ELIZABETH ZARA BUTLER MBACP (Accred) COUNSELLING     Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens in the first session?
The first session offers us both an opportunity to meet each other and assess how we might work together. You are not committing yourself to continuing with any further counselling by attending an initial session. I will explain a little about counselling, and answer any questions you may have, as well as introducing you to the working agreement we will enter into if you decide to continue. You can talk about whatever you want to – many people find it helpful to describe what has brought them to counselling, and what they hope to gain from the experience. I respect it is your choice how much you wish to say in a first session.

Will counselling work for me?
Counselling has helped many people at difficult times in their lives, by supporting them in exploring and making sense of their individual experience, thoughts and feelings. This process can enable you to move forward with your life in a more positive way: through understanding yourself better and identifying the choices available to you, you arrive at your own solutions. While it is not always easy, I find that those who engage with the process usually feel that it has been a worthwhile investment in themselves. Counselling works best when you feel comfortable to talk openly with your counsellor, so you are free to decide whether you wish to continue, after we have met for an initial session.

Why don’t I just talk to friends or family?
Some of us may be fortunate in having friends or family who we can talk through our problems with, however there can also be times when they are unable to help. It could be that whatever is troubling you is simply too difficult to talk about with those closest to you, or maybe they offer opinions or advice that may not feel helpful. Sometimes we can also feel that we are over-burdening friends or loved ones with our problems, and wish to protect them by seeking the support we need from elsewhere.

What if my problem seems too small?
It is possible that because some areas of our lives are going well, we feel that our worries are not important enough to ask for help with. Sometimes this can reflect the deeper issue of thinking that we ourselves are not important enough to invest in, or to take up another’s time and attention. If you feel worried, or sad, or cannot seem to resolve an aspect of your life which troubles you, these are problems which are worth addressing, in order to live life more as you wish to.

What if I’ve tried counselling before?
Each experience of counselling is different, mainly because people are not all the same. That goes for counsellors too, even counsellors working with the same counselling model will develop distinct individual approaches. While therapists do also vary because they are trained in different theories, research has shown that a good relationship with your counsellor is the most important indicator of a positive outcome.

What type of counselling do you offer?
I am a Humanistic counsellor, trained to work with Person-Centred, Gestalt and Existential theories, which means that I can offer a combination of these approaches to best suit your individual needs. These counselling models all sit within the framework of Humanistic philosophy, which holds that people have a fundamentally positive drive to fulfil their potential, with the capacity to develop, grow and change.

How many sessions will I need?
There is no single answer to this question, since people’s needs vary. I offer both short-term counselling, usually six to twelve sessions, and longer-term open-ended therapy. We would discuss what might be appropriate for you in the initial session, and regularly review this question, to allow for change and development. If you decide to attend subsequent sessions I would encourage you to prioritise these as a commitment, however it is always your decision how long you wish to commit to counselling for.

Will I have to talk a lot about my past?
Counselling offers you the space to talk about what you need to. Some people wish to focus on current situations or recent life events. For others, it may be helpful to revisit a past event if it continues to affect the present. If you feel you are stuck in repeating patterns of behaviour or relationships, it can be useful to look at how these might have arisen.

Will I feel worse before I feel better?
The counselling process can feel hard at times when difficult thoughts and emotions are explored, but as your counsellor, I would support you to do this safely and at your own pace. There can be times when words fail us, and some people benefit from using objects, pictures or creative methods to help them express themselves.

What do I do if I think a friend or relative might benefit from counselling?
If you think counselling could benefit somebody you know, encourage them to consider this option. Maybe they would be willing to look at websites such as BACP It's Good To Talk to find out more about it, or research counsellors in their area. While you can pass them information and even make an appointment for them, ultimately they have to make their own decision to choose to go to counselling.

Is there disabled access?
Yes. The therapy rooms are accessible for a standard wheelchair.

Is there a waiting room?
Yes, there is a comfortable waiting area.

Do you offer telephone or online counselling?
I work in person face to face, however, when there is already an established counselling relationship, I will offer occasional telephone sessions when a client is unable to attend due to special circumstances.
I do not offer online counselling.

Do you speak any other languages?
Sorry, no.

I would still like to know more
For further information about counselling please visit: It's Good To Talk a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) website.

A helpful website with advice and support for those experiencing mental distress can be found at MIND a charity which campaigns for better awareness of and services for mental health.

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