- Other therapists have not been able to help me. How do I know that you can?
- Do you offer virtual counselling or e-counselling?
- How many sessions will I need?
- I’ve noticed, or have heard from others, that people who are in therapy sometimes change in ways that aren’t always positive. Can therapy make people’s lives worse?
- What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?
- What if my partner doesn’t want to attend couples counselling?
- Now that I’ve retired, things are coming up for me that show my regular way of acting or thinking isn’t working anymore. Can counselling work for people in retirement, or am I too old to change?
- I’ve heard of children being taken away from parents due to what a client has said to a therapist. Is this true?
- But, I thought everything I said to a counsellor was confidential. What type of information given to a counsellor is confidential and what isn’t?
- Why do you take notes and what do you do with them?
- Do you share information with other professionals I see?
Other therapists have not been able to help me. How do I know that you can?
Therapists can help clients create great, positive change in their lives if there is a good connection between them. Because effective counselling involves a strong working alliance and this relationship doesn’t always form, you might not have had success with other therapists.
A working alliance means the client and the therapist have developed a relationship of trust and collaboration; a kind of ‘chemistry’ with each other. If this chemistry doesn’t develop by the second session, or third at the very latest, and we have tried our best to nurture a better connection, it’s my belief that our working alliance might not happen, but this doesn’t reflect badly on the client or the therapist.
A good connection can set the stage for long-lasting, positive change. I encourage you to keep looking to find a therapist with whom you have this connection. Knowing what to look for in a therapist and accessing directories can help in this search.
There are national and provincial designations that indicate a therapist has earned certain levels of education and experience. One national designation is ‘Canadian Certified Counsellor,’ or ‘CCC,’ placed after the therapist’s name. It indicates the therapist belongs to the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. A Nova Scotian designation is ‘Registered Counselling Therapist’ (RCT) or ‘Registered Counselling Therapist-Candidate’ (RCT-C), indicating the therapist belongs to the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists.
Do you offer virtual counselling or e-counselling?
Yes, under some circumstances, I do meet with clients via the Internet or telephone. I prefer to limit this type of counselling to individual clients, but in some cases, might work with couples this way too. Unfortunately, counselling families at a distance is not a service I’m offering currently.
I believe it is best that I first meet in person with the client/couple and that we build a good working relationship before switching to counselling at a distance; however, sometimes a client or couple is looking to obtain counselling this way from the very beginning. In such cases, I would make exceptions if we determine that we’re a good match before our first meeting by exchanging completed intake/interview forms via email.
For counselling via the Internet, clients would need to install VSee, the software that offers a secure telehealth platform, on their computer (easily done from VSee’s website page for downloads) and have access to a quiet, confidential space during our session time. For individual clients, headphones offer an added level of confidentiality and clear reception.
Fees are the same for counselling at a distance, however, I only accept e-transfers or PayPal for payment. Payment needs to be cleared at least 24 hours before the appointment time.
How many sessions will I need?
Every client’s journey with counselling is different; good work can happen in as little as two or three sessions.
Sometimes, the journey is brief: the client knows what goals he or she wants to achieve and we get to know each other very quickly. We might be able to decide on a course of action in the first session and the client might make the change right away, not requiring further sessions.
Most times a client sees me for seven to ten sessions for one issue, returning to counselling at another time if he or she needs a ‘tune up’ or has another issue.
I’ve noticed, or have heard from others, that people who are in therapy sometimes change in ways that aren’t always positive. Can therapy make people’s lives worse?
This is a complicated, but important, question.
I like to reassure my clients that although it is common for the effects of change to reverberate through the client’s life and relationships, we will seek to notice and attend to these changes and reverberations in a way that is helpful and constructive.
What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?
EFT is a couples therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson and her colleagues in the 1980s. It is designed to be short-term, usually taking about 8 to 20 sessions, depending on the issues the couple is experiencing. The EFT approach is based on the science of adult attachment and bonding, so it is also helpful with families and individual clients. Therapists use EFT with different cultural groups world-wide in private practice, university training centres, and hospitals.
Numerous EFT studies have taken place in the last 20 years, showing that 70 to 75% of couples can move from distress to recovery in their relationships, and about 90% of couples show significant improvements in their relationships. EFT is effective for couples where partners are living with depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, or chronic illness. EFT is not advised for couples where on-going violence, affairs, or addictions are commonplace.
Watch Soothing the Threatened Brain, a short video on the effectiveness of EFT.
What if my partner doesn’t want to attend couples counselling?
Seeking individual counselling is often a decision that takes considerable time to reach, so it is understandable that couples take longer to come to a mutual agreement about attending couples counselling. Unfortunately, if one partner wants counselling, but the other doesn’t, it’s unlikely we can accomplish much productive work together. In a case like this, it might be better to seek individual counselling.
If a client decides to do individual work, and the other partner eventually wants to enter couples counselling, we can switch to couples counselling if I’ve only met the individual partner a few times; however, if the one partner and I have seen each other more than this, the other partner would likely feel that there was more of working alliance developed with their spouse. For that reason, I would likely recommend another couples counsellor.
Now that I’ve retired, things are coming up for me that show my regular way of acting or thinking isn’t working anymore. Can counselling work for people in retirement, or am I too old to change?
It’s quite common for people to seek out counselling during any time a major life transition is experienced and retirement is one of our more significant life changes.
Retirement is a big cultural change from the hectic life of a regular 40-work week to a lifestyle that is less structured. Additionally, if you were busy raising kids during your formal work life, your life has changed even more if your adult children are now living independently. Children and work are two huge life endeavours that not only take a big chunk of our time in our younger adulthood, they define us and our relationships with others. It’s natural for our identities and relationships with others to feel different when these big roles are significantly changed.
Retirement can be a very fruitful time for exploring how our younger selves were perhaps not fully expressed or healed when are lives were more hectic. Counselling can provide a safe, encouraging place to embark on this discovery.
I’ve heard of children being taken away from parents due to what a client has said to a therapist. Is this true?
Everyone has a duty to report child abuse as outlined by the Children and Family Services Act of Nova Scotia. This act was recently changed in early 2017, so if you have questions, please check this link: Children and Family Services Act of Nova Scotia
Therapists follow this duty to report and must report any suspected or known child abuse to authorities. This reporting could, result in a child, or children, being removed from their family home temporarily, or in some cases, permanently.
But, I thought everything I said to a counsellor was confidential. What type of information given to a counsellor is confidential and what isn’t?
Everything you say to a therapist is confidential with four exceptions:
- Any reference to a child or children being abused,
- Indications that there are serious considerations for the safety of the client’s life or others’ lives,
- Court subpoenas,
- Reports sometimes required by insurance companies on the assessments and interventions used with the client as well as the projected number of sessions needed if a client uses insurance to cover the cost of counselling.
Why do you take notes and what do you do with them?
Session notes help therapists plan, remember details, and track counselling progress.
Clients have the right to see the notes therapists keep. Therapists require a signed request to make a copy of the notes and should be given extensive notice.
I keep counselling notes securely locked. I keep clients’ records for ten years and then I securely dispose of them.
Do you share information with other professionals I see?
Outside of four areas (see question But, I thought everything I said to a therapist was confidential. What kind of information given to a therapist is confidential and what isn’t?), no information is shared with others unless you give me written permission.