefer to be able to sit with someone face to face.

How do I know you can help me?

Talking therapies are well researched for their effectiveness for a range of psychological symptoms. Please see my links and resources sections for more details.

Everyone is different but my clients report being happy with the service I provide. Please refer to my testimonial section which outlines what previous clients have said about me and I include a summary of some of the results of my work. A significant proportion of my new clients have heard about me through the recommendations of past clients.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who after their general training in medicine decide to specialise in mental health. This specialism requires them to study mental health for between 2-3 years. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication.

Psychologists do not prescribe medication. They spend their whole training studying mental health and therapies and this takes a minimum of 7 years. They training is mostly focused on the provision of talking therapies.

What happens in the first session?

The aim of the first session is to help me understand what you want from sessions and what is happening in your life at the moment. In the first session I have a range of questions I may ask you and I may draw a family tree to work out who is in your life. I may ask you to complete some questionnaires to assess your mood and this will also allow us to track your progress in sessions. The first session is also your opportunity to see the way I work and whether you think I can help you. It is vital that you feel comfortable with your therapist from the outset.

You are not under any obligation to book any further sessions, this is a choice for you.

How long will I need to have therapy?

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on a range of factors, such as what you want to get out of therapy, the severity of your symptoms, the amount of time you have had the problem, whether you have reoccurring symptom from the past, the amount of social support you have and any other stressors going on in your life. It is likely that I would have a better idea of the possible duration of therapy after 2-3 sessions.

What I would say is that it is my aim to get positive change occurring as soon as possible as I believe that long and drawn out therapy is best avoided. I do not believe that dependence on therapy would be helpful to you and I want you to get on with your life as soon as possible.

Ultimately, the amount of sessions you have is decided in a negotiation with you. It is up to you how long you come to sessions. While I usually find it important to meet regularly in the beginning of therapy I am also happy to work in a flexible way to suit you if that seems appropriate.

Can I refer myself?

Yes, you can refer yourself.