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How long is therapy?
As long as you need it to be. Unlike some forms of therapy, there are no set number of sessions by which you are required to be done. Conversely, there are no required or contracted minimum number of sessions. I don’t think we can fit people into a box and do the best job. Each person is unique, and each challenge is unique, so there is, quite literally, no way to predict how long therapy is going to take. Nor do I think there are any set rules about ‘when to end therapy.’ You are free to decide when you want to end therapy. Of course, I am happy to assist in assessing where you are in your progress to help you make this decision. That is often a useful thing to do without regard to whether or not to end therapy. It may be undertaken as a way to decide what our next goal is going to be.
A long time ago I decided to use value as the sole criterion for whether or not to continue with therapy: ‘Is it worth my time and money to go see this therapist and work on this issue?’ If it is, keep going. If it isn’t, stop. Of course, it is not always that simple, and so I am always willing to discuss whether or not to carry on.
How often do we meet?
As often as you like. Meeting arrangements can vary depending on your needs and preferences. Options have varied in the past from a 5 minute, ‘Nothing to really speak of today, carry on,’ to flying away to a different country for a week’s engagement.
In general, one hour a week is standard fare for counselling and psychotherapy. However, sometimes an hour a week is simply not sufficient to deal with what has transpired in the week and then to make progress in therapy. That is one reason some peoples’ therapy experiences have been ineffective. Sometimes it takes the first hour to get going and be in a position to progress. It is a judgement call, and again, I am always happy to discuss your needs.
Some people prefer to work fortnightly or even monthly, especially when we are entering a ‘maintenance’ phase of therapy. That is, the goals have been substantially accomplished, and now it is simply a matter of maintaining the achievements. I am happy to accommodate the schedule that works for you.
Others prefer to work multiple hours weekly. One client, who made rapid progress and finished in about 3 months, met with me 6 hours weekly. Again, my aim is to tailor our working relationship to suit your individual needs.
For couples and families, the needs are different. Couples can sometimes make good progress meeting fortnightly for two hours. Family sessions are typically less frequent. This is because each member can be a resource for the others to keep the work going and encourage one another.
How much does it cost?
I have a standard fee. Some people can’t afford that. But I don’t want money to stand in the way of you getting the help that you need. We can discuss it during our first session, or in advance, if you prefer. In the event you can’t pay my full fee, I am willing to negotiate.
Remember, the value of a service is what you give it. I do charge more than most, though by no means all, therapists. I base my fee on my experience, my training, and my results with clients.
But consider this: how much does it cost to pay a low fee and never get what you want and need? In assessing value, you have to look at the long run.
Do you give a free initial consultation?
I am going to leave that up to you. Here is why. First, I am happy to answer your questions via phone call or email prior to any meeting. If at the first meeting we decide not to work together, then you won’t owe me anything. After all, if I haven’t been able to help you, then I don’t think it’s fair for you to pay. If, however, we do decide to work together, then I consider the first session to be a working session, and so I charge at whatever rate we have agreed to.
Can therapy help me with my problem?
In most instances, yes. It is going to depend on the nature of the problem. Obviously, therapy can’t change the reality of what you are experiencing. What it can do is help you to experience it differently. I am a firm believer that how we perceive things is often times more important than what that thing is in the first place. It is the choice of seeing events and situations as stumbling blocks or as stepping stones.
What if the problem is with someone else: a partner, parent, child, boss – whomever?
We can’t change other people, but we can change how we deal with other people. We can take responsibility for our own reactions and interpretations, and especially how we are going to respond. And this choice can change the situation, sometimes drastically.
What happens when it is time to end therapy, and how will I know when that time comes?
Most people take a graduated approach to ending therapy. I am happy to discuss whether or not to end therapy at any time you like. But really, it is up to you. Obviously, whether or not you have achieved your goals is a key question. Oftentimes, when one’s initial goals have been achieved, clients go on to establish new goals. This can lead people into realms of personal achievement and satisfaction that they had never even considered before entering therapy.
When people do come to a time when they are ready to leave therapy, most do it in a graduated way (pun optional). They might reduce the frequency of sessions to fortnightly, monthly, or some other length. In many cases clients just want to know, ‘If I quit now, can I call you if I need you?’ The answer, of course, is, ‘Of course!’
I don’t abandon clients, and I am happy for you to come and go as you choose.
What is your philosophy of helping?
I use Maslow’s Modified Hierarchy as a way to guide therapy. Maslow’s idea was to study what it is that makes people healthy and happy, rather than to study what makes them unhealthy and unhappy. Therapy is an opportunity for growth, for exploration, for expanding your capabilities in all areas of life.