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What Happens In The First Telephone Call?
You've decided to telephone for an appointment. For most people, the hardest part is now , that first phone call. I thought it would be helpful to let you know what will happen when you call. This might decrease your anxiety about the unknown.
In your very first phone call, either myself or my wife will answer the call, or you may encounter an answering machine. If you are connected to an answering machine you only need to leave the following information:
If you do not encounter an answer machine:
Either my wife or I will identify ourselves and ask if we can help you.
That's it. At this time, it is not necessary to explain the reason for your call. (You should never have to discuss the reason that you want to talk to a therapist with anyone except the therapist). You won’t have to convince me to see you. Don't feel that you have to "qualify" for the appointment by offering a suitable reason. If you've used the answer machine and left a message, I should call you back within a few hours, certainly the same day (unless you have called in the evening, in which case I may return the call the following morning).
The first contact is for the sole purpose of arranging your appointment as soon as reasonably possible. Everything else is superfluous at this point and should be left until the first session (the exception being that you should make clear any emergencies, such as suicidal feelings or acute personal crises). There may be some need for working out difficulties related to the appointment, but it is best not to confuse the issue with extensive details at this time. These are better worked on in the first session. Likewise, I will not ask you lots of questions or get into an extended conversation in that first call.
If I have no hours available for an appointment, I will give you one or more alternate phone numbers for other therapists.
What Happens In The First Session?
The day is here and you have arrived for your first session with me. You will ring the doorbell and I expecting you, will answer the door. I will show you into the consulting room which is a private and separate building. It has a private entrance and is completely shielded from any contact with people or sounds from my home. The room is comfortably heated, and we will sit in comfortable easy chairs, the sort that you might find in any living room. The windows have heavy nets and curtains so that no one can see in. There is no secretary or receptionist to greet you, and you will not encounter other people when you arrive at or leave your session.
By now, you no doubt can see that all these elements are ensuring your privacy and helping you to build a safe place.
When you are settled, it's usually up to you to start; otherwise the therapist may prompt you with a general question such as "What brings you here?" You can describe the problem you are having, or anything else that comes to mind. Don't worry about whether you can say everything with absolute precision. The therapist should be able to help you get it all out.
In this first session, you can expect to do a lot of the talking. You can expect your me to listen actively. I may not say anything at all until halfway through the session, or may make one or two interpretive comments or ask for clarification. While you are talking, I will be listening carefully, evaluating your situation and deciding on possible treatment.
In order for me to do this, I must listen to you, and not influence what you say, or the way you say it.
Toward the second half of the time, I will indicate whether or not I can be of help to you. I will explain to you what I think may be causing the problem if that is appropriate at this time. I will then propose a therapeutic treatment plan; a schedule of appointments and any other related details. You will have the opportunity to react to this structure, and decide whether to continue. You may wish to go away and discuss the appointment with your partner, family or friends before deciding whether to continue. Remember that this treatment plan, schedule and other details, is not incidental, it is a very important element of therapy. This "holding" environment is an important step in establishing the safe place. The proposed treatment plan will be clear and unambiguous, and should reflect safety, consistency, and containment. Though you may think, consciously, that flexibility on the part of myself is desirable, the opposite is true. At this point, you will need me to be firm and consistent.
Having agreed on the fee and on a regular day and time for your appointments, you are on your way to emotional healing. You pay the previously agreed session fee, say goodbye and leave. Some therapists allow extra time for a first session; this is probably an exception.
Safety Is In The Boundaries
Fees and times may seem incidental to the actual therapy; but consistency in the these boundaries of your therapy contributes greatly to your sense of security, of being “held.” If your schedule is constantly changing, you will find that it is difficult to get any work done in therapy, and you will likely find yourself with subtle feelings of danger, chaos and abandonment. If, however, these details remain solid and secure, your unconscious mind will see me as healthy, consistent, safe, strong, and devoted to your care.
Schedules and time -
During your first session, we will agree on a regular day and time for your appointment. After that, your appointment should, ideally, stay the same as long as the therapy lasts; that is best for the success of your treatment. You may think that “flexibility” in the schedule is helpful to you; but it has been shown over and over again that to your unconscious mind, it is not. If you are depending on a structure for support, any change to that structure will leave you feeling unsafe.
Please allow an hour for your first and subsequent sessions. We will work for at least fifty minutes and use the remaining time for booking further sessions and payment.
To maintain the secure frame, I will hold you to that time absolutely. If you arrive late, you still must stop at the agreed time. At some point, it will probably happen that you will be in the middle of something deep and anguishing when the time comes to stop. This may be extremely frustrating to your conscious mind, but it’s therapeutically important that you don't run over the time, and that should satisfy your unconscious. If, on the other hand, I am late, I will give you the full time.
There’s a wide variety in the fees that counsellors and therapists charge their clients.
Inexperienced counsellors and those who have just completed their first training, or who are looking to make up their working hours as part of their exam process will often charge smaller fees reflecting that they have less experience. Because these counsellors are still gaining experience they are usually not as effective as a counsellor who has studied in greater depth and has many more years of experience working with a wide variety of problems.
Working with an experienced counsellor usually brings the outcome you want faster, and results in you paying less overall.
If you had a physical complaint, I’m sure that you would rather trust complicated surgery to a highly qualified doctor with years of experience rather than to someone fresh out of medical school with little experience who would be practising with you. Surely your mental health is equally as important!
It’s important to prioritise your own needs when considering counselling. You don’t
have to “manage by yourself”. You can have, and deserve a happy life, with love and
a deep sense of well-
As a highly qualified, experienced psychotherapist and counsellor, I charge a fee which is average for counsellors in this area. The fee for this first and future appointments is £55.00 payable by cash or cheque only.
You’re worth spending some time and money on!
Because therapists are limited to the number of clients it’s possible to work with during a week, they are unable to accept payment by debit or credit card due to the financial penalties imposed by the finance and banking establishments for the small number of transactions therapists process in one week.
Ground Rules for Further Safety
At the end of our first session together, I will explain all the safety and ground rules. I will cover subjects such as confidentiality, missed session payments, holidays, counselling ethics, complaints procedures, supervision and other topics. I will give you a written copy of these safety rules for you to keep.
So, now you know what to expect, I hope that it will be easier for you to make that first telephone call.
I invite you to call me on:
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Designed By David Hoare Bsc(Hons) MBACP(Accred)