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  /  Therapy   /  What is Psychological Therapy?

Throughout different eras and cultures people have gravitated to so-called “healing” relationships. In the modern western world this takes the form of talking therapy. Many words are used to describe therapy – counselling, CBT, psychological interventions, psychoanalysis and for a lay person it can seem like a confusing and academic world, far removed from people’s day to day mental health concerns. To cut through some of this confusion I have written about what I think therapy is, how I believe it can help people and some tips about finding the right support for you.

What is therapy?

Therapy for me is a trained mental health practitioner working in a collaborative therapeutic relationship with an individual, couple, family or group. I offer high-quality psychological therapy with the aim of providing my clients with a confidential, non-judgemental space to discuss their thoughts and feelings. I believe that we all experience challenges and difficulties in life.  Counselling and psychological therapy can provide an empowering opportunity to manage, process and overcome these difficulties. When engaging in evidence-based therapy, the hope is that we can gain clarity about where we are in life and how best to move forward. The aim of this being – to achieve our full potential and gain acceptance of ourselves through self-awareness.

What happens in a first session?

A collaborative therapeutic relationship is negotiated between the two parties and a therapeutic contract is drawn up during the first session. This contract normally states the time, frequency, confidentiality agreement and terms and conditions of the practitioner.  These will be discussed and a document signed to signal that the client agrees.  At this time I normally take a history of the clients’ presenting problem and the salient details of their life. I also take contact information and a General Practitioner name and address.  Once we have explored the clients’ presenting issue I would use my psychological background to formulate the clients current situation and consider what type of therapies would be best placed to help them at this time. I would then discuss how best to proceed and set up weekly sessions of talking therapy. Using evidenced-based psychological interventions we would then embark on a confidential and supportive journey together.

There are so many types of therapy – where do I start?

There are many different types of therapy and they can lend themselves to different types of presenting problems. They can also define the stance of the therapist themselves.  Do your research as to what type of therapy you would like and what kind of practitioners offer that support. Please see the services pages on this website for a brief overview of different types of therapy and practice.

How long will I need to go and why is therapy so expensive?

Therapy can be a financial and time-consuming commitment. In order to gain the most out of the experience it is important to find a practitioner that you feel is competent, trained to a level you are comfortable with and committed to working with you. In order to attain this level of training, stability and expertise in private practice you are looking at a sessional fee of £40 up to £110 for applied psychologists with decades of experience.  In private practice, this includes rent, professional accreditation fees, CPD fees, supervision costs and other business costs.

Many practitioners – myself included, work privately and in low-cost, free-at-point-of-delivery services.  Please take a look at the link to other organisations on my website if you are looking for free or low-cost therapy. I am happy to negotiate fees for those in therapeutic training and those in financial difficulty.

The length of therapy is a difficult thing to pin down as everyone’s needs are different.  Therapists should be happy to discuss what feels best for you and to review work at regular intervals.  This will help you decide how long you would like to be in therapy and how you are progressing.

I hope this blog has helped to demystify therapy and I hope it helps guide you to finding the right support for you.

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Dr Farrah Collins is on leave from September 2022 - Summer 2023 and will not be seeing clients during this time. If you are struggling and are in need of urgent assistance please contact your GP, out of hours service or go to A and E. For more mental health support visit Mind.