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.
Aviva Recognised Provider
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