What happens in therapy?
The main aim of your first appointment, or session, is to begin an assessment of your difficulties. We will discuss the
nature of confidentiality, and where there are exceptions to this, before we go on to talk about the reason you are seeking therapy. It will be helpful to learn about you and what has been happening in your life recently and also what has happened in the past. But we will go at your pace and it's important to know that you will always be in control of what you tell me. It can sometimes take a while to build up trust especially if there have been difficulties with trust in the past.
Assessment involves understanding your difficulties/experiences in detail, exploring what may be contributing to them, discussing your personal strengths and resources and thinking about your goals for therapy. This information will help us build up an understanding of you and your life which will help us decide what may be a helpful approach in therapy and to tailor the therapy to you as an individual.
This assessment process may sometimes take a few sessions but the first session should give us a fairly good idea of what direction to head in. It will also allow you see if you feel comfortable with me and if I’m the right therapist for you. Therapy is very much a collaborative, two way process so its important that you feel able to talk with me. If at the end of the first session you decide that you don't wish or need to make a further appointment this is absolutely fine. If I feel that your needs may be best met in some other way I will give you advice and recommendations about what to do next.
The process of psychological therapy
Following the assessment session/s if we decide that therapy may be helpful for you we will then develop a plan for therapy. This involves deciding the type of therapeutic intervention and the initial number of sessions that I think would be required, however it's important to note that this may change as therapy progresses. We will agree how often to meet although it's typical at the beginning of therapy to meet weekly or at least fortnightly.
Our therapy sessions will last 50-55 minutes so its important that we have a structure where we agree the agenda or plan for that session to make sure that we cover everything that's important. We will then work through that agenda and perhaps plan some in-between session tasks based on what has been discussed. Depending on the type of intervention you may be asked to read relevant information, keep notes on your thoughts and feelings and try out techniques discussed in therapy.
At each therapy session I will ask you for feedback about how you are finding the sessions including what you find helpful and anything that is unhelpful. We will also have regular reviews together to check if therapy is progressing well toward your goals and to consider the next steps.
Like all clinical psychologists I am trained in a wide range of evidence based psychological interventions ( see About me ) which means that can I can use what's known as an integrative approach to therapy. I typically use therapies which come under the umbrella of cognitive behavioural approaches such as CBT, Behaviour therapy, Schema focused CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT). This allows me to provide individually tailored interventions based on the assessment of your difficulties. These approaches all involve the client being an active participant in a collaborative process.
Some specific therapy models may work better with certain mental health problems as demonstrated by published psychological therapy guidelines. These include the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and The Psychological Therapies 'Matrix' (NHS Education Scotland).
If you wish to explore if psychological therapy is for you, I'd be happy to have an initial chat on the phone or you can send me an email. You are also welcome to have an initial appointment which will last for 1 hour and then decide if you'd like to continue with therapy. Contact me