“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Getting Started

Whether you want to pursue Counselling, Life Coaching, Psychotherapy, or Personal Development work face-to-face or via Skype, this page contains a simple overview of the process from the informal introductory meeting, to having your needs assessed, and planning and starting your work.

Here is some key information to look at if you are new to psychotherapy work:

Once you are clear about your level of motivation and your needs and are ready to start, follow these steps:

STEP 1: 60 minute first meeting

The first meeting is a reduced-cost way for us to meet informally to discuss what you are looking for and allow you to get a sense of what might be involved in any work you might want to do.  If we both feel that we could work successfully on your chosen area the next step would be assessing your needs in detail.  If you wish to continue to assessment I will give you a copy of my Terms and Conditions and standard assessment form to complete before the first assessment session.  Alternatively, you might wish to take some time to think about it and get back to me if and when you feel ready.  As with all stages of work with me, you are under no obligation or pressure to continue beyond this first meeting.

  • You can book your first face-to-face meeting HERE
  • If you live too far away, or outside Scotland, or can’t leave your home, work can be started online via Skype HERE

STEP 2: 60 minute assessment session

I have almost 20 years experience in assessing patient needs and I undertake a comprehensive psychosocial assessment prior to any therapeutic or personal development work.   A formal assessment saves you time and expense in the long run by creating a clear picture of your presenting difficulties, how they work, the kind of therapeutic tasks you could undertake to address your needs, and what outcomes might be achieved.  My assessment forms help us gather information that will highlight your needs, lifestyle, habits, existing support, history and general circumstances and allows us to establish a focus for the work you want to do.  A detailed assessment can usually be done in one or two sessions, or span multiple sessions, depending on your needs, your particular circumstances, and other factors.

At the end of the assessment process I provide you with:

  • Our joint understanding of your circumstances and difficulties, with
  • A summary analysis that explains how I think your problems work
  • Where possible, I can also provide you with a breakdown of the therapeutic tasks or kinds of work I believe you could undertake in order to address your difficulties, and
  • The structure of the work and support provision we could organise to provide you with the most effective help

You are free to stop at this assessment stage or proceed with therapeutic work.  If you choose to go ahead then usually we agree time-limited or open-ended work.

  • Assessment-only work is also possible if you want to understand how your difficulties work (problem formulation) with my professional opinion on what type of help, support or therapy might be most appropriate for your stated needs.   Comprehensive psychosocial assessments take between one and four sixty-minute sessions, depending on the complexity of your needs, the amount of information at hand, and other factors such as how difficult it might be for you to discuss your difficulties and how much time you might need to talk about them.
  • I also offer a written assessment summary, problem formulation and recommendations for an additional fee (see fees list).

STEP 2A: Standard 60 minute support planning session [optional]

This is an optional step in the assessment process for patients who want to proceed with psychotherapy or counselling work.  It offers you the opportunity to have a full written therapeutic support plan as a guide for the work you want to do including a 60 minute session.  Written support plans are particularly useful for time-limited work or where you feel that you might have difficulty focussing on particular topics or outcomes, but can also be a useful reference for more traditional, open-ended work.  The plan is written for a small fee and we would go over it in detail during an allotted support planning session.  It outlines your needs, difficulties and other assessed factors with a summary of how your presenting problems seem to work.  It contains recommendations and suggestions for the kinds of therapeutic tasks that could potentially allow you to address needs and problems within future sessions and in between sessions on a daily and weekly basis.  It also looks at any additional support provision that might be useful to you either from me or other professionals, depending upon your circumstances.  The support plan can be updated and revised as our work together progresses.

STEP 3: Standard 60 minute session

Once the assessment is complete – with or without a support plan – each psychotherapy, counselling or personal development session usually takes place at the same time each week.  However, I try to accommodate shift workers or other people with a variable schedule where possible.  I can also sometimes offer more than one session per week if requested, but this is usually for the purposes of helping you cope with a particularly difficult time.  Weekly sessions help you concentrate on your goals at a steady pace and apply what you gain from each session during the week.  Similarly, provision can be made for telephone, email or Skype support between sessions where this could be helpful.  I would also normally suggest regular reviews of our work along the way so that we can both monitor progress and assess the effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship.

  • Yoga, meditation, writing and art therapies are also available within your therapy where you might find these helpful

Additional Services and Types of Work

  • 60 minute Personal Development, Life Coaching and Psycho-education Session.   Personal Development work is so varied in scope that it is best to let me know your needs and enquire for details of what might be involved for the direction you would like to take.  It would normally follow similar steps to the therapy route i.e. informal meeting, assessment and agreed sessions.  The assessment for personal development work and Life Coaching differs somewhat from my psychotherapy assessment but is still in-depth.
  • Out-of-hours/ emergency support during difficult times.  As a supplement to your usual sessions, provision can be made to provide you with out-of-hours or emergency support during particularly difficult times.  Such arrangements are carefully planned and agreed ahead of time with clear boundaries in place to provide help if needed outside of normal business hours, either by Skype, telephone or in some circumstances face-to-face by home visit.  Please let me know your needs and enquire for details.
  • Email, Skype, Telephone and Chat support in between sessions.  This service is available by prior arrangement if you feel that you need some supportive contact in between sessions.  Provision can be made for daily contact or one or more contacts per week, depending on what you feel you need.  Pre-paid support minutes can be purchased and used for this purpose.  See the online support page for details.

Time-limited or open-ended work?

Time-limited work entails our agreeing a set number or module of sessions within which we establish a focus and desired outcomes.  For example, ten, twenty or thirty sessions.  This relies on you being able to stay on whatever topic or need you consider to be most important, clarifying to yourself what your expectations are for the outcome of that module.

Open-ended work has no pre-determined time limit.  This way of working still requires some degree of clarity on your chosen focus and desired outcome, but without the time pressure of limited sessions.  Sometimes it just isn’t possible to set a time on how much work you need to do to achieve your goal.

Whether time-limited or open-ended, I would suggest that regular review sessions are arranged, which will allow us to keep an eye on progress, and look at what is helpful in the work and what could be changed or improved.

Couples, Families and Partners

Work as a couple or family is possible (See the Groups page).  When seen individually (sometimes helpful at the assessment stage or occasionally throughout therapy) individual rates apply.

Reducing Fee Scale

I have bulk purchase offers and a reducing fee scale whereby those in need of longer term work benefit from lower fees over time.

Photo credit: HERE

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