One of the main advantages of working with an independent counsellor is flexibility, and control. You can have as few or as many sessions as you feel you need, with more say about when and how often they take place.
Many clients have chosen to come and see me, rather than use “free” counselling services as sadly the waiting lists can be just way too long, and the hoops to jump through can feel too onerous. Some clients often do not wish to access work-related counselling as they would rather keep the two separate, and that is their choice.
Often I have finished my work with clients before they have even reached the front of the waiting list that they were on.
I’m not going to beat about the bush here: I know Private Counselling can feel costly. But let’s face it any professional’s services are costly, as you are paying not only for their time but also for their knowledge and experience. Tradesmen often have a minimum call out fee, and sometimes they are not at your house 10 minutes. But they can often solve the problem way quicker than you could (and with a lot less mess – personally speaking).
So, when you come and see me what are you getting for your money? This is a very valid question as my son has been known to say: “I want to be a counsellor, all you do is sit and listen, that’s not hard is it?” and I don’t think he is alone in his perceptions.
Therapy is a relationship of sorts, sometimes a peculiar one, its different for everyone. For any relationship to work there needs to be investment in the relationship: the work needs to be valued.
By the time a counsellor sits in front of a client, they have succeeded and perservered where many have not. I feel that I do not exaggerate when I say that they have completed a Tolkien-like quest in order to be there!
Professionally qualified counsellors have had to study for between two and five years (some longer)… it depends on whether their courses were part-time, full-time, or intensive. During that time they are required to attend lectures, undertake personal therapy, volunteer (yes, work for free), attend additional training in order to volunteer for specific agencies, attend professional supervision, write thousands of words in essays, journals, lecture notes, case notes, supervision notes, and for some, dissertations. They also attend workshops, group process sessions and conferences where their emotions have been very deliberately manipulated to expose the very best and the very worst of themselves so that they can be self-aware and the very best that they can be before being allowed to commence work with clients.
In addition to the emotional and psychological costs, professionally qualified counsellors (as with all professionals) have paid money out in order to be in the Counselling room with you. The initial university course costs run into the thousands, then there are the added costs of obligatory personal therapy, voluntary hours on placement, supervision sessions, membership of professional organisations, travel costs, childcare costs (for some), pet sitting costs (for others) resources, food, and coffee (by the bucket load).
Once qualified the costs continue: there is Professional Indemnity Insurance, DBS checks, Membership of a Professional Organisation, personal therapy and supervision sessions continue throughout. We need to pay for advertising and marketing, for websites and profiles on Find a Therapist websites and directorys. Professionally Qualified Counsellors are required to continue their training and complete minimum hours of CPD (continuing professional development) per year, and this is audited too. Finally there’s the brass tacks of paying for and maintaining the therapy space, materials and consumables. Plus things like paying the phone bill.
OK, I get all of that, but what do I actually get? What’s in it for me? What’s my money buying?
- Regular, reliable: SPACE, time out.
- One-to-one attention
- A trained professional‘s full, undivided attention for an hour, in a safe confidential environment with no interruptions.
- You as the client set the agenda, you are in control of what goes on, what is discussed, its entirely up to you.
- Your session takes place in a friendly, clean, warm, tidy and understanding environment.
- You are able (if you wish) to stop for a moment, step back, and look at events, people, and stories in your life
- You are able (again, if you wish) to sift though what is going on in your own head.
- You are able (again only if you wish) to discuss and process some things that might feel raw, selfish, maybe even self absorbed, Things that you might not feel OK discussing anywhere else with anyone else in your life.
- Together we will look at ways in which you might want to (but you don’t have to) make changes and move forwards. Or you may decide to work on being at ease with yourself as you are. Or anything in between!
So, all in all, your session fee is paying for quite a lot really. Thank you for taking the time to read my explanation.