Frequently asked questions
What will happen when I contact you?
I will either email you or speak to you on the phone to ask you some brief questions that help me to decide whether it will be useful for you to progress to having an initial assessment with me. If you then decide that you would like an initial assessment with me, we will get your first assessment session booked in at a time that suits you.
What will happen at my psychological assessment appointment?
I will ask you to complete some questionnaires about yourself and your mental health prior to the appointment. During your initial assessment, I will ask you more about the concerns that have brought you to me, about your current life, your past experiences, other health issues, and any other treatments you have had/are having. Once I have gathered this information from you, I am able to recommend the kind of therapy/treatment approach that I think is likely to be helpful. We decide together at the end of your assessment whether you will proceed to therapy sessions with me.
Will my assessment be completed in one session?
This varies from person. It is most likely that your initial psychological assessment will require two sessions. It may, however be completed in one session and sometimes it requires three or more sessions to complete. People often find that the assessment process itself – opening up, sharing their story and being heard – can be therapeutic in itself.
How long are the sessions?
All sessions are 50 minutes, including initial assessment sessions and therapy sessions.
How do I book sessions with you?
You can book your sessions online using the client portal on this website. Alternatively, I can book your next session for you at the end of your appointment with me.
How long does therapy last?
This varies a lot from person to person. For some people, it may be as few as 6 sessions, for others it can be 50 or more sessions. On average, I see people for around 20 sessions.
How frequent are the sessions?
I have a flexible approach to frequency – some therapists insist on once weekly (sometimes more). I prefer to figure out with my clients what is right for them. Some people find they lose the momentum of the therapy if they have a gap of more than one week in between sessions. Others appreciate having a fortnight gap in order to absorb what was discussed and put into practice some of the techniques and strategies they have learned. You choose and book your appointments online (using the booking portal), so you can decide when to book your next session. If I feel the gaps are too long in between your booked sessions are not optimal for you, we will discuss this together.
Will I see you at the same time and day each session?
I don't reserve specific slots for clients. You may book several appointments in advance if you wish to reserve your appointments slots.
When do I pay for the sessions?
I ask you to pay on booking. If you decide to proceed to have sessions with me, I will send you details Terms and Conditions about requirements for payment, attendance and cancellations.
How do I pay for the sessions?
If you are self-funding, you can pay using your debit or credit card online when you book. If you prefer to pay by BACS transfer, please let me know so I can give you my bank details. I ask you to pay on booking in order to secure your slot.
Will my health insurance cover the cost of my sessions?
I am registered as a provider with a range of insurers so your insurer may contribute to funding your therapy fully or in part. The process works differently with different insurers and it is your responsibility to find out how the process works with your particular insurer. I recommend that you:
• contact your insurer and ask them whether your policy covers psychotherapy;
• check with them what their billing procedure is - (for example they may ask you to pay for the sessions then put in your claim for payment or they may want your therapist to invoice them);
• check whether you can self refer to your therapist or whether they require you to be referred by your GP or a psychiatrist;
• ask them how many sessions they would fund;
• ask whether other treatments you are having on the policy will impact on the financial limits for funding of your therapy;
• ask them whether you will get a further “allowance” for funding of therapy sessions after the annual renewal of your policy;
• check whether you need an authorization number from them;
• ask if there is an excess to pay and what the procedure is – you would probably pay the excess to your therapist to cover your initial fees and after that your insurer should start funding the sessions in accordance with their Terms and Conditions.
It’s really important that you understand it is your responsibility to find out from your insurer how this will work. If you are hoping your insurer will cover some or all of your session fees, you should not book or pay for your sessions online until you have received authorization from your insurer otherwise you may not be able to recover the cost from them.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy. It was originally developed in the 1980s by the late Francine Shapiro, an America psychologist. She realised that when people recall traumatic and troubling events whilst simultaneously focusing on a stimulus (such as a sight or a sound or touch sensation in the present) they tend to be able to tolerate and process the memory more effectively. She also theorised that if this present moment focus stimulated both sides of the brain (bilateral stimulation) this would clear the emotional charge of memories (theoretically similar to the impact of rapid eye movement on memories during sleep). She developed this into what is now a well-respected therapy that is recommended by the National Institute for Health Care Excellence as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is increasingly used to help with other conditions such as phobias, chronic pain and more.
What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?
In the 20th century, psychologists started making links between how we think, act and feel. An American psychiatrist called Aaron T. Beck incorporated these understandings into a therapy approach, which he called cognitive behavioural therapy. When we are feeling stressed or threatened in some way, we often think in narrow and biased ways. For example we may jump to conclusions, over-generalise and filter out relevant information. Such thinking styles will likely affect the way we behave. Both the thoughts and the behaviours will impact on how we feel. For example, if I make a mistake, I may feel embarrassed and I may jump to the conclusion that I'm useless. The thought that I'm useless might put me off trying new activities and, as a result, I might become increasingly convinced I'm useless and therefore feel increasingly down and hopeless. The idea behind CBT is that if we change what we are thinking/imagining (the cognition part) and also change what we are doing (the behavioural part) we can improve how we are feeling. This theory has been well tried and tested over the past few decades and a sound evidence base has developed in relation to this therapy’s effectiveness in treating many different issues including anxiety problems, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
What is Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)?
This is a 21st century therapy that was developed by Professor Paul Gilbert, a well-respected British psychologist. Professor Gilbert theorised that we humans evolved as highly social beings who flourish best when we are supported and respected by those around us. He noted the negative impact of unsupportive relationships, particularly on babies and children who can easily absorb the critical and harsh voices of others into the way they relate to themselves. His theory is “biopsychosocial” which means he has endeavoured to understand how our social relationships impact not only on our psychology but also on the biology of our brain. He advocates a therapy approach that focuses on the relationship we have with ourselves, with the emphasis on increasing our ability to be self-compassionate. He also recognises that becoming more self-compassionate is not an entirely straight-forward process. Many of us are rather convinced that self-compassion will make us self-indulgent or weak so CFT aims to address these barriers to making real changes in our approach to ourselves. CFT involves deepening one’s self-understanding, noticing the tone of voice we use with ourselves as well as the content of thoughts. It involves exercises and practices called “compassionate mind training” that gradually help us to change how we relate to ourselves. This is a relatively new therapy approach, but there is a growing evidence base that support its use as an effective therapy.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
This approach to therapy was developed in the 1980s by Stephen Hayes, an America clinical psychologist. It has been steadily growing in popularity since then. It has recently been recognised by the NICE guidelines as an effective approach to dealing with chronic pain. This therapy endeavours to increase “psychological flexibility” through 6 core processes – Acceptance, Cognitive Defusion, Being Present, Self as Context, Values and Committed Action (Harris, 2011). Therapy involves doing things like learning to take a “step back” from the troubling thoughts and difficult emotions that we experience; making helpful choices regarding what to pay attention to, mindfulness practice, deepening our understanding of what really matters to us and acting in accordance with these values.