Frequently Asked Questions

• What is psychotherapy?

There are many different types of psychotherapy. Broadly speaking, it is a form of treatment that enables personal difficulties to be explored and worked through by way of regular sessions, in which a trained person establishes a professional relationship with a person seeking help in resolving their personal dilemmas. It is generally believed within the different psychotherapy modalities that our history affects who we are now; how we configure and make sense of our situation; our emotional regulatory functioning and our behavioural tendencies. Patterns of how a person engages in their relationships outside of therapy tend to surface in the relationship with the therapist. The psychotherapist listens carefully to the client; pays attention to their non-verbal communication; notices their own felt responses in relation to the client and brings the emerging patterns that are contributing to the client’s difficulties to their awareness. This enables the possibility for the client to gain new insights and re-evaluate aspects of themselves in relation to their current life-situation. The aim of psychotherapy is to promote personality growth and development that support effective interpersonal functioning, increased capacity for regulation of feelings and a broader range of behavioural choices.

• Is there anything I need to do in preparation for therapy sessions?

This is entirely a matter of choice. You may want to bring a particular theme that has been pressing for you and that you want to explore, or alternatively, you may want to come to the session and just see what emerges into your awareness as you sit with me. In a way, it doesn’t really matter which way you prefer to get started, as it is the relational contact between us that forms the substance of the work. What is of significance for you in your life will emerge in some way or form, regardless of which place you choose to start from.


• Do you offer advice?

In general, the answer is no, however, there are some exceptions. Within the therapeutic encounter it is the client who has the experience of how their life has been and in what ways they are struggling now; the therapist has knowledge and understanding of the various functioning patterns that become self-limiting to a person and keep them stuck. Between us we work with these two areas that each of us brings to the therapeutic situation, for the purpose of assisting you in finding your own solutions. Situations in which I would offer advice are where there is a risk to your own health or safety, or to that of someone else, for example, if you were complaining of symptoms indicative of a medical problem, then I would strongly advise you to seek medical attention.


• Is the service confidential?

Yes the service is confidential. However, there are limitations to confidentiality in rare and exceptional circumstances, that is, where there is a legal requirement for me to give information, or where there is a posed risk of serious harm either to you or to someone else. If I needed to breach confidentiality in these circumstances, I would discuss this with you first, unless there was an emergency and I needed to act quickly.


• Will I need long-term or short-term therapy?

This would be dependent on the nature of your difficulties and what you are hoping to get from therapy, for instance, someone may seek therapeutic support after experiencing a loss in their life. They may need some support in coming to terms with what has happened and with the level of emotion they are experiencing and perhaps they may need some reassurance that what they are experiencing is normal. Usually, 5 – 6 sessions would be sufficient for this type of life challenge. If a person’s problems are, for example, related to earlier traumatic experiences that are affecting how they live their life in the present, then an open-ended contract would be more beneficial. Whether the working contract is short-term or open-ended is a matter for discussion and agreement between the client and therapist.

Sharon Beirne MA(Psychotherapy), Dip.(GPTI), Dip.(N.S), UKCP Reg.
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