Here are a few questions that you may need answers to, to allay any fears you may have about counselling with a therapist -
Q) What problems or concerns is counselling useful for?
A) Talking to a trained counsellor will help you to air thoughts and feelings that you are perhaps not comfortable talking to family and friends about, and whatever you bring to the session will be both relevant and important because it is what is concerning or troubling you now. The following will give you a general idea of the types of issues that counsellors work with - anxiety, relationship/marital difficulties, anger, grief/loss/bereavement, depression, eating disorders, sexuality, stress, addictions... but please do not feel restricted by this list because problems come in many guises and my job is to help you discover and reveal what you need to find.

Q) Will  the onus be on me to do all the talking from the start?
A) Not entirely...your therapist will usually greet you, let you settle down before asking how she/he can help you. This will seem like a 'lonely' question but a skilled, empathetic therapist will help you feel as if you are having a conversation together, rather than leaving you feeling you are on your own just talking. The consultation will follow, whereby your therapist will want to know more about your life, family and relationships. The questions asked will open up a dialogue and help to build the therapeutic rapport between you, which is important, as you need to feel you can trust the person you are talking to. In my experience most people feel quite happy to talk by this stage, as they are able to lighten their burden and share it with someone who is trained to listen rather than give an opinion or make a judgement.

Q) Will my therapist ever judge me?
A) A well trained therapist will never judge you. Making judgements about you in any shape or form, is something that would totally defeat the purpose and role of a counsellor. I believe your time in the therapeutic space needs to offer you somewhere you can feel able to talk freely about anything. Counsellors work to strict Codes of Ethics specified by their governing bodies, and in the event you should want to discuss something like a crime you have committed, he/she may be bound to report such an incident, but this would not happen without your consent and the option to sort the situation out yourself with the appropriate assistance. Counsellors understand that all actions have motives behind them, so even in an extreme situation such as this, judgement of you would not play a part.

Q ) How many sessions will I need?
A) This is a little bit like asking 'how long is a piece of string? Initially I would always suggest a minimum of 6 sessions but if after 3 or 4 it is clear you have resolved your problems, then therapy will have met your needs. However, one of the keys to successful therapy is how much you are prepared to do for yourself in between weekly sessions. Doing homework tasks and practising the tools given to you will generally always work to your benefit and help you achieve your therapeutic goals far faster. The therapeutic relationship can itself, often give you much needed moral and spiritual support beyond your initial presenting problem, so for this reason you may wish to extend your therapy time beyond your contracted six sessions. However, one thing I will not do is 'hang on to you'...we will both know when therapy needs to come to an end because there will nothing else to say, in the nicest possible way!

Q) If I don't feel comfortable with my therapist, can I leave my therapy?
A) If you have doubts about your therapist, he/she will probably have noticed them too and will want to help you air your concerns. They may wish to ascertain what the exact problem is, as it may be related to the issue you have presented with ie a relationship problem with a person who the therapist reminds you of. If this is the case the therapist may see a benefit to you remaining with them in order to work through this, but will equally respect your wish to terminate therapy. They will also help you if you wish to be referred to someone else.