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Our Counselling

Cornerstone’s role and the client-counsellor relationship

Counselling is a time and place to explore whatever you need to with someone who will listen carefully, without judgement, to support you to explore fully and find your own solutions. Research and experience show it is important you feel sufficiently at ease and understood by your counsellor so you can trust the counselling process.

We aim to match you and the issues you bring to an appropriate therapist. We also aim to minimise the risk of you encountering an ineffective or abusive counsellor by checking the credentials of our Associates. A good counsellor will never try to make you do anything. If you feel under pressure to do something you are unhappy with you should say so or STOP your counselling and ask to see someone else (See Boundaries below).

Feedback Comments and complaints:

If you are not happy with your therapy and it is too difficult to speak to your counsellor please contact Reception or one of the Principals Sue Campbell (07971 713042) or Gail Evans (07814 371884). If your concerns are more serious you can contact the professional association your counsellor belongs to (ask Reception for details). We also hope you will tell the counsellor and us about things you have found helpful and positive. There are feedback cards in reception.

About Therapy

Boundaries

Counselling should provide a safe place. Abuse by therapists is not unknown (as in all other walks of life) and is usually accompanied by serious blurring of boundaries (a bit of counselling jargon). This might an inappropriate suggestion for example to meet socially or inappropriate touch. You may be more vulnerable when you are in counselling because of exploring difficult issues and it is important that you are not taken advantage of. ‘Boundaries’ that help with this are things like

Clarity about the contract you are entering into
Confidentiality and its limitations
Where and when and how long appointments are
The focus being on you – so a counsellor will not say much about themselves
Avoiding inappropriate touch or contact or meetings outside sessions
Confidentiality:

All our counsellors abide by professional codes of ethics and practice. What you talk about with your counsellor is private and confidential with some exceptions:

If you tell your counsellor anything that leads them to believe you or another person (especially a child) are at risk of harm they may need to divulge this information. A counsellor would usually discuss this with you first and support you to take appropriate action.
Your counsellor would discuss with their supervisor a decision to disclose information to relevant authorities to ensure they are acting in the best interests of the most vulnerable parties.
Discussion in clinical supervision is a normal part of a reputable counsellor’s work in line with professional guidelines. This will always be done with care to protect your identity.

Telling your story

Telling your story to someone who is genuinely interested and accepting can be powerful and enough in itself. Your counsellor will help you explore your experience (thoughts and feelings and behaviour).

Once your emotions are less troubling you will understand your reactions and thinking better. It may not be easy to identify and discuss feelings so you might work non-verbally for example using art materials or objects to symbolise your experiences.

What you can do

You might feel worse before you start to feel better because difficult things can get stirred up. It is good to discuss ways to take care of yourself and to manage your feelings and also other support. This is especially true if you are exploring traumas.

Counselling will be more effective if you do things between sessions to support changes you want to make – whatever seems likely to help you feel better and that you are happy to do. It is best if ideas come from you but your counsellor may suggest things.

Some things your counsellor will and won’t do

Counsellors do not generally offer advice but they may make suggestions and share relevant information with you. Some problems respond to particular techniques or learning new skills like improved communication or problem-solving. These should be explained so you can make an informed choice whether to go along with them.

Feelings about your counsellor

Sometimes you can have uncomfortable or unusual feelings towards your counsellor that are not because they are being abusive. For example you could feel abandoned or jealous or angry when your counsellor is away. We often censor ourselves to be polite or seem ‘normal’ but it is useful to mention your reactions because they are a normal part of the process and can help you and your counsellor to understand the impact of past relationships on your life now. Counselling is not about being polite and should be a place where you can discover your true feelings because they will influence your behaviour even when you think they don’t show!

Practicalities

Appointments:

Appointments are usually 50 minutes (but some counsellors may offer slightly different timings) and usually weekly but different intervals may be negotiated. Balance the commitment that is sensible for your life circumstances against being able to make and maintain progress – you will make more progress if you attend regularly.

Number of sessions:

The average number of sessions people attend for is between 5 and 8 but some people only come for one or two and others may continue for a year or more (not necessarily weekly). It is difficult to predict with certainty the number of sessions you will need. This is why regular reviews are helpful so you consider what you are committing yourself to.

Your counsellor may suggest a specific number of sessions to start with (such as 4 or 6) with a review to see how it is going and whether more sessions would be useful.

You are free to end counselling at any time. It is generally helpful to have an ending session particularly if you have worked together for a while.

Notes:

Counsellors make some notes after sessions to help them think about the issues and to remember details. These will have no identifying information on them and kept safe.

Smoking:

Cornerstone (including at Breathe) is a smoke-free zone. If you cannot manage 50 minutes without a cigarette you might agree a ‘time-out’ with your counsellor. However it is worth thinking about and discussing the timing of ‘time-out’ – is there something you are finding hard to face?

Alcohol and other substances:

You are unlikely to gain lasting benefit from counselling if you regularly arrive under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs. Some prescribed drugs can have similar effects so it is a good idea to mention any mood-altering substances you are taking.

Payments:

You are expected to pay electronically or by cash or cheque made payable to the counsellor. Some expect you to pay for a session in advance. Missed appointments will incur a cancellation fee. This will be a minimum of £10 and up to the full fee—please ask your therapist for details.

Your questions:

If you have any questions about these things you should feel free to ask your counsellor or the staff at Cornerstone.