How does the therapy/coaching process work?
Firstly, in regards to telephone/video psychological therapy/coaching:
This can often understandably feel even more daunting that meeting a psychologist face-to-face - I had my own reservations and worries about working in this way before I tried it. However, I have now offered telephone and/or video sessions to clients for more than 5 years, and I have come to trust that the process is very often as effective as meeting face-to-face is - And the scientific research on remote psychological services is now also supporting this trust I have developed.
The structure of the process will be the same as described in more detail below, and I will respond over the phone/video as I do face-to-face - With my full attention, empathy, understanding and connection. If we are both open to the process of remote working, and both 'show up' with honesty and commitment to the process, then the connection we can develop over the telephone/video will be as strong as the connection we can develop face-to-face.
Together we can explore and brainstorm how to overcome the challenges that can sometimes be associated with remote therapy/coaching (e.g. finding privacy, and quiet, outside of a therapeutic space), and often most clients find that the benefits outweigh the challenges (e.g. greater flexibility of timing of sessions, greater opportunities for focussed problem solving based on your 'real life', which you will be IN of course while we will be speaking, etc.)
The initial session:
During our initial contact we will arrange a time that suits us both to meet (or speak, in the case of telephone/video sessions) for 50 minutes. There is no need for any commitment beyond this initial session - This initial session is for us to get to know each other, and explore whether we can potentially work well together, to help you achieve your goals.
I typically begin the first session by asking my clients to tell more more about their reasons for looking into psychological therapy/coaching - What are you struggling with? How long have you been struggling? And how would you like things to be different? I then go on to ask for additional information regarding your past - Are there any important moments in your life that have led you to be here now? I will respond to all of the information you provide me with honesty, kindness, openness, empathy and understanding.
Towards the end of the first session, I will summarise my understanding of your needs, which I have gathered in the session, and I will let you know whether I feel that I am a good fit to help you meet your needs. I am also likely to reflect on the courage it has taken you to seek out support that this time - I know that it truly is a brave decision to ask for help, and to share personal stories with someone new to seek that help. As part of my summary, I will also share with you more information about how I work, and where I feel we should focus the discussions, if we do choose to work together going forward. If we then do decide to go ahead, we will then agree when next to meet, and how often to meet. Some clients feel that a one-off check in session with me is valuable enough to provide them with support and guidance to go forward without further support, and that is certainly welcomed where appropriate.
The ongoing process:
Once we begin meeting for regular ongoing therapy/coaching work, I tend to begin each session by asking for a quick check-in regarding your week (or fortnight/month; i.e. since our last session). This check-in may lead to a session focussed on that recent time, or we may agree to pick up with a topic we were talking about in a previous session. Or I may ask you a question on a new topic that I've been wondering about since we met last time. There may be times when I offer a different perspective or advice, and there may be times when I encourage us to use the sessions to practice some new skills (e.g. new ways of responding, new ways of thinking, etc.). Again, throughout all of our sessions, I will prioritise on connecting with what you are telling me, and connecting with you - I will respond to what you tell me with honesty, kindness, openness, empathy and understanding.
How it might feel:
Throughout our sessions, there is likely to be many times that the process will feel incredibly validating, and you may feel great relief regarding a release of emotions and/or secrets from your past, or from your present. Many of my clients often reflect how positively powerful it is to have their emotions and stories embraced, and understood. However, through the therapy/coaching process there are also likely to be times when it feels more difficult - For example, when I encourage us to discuss something that feels harder for you to talk about, or when I provide advice or guidance that perhaps feels hard to hear. I strive at all times to navigate these more difficult conversations with compassion, and in a way that I feel facilitates your journey through these challenging discussions. Importantly, many of my clients have also reflected that it was these difficult conversations in therapy that often end up stick in their mind as some the most positively powerful in the long run.
Behind the scenes:
It is also important for you to know that our therapy/coaching process continues throughout the weeks, even on days when we don't see each other - I will spend time after each of our sessions making notes of our session - This helps me both remember our session as well as I can, but it also helps me to explore the issues we have discussed myself, and often generates more thoughts in me, about you and the work we are doing. And my thinking doesn't stop with the notes that I take - I often research topics we have talked about, and/or I often think of our sessions, and I simply consider various perspectives of the work we are doing, between our sessions. And I also prioritise re-reading the most recent notes I have made, before we meet again. This way, I am refreshed on our work, and ready to speak to you, in way that maximises our time together. If we do work together for many sessions, then I will also routinely review the entirety of the notes, to ensure we haven't neglected to come back to an important topic, that we may have spoken about briefly about the past.
Finally, this is is a collaborative process:
Regardless of whether we meet face-to-face or work together remotely, you ultimately have control within the process - You can ask me questions at any time, you can decline to talk about something if it feels too difficult in that moment, you can remain silent if that is what you need at that time, etc. I will always be respectful of your contribution to the process, and I will always be honest with you about what I feel is best for our time together too - for you to get the most out of your investment in the process.
Together, we will do our best to design a tailored process that facilitates you meeting your goals as quickly as possible.