Q: What can I expect at the first session?
It can feel daunting to come to your first therapy session. Our Associates will know this and will aim to make you feel at ease.
The first session is usually helpful in ‘setting the scene’ to explore why you are there and what the sessions might look like going forward. You might talk about the length of the sessions, the frequency of meetings, if any holidays have been pre-booked by either party, who else you feel might be helpfully part of the therapy, whether we can let your GP know we are involved as they tend to be coordinators of client health care, etc.
There will be a discussion around how we manage note-taking, that we are a confidential service and that if there is anything that needs to be communicated, we negotiate how that happens. We will also explain some aspects of the professional duties we are bound to, for example around keeping you and others safe at all times. We might have some questionnaires to complete either together or for you to take away with you.
Ultimately, we take the view that the therapy space needs to be a safe place for your to express your concerns and that you have control of what can happen. There is no wrong answer in therapy – it’s simply a case of working out what suits you best.
Q: What kind of questions might I be asked regarding my difficulties?
Most of our clients are struggling with various aspects of their lives and we appreciate that it might be hard to talk about them. However, we operate on the basis that we only ask questions we feel can help us understand your situation, in order to know how best to offer support.
We might therefore ask you about the trigger to why you are here, for example an accident or illness or life event. You can of course explain it in your own words and in your own time. When it seems appropriate, we might ask questions regarding your mood and how you feel you are coping. We ask questions about your support networks, if any, and what helps you feel better. Sometimes it is helpful to hear about strategies that have been used in the past that have not worked. And it is helpful to hear about how you are likely to know when therapy is working.
Q: What is confidentiality?
Our Associates work with the expectation that the information that you give about yourself and others will remain private and undisclosed unless you give explicit permission to share any information.
However, in the case of safeguarding yourself or others, we might sometimes have to negotiate who we tell, because psychologists are bound by professional standards that need to be understood as part of our service to you.
You are welcome to ask your psychologist about such standards in your sessions at any time and how safeguarding is negotiated.
Q: Who will you liaise with? Can I consent to it first?
In principle, it is good practice for psychologists to liaise with team members working with you.
Now, sometimes reports are requested and letters are written to help other professionals understand your circumstances. Such documents are generally considered by psychologists as being helpful to the team that is working with you, even if that other person is only your GP. PsychWorks Associates asks permission from you prior to engaging with formal correspondence, and you are offered the opportunity to discuss whether it is necessary.
If you agree to written communication with others, you will be asked to approve the letter/report before it is submitted at which point you can make comments. Our Associates will not send out anything without your approval.
Q: Can I have the same therapist from assessment to intervention?
In general, PsychWorks Associates aim to provide you with a single therapist from assessment to intervention. If the intervention is long-term, then it can become less easy to meet this aim because we increase the chance of natural life events getting in the way, like maternity leave, moving away from the area, reducing hours of work, etc. In the unlikely event that there needs to be a change of therapist, we will endeavour to ensure an appropriate hand-over and that both you and your therapist are well supported in the transition.
Sometimes, we are asked to undertake an assessment-only piece of work. In other words, we are asked to provide an understanding of your difficulties and some therapy recommendations. An Associate will generally visit you twice to ensure they have all the information and a detailed report will then be written, preferably approved by yourself and then circulated to the agreed parties including the referrer. No further work is provided at this stage.
If, however, the recommendations are approved and implementation of the recommendations is requested, we would ask you if you would like to have the same Associate, assuming they have the capacity to take on the work they recommended. Unfortunately, as we are constantly receiving new referrals, we cannot guarantee that the same Associate will be available for treatment. In this case, we would ensure that the treating Associate is fully aware of the assessment information for a smooth transition from one Associate to the other.
If the succeeding therapist is from PsychWorks Associates, s/he is likely to have the same supervisor and so continuity will be maintained in this way.
Q: Can you do home visits or do we have to come into a clinic? Is the clinic likely to be far from my home?
Yes – PsychWorks Associates offer home sessions as a default. This is because we understand that it can be difficult to come to clinic sessions due to disabilities or being busy.
However, there might be times when a home visit is not a helpful therapeutic space (e.g. due to constant interruptions or it being hard to be fully open with your situation) and so we would discuss the options.
If it emerges that a clinic room would be more suitable, we would recommend coming into our city centre clinic. However, if the location is not suitable, we would see if we can find somewhere appropriate closer to your home.