How do I go about choosing the right Counsellor for me?
Your choice will be a very personal one. It is important that you are comfortable with your Counsellor and that you feel that they have your best interests at heart. I receive referrals, from G.P.’s, and other Counsellors who feel that my area of expertise is more appropriate for a couple or person, also from psychiatrists who want to place a patient following treatment or prescription of medication with someone that their patient can then follow through to continue resolving their difficulties through the avenue of counselling, mostly I receive referrals by word of mouth from people that I have worked with previously who have recommended me to their friends and family.
There are also several directories available that one can access online, ie: www.therapistdirectory.co.za
A good Counsellor should initially be happy to engage with a new enquiry and be willing to discuss their work experience, their qualifications and if they feel you are better suited to another therapist, offer you a referral or recommendation. It is crucial to good Counselling to have a good rapport with your Counsellor.
Why choose a Counsellor and not a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a professional practitioner that can diagnose, prescribe medication and initiate treatment if it is needed. Not everyone feels the need for the services of a psychiatrist. A Counsellor is a professional that provides a safe place for a person to discuss and explore issues in their life or their relationships, helping them to understand and make sense of why things are the way they are, with a goal of helping people to make the changes that they want to improve their situation.
First Session – What to Expect
I understand that if you have never entered therapy before, or if you are starting therapy with somebody new, this can be a daunting experience. The hardest part is in making the decision to go and talk to someone.
Our first session would be focused on creating a relaxing environment for you to be in, we need to establish rapport and build a relationship. First sessions are often the time where you have a chance to fully explain your circumstances, the Counsellor will listen without judgement and gather information. There may be some history taking and questioning from the Counsellor to clarify points you have raised to start to get a feeling for why you have chosen to come to Counselling. Most people at the end of a first session feel lighter and quite relieved, they should feel that their Counsellor has a good understanding of why they are there and what their expectations of counselling are. My first sessions often have an extra few minutes allocated to them free of charge to ensure we have adequately covered the necessary points to be productive and go forward. Sessions are usually one hour in duration.
How many Sessions will I Need?
This will vary from person to person. For some a short period of brief therapy is all that is needed, and for others a more long-term approach will be required. Sessions need to be tailored to accommodate time, severity of issues and financial considerations.
As a Counsellor I work in a Solution Focused style, I check at the end of sessions as to how things are going and what factors do we need to take into consideration for going forward.
Regardless of an initial counselling period, you will always have the option to return to the counselling forum as and when it is needed or as other issue arises.
Are my sessions confidential?
Yes, absolutely! In order for us to work effectively you need to be able to trust that our work does not go beyond my office. This rule also applies in the event that someone else is paying for your sessions, the therapeutic contract is between you and I, the financial contract is a separate matter that applies to myself and the ‘person responsible for the account’.
Medical Aid and Counselling
Medical Aids in some cases allocate a limited amount of funds for psychological services. Often these funds are prohibitively limited to facilitate active engagement in therapy. It is advisable to check the extent to which your medical-aid will or will not accommodate Counselling.
My experience with medical aids has been that they will often request a full detailed report, either from a Psychiatrist which will incur consultation costs and if the Psychiatrist refers for Counselling then they sometimes ask for a detailed report of the reasons for treatment, a schedule detailing the number of sessions required and in some instances they will want to know the outcome or prognosis for their member. This infringes on your right to privacy and crosses the confidentiality boundary. I am not comfortable with their need to access such private information.
I will as a matter of course issue you with a statement of account for your own purposes following our sessions.