What is Therapy?
Usually individuals choose to have therapy because they are experiencing difficulties and distress in their lives, and talking with a person who is independent of friends and family may be easier. However, you do not have to be in crisis, before choosing to have therapy. You may be experiencing underlying feelings of dissatisfaction with life in general, or be seeking balance in your life and spirituality. All of these reasons and more will bring individuals to therapy.
What is therapy?
Therapy is time set aside by you and the therapist to look at what has brought you to therapy. This might include talking about life events, (past and present), feelings, emotions, relationships, ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour. The therapist will do their best to help you to look at your issues, and to identify the right course of action for you, either to help you resolve your difficulties or help you find ways of coping. Talking about these things may take time, and will not necessarily all be included in one session. The number of sessions offered can vary from time limited - 6, 8, 10 or 12 sessions, or open ended. A therapy session is a time set aside on an agreed date at an agreed place, which provides a ‘safe’ space, which is private, undisturbed, and cannot be overheard or interrupted.
There are different ways of working with people, usually referred to as ‘approaches’, ‘techniques’ or ‘modalities’. In the initial meeting with your therapist, you may find it useful to discuss this with your counsellor or therapist.
Confidentiality is essential in a therapy relationship as part of building trust. However, confidentiality is not absolute, and there are exceptions. You and your therapist should talk together in your first session and reach agreement about the limits of confidentiality for your work together. Also see (BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy ) www.bacp.co.uk
Contracts and boundaries
Therapists should establish clear boundaries. This is a framework where you and the therapist have agreed a contract covering dates and times of therapy sessions, how and when the therapist and client can be contacted, agreement about the limits of confidentiality, clarification of the nature of the relationship, i.e. that it is a professional one, where the therapist will not be a personal friend. Some therapists provide written contracts for you to take away, usually in their first meeting, stating the agreement you have made to work together. These are useful and if your therapist doesn’t offer this, you may wish to ask for it.
For further information/explanation: see www.bacp.co.uk, the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2010) (the Ethical Framework).