What can I expect from counselling?

People often have questions about counselling and this page aims to answer some of those for you. Please click the links below to go down to the questions you have.

What is counselling?

Counselling or therapy is a commitment between client and counsellor to work together, usually once a week, on issues the client brings into the safe and non-judgmental space of the counselling room.

This could involve talking about emotions and feelings regarding things which are happening currently for the client or things which have happened in their past, sometimes it’s both!

Often, in therapy, the issue which the client first comes to see a counsellor about can turn out to be secondary, as other at first less obvious issues come to their attention. This is natural and the counsellor will not ‘hold’ the client to the original issue, the counsellor’s helping their client to explore is part of the process.

At TimeOut Counselling we recognise that for many people this is not an easy thing to do and we take care to support our clients through challenging times.

During the process of therapy, how long this takes depends on the individual, the client can and often does experience positive changes in the way they view not only who they are but also the way they see their world.
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Who do you see at at Timeout?

We see anyone at Timeout. We specialise in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, poly (or another type of ethical non-monogamy) asexual or intersex identities. We will also see people who wonder if they might be one of those identities. You do not need to have any more than one of those – you might be an asexual heteroromantic person (forming straight romantic relationships), or you might be a kinky straight person. You might be intersex and identify as straight, or intersex and not straight.

Although we see anyone, at times of high demand, we reservce the right to restrict our waiting list to LGBTQ+ people only. Whether our list is currently restricted or not, you do not need to be wanting to talk about those things. There are some LGBTQ+ people for whom these things are important to talk about, and in that case we are happy to talk about them, and some LGBTQ+ people for whom these things are not important (or perhaps not central) and we are led by you on this.

We choose to restrict our waiting list to LGBTQ+ people in times of high demand because we believe that providing trained counsellors who are knowledgeable in these areas is important to some of our clients, and we feel that by focusing on these identities, we make sure that if these are important to you, then you will have a better counselling experience with a counsellor who is knowledgeable in those areas.

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What can I expect in an assessment?

In your first counselling appointment you will meet (usually) the person who is going to be your counsellor. If your counsellor is one of our carefully-picked student counsellors, this first meeting will be with a qualified counsellor, so that they can make a decision about whether the student counsellor is a good match or not, but we would usually expect it to be fine.

Whether you meet the person who is intended to be your counsellor, or the person who is doing the assessment, the situation will be much the same. You counsellor will ask you to give what basic information about yourself that you’re comfortable with. They will then ask you a few questions about what brings you to counselling, and what you’d like to get from counselling. The counsellor will also be able to tell you about how they work and the person-centered approach in general. You are free to ask any questions about various ways of working, or other information you might wish to know.

Your counsellor will then ask you to sign an agreement between you and them, which is a reminder of what you’ve discussed (ethical issues for example – such as times we need to consider breaking confidentiality – in the case of reported terrorism, for example), and you will discuss the fee you’re choosing to pay, and the cancellation and attendance policy.
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How do I know my counsellor is properly qualified?

All of our counsellors are either fully qualified or are trainees. For those who are fully qualified, when you arrange to see someone, you can ask for their registration details and we will all be happy to give that information.

We have trainee counsellors working for us as they complete their degrees. Trainees go through a rigorous application and interview process, and are carefully chosen to fit with the aims and ethos of the organisation. We all started as trainees at one time, but as a service, we recognise that not everybody wishes to see a trainee. You can let us know that when you speak to us to make an appointment. Trainees are also registered with an ethical body. They are not available for searching on the BACP’s register of counsellors and psychotherapists (as our fully qualified counsellors are), but they can all show you their membership cards, proving their current membership.
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What can I expect in a session?

Our counselling sessions usually last for 50 minutes. It may be possible to negotiate a longer time, but it isn’t guaranteed. In the session, it’s up to you what you’d like to talk about. We find that people come with a range of issues; some easier than others. We won’t ask you to talk about anything that you’re not ready to – this is part of our person-centered approach, but at the same time, whilst things aren’t touched upon, they often can’t change. Your counsellor might ask you about difficult things, or they might feel that it’s for you to bring forward. Your counsellor usually won’t ask lots of questions, and you might find that you spend some time in silence. Sometimes your counsellor will break the silence, and other times they won’t. If silence is uncomfortable to you in the session, mention it to your counsellor; we will try to work with you to find a mutually beneficial way forward. Your counselling time is just for you, for what you bring, not to bring our own agendas.

We have a variety of art materials; pencils, crayons, paper and adult colouring books, for people who prefer to draw and talk. We also have magnetic balls and green putty for people who like to keep their hands busy, and we also have a set of non-religious soul cards for those who like to work with more abstract materials. These are all available to everyone, every week. If you’d like to use them and for some reason, they aren’t on the table, please feel free to ask your counsellor for them – either for that week or for the future.
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How long does counselling take?

There are two answers to this. We provide open-ended counselling, and short-term counselling. You can choose which you want. Some people know they only want short-term counselling (which with us is ten weeks with an optional further four) and some people feel they want longer.

If you choose short-term counselling, you will have a ten week contract. At the end of those ten weeks, you can choose to continue for another four. At the end of the 14 weeks, if you feel that you really do need to go into long-term counselling you are welcome to join the waiting list to see a different counsellor to work long-term. Short-term counselling is offered on a Tuesday AM.

For those who want longer, that is often a ‘piece of string’ answer. When you first come to counselling you will have 12 sessions. At the end of the 12 sessions, we will have a review to see how those sessions are going for you. If you feel that you don’t need any more sessions, you can plan to stop at the 12 sessions. If you wish to continue, you can continue as long as you and your counsellor feel that things are working for you.
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What changes can I expect?

We find that some clients make very big changes very early, reporting being happier, and more in control in their lives. And other clients only start to see an improvement after several weeks. But whether the changes are immediate, or take longer, what you can expect to see is feeling more in control, better sleep, happier, less depressed. The same things won’t be true for all people and we cannot guarantee changes – again it often depends on the kinds of things you need to talk about, and your ability to talk about those topics.
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What if I dislike my counsellor?

If you meet your counsellor once, or twice, or perhaps even more times, and decide that you cannot work with them, then you can either ask them if you can change counsellor, or you can email our info address and ask to change counsellors. Your email will be answered by someone who is not your counsellor – both Janey and LJ have access to this email address. We often have a waiting list, so it may not be immediately possible to change, but it is possible, and we are happy to arrange this if we can.
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What if I have a problem with my counsellor?

If you have a problem with your counsellor around an ethical issue, such as you feel that your counsellor has done something ethically wrong, we would ask you in the first instance to talk to them, or to email our info address and a counsellor who is not your counsellor will reply. If the problem cannot be easily resolved and you wish to make a complaint to the counsellor’s ethical body, we will give you the information that you need, in order to do that.
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