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What Happens in a Psychotherapy Session?

Assessment
This is carried out in one session in most cases. Where possible, you will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire(s) prior to this session, which is a time efficient, thorough method of compiling information about your problem(s) and speeds up the assessment process. These questionnaires may be used again during the course of your treatment to help monitor your progress/improvement.

During the assessment of the problem, a wide range of information about you and your problem(s) is gathered, based on my observations and verbal information from you focussing most on how the problem affects you now plus a very brief history of how the problem developed.

A unique 'formulation' or hypothesis of the problem is made, which is constantly revised in the light of new information gained throughout therapy.

An individual outline of your treatment plan (such as whether therapist-aided exposure may be necessary) and an estimation of the number of sessions will be given

If CBT does not seem appropriate, alternative, more suitable options may be suggested.

Duration of Therapy
This depends on the specific nature of the presenting problem and what you have in mind as a realistic target for personal change.

A treatment programme usually consists of 5 - 10 sessions, each session lasting up to 55 minutes. However, if treatment is to involve therapist-aided exposure, then sessions may last several hours.

Once therapy is complete, clients are encouraged to maintain their improvement through self-help strategies. Occasional 'booster' sessions may be recommended to provide support and maintain the gains made during the therapeutic process (i.e. keep you on track).

What goes on between sessions is considered to be of equal, if not of more importance and thus homework tasks are usually set after each session, so that the client builds upon what is covered in the sessions.

Aims of Therapy
Initial stages of therapy aim at helping you recognise your own motivation and commitment to change and for you to gain a greater understanding of your difficulties. This occurs through learning about your unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving, which maintain your problem(s).

CBT is an active therapy, depending on the client and therapist working together, identifying and agreeing upon goals and working towards agreed targets of treatment.

New coping strategies are learnt, allowing more effective management of problems and consequently more efficient and satisfying day to day functioning.

If therapy is successful, the client will be able to act as their own therapist and prevent relapse of the problem in the future.

Appointment Availability
It is usual for sessions to be held every 1 - 2 weeks at the beginning of the treatment programme. The time between sessions is often extended near the end of the therapy. After the first session a regular day and time is normally agreed.

Appointments are available between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm, (inclusive). If you require appointments outside of these hours, then it can be arranged, but there may be a waiting period. (Pre-Assessment Consultations are not offered out of the usual hours)

Confidentiality
What you tell the therapist is in confidence. However, it is often beneficial for other professionals involved, such as your GP, to be informed of basic details. If this is the case, it will be discussed with you before it happens.

An exception to this is if it is believed that you present a danger to yourself or others. In such a situation, since I am bound by the Codes of Ethics and Practice of the BABCP, it would be necessary for me to breach confidentiality and take any necessary action.
Click here for BABCP web link

Maintaining Standards in Psychotherapeutic Practice
For maintaining the quality and consistency in delivery of one's therapeutic practice to clients, therapists are required to have discussions with BABCP accredited colleagues on a regular basis. Thus when you agree to enter therapy, you are also agreeing for general information (not specific identification details) about your case to be passed on.

If you wish to discuss any issues in relation to this, please do not hesitate to do so.