Dr Rebecca ker, Counselling Psychologist BSc. DPsych.
What is Counselling Psychology?

There are many different types of psychologist (e.g.: clinical, forensic, educational, business, sport and counselling). The British Psychological Society offers information about the different specialisms. Broadly speaking, Counselling Psychologists have training in a range of talking therapies and treatment approaches. Training in Counselling Psychology usually involves undergoing personal therapy to enhance personal reflexivity and self-awareness, and is academically rigorous.

"Counselling psychologists examine a person's experience and explore underlying issues. They use an active, collaborative relationship with patients to empower people to change a certain behaviour, and use a holistic stance, which involves examining the issues a person is facing, within the wider context of what has given rise to them." NHS website.

Why would someone see a Counselling Psychologist?

There is no ‘right’ reason for seeking psychological therapy. Many chose to seek a counsellor or psychologist to cope with a difficult life event or difficulties in a certain area of life. Life issues could include bereavement, relationship difficulties, domestic violence or the aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse, while mental health problems could include eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis. Some have noticed that their life involves patterns of behaviour or relationship difficulties. Others feel lost, confused or are struggling with their sense of identity.

Some people want to learn about themselves and describe deciding to engage in a process of personal growth. We are all shaped by our experiences and can learn to understand, accept or change things about ourselves.

It's too expensive, are there cheaper or free resources?

Yes there are. Your GP will also be able to signpost you to NHS services. Other organisations offer low-cost therapeutic services and many therapists working privately offer a few low-cost sessions for those who cannot afford the full fee (as I do).

GPs sometimes offer computerised CBT and may recommend a programme. For example, ‘MoodGYM’ is available from the Internet and is free to use. These tools can help teach CBT tools, and some people like the privacy these programmes offer, however, there are some advantages to talking to a real person.

Maudsley Learning have shared this link to a free app for i-phone or android users: ‘five ways to well-being’.

How do I decide which psychologist is right for me?

If you are looking for a professional psychologist it is important to consider a couple of things. Firstly, the person's theoretical approach and their qualifications; you can ensure any health professional is really qualified at the level they claim to be at the Health Professionals Council website (see useful links page).

It is also important to find someone you feel able to work with. There are many different types of Øtalking therapies’ and different professionals have different personalities. It's a good idea to meet a person face-to face to help decide if you feel able to work with a person. You are under no obligation to continue meeting with someone you do not feel able to talk to.

The British Psychological Society offers a full list of accredited practitioners.

The Health Professionals Council regulates all health professionals. A register of practioners can be accessed online to ensure accurate representation.

Is it confidential?

Confidentiality arrangements will made clear in a first meeting. The content of sessions are private and any notes or identifying details will be kept securely. However, in extreme cases Rebecca is obliged to break a client's confidence, although this will be made clear to a client in the unlikely event that this arises. Like any doctor-patient relationship, my first task is to ensure you are safe.

What to expect?

Each session lasts for 50 minutes. The first meeting is a chance to share information and have your questions answered. I will gather some history and get a sense of what you are hoping to achieve. I will do my best to make you feel relaxed and safe. It is common to feel apprehensive before engaging in a talking therapy; please be reassured that I recognise the bravery involved in sharing your private thoughts and feelings, and sessions will go at a pace that feels comfortable.

What if I need to talk to someone urgently?

I cannot offer an emergency service. In an emergency, emergency services should be contacted (phone 999).

The NHS Direct offers a useful resource. Call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge.

The NHS website has a list of help-lines and support resources.

Please also refer to the page Useful Links & Resources.