Below you will find answers to the following questions
- What is humanistic counselling?
- What is Sex Addiction?
- Is there anyone, or any problem, you won’t work with?
- Do you work with couples?
- Do you work with children or students?
- Do you work with people who do not identify with conventional definitions of gender or sexuality?
- What are your views on religion and spirituality?
- How many sessions will I need?
- How much will it cost?
- Do you charge a discount for multiple sessions?
- Do I have to pay if I miss a session?
- Will you refund me any expenses if you miss a session?
- Will what I say remain confidential?
- I am in a self-help group; will you agree to see me?
- I am already getting help from someone else; can I come and see you as well?
- Do you offer online or telephone counselling?
- Transport and Parking
- Do you have disabled access?
- What if I want to make a complaint about you?
In the light of current circumstances, it might be helpful to explain where I stand, and how we may, or may not, be able to help one another if you decide that you want to come and see me.
I do not work remotely, whether by Skype, Zoom or 'phone.
I continue to work face-to-face with clients;* and am happy to do so. I would, however, ask that, if you are due to attend a session and you suspect that you might have contracted the corona virus, or have strong reason to believe that you have been in close contact with someone who has contracted the virus, you do not then attend on that day. I normally ask for 24 hours' notice of cancellation, but under these circumstances I have no difficulty with your cancelling at short notice, without incurring any fee.
I must add that, whilst the space between our seats is certainly at least six feet, I do not work with any sort of face covering, and might find it difficult - though not necessarily impossible - were you to prefer wearing some sort of mask. The difficulty for me is that I need to be able to see your face, and for you to be able to see mine. I also need, in order to be able to work effectively, to be in the same room as my clients. It is for this reason that I cannot undertake to work remotely. I recognise that for some people meeting like this is just too uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable or anxious, then you are unlikely to benefit from the work we might do together.
I appreciate that, in any case, your personal circumstances may put you into a high risk group, or you might be closely associated with someone from a high risk group. I cannot guarantee a space that is virus free. If you do not, therefore, feel confident about meeting face to face at the present time, then you may unfortunately have to look elsewhere.
*In accordance with the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 reg 5(1) and Schedule 2 Part 3 as amended by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 reg 2(7)(d).
2. What is humanistic Counselling
Humanistic counselling is a term which can mean a lot of different things. It is probably simplest to say what it is not.
Humanistic counselling is very different to clinical psychiatry. Psychiatrists tend to see emotional problems as forms of illness or disease that can be diagnosed and treated in particular ways; sometimes - though not always - with drugs.
As a counsellor I do not label anyone, since I do not believe that emotional problems can be categorised or diagnosed in that sense. It may be convenient sometimes to talk about depression or addiction, but these descriptions say nothing about the unique problems faced by each individual.
3. What is Sex Addiction
This a very large subject, and I would certainly recommend, if you think that you might identify as a sex addict, that you visit the site of Sex Addicts Anonymous. The UK website is here.
What I say here must necessarily be brief.
Sex addiction can mean completely different things to different people. Just as people with drink problems are not always big drinkers, so too sex addicts can range from those who can barely struggle from hour to hour without sex, to those who are nagged by a single obsessive thought which will not give them rest.
Some behaviours might seem "weird" either to the addict or to outsiders; others might seem completely normal. It doesn't matter to me whether your sexual behaviours or thoughts are "normal" or "abnormal". The question I always ask is whether you are troubled by it. Do you feel trapped? Do you feel driven? Does something about this feel wrong? These are the only questions that matter.
I understand both how exciting this addiction can be, as well as how troublesome and depressing. It is not my intention to stop you from having sex. Sex can be (and should be) fun, exciting, playful, passionate and a vital part of being human. It ceases to be fun, however, when it takes over and becomes like a monster, ruling your life.
My goal when working with clients who identify as sex addicts is to deprive the addiction of its power and to help each person towards sexual freedom, where sex can be fun, without being compulsive, and where you have choices rather than feeling driven. In other words, I hope that I can help you towards a place where sex is even more fun than it is today.
I don't often recommend literature, and I can warmly recommend "Your Brain on Porn" by Gary Wilson. As well as rarely recommending literature, I would add that I have a mixed relationship with neuroscience, which can, in the wrong hands, reduce the whole of human experience to a series of chemical and electrical discharges. It is all the more unusual, therefore, that I should recommend a book which is, precisely, about the neuroscience of addiction. It changed my life; it would well change yours.
4. Is there anyone, or any problem, you won’t work with?
Under the terms of my membership of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy I am obliged to do all that I can to recognise my own limitations.
If you come to see me and I decide that I cannot work with you, then this is never a reflection on you or your problem, but purely to do with my own competence. If I try to help you when I am not competent to do so, then I betray you as my client. Under such circumstances I would try, as best I can, to guide you towards someone with the right sort of experience.
5. Do you work with couples?
No. My personal observation is that working with couples requires specialist experience which I do not have.
6. Do you work with children or students?
I normally only work with people over the age of 25. I do not work at all with anyone under the age of 18.
7. Do you work with people who do not identify with conventional definitions of gender or sexuality?
Yes. I also dislike sexual labels, and recognise at the same time that many people find them helpful.
8. What are your views on religion and spirituality?
I think that for spiritual and/or religious practice to be real it needs to be an experience, and I am quite certain that such experiences are unique to the individual. I think that organised religions have frequently lost touch with their own spiritual roots, have become stuck in dogmas and moral traps which serve to separate people from any connection with any god, and have therefore become oppressive and destructive. I also recognise that religion at its best can provide a structure which enables people to connect with their god (or gods) where it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do so on their own.
My own spiritual beliefs, which have grown and developed over many years, do not owe their development to any formal religion; though I can identify with many of the symbols and rituals those religions make use of. I am quite certain that we live in connection with the rest of existence, and that, in a world which has become cynical around religious practice - understandably so - it is hard to know how to feel those connections in a way that does not either leave us feeling adrift, or feeling trapped in something that makes no sense to us.
I work with clients who are current or former adherents to religious groups, as well as many who do not own any such allegiance. I have no difficulty about working with clients, whether or not formal or informal spiritual practice forms part of their lives.
I do think that, if I am to make sense of my world, some sort of spiritual awareness becomes essential. But that is a personal view, and I do not insist that anyone else take the same view.
9. How many sessions will I need?
It is impossible to predict this. I can however make you certain promises:
- You can leave counselling at any time you wish; there is no minimum number of sessions.
- We can always review the sessions to check that you are finding them helpful.
- I will not try to keep you coming for sessions if I think that you don’t need to, or I don’t feel that they are helping you; or, above all, if you don't want them any longer.
10. How much will it cost?
My standard rate is £60 per hour. If you can’t afford £60, then it is usually possible to negotiate a smaller fee, down to a minimum of £20 per hour. If we agree a fee, and you find later on that you cannot afford it any more, then it may be possible to renegotiate the amount that you pay. My minimum fee (apart from the first session which is free) is always £20.
And, of course, if your circumstances change for the better, and you are able to increase the amount you pay me, then that will help to subsidise those who cannot.
12. Do I have to pay if I miss a session?
If you give me 24 hours’ notice, then I will not charge you. Normally, however, if you miss a session without giving me notice, I will ask you to pay the full fee agreed between us. I appreciate that emergencies can intervene, and I may be able to make exceptions. I cannot, however, guarantee to do so.
13. Will you refund me any expenses if you miss a session?
No. The only circumstances under which I might have to cancel a session at very short notice would be as a result of an unexpected emergency. I shall always try to offer you an alternative time; but I cannot undertake to recompense you for any expenses you may have incurred.
14. Will what I say remain confidential?
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the counselling relationship. I do share some of the details of sessions with my clinical supervisor. My supervisor is there to help me to help you and to provide an extra layer of protection for you, the client, in case I am missing things that are important. For this reason, I am likely to share some of what you say; though my supervisor will have no way of knowing who you are.
I might also feel obliged to break confidentiality if I felt that there was a real danger of your doing harm to someone else. In this case I should make every effort to discuss this with you beforehand.
I must also inform you that, because of the complexity of UK and EU law, I cannot absolutely guarantee to maintain your confidentiality under all other circumstances. I can, however, guarantee that I would fight hard to do so, and that, over the course of nearly 20 years, I have never yet had to break confidentiality with any client.
15. I am in a self-help group; will you agree to see me?
I actively encourage clients to seek additional support elsewhere.
Such support includes all the 12-step fellowship, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous etc., as well as any other groups which are already supporting you, or which you believe might help to support you.
I also do not normally demand that you belong to any group of this sort as a condition of seeing me.
16. I am already getting help from someone else; can I come and see you as well?
As a general rule I would be reluctant to offer sessions to you if your work with another practitioner is likely to conflict with what happens in our work together.
I might not agree to see you if you are having sessions with, for instance, another counsellor or a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. General experience suggests that seeing more than one practitioner at a time is more likely to create confusion - for you and for me (and for the other practitioner) - and is unlikely to help you very much. My approach may well be in conflict with that of a clinical psychiatrist, and would again be likely to confuse matters for you rather than clarify them. If you wanted to see me with a view to finding out whether my approach might suit you better, then I would be happy to talk with you. It is not that the humanistic approach that I offer is necessarily better than a more clinical approach; some people feel more comfortable with one rather than the other. It may be also that there is merit in mixing the two, and another counsellor may well feel able to do so. I should not feel comfortable with doing so, and would not therefore wish to work for any protracted period in potential conflict with another practitioner.
If, on the other hand, you are seeing someone such as healer, or a homoeopath, or a herbalist, who is likely to have a similar philosophical outlook, but who will be working in a very different way with you, then I would probably be happy to see you - though we would still need to make sure that one treatment can complement the other. Those who believe in alternative therapies do not necessarily have an agreed world view!
I also do not regard any rule as written in stone. If there are good reasons for seeing more than one counsellor, then I might consent to this. In any case I would probably need to know that the other professional involved knew that you were coming to see me, and why.
The situation would also have constantly to be reviewed; and I would probably suggest terminating our sessions if I felt that these circumstances were not operating to your benefit. Whilst I would certainly discuss this with you first, I must remind you that, under the terms of the BACP’s ethical framework, my first duty is to you, the client, and I should be betraying you if I were to take your money whilst believing that I was doing you more harm than good.
17. Do you offer online or telephone counselling
I don't: - other than with clients whom I know reasonably well and have already worked with face to face. With these clients I will conduct occasional short telephone sessions. I do not work via video link at all. I find the incomplete image provided via a screen serves as a distraction, where tone of voice over the 'phone can be more reliable.
Whilst I can understand that online or telephone counselling can be helpful - and is certainly convenient - my experience has been that there is no substitute for sitting face-to-face with someone in the same room. Counselling can become a very close and personal relationship. The difference between really hearing what someone is saying, and misunderstanding them completely can be very subtle, and there are tiny signals and messages which can be much harder to pick up on when the other person is at the other end of a cable.
18. Transport & Parking
Until recently there was unregulated parking in this area. This proved to be something of a nightmare for car owners in the area, with local streets being used as a free car park by visitors; and even being used as a long term car park by travellers flying out of Gatwick. It is therefore understandable that a significant majority of local residents voted for parking here to be regulated.
Since October 2017 local streets in this area have become part of a controlled parking zone (CPZ). Restricted hours are from 9am to 8pm.
The bad news is of course that, if you come to see me by car, you now have to pay to park. The good news is that parking in the area, certainly on weekdays during the day, is now a lot easier. There are pay-and-display bays; charges are £1 for one hour and £2 for two hours.
Parking can still be very tight at weekends. There are pay bays directly outside my house, and it is certainly worth taking a look to see if any of these are free. Otherwise, whilst there are certainly bays in surrounding streets, it can often be easier to find parking spots around Queen's Park, including the top end of Queen's Park Terrace and Tower Road.
I would also point out, particularly for the benefit of anyone familiar with the area, that several streets which were previously two-way will now be one-way.
In any case case, I would encourage you to use public transport wherever possible. There are several bus routes that pass reasonably close by: the nos. 18, 21 and 23, as well as the 37B. The no. 22 runs up Elm Grove; access from the De Montfort Road stop is reasonably easy. There are also several bus routes which run along the Lewes Road at the bottom of Islingword Road and Southover Street. It's a steep hill, but usually no more than a ten minute walk.
Brighton station is a 15/20 minute walk. If you walk out of the back of the station, and take the flight of descending stairs that open up shortly on your right, the route from there to where I work is one of the few nearly straight lines in the whole of Brighton. Walk straight on; pass Sainsbury's on your left; do a quick left and right across London Road into Oxford Street; continue along the footpath across the Level; then a quick right, left and right at the pedestrian crossing; up Southover Street until you reach Islingword Street on your left.
If you have mobility issues, please ask for more details.
19. Do you have disabled access?
I must state from the start that I have no experience whatsoever of working with disabled clients. If, however, anything that I have said about myself and my experience in general leads to you to believe that I might be the right counsellor for you, then please read on.
There is a single short step up to my front door, and then a smaller lip to the door itself.
If you need an absolutely level surface in order to gain access, then I may not be able to accommodate you. On the other hand, wheelchair access to my house is probably similar to negotiating the average roadside kerb edge, and I am happy to lend you assistance if you need it and are happy to receive it.
The available width at the door entrance is 26.5 inches.
Toilet and bathroom facilities, however, are all on the first floor, and there is definitely no wheelchair access. The only other guide that I can provide here is that, at a time, some years ago, when I broke my leg and had for some weeks to negotiate the stairs without putting any weight on one leg, I was able to do so. I did, however, have full use of one leg and of both arms.
I am not averse to the idea of visiting you at your home if it is possible to negotiate protocols around confidentiality that work for both of us.
I would reiterate the fact that your first session would in any case be free of charge, and this might give us an idea of how we can deal with any obstacles, without your having immediately to commit financially.
If you need to know anything else, or you need to know more than I have indicated here, please contact me and ask.
20. What if I want to make a complaint about you?
I am a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and I am bound by the BACP's Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy; if you have cause to complain about me, then you can take your complaint to them. If the BACP agree with your complaint, then they can take steps against me on your behalf, and, if circumstances warrant it, take away my membership of the Association. I would hope that you might be able to bring your complaint to me first; I also understand that this might be very difficult to do.
To see the BACP's Ethical Framework please click here.
For details of how to make a complaint, please click here.