What is counselling/psychotherapy?

Counselling/psychotherapy involves exploring feelings, beliefs, thoughts and relevant events, sometimes from childhood and personal history and sometimes from the ‘here and now’, in a structured way with someone trained to help you through it safely.

Psychotherapy is a broad term used to describe talking therapies, including counselling. Both counsellors and psychotherapists provide a service for those looking for support and treatment for a wide range of mental health and emotional issues. Talk to us and find out if what we do is right for you.

The most important thing is that you choose the right individual for you. How you connect with the counsellor or psychotherapist you choose is likely to determine how successful the treatment is. There are many different therapies that can be used by counsellors and psychotherapists, some involve looking at past relationships and experiences to make sense of them, and others involve looking at the 'here and now'.

What is the difference between a counsellor, a psychotherapist, a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

There is some overlap and some difference between the titles. If you are not sure, this is something you can ask your therapist about. The descriptions below may help.

Psychiatrists are qualified doctors, specialising in diagnosing and treating mental illness. They can prescribe psychiatric medication.

Psychologists study behaviour and mental processes. You may find them working in research, in business or in education. They also carry out and interpret psychological tests and assessments. (An example of this might be in recruitment.)

Counsellors, psychotherapeutic counsellors and psychotherapists will have training in both the theory and practice of how to work with a variety of people with a wide range of emotional distress and whose lives may be affected by external factors (job loss and bereavement for example) and internal issues (such as low self-esteem and anxiety).

What are the different therapies used?

Psychological therapies generally fall into four models. These are behavioural therapies, which focus on our behaviours, cognitive therapies which focus on the way we think as well as our thinking habits and patterns, psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies, which focus on the unconscious relationship patterns that evolved from childhood, and humanistic therapies, which focus on looking at the 'here and now'. This is a generalisation though, and counselling and psychotherapy models usually overlaps their techniques.

We at the Wirral Counselling Centre tailor all of these models to provide a bespoke therapy for each individual we see. We have found this to be the best and most complete way of dealing with the highly distinctive issues that our clients bring.

How do I know if I need counselling/psychotherapy?

Only you can decide whether you wish to try counselling or psychotherapy. Just talking to someone confidentially who is not a friend or family member can make all the difference. Counselling or psychotherapy provides a regular time for those in distress to explore their feelings and talk about their problems. A counsellor can help you develop better ways of coping, allowing you to live the life the way you want to.

How many people in the UK have counselling or psychotherapy?

The figures are uncertain, however, the number of qualified counsellors has tripled in the last 10 years to keep up with demand. There are millions of people all over the world affected by mental health problems. In the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in their lifetime. Anxiety affects 9.2% of the population and depression 10% (figured supplied in 2000 by the Office of National Statistics). Those who do not experience some form of mental distress at some time during their lives are probably fairly unusual and extremely lucky. 

Are counsellors or psychotherapists regulated?

It is the sad truth that counsellors and psychotherapists are not currently regulated in the UK. That is why we at the Wirral Counselling Centre provide you with the reassuring knowledge that we only use highly qualified, well trained psychotherapists and counsellors. Our staff who are British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) members are all on the BACP Voluntary Register (The first psychological therapists’ register to be accredited under a scheme set up by the Department of Health and administered by an independent body, accountable to Parliament). To be accepted to this register we must adhere to the BACP’s rules and ethical framework, but also must have our skills thoroughly tested annually.

Are the counsellors and psychotherapists at Wirral Counselling Centre qualified?

All our therapists are registered and/or accredited (or are eligible for accreditation) to practice by one or more professional governing bodies such as:

BACP - British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
BABCP - British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
UKCP - United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
UKRC - United Kingdom Register of Counsellors
IARTT  - International Association of Rewind Trauma Therapists
BPS - British Psychological Society

To become part of one of these organisations, each therapist must first become qualified to the high standard that is asked of them by their respective governing body.

How long does each counselling session last?

Each session will usually last 50 minutes, with time taken after you have gone for note taking and admin.

How regularly will I see my counsellor or psychotherapist?

Our counsellors offer weekly sessions. Some people have asked to come along more than once per week, but this does not usually make things happen any quicker, as the time between sessions is used to fully understand and digest what has been discussed.

At some point it may be appropriate to move sessions to once per fortnight or month when nearing the end of treatment. This is at the discretion of the counsellor you are working with and would be discussed with you when the time was appropriate.

Can I have counselling online or by telephone?

We do offer phone and Skype counselling in some exceptional circumstances. This is offered at the same price as face to face counselling and would be at the discretion of your counsellor.

Is it confidential?

Yes, it is important that you feel you can talk about things in complete confidence. Your counsellor will not talk about you with others. The entire process is as confidential as it can possibly be. One of the only times your counsellor can break this confidentiality is if, for example, your or someone else’s life is at immediate risk.

Some people come to private counselling specifically because of the level of confidentiality given. It is entirely up to you if you tell friends, family, your GP, your place of work or your school, college or university. We do not automatically inform any of these groups, so counselling issues can be kept away from your records.

Your counsellor will explain this in detail when you first meet, before any counselling takes place.

Can I choose to talk to a male or a female Counsellor?

You will usually be asked, when you first enquire about counselling, whether you would rather talk to a male or female counsellor. Your choice may not always be available, depending on the times both you and the counsellor are available. We will always endeavour to adhere to your choices wherever possible. 

What happens at the first session?

It is possible that you will feel quite worried about meeting your counsellor for the first time. However, try not to, they will understand this and do their best to put you at ease.
At the first session your counsellor will tell you all about the practical information you need to know and of course you will be able to tell them about your own goals for your counselling. They will give you the guidelines about:

  • Any paperwork involved.
  • The security of your information.
  • What happens if you miss a session.
  • Contact between sessions.
  • their governing bodies and what that means for you.

You will also have the opportunity to ask them any questions you may have, such as the counsellors experience or qualifications and, most importantly, decide if you will feel comfortable working with them.

Can I bring a friend with me to the sessions?

You may want to ask a friend to go with you to the place you are meeting the counsellor and then ask them to meet you afterwards. Talk about this with the counsellor. It is better not to have another person you know in the room as that may get in the way of you talking honestly about your feelings.

Can I ask my GP if I can see a counsellor through the NHS?

You can certainly ask your GP to see a counsellor. Sadly, it may take many months before you can see an NHS counsellor. In urgent cases your GP may be able to refer you to other mental health services. Some people chose private counselling, even though they have been offered NHS counselling, specifically to avoid the frustration and heartache of an extended wait.

What is Play Therapy?

In the playroom, the child is provided with consistent and safe boundaries to play out their feelings and problems. Play is a natural medium for expression with children, and metaphors used during play allow the child to explore emotions and experiences in a controlled way.

Throughout the sessions I am non-directive, non-judgemental and non-interpretive. Learning their language of play and truly listening through reflection ensures the child is not rushed through the process of digging out their emotional issues. This isn't just playing for fun; the child needs to be held carefully through the process

Who is Play Therapy for?

Children may not even know on a conscious level that they are having difficulties, but this may come through in presenting challenging behaviour. Perhaps the child has an unstable home where things have changed. Maybe they are being bullied, or are a bully. Are they withdrawn or have difficulty making friends? Has the child suffered through trauma? Does the child have a disability? These are just some examples where children have benefited greatly from Play Therapy and have changed their future for the better.