People come to counselling for many reasons, and with a whole host of different goals. For some, the problem or dilemma is readily identifiable and they know pretty much exactly what they want to speak about. For others its not so clear. They know that they’re not happy, they feel that there are things in life that they should easily be able to manage, but still they’re struggling. For still others there is a ever present nagging sense of anxiety that never goes away, no matter how calm, happy or safe a situation they may be in at any given moment.

Because of all of these differences, it is difficult in an answer such as this to be too precise about what you should talk about, or how you might wish to approach the subject once you are sitting in a room with me as your counsellor/therapist. What I would say however is that before you are expected to talk about anything, the first thing that we will concentrate on is you feeling safe and comfortable. I find that once we’ve ensured that sense of safety, then the conversation tends to flow fairly easily. Even if you are struggling to put things into words, that is ok. A large part of my skills as a therapist come from my ability to listen with a sort of “third ear”. One that allows me to listen to the entire being of those I’m working with, and not just the words they are saying. Most people find that once they feel comfortable and safe, that the things that have been troubling them come much more easily than they ever imagined. I know its a lot to ask at this point, long before you’ve picked up the phone to give me a call and set up an initial session, but I would ask that you trust me, and the process. It is not at all uncommon for those who have never been to any sort of counselling to be worried that they will dry up and not know what to say. My experience however is that this is short lived and a natural conversation soon develops.

Of course, if at any point during any session you do not wish to talk about something, you don’t have to. In all sessions, the topic of discussion (and the depth of discussion of that topic) is driven entirely by you and whatever happens to be the main pressing thoughts for you on any given day. Apart from certain pre-agreed situations during couples work, sessions are never led by me through questioning and/or suggestion. From the discussions we have during your sessions, in what often seems a surprisingly short time, a relationship develops between us that allows you to discover who you are as well as how and why you react to life the way you do. It usually does not take long before my clients find themselves managing things that only a few weeks ago seemed impossible, and feel better prepared for life in general going forward.

Your first counselling session is important, and is somewhat different from all that follow. The first session with any counsellor should serve a number of purposes. With me, the first thing we will work to ensure is that you are comfortable, not only with me as a therapist, but also with the overall surroundings and situation. During the roughly 60 minutes that we will spend together, you will be given an opportunity to tell me a little about what is troubling you. If I am seeing you together with your spouse or partner, then I will work to ensure that you each have equal opportunity to talk, as well as present your own thoughts on what is happening.

During that conversation, you are very much in charge of the topics we speak about, as well as the depth to which we speak about them. While I might ask a question here or there if you say something that I don’t quite understand, I will not be interviewing you or asking you to delve more deeply into any given topic than you wish to go. Towards the end of that first hour, I should be able to give an initial opinion on what I feel is going on in your situation as well as what I believe we may be able to achieve should you continue with counselling. In addition, I should also be able to give you an indication of how long things might take, and what you can (and cannot) expect from the process. In this way, we will work together to decide the aims and goals that you wish to achieve, and a plan to achieve them. The final few minutes of our first session will be spent discussing various administrative issues that might exist, such as: time and day of sessions, Cost and cancellation policies, any special needs you might have, or any other considerations that might become evident during the session.

The length of time one comes to counselling is completely a matter of personal choice. There is no minimum or maximum to the number of sessions you must attend – or should attend.

The greatest variable in estimating the number of sessions an individual or couple might need lies in the answer to the question: “What am I hoping to achieve?” For couples or individuals who have a specific, readily identifiable dilemma or conflict to resolve, this can often be achieved within 6 to 8 sessions or less. On the other hand if you are not exactly sure what it is that is troubling you, or if you would like to work on more deeply rooted issues that extend far back into your childhood, then you may well find that more time will be needed.

In general people will begin to “feel” differently about their difficulties and situation quite some time before they understand the roots/nature of why they are having these troubles in the first place. How long you might need to come, and how many sessions you will ultimately attend will be entirely down to you and what best suits your needs. Some only need attend one or two sessions to achieve their goals, while others might attend for several months. Still others dip in and out for short blocks of sessions over a period of many years as the need arises. I will be happy to discuss with you in the first session what your particular goals are for counselling, and the approximate number of sessions you might need.

Anything you might say or discuss during a counselling session remains completely private and confidential but for two exceptions:

1) Therapist/Client privilege no longer applies in cases where the counsellor is made aware of activities or behaviour that is placing third parties directly at risk. For example, if a client revealed to me that they like to go out at night and start small fires, I would be forced to take some action with regards to that information in order to prevent damage to life and property. Even in the event of such a rare and extreme example however, my very firm policy is to never discuss anything outside of the counselling relationship without your full knowledge and understanding. The only time a counsellor is required to disclose personal information about a client without their knowledge or consent is where a client reveals that they are involved in drug money laundering, or planning a terrorist attack.

2) In accordance with the ethical framework of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy of which I am an accredited member, I have a supervisor with whom I discuss my overall client base with from time to time. These supervisory meetings are designed to ensure that my quality of practice is at the highest level possible level and that I am at all times working in your best interest. They are not a platform for discussing personal client identities or details; however some basic overview information about the types of client difficulties I work with might be discussed.

Unless your counselling is being funded through an insurance provider, very little personal information is required. For purposes of my indemnity insurance however I need to know your name, telephone number and an address at which you can be contacted.

If you are attending as a couple, it may transpire that some written work is done during our sessions together. Any document produced as a result of this work will only be kept during our work together, and you are free to have it at the end of your counselling. I do not take contemporaneous notes of sessions, and therefore there will be no long term records of our discussions unless I have been specifically requested to do so at the beginning of our work together.

All information will be kept in a secure facilities and is held for 6 years following termination of your counselling.

Each and every client – irrespective of age or gender – receives the same level of confidentiality and sensitive treatment of their privacy. This means that regardless of who is funding the counselling – be it the client personally, a partner, a parent, or the local authority – all client information will be treated with the same conditions of confidentiality.

It is my firm belief and policy that each individual’s participation in counselling is strictly confidential and the content of any work we do together is therefore private – regardless of who is paying for the sessions. The only real exception to this rule of confidentiality is for legal minors, under the age of 18. For those under 18 there may be circumstances where it becomes necessary for me to notify their parent or legal guardian should it become my firm belief that the individual in question is at risk of significant harm.

It is my firm belief and policy that each individual’s participation in counselling is strictly confidential. This includes whether or not you are attending counselling, as well as the content of any of the work we do together. In the event a friend or family member attempts to determine whether you’ve attended any counselling sessions (either during your counselling or for an indefinite period following the termination of sessions), no information will be given.

The only real exception to this rule of confidentiality is for legal minors, under the age of 18. For those under 18 there may be circumstances where it becomes necessary for me to notify their parent or legal guardian should it become my firm belief that the individual in question is at risk of significant harm.

Yes you may. Many people feel unsure or uncomfortable about coming to counselling alone, particularly for the first session. If you wish to bring along a partner or advisor until you feel safe or comfortable that is absolutely fine. Having said this, it is my experience that most people find counselling progresses with greater meaning and purpose if they are able to speak freely – without any type of self-censoring that might exist if another, personally connected person is also in the room. Because of this, in general I would suggest that unless the aim of the counselling is to work specifically on any difficulties between yourself and the individual that is accompanying you (for example with couples counselling), that you only bring them along for the first one or two sessions.

There are no hard and fast rules on this however, and you may bring a friend/advisor to as many meetings as you personally desire. I would be happy to discuss your specific needs and concerns about this over the telephone prior to booking your first session.

For individuals with private health insurance whose policy includes personal counselling, I am able to offer services that can be funded by your health insurance provider. The level of cover will vary from policy to policy and there may be some procedural differences between providers. It is important that you speak with your individual provider to ensure that personal counselling is covered by your policy.

As there are distinct differences between the referral process of the various insurance providers, please telephone me on 01279 83 44 67 to discuss the specific requirements of your provider.

Insurance providers regulate their approved practitioners and provide them with professional registration numbers. The registration numbers for the health insurance providers with whom I am currently approved are:

Norwich Union/Aviva: 600055364
Cigna Health Care:132119
Prudential Health: 3599118
Standard Life: Your individual policy number is used on a case by case basis.

Standard Life, Cygna Healthcare, Norwich Union/Aviva, Prudential Health


Faoiseamh: I am also an accredited Faoiseamh provider.

Faoiseamh is an organisation which provides a counselling and psychotherapy referral service for people who have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by priests, members of the religious community or clergy in institutional settings or elsewhere. This service extends also to immediate family members though Faoiseamh need to approve this on a case by case basis.

Faoiseamh also provide a free telephone helpline staffed by experience Telephone Counsellors. This operates on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 am to 8:00pm, and on Fridays from 11:00 to 4:00pm. The number is Freephone 0800 973 272 (Northern Ireland and UK)

If you feel you may qualify for such assistance, please telephone Faoiseamh directly on 0800 973 272 to learn more about this service.

Based on availability, sessions are available:

Mondays at 10:45, 12:00 noon, 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 5:45pm

Tuesdays at at 10:45, 12:00 noon, 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 5:45pm

Wednesdays at 4:30pm, 5:45om,

Thursdays at at 10:45, 12:00 noon, 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 5:45pm

All sessions last a full, 60 minute hour and take place within clean, quiet and relaxed surroundings with gentle lighting.

If you require a session during the evening, it will usually be scheduled for a regular specific time each week. If should need to change an appointment time, and there is available space in my diary then there would be no problem in making such a change. In general, for those who are unable to commit to a regular specific time each week – such as with shift workers, sessions are usually scheduled during the day from 3:30 onwards on Mondays, or during the day on Tuesdays.

At the end of each session we will agree a time for the following week. This means that you can vary the session day from week to week on an as needed basis as long as I am able to find a time to suit your needs.