What happens in a session?
I see families in a quiet, private room. When you come in we will sit down together and I will ask you some questions to find out more about your family and what you would like to come and think about. These questions will include finding out more about your wider family, what happens at home and how your family functions day to day. There will be questions about any problems and how you are managing them at the moment. This will include getting details about home, school, nursery or any other settings where your child goes. This will be a time to talk about the reasons you have come to see me and any hopes or wishes you have for the work we might do together. It is the time for me to listen to what you have to say.
We will think together about what might help and develop a plan for any future work. Sometimes our plan will be to meet one or two more times so that I can get to know you all and develop an understanding of what is happening and how we might help. We might then plan to meet for a number of sessions so that I can offered some structured therapy or as a space for us to talk and think about the difficulties. Our plan will depend on the ages of everyone in the family, the problem you have come with and what you are looking for.
When doing sessions where children are involved my sessions are always tailored to the age(s) of the children and are very active. Just as an example sessions might include therapeutic approaches like these:
- Developing an awareness of different feelings through a ‘treasure hunt’ to find hidden feeling words in the room
- Playing a game with a second meaning to develop an understanding of a specific point (for example a matching game to develop an understanding of the link between feelings and behaviour)
- Talking through something difficult which happened that week – and ‘mapping’ out the problem on a large sheet of flip-chart paper
- Drawing to represent a strong emotion (e.g. drawing ‘the angry monster’)
- Role play
- Thinking back to a time when things have gone well to find exceptions to the dominant story when things are going wrong
- Doing a family challenge to think about the perspectives of each member of the family
- Talking with parents about their concerns for their child
- And many other techniques, strategies and ways of working together –there are too many to write them all down!
I draw from a number of therapy models in my work and offer a therapy which is a mixture of talking and doing activities. I always hold in mind that a problem is often complex and I aim help families to think about problems as an interaction between lots of factors, rather than an just something inherently wrong with the child. This is called systemic thinking (because it sees problems as coming from and related to a whole system).
You may have heard of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and I offer this both as a discrete therapy (usually 12 sessions long, and usually to help with specific difficulties such as anxiety, fears, phobias, low mood or depression) and I use tools from CBT in more general work. CBT is a short-term talking therapy. I also use Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Narrative exposure therapy and other models. I often include tools or ideas from Schema therapy, mindfulness, Interpersonal Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
The type of therapy I offer depends on the difficulties and your family. Different methods and ideas work for different people. We can talk about what kind of therapy would be most helpful and what it would involve when we meet. You can talk about what is important to you and we can develop a plan together.
All Clinical Psychologists (and other therapists) have regular supervision with another practitioner to talk through cases. This is a place to review work with clients and think about professional and personal development. Regular supervision is part of working responsibly and ethically as a therapist.
What is said in sessions is confidential and I will not share what we talk about with anyone other than my supervisor. The exception to this is that if I hear anything which makes me concerned about the safety of you or anyone else I will need to share this information with the relevant people to ensure everyone is protected. Where I can, I will always talk to you before sharing any information.