What is Psychotherapy and is it different from Counselling?

Psychotherapy, according to many is a term interchangeable in practical meaning with Counselling. Personally, I think the word counselling fits my approach more aptly. Opinions differ and others see psychotherapy to be more appropriate to their ways of working.

What other professional bodies are there?

Apart from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) there are several bodies with equally rigorous qualification criteria who perform a similar role, depending on location, these include:


Some organisations will oversee a particular professional group within psychotherapy governed by their particular methodology or approach.

Will my Doctor need to know I am having Counselling?

No, unless you wish to inform them yourself. It may be that we will agree to include your GP in the Circle of Confidentiality. I will always discuss this with you if and when it is appropriate.

How far does confidentiality go?

Generally, what is said in the Counselling room stays in the room. You have a right to discuss your Counselling with anyone you choose to. I will not disclose anything about our work to anyone except other designated Counselling professionals. Where I am obliged by a legal duty, I will not generally disclose anything without your informed consent.

What is Informed Consent?

This means I have a responsibility to inform you of all the necessary factors involved in making any decision that affects our work together. It means that decisions such as extending confidentiality will be explored with you so that you are aware of the background and implications of your choice.

What do Supervisors do?

Supervisors are included in the Circle of Confidentiality to oversee our work together. However, they are not in the room with us. Supervision is a mandatory part of ethical Counselling work. My Supervisor will regularly invite me to reflect on my work with an individual I am working with. Supervision is seen as a vital part of any therapeutic Counselling process.

Are there any exceptions concerning confidentiality?

In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to review the boundaries of confidentiality for legal reasons or as a safety measure. I would not do this without discussing it with you first. Except for some very rare legal situations I would always seek your permission to disclose anything to parties or organisations outside the agreed boundaries of confidentiality. I would never change the boundaries of confidentiality without your knowledge and informed consent.

How often do I need to come to Counselling?

Things usually work best if sessions are arranged to occur at weekly intervals. It can be really beneficial to the outcome to keep a regular pattern of attendance at a regular time of day.

Will I feel better straight away?

It may take several sessions before you start to get a full benefit from Counselling. However, it is often the case that the first session can feel like something of a relief. Sometimes it will feel like there is still along way to go and sometimes it feels like you have made a breakthrough.

How long will it be before I feel better?

This varies according to every individual and and their circumstances so it is not really possible to put a time on how long it will take. However, making a firm commitment to your Counselling can enable you to get the most out of every session and maximise the chances of feeling better sooner. Often, maintaining a high level of commitment can lead to a really beneficial outcome.

Do you take notes of the session?

It is a requirement set out by BACP that I keep notes. The content is not disclosed to anyone outside the specified boundaries of confidentiality without a court order. I do not take notes during the session, but I write up every session afterwards. I store the notes securely and your name will not be mentioned on them. The notes will contain basic information about the session content and any relevant details.

Can I see the notes?

You are legally entitled to see the notes I produce regarding the session content or anything which directly concerns you in our work together. I will always invite you to explore the process of disclosure and your reasoning. However, I am still obliged by UK Law to disclose the Personal Data that I possess to the person involved.

What about data protection?

I have a duty as a 'Data Controller' to oversee and take responsibility for the integrity of any Personal Data I process as part of my work. This includes use of electronic storage and retrieval means as well as the manual means. I only record and process data directly associated with our work together and I take special measures to ensure only I have access to it.

What is Personal Counselling?

I regularly undertake sessions with my own Counsellor who has many years experience. Many organisations and individual Counsellors recognise this as a major factor in the therapeutic effectiveness of a Counsellor. It is encouraged by many professional bodies including BACP.