How we work
Making an initial appointment and coming to a first session is often the hardest step to take. The descriptions detailed below are a sample of what you can expect when you come to a first appointment.
A first couple session
We will have spoken briefly on the telephone prior to the session and you will have been sent a confirmation email and directions to you both. We will tell you about confidentiality of our sessions, about our supervision arrangements and that we keep brief notes. We will answer any questions you may have and will ask about previous counselling experience. If this is your first time at counselling we will talk about how it works and what to expect. We want you to get an idea of how it might feel to work with the counsellor you have chosen. You will both be given an opportunity to talk about the experience of your relationship, what works, what is more difficult, why you have come to counselling and what you would like to gain out of the process. We will ask some background questions about the relationship, how you met, what your initial attraction was to each other, how long you have been together, whether you have children and their ages. We will be looking at how you interact and communicate with each other. The initial appointment focuses on learning about who you are as individuals and as a couple. At the end of the session we will check how you have felt about the session and talk about how we move forward from here.
The Relationship Counsellors have trained and worked with each other for many years. We appreciate each other’s extensive experience and diverse expertise on a range of professional issues. The joint knowledge of our group comes together for the benefit of our clients, within the boundaries of strict confidentiality.
A first family session
The first session of family counselling offers everyone attending the chance to describe the problems they face, as they see it. From the beginning, the aim is to help their family group connect, communicate and resolve conflict. Some members of the family may have previous experience of counselling and some may not. We aim to work at a pace suitable for the most uncertain person there.
Introductions are first and I would explain about confidentiality, and note taking. I would ask about the size and shape of the family unit and what each member does, whether at work, home or school.
It is important to hear from everybody present why they think the family unit will benefit from counselling and what they hope to get out of the experience. Every member of the family is likely to have a different understanding of the situation and the experience of hearing each other‘s story can be unexpectedly helpful in itself. Sometimes it is useful to imagine what family members who are not present might say if asked the same question.
We will also talk about what is going well and, most importantly, what the family members would like to be different.
It may be that we arrange for the family to attend together for each session but sometimes it can be helpful to have time with some members of the family when the others are not present. We discuss the best way forward at the end of the first session and arrange how and when we will meet again.
A first session in psychosexual therapy
Sexual problems are common and are one of the main causes of relationship difficulties: Sex Therapy is a successful way of dealing with both functional and psychological issues. These issues might include anxiety, loss of desire, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus, premature ejaculation, sex addiction...or it may simply be that you are out of the habit of sex, and need help in restarting your sex life.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
If you come to Sex Therapy, we will initially talk about what is happening in your sex life, and talk about whether it is sensible to ask your GP for any medical checks. We will ask questions to build a picture of your experiences and concerns and if you come as a couple, will generally spend time with each of you individually. Sex Therapy is based in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT); this means that we will work together to create a treatment plan supporting you to explore your sensuality at your own pace, to regain confidence and to question any areas of uncertainty and anxiety. Many people find it awkward to discuss sex; working with an experienced therapist is a useful way to practise so that you can explain how you feel and what you want. Each week, we will agree tasks for you to do at home, and we will discuss your feedback at the next session, and decide the next tasks to allow you to reach your chosen goals.
Sex Therapy can sometimes seem daunting. Remember the therapist is very used to working with sexual problems: most are surprisingly common, and it can be a huge relief to find a positive way forward. The first session is an opportunity to explain your worries, and to find out how we can help.