I use a client-centred, integrative approach to counselling which means together, we’ll have a range of strategies and techniques at our fingertips. The personal connection between a therapist and a client is a key ingredient in our working alliance. This ‘chemistry’ should become apparent by the second or third session, and once it is there, it will enhance any strategy we adopt.
Many clients are interested in attending therapy for a short time, tackling issues quickly and setting specific, concrete goals and timelines. My training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Behavioural Activation Therapy is a good match for this kind of collaborative work.
For some clients, this style seems abrupt. In that case, we can take a more exploratory approach, using deeper approaches that enhance broader insight into patterns clients see in their behaviour and decision making.
For some clients, having a supportive and confidential environment in which to be heard and understood is more important than specific strategies and interventions.
For clients who have experienced negative effects of past trauma, such as car accidents or a violent crime, I am now offering EMDR treatment. This approach has also been shown to help people who are experiencing depression and anxiety.
Regardless of the issues that are troubling you, we’ll go at your pace, monitoring along the way to see how our work is progressing. If something isn’t working, we’ll seek to understand why and try a different approach.
What individual therapy usually looks like:
First session or two – This is our introduction, a time when clients paint a picture of what is happening for them, to let me know their story. We might also discuss some different ways to tackle the issue.
Second or third session – We work together to determine your goals for therapy. Goal setting can take one session or, in very complex cases, two or three sessions to uncover and pinpoint the most useful or lasting objectives. If an issue is straightforward, goal setting often happens in the first session.
Third/Fourth session and beyond – This is the bulk of our work together as we discuss ideas, try out strategies, and adapt our course of action to find the right fit. Keeping a regular meeting time that we establish together – once a week or once every two weeks, perhaps – is important for gauging progress. If the presenting issue is more straightforward, there’s a good chance we will wrap up our time together in three or four sessions.
Last session or two – Our work together comes to a close. The client feels that the personal change they wanted is in the works and lets me know that they are ready to do a final review of our work together. Clients might decide to revisit counselling for a separate concern in the future or to ‘fine tune’ the original concern.