Mic Austen Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Trauma and PTSD

Quote for the month:

“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
― Shannon L. Alder

I am an experienced UKCP registered Psychotherapist and Counsellor, living and working in private practice in Brentwood with a further private practice in Central London. I work with Individuals and Couples for both short-term (6-12 weeks) and long-term (over 3 months) work. I work in an 'integrative' way meaning that I use a number of different types of counselling and psychotherapy to make sure that you get the help and support you need. I offer Counselling and Psychotherapy in the Brentwood, Billericay, Shenfield and Chelmsford areas of Essex. I am ideally placed near Brentwood station for easy access to and from Chelmsford, Romford, London and further afield. I also have a practice near Paddington/Maida Vale/Warwick Avenue areas in London.

Working one-to-one with individuals and with couples, I support you to make meaningful and effective changes in your life so that you feel happier, more in control and more fulfilled. I work with issues such as....
....and many other mental health issues that may prevent you from living a full and fulfilling life.

me - professional photo

I work hard with everyone who comes for therapy to make sure that you get the support and help that you need. I am committed to providing counselling and psychotherapy in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment. My practice in Brentwood is easily accessible with good transport links and ample parking. I hope that you will find all the information you need on these pages but please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions - all contact details are on the Contacts page.

I am trying to write something about the experience of having Counselling and Psychotherapy in a Blog. It is really important that you get the help that you want from the therapist that is right for you. Please have a look at the Blog and the latest article below. I am going to try and cover other issues as they come up so if you have any ideas or if there is something more you would like to know or have concerns about, please let me know. Please feel free to e-mail or phone me if you would like to talk about anything that concerns you. The most important part of healing is for you to feel heard and get the support that you want and need.

Mic Austen
Brentwood Counselling and Psychotherapy
Tel: 07445-672295
Click here to e-mail me

Accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist
IMAGO Relationship Therapist

Individuals, Relationships and Couples Therapist

Counselling & Psychotherapy in Brentwood, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Upminster, Hornchurch, Billericay, Essex
Paddington, Maida Vale, Little Venice, Bayswater, West London
United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists

Counselling and Psychotherapy: What to expect in the first sesson?

In my experience, deciding that you need some emotional help and support is one of the hardest decisions you can make. I often feel that when someone picks up the phone, that is the most courageous part of the process – it’s a huge step in itself. But once you’ve got your first appointment, what then? What happens in a counselling/therapy session? What can you expect when you walk through the counsellor/therapist’s door?

It is usual to feel anxious when you first come to see a counsellor/therapist – anxious about what the therapist is like; what is expected of you; if it will be painful; how you might be helped; how long it will take; or even if you like the therapist! Anxiety is absolutely normal and your therapist/counsellor should be able to put you at ease straight away – assuring you that it is natural and usual to be anxious in situations that you are not used to. That is our brains way of letting us know that the situation may be unsafe – it is our body’s way of keeping us safe in an unknown situation.

Your anxiety might continue for a few sessions – to a lesser degree, but still present. Again, this is very natural: you are about to explore the most intimate details of yourself so you’ve got to trust and like the person who is sitting in front of you.

The first session is usually an ‘assessment’. The counsellor/therapist may start by asking what has brought you to their office. The client then usually describes what is bothering them in their own words. This can be anything from depression, anxiety, stress, anger issues, bereavement, marital or relationship issues, abuse in any form, work issues, sexual identity, gender issues, family or work problems - absolutely anything that is causing you emotional or psychological distress. Sometimes people seek professional help because, despite a seemingly ‘good’ life, money, etc, they just don’t feel good about themselves and they wish to explore why this might be. It is such an individual experience that it is difficult to generalise - people have very different reasons to seek therapy. In fact all the reasons why we seek professional help and support are personal and individual – as individual as you are. As I wrote in another article – there is no one counselling or psychotherapy method that works for all people all the time. So the reasons for seeing a counsellor/therapist are also individual and unique to each person.

Once you have told your therapist why you are seeking help, they may ask you why now? Has something changed in your life? Has there been a change in your circumstances? What is going on for you now? Once your have given the therapist a bit about why you are there and, the therapist is likely to ask some questions about your life, such as information about your background, current relationships, etc. This is for a number of reasons:

in order to get some understanding of your support network

to form a picture of your family of origin and current family

to get a greater understanding of you - the person sitting with the therapist
These questions are usually about your birth family, your relationships with your parents, siblings or any other carer, your current family such as husband/wife/separated/divorced, children, etc.

Although the questions may often seem irrelevant to your current situation, they are important pieces of information in formulating a diagnostic picture of you. This gives the therapist an idea of how to help, how long it may take and what direction the therapy is likely to go.

During this process, you will, of course be making note of whether you like the therapist; whether you like the way they work and whether you could work together. Without actually being able to form a therapeutic relationship, the therapy/counselling will not work, however skilled or not the therapist is. For this reason, I usually end the first session by asking whether the client has any questions for me. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. If not, I encourage them to ask at any time during our work together. That is a personal decision and different counsellors/therapists may work differently.

Last but not least, your therapist will discuss the terms and conditions of your work together so that you know how to get hold of them in an emergency, their cancellation policy, times when they work, etc. Different counsellors/therapists work differently, depending on the type of counselling or psychotherapy that they use. For example: some counsellors/therapists will suggest you meet once a month, others once a week and some, a few times each week. Again, ask the therapist how they work, why they work like that and remember, if you don’t like how they work, find someone else. There’s a lot of choice out there – you need to find the method and person that suits you.

Cost is also something that the counsellor/therapist may discuss at the first meeting. If you have therapy or counselling at your doctor’s surgery, then this is not an issue but if you see someone in private practice, then you will have to pay for the therapy. Medical insurance companies do sometimes pay for counselling/psychotherapy but usually only one type of therapy and for a short period of time. But it’s definitely worth asking both your provider and your therapist if they accept medical insurance.

When the first session ends, it is usual to make the next appointment. The counsellor/therapist may also ask how you feel now, at the end of the session. It is unusual to feel as anxious at the end of the session than at the beginning but if you do, it’s always important to be as honest as possible. Say how you feel and the therapist should again give you some reassuring words. This is all information and you can address it at the next appointment.

Making the decision to seek professional help for anything to do with your mental health and well-being is a brave, courageous step. In therapy, you don’t tend to talk about the things that are good in your life as they don’t need to be changed. It is the painful and difficult memories and experiences that you will be talking about - this will not always feel good but it will help.

I hope this gives you some idea of what to expect after you make that phone call. As they say, every journey begins with the first step – good luck with yours.

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