What can I expect out of psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy (counselling) is a collaborative process between you (and your partner if it's couple counselling) and a psychotherapist.

During your first appointment you will tell the therapist what you want to work on during your sessions, and your therapist will offer a general framework that will help achieve the goal.

From this point you will engage in talk therapy to address the issues that you feel are impacting your life and wellbeing. During this stage, your therapist may identify additional areas of relevance, however the focus of sessions will be largely guided by you.

Your therapist will very likely encourage you to challenge your comfort zone. This will be accomplished by establishing healthy coping strategies and solid means of emotional regulation, and confronting those behaviours which can limit your quality of life and heighten mental health concerns.

How many sessions will I need?

The short answer is that it depends on the complexity of the issues that you want to discuss. Generally speaking, I think 2-3 sessions is a reasonable starting point.

  1. Intake: The first session is spent collecting background information
  2. Session 2-3: Depending on the complexity of the details raised during intake, it may be necessary to carryover into session 2. By the end of sessions 2 and 3 you should get a good idea of whether or not your practitioner is a good fit for you. 
  3. Subsequent sessions: These appointments will be spent processing your presenting issues, consolidating skills/strategies, and troubleshooting any developing concerns.
Based on experience, I recommend that sessions 1 and 2 occur n a week of each other, and no more than 2 weeks apart, in order to maintain a rhythm.

What is the difference between seeing a psychotherapist (counsellor) and a psychologist?

Psychotherapist/Counsellor
  • They have the ability to support clients with diagnosed mild-moderate mental illness (they are not involved in the diagnosis itself)
  • They will take more of a "listen to understand" approach to your concerns and explore options to improve your wellbeing and walk the path to achieving your goals.
  • They have the ability to recognise common symptoms of certain mental illnesses that may require consultation with a GP or psychologist

Psychologist
  • They have the skills of the psychotherapist, as well as a clinical expertise in mental illnesses and disorders
  • They have training in the assessment and diagnosis of mental illnesses and disorders
  • They have the ability to support you with more severe mental health concerns and mental illnesses 

How do I make an appointment?

There are a number of ways that you can book an appointment. The most direct option is to book online or at the end of a session, however there are other options to choose from if your availability is more flexible.

  • Text message
  • Phone call
  • Email
  • At the end of the current appointment
  • Book online

How frequently do I need to have sessions?

This answer can depend on a number of things:
  1. The stage of therapy that you are in: I recommend that the first few sessions are completed on a weekly basis. Eventually you will find that appointments can be booked on an as-need basis (this could be weeks, months, or even years).
  2. The complexity of the issue: The more complex issues - trauma and abuse - tend to benefit from appointments that are closer together. This means that you and your therapist are able to establish therapeutic momentum within the sessions, and you have regular emotional support to navigate feelings and memories that may resurface from therapy.
  3. Finances: Where possible, commit to your first 2-3 appointments occurring within a week of each other, and then spread out the the subsequent sessions in a way that matches your financial circumstances. 

What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?

Mental health 
An individual's mental state and overall psychological, social, and emotional wellbeing. It can impact a variety of aspects of the individual's life, including:
  • Self esteem
  • Job satisfaction
  • Emotional regulation
  • Decision making
  • Relationships
  • Social interactions
Can typically be addressed with the help of a psychotherapist.
Mental illness 
A diagnosed condition that affects the individual's thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviours. For example:
  • Severe anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Bipolar
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
Can typically be helped with the help of a psychologist and (if necessary) a psychotherapist.