+ What is counselling?

Counselling is a form of short-term talk therapy (6-8 sessions) focused on a specific issue in the here-and-now. The goal is often to unravel a problem and find new ways forward.

+ How is psychotherapy different to counselling?

Psychotherapy involves a deeper level of work over a longer time frame with an emphasis on exploring relationship patterns and internal experiences and examining internal conflicting emotional states. The goal is to expand a person’s capacity to relate differently to themselves and others.

+ What can psychotherapy help with?

Psychotherapy can help with a range of issues including but not limited to:

  • Life transitions such as a relationships ending, family break-ups, midlife changes or making a decision to redefine who you are and how you live your life
  • Self-exploration
  • Sexual issues and sexuality
  • Family issues
  • A sense of feeling overwhelmed with life, a feeling of being on the edge
  • Adjustment issues such as chronic illnesses or life plan changes
  • Traumatic experiences in the past and present
  • Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
  • Relationship problems with partners, family or work colleagues
  • Self-esteem and confidence

+ What can I gain from psychotherapy?

  • Inner awareness and confidence
  • Insight and awareness of repeated patterns and how to work with them or change them
  • A greater capacity to feel, experience and deal with real experiences in an open way
  • A capacity to engage in relationships that serve some kind of passionate function and meaning
  • An ability to regulate our experiences without fearing our reactions
  • A sense of integration, wholeness, spontaneity and inner trust
  • A willingness to be in relationships in which difference and conflicts can be embraced with comfort and authenticity

+ What happens in the first session?

The first session is an opportunity to find out whether we can both work comfortably together. You can expect to do most of the talking in this session, although I’ll ask you some questions to find out whether I can help you or whether another type of therapist or health professional is better suited to meeting your needs. Feel free to ask me questions about how I practise, my approach and whatever else you are curious about. If I believe my approach can help we’ll discuss a structure of fees, appointments and other details. Sometimes specific questions or forms may need to be filled in as part of an assessment process. We’ll also talk about confidentiality, record keeping and the boundaries of the therapy relationship. Clarity about details is crucial to the effectiveness of therapy.

+ How many sessions will I need?

This is a difficult question to answer. Counselling usually lasts for six to eight weekly sessions. Because of the depth of the work, it’s uncommon for psychotherapy to last less than three months and it can often extend for much longer depending on the client’s needs. Most clients choose to have psychotherapy weekly and some choose to see a therapist more frequently during particularly difficult times.

+ Does Medicare cover psychotherapy?

Right now the answer is no psychotherapy and counselling are not covered by a Medicare rebate however this is under review by the federal government and negotiations continue with organisations representing psychotherapy and counselling bodies.

+ How long are psychotherapy sessions?

Psychotherapy practitioners usually offer a standard 50-minute hour, which allows clients to come and go from sessions in complete privacy. I don't have a waiting room so it is important you arrive promptly for your sessions.

+ How do I pay for my sessions?

Payments can be either in cash or by electronic funds transfer. We can discuss this at your first session.

+ What happens if I am unable to attend my appointment? Is there a cancellation policy?

I have a policy that unless an appointment is cancelled or rescheduled 24 hours in advance of the appointment the full fee is charged.

+ Does psychotherapy work? What evidence is there?

The answer is yes, psychotherapy works and there is a significant body of clinical evidence to support its effectiveness. The foundation of psychotherapy is the relationship built between therapist and client. Research shows that the success of the therapy hinges more on the qualities of the relationship and less on the type of therapy practised.

+ How is psychotherapy different to psychiatry and psychology?

Psychotherapy is different to psychiatry and psychology in that it focuses primarily on what happens between the therapist and the client and how that might reflect what is in the client’s past, present and other relationships outside of therapy. The exploration of unconscious processes is an integral part of the work and no medications are prescribed. The alliance between client and therapist is the key to the process. Thinking, feeling and behaving are all brought into the therapy room.

Psychiatrists are medically trained, have specialised in psychiatry, and tend to focus on the very serious end of the mental illness continuum. Being doctors they work from a medical model and can prescribe medications. Psychologists have trained in the science of psychology and their approach involves evidence-based techniques for changing behaviour. They do not prescribe medication and traditionally do not focus on unconscious processes.

Both psychologists and psychiatrists can practise psychotherapy but most focus on other approaches to deal with the symptoms and effects of mental health issues.

+ Why does it help to work with the unconscious?

The aim of psychotherapy is to develop an understanding of the complex mix of factors that inform how we currently experience things; what motivates us and why we behave the way we do. Early developmental experiences and relationships shape how the mind works but because these developments predate memory they are difficult to access and are therefore regarded as unconscious.

Exploring these aspects of our experience in the safety of the therapy relationship allows a new way of seeing and experiencing to emerge. Ultimately this new awareness can enables people to change but it is a slow process of working together to link what is happening out of our awareness and affecting our present relationships and situations.

+ Is psychotherapy the answer to all mental health issues?

Different approaches have been shown to work more effectively for different issues. For this reason, I may refer a client to another type of specialised psychotherapist, I may encourage them to see a GP for medical issues or to discuss referral to a psychiatrist. Another important reason for referral is that our connection may not be right for you and we may simply not relate in a way that makes you comfortable to pursue therapy with me.