This is an often-overlooked part of counselling and therapy, finding the right fit with someone is as important as taking time to find the right pair of shoes. I recommend people speak with a minimum of 3 potential therapists or counsellors, explain what you are doing and try to get a feel for how you feel with this person. A therapist is not a substitute friend, relative or parent. You are buying a professional relationship with someone. A helpful gauge is to reflect after your meeting or call on whether the person asked a question or made a statement that helped you to think in a new or different way about something. Listen to your gut, tune into your feelings and if necessary, have a second meeting or call, as many as you need to find a good fit.

Think of the first contact as the beginning of an exchange and a way to begin to find out about the other person. If you have limited time and availability it’s good to say that up front. Ask about their background, training and if interested, what modality of psychotherapy they have trained in. Write down all the questions you may have and be sure to ask them at your first session. You are embarking upon one of the most important investments you will ever make, it is important to feel good about it.

Sessions take place weekly, usually at the same time because it provides a consistent frame and a regularity that allows trust and mutual understanding to develop over time affording a deeper relationship between therapist and client.

This is a common worry from new clients and something you should raise with your therapist directly. Share your concerns with them. Ask about what ethical framework they adhere to and to explain their professional view of confidentiality. Within the profession, this is one of the first principles that trainee counsellors are taught and learn through practice of keeping all data secure, maintaining confidentiality in communication and working within the ethical framework of the professional member organisations they belong to. Normally client work is shared only with their direct Supervisor as an aid to ongoing learning and provision of professional support. You need to feel safe in order to allow trust to grow between you. This is a process that happens over time.

A good rule of thumb is that there is no rule, because each of us is different and works at a different pace. In this world of instant gratification, therapy falls short for all the right reasons. Coffee is instant. Therapy is not. Often there is a direct correlation between how much effort and commitment the client puts in as to how much you will get out of it. In concrete terms this means showing up on time, being willing to share honestly about your thoughts and feelings and then, in the interim between sessions, reflecting on what has come up for you and perhaps taking action to try out new ways of being and feeling. Over time, changes can be seen and felt, often first by others and then by you.

Absolutely. We all go through periods of life that are tricky, challenging, upsetting and can leave us feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Seeking support from a professional to overcome a specific set of circumstances like job loss, relationship break up, divorce or health issues, is a good move. Together you and your therapist can approach the issue and help you understand it fully, process the impact and associated feelings and hopefully be able to integrate those feelings so that they are not distressing you. Short term therapy is between 12 to 24 weeks and can have significantly positive results.