Frequently Asked Questions about Brief Therapy and Coaching
Shouldn’t I be able to sort out my own problems?
There are times when we all get stuck or worn down by a problem or habit we seem unable to fix. Or something that causes us stress and worry and spoils life for us. Talking it through with a therapist usually means fresh ideas and insights, and can help you be move past the problem. People call a therapist for many reasons, it simply means that they have decided they’d like professional help in sorting something out.
Why should I go to a therapist?
For the same reason that you’d go to any specialist when faced with something you think would benefit from their knowledge, skills or understanding. Wellbeing is a specialist area, you know about your life, and what you want; the right therapist will help you develop your skills and resources to be able to work round or change something that has been problematic for you. Remember too that therapy and coaching are about self improvement, not just about fixing problems.
If you have specific symptoms, common ones are depression, anxiety, worry, sleeplessness or a relationship problem, the therapist will have helped others deal with similar difficulties.Talking things through helps to get a new perspective on old problems, and an effective therapist asks questions that will help you develop your ideas and change unhelpful patterns of thought or behaviour.
I have friends, why pay someone?
Social conversations can sometimes be enough, other times you might want to keep the matter private. Most of us discuss things with friends or family before seeking professional help, this applies to anything from fixing the car to child care or a health problem. In such cases we don’t expect the friend to replace the expert, and we shouldn’t do that with our mental health and wellbeing either.
Isn’t therapy expensive? / I have no money
I believe that lack of money should not be an obstacle to wellbeing. While some people use the lack of money argument for avoiding therapy, there are many people who genuinely cannot afford to pay for sessions.
Most places have free or low-cost therapy services run by charities, and in the UK, many GP surgeries can provide counselling. The down-side is that services are patchy, and waiting lists can be long. Choice is another issue; you’ll have to work with the therapist or counsellor you are given, rather than choosing someone who is recommended or who you think is the best ‘fit’ with you.
If money is a problem, here are a few things to consider:
- Some therapists (I am one of them) take a certain number of clients at reduced rate or free. Be prepared to ask, and negotiate what you can afford if the therapist is open to discussing it. Find someone else if they are not.
- Many also offer a free first session or discussion. In my case, I expect to give potential clients 20-30 minutes of my time to discuss what it is they want to tackle, how we might go about it, and to answer any questions. Sometimes this is all that people need.
- There is no need to commit to weeks or months of therapy. Quite often a single session is enough.
- Therapy costs are commonly £50-60 for a one-hour session, some charge less. My fees are £60, and session length is variable as it depends on what the client needs, and we want to make each session count.
- The real cost of a problem is often far more than a few pounds people say they can’t afford. How important is it to sort out what’s troubling you?
Whats the difference between therapy and counselling?
They are the same thing, in terms of what they aim to do, but the approach might be different. See Brief Therapy vs Counselling for a fuller description.
How do I choose a therapist?
Ask around, talk to friends and colleagues, read blogs like this one. Once you have located one or more possible candidates, ask for an initial meeting to discuss your needs. Therapy is no different from any other service in this regard, you should choose the person who you feel most comfortable with and who you think will do the best job for you.
A lot has been written on this, see for example this article in Psychology Today.
What is Brief Therapy?
Brief Therapy means that you and the therapist work collaboratively to help you achieve your aims. Conversations are about solutions, rather than problems, and outcomes rather than causes. Because it is focused and goal-oriented, therapy takes less time. It is brief because it is effective, not because it is time-limited. In fact, sessions are often longer than the traditional hour, because they are guided by the needs of the conversation, not the clock.
How long dos it last?
In my case, we won’t spend time discussing what went wrong, your guilt or your failures. I’ll help redirect you by identifying your strengths, focusing on and improving your abilities. A shift should occur in the first session, and often that’s enough for some people. Read more about Single Session Therapy. If you want more sessions, you simply book them. Therapy lasts as long as you want it to, and no longer.
I have depression, how can talking help with a medical condition?
Depression is one of the commonest and most-studied problems people can face. Whatever your view of depression or whatever you have been told about it, therapy is recommended by all the guidelines. Even when medication is prescribed, it should be accompanied by the right sort of therapy for depression. This is clear and unequivocal, and the results show it to be correct.
How can just talking make problems disappear?
Talking things through in with someone you trust as a person and respect for their professional knowledge can help you deal with times when you feel troubled. Whereas, repeatedly running through things in our minds, alone, tends to make them appear worse.
Talking can also help you work though a problem or idea, so that you can understand what’s bothering you or explore a new direction. Talking and self-understanding are vital for good mental health. Being listened to helps you feel understood and affirmed in what you have to say.
Talking also improves how we think; some ideas just aren’t available to us until we start a discussion. Talking promotes creativity and insight.
I’ve looked at all the angles, how can therapy help?
When we look in a mirror we only see the view that we’ve always seen. Therapy can help a person view things from new angles, ones they are less likely to get to alone.
Will it mean that I get labelled with ‘mental health issues’?
Only if you want it to, or if someone else slaps a label on you. Therapy should be about wellbeing, healing, self-improvement and fulfillment, not about categorising people.
What if my problems can’t be fixed?
Therapy is not about ‘fixing things’. It is about helping you to become more resilient so that you’ll be more resourceful in dealing with difficulties.
Is it normal to feel uncomfortable with the idea of therapy?
Yes. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable about anything new. This may clarify things: 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Seek Therapy.
There’s nothing wrong with me, it’s them that needs therapy!
Many people consult a therapist to help them get better at something. For example, like handling a difficult relationship, improving communications, or even finding ways to improve their quality of life when the other person can’t or won’t change.
If this seems unfair to be the one that does all the work, remember that the person who takes the first step is showing initiative and looking after themselves, also, when they see the changes the other person might eventually follow.
You don’t see your question here?
Please send it to me and I’ll respond privately.