Freelance Counsellor & Psychotherapist (MBACP)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)207 101 3249 Location: East London, UK
Your client journey
In exploring the possibility of getting professional therapy, you will need to identify a therapist that's right for you.
Your relationship with your therapist is the single biggest factor in getting a good outcome, so it’s vitally important that you engage someone that you can work with productively and I am committed to providing the best possible service from the moment you reach out to me.
Engaging a therapist is quite unlike an everyday purchase, so I am setting out below exactly what to expect. If I am helping you through another organisation such as a charity, they will have their own process.
Making initial contact
As noted above, I will seek to establish email contact at the earliest practical opportunity.
My first email will set out a number of key considerations so that some basic expectations are set ahead of any free pre-assessment session described further down this page. This email covers various points in relation to fundamentals like my current availability, scheduling, standard fees, cancellation, methods of meeting, etc. This mail should be read in conjunction with this page and my FAQ.
Setting out these details means that if/when we come to the free pre-assessment session, we can focus on the specifics of your case rather than generic administrative aspects.
If you have contacted me on behalf of someone else (e.g. your child), you should make them familiar with, at minimum, the contents of both my introductory email and this web page, but preferably also with my FAQ and the articles under the 'Introduction' option on this website's menu. This is so that they know what to expect and can commit to it, since therapy will not work without genuine cooperation from its intended recipient.
Declining cases before a free pre-assessment
It is exceptionally rare, but if I determine at the outset that I am unable to help for whatever reason (e.g. the presenting issues being outside of my experience, a conflict of interest, etc) then I will tell you clearly and immediately (either verbally or in writing, as applicable) so that you can move on and seek alternative support as soon as possible.
Free no-obligation pre-assessment
In the vast majority of cases, we will proceed to a free no-obligation pre-assessment session.
In cases where the intended recipient of therapy is not the person who initially contacted me (e.g. where a parent has sought therapy for their child), it is the intended recipient of the therapy that must undertake the pre-assessment, not the referring party. The pre-assessment is also intended to be a private one-to-one discussion.
The pre-assessment usually lasts about 20-30 minutes but we can take more time if we need it. This is not a free therapy session, but more a chance for the client and I to meet, discuss in more detail what the client would like help with and to determine whether we are a good fit to work together. Just like full-length paid sessions, the client can choose to undertake the pre-assessment over the phone, via Zoom or face-to-face in my therapy room in London's E15 postcode. If we move forward, we can change how we meet if needs change over time.
To make the pre-assessment as effective as possible, I would ask that prospective clients prepare as follows:
Have some thoughts on why you are seeking help, even if it’s just one sentence
If you are outside the UK, please check the time zone difference to the UK so we can take that into account; for some territories I won’t be able to help due to local licensing laws
Understand your diary availability so we can see whether we can make the scheduling work
Consider whether you would like to make me aware of specific and challenging financial circumstances, such as being unemployed, to inform our discussion on fees
Read as much of this website as you can; the main FAQ deals with a lot of common queries. If you are considering the option of a video call, I also have a video call FAQ which gives advice on what is required.
On the day, make sure that any device you are relying on has mains power or is adequately charged, that you have a private room where you won’t be disturbed and that you give yourself at least 5 quiet minutes immediately prior to the call in order to gather your thoughts.
During the pre-assessment itself:
Share some information about your situation and what is concerning you
Get a sense of how it feels to speak with me
Gauge how you feel about working in partnership with me.
Explain my approach and re-iterate the boundaries of our partnership
Address any questions you may have
Determine whether I have the capacity to support you, both in terms of my diary, and my competence. Whilst I am qualified and am committed to my continuous personal development, if I see I am not in a position to help you, I will say so candidly. In that scenario, I will suggest any appropriate alternative sources of support if I can.
Hear each other (and potentially see each other)
Confirm that there are no conflicts of interest that prevent us working together
Confidentially discuss your situation and therapeutic needs in broad terms
Check whether our diaries broadly align (although the identification of a specific diary slot will come later)
Agree whether to stop, or to take further time to think, or to proceed to full-length paid sessions. In very rare cases, I may ask for a small amount of time to seek independent advice on whether I can ethically accept your case.
I recognise that not every therapist is the right fit for every client and that at the end of the pre-assessment, you may feel that it was not what you had hoped for or expected. So there is no obligation to proceed beyond the pre-assessment if you prefer not to, or even if you simply remain unsure. Equally, you may want to take some more time after the pre-assessment to think further before deciding whether my service is right for you.
If we do not proceed for whatever reason, that is not a bad thing in itself as it simply means the pre-assessment has done its intended job and there will be absolutely no hard feelings from my side. In that scenario, I may be able to suggest other potential sources of help. If I feel able to proceed but you do not, there is no need to give me a reason if you don’t want to.
Provisional reservation of a recurring diary slot for full-length paid sessions
The vast majority of pre-assessments result in the client wishing to proceed to full-length paid sessions as soon as possible.
In such cases, I will rapidly provide (via email) the latest view of my diary together with associated guidance notes on how to nominate potential slots.
Having taken into account your preferences to the greatest possible extent, I will email you a confirmation of the slot that I have provisionally allocated from the options you have specified. I will also provide confirmation that a separate email will be sent imminently to explain the next steps required in order to secure the slot definitively.
Once I have provisionally allocated you a slot, it will no longer be shown to other clients as being available unless you are a no-show for the first session, in which case the slot will be released for use by other clients, pending further communication from you (which I will not chase).
If a suitable slot cannot be identified, the process will end at that point, unless we agree something different (e.g. me bearing you in mind for newly available slots for a finite period of, say, 2 weeks). I do not operate an open-ended waiting list as such because most of my clients are in long-term therapy and I would always prefer someone to get help elsewhere rather than waiting an indeterminant amount of time for me to have suitable availability.
Definitive reservation of a recurring diary slot for full-length paid sessions
Where a provisional diary slot has been successfully allocated and confirmed by email, I will rapidly provide (via an additional email) explicit instructions for securing the slot definitively. These instructions essentially involve:
Digitally (or physically) signing the Therapy Contract. I use a short standard agreement which is not meant to catch anyone out; it addresses fundamentals like confidentiality, fees, cancellation policy, etc.
Paying for the first session in advance. I only ask for the first session to be paid in advance as a symbol of commitment; thereafter payments can be made after each session.
If time allows, I will usually suggest a deadline of 2 working days before the first session's scheduled time to get the contract signed and the first payment made. This gives a little leeway if you are having a particularly busy week.
Final confirmation following receipt of a signed contract and first payment
In the vast majority of cases, the contract and first payment are both received as required.
In such cases, I will rapidly provide (via email) final confirmation that the first session is due to go ahead as previously agreed.
At this point, if it has not already been established, I will ask you whether you want your first session to be via the telephone, Zoom or in-person.
By default, you will not hear from me again until the morning of the first session, at which point you will get a reminder and, if applicable, a video conference invitation (using Zoom).
First full-length paid session
This first session has 2 central objectives:
1) To get a fuller assessment of your situation by hearing about your history and your current circumstances.
This assessment is a collaborative piece of work for us to both understand what has brought you to therapy, understand the impact of your challenges and where it all began. This is not a one-time activity for this first session; it’s a starting point and we will re-visit these aspects as we go forward.
2) To identify your therapeutic needs and goals.
The aim is to figure out what is the best form of support for the issues and goals that you have. Again, this is an initial view and which can be refined as we go forward.
Some clients like to come to the sessions with an idea of issues they would like to work through. Whilst this is welcome, you don’t need to worry about having anything planned before you come to a session as I will work with you to determine what you need. That said, the sessions are led by, and tailored to, your needs.
I will offer perspectives, tools and resources which may be helpful. I will also encourage you to do a home exercises where appropriate.
From time to time, we will review our work to give us focused opportunities to check how you feel it’s going and how (or even whether) we will continue. Naturally you don't have to wait for any such review to raise concerns.
If (and only if) you wish to write a client review at any point for my website, it will be fully anonymised in the event that it is published here.
Pausing or stopping
The aim is to work together for no longer than is, from your own perspective, necessary or valuable.
You are therefore free to terminate or pause the process at any time (subject to my normal cancellation policy detailed in my FAQ). If you make that decision, I may encourage you to reflect on why; you do not need to tell me the answer if you don’t want to. I will offer an optional ‘final wrap-up’ session to close our work.
Obviously I will need to release your diary slot for other clients.
For clients that see me weekly, another possibility is that we continue having sessions but at a reduced fortnightly frequency. I do not see clients less frequently than fortnightly as I would not consider that to be therapeutic.
If you wish to re-engage at a significantly later stage, we will essentially go back to the point in the process where we schedule a free pre-assessment session.
This is so that:
I can catch up on what has been happening for you in the intervening period
We can re-confirm that we are still in a position to work together (e.g. no new conflicts of interest have arisen in the intervening period, etc)
You can articulate your (potentially updated) needs and goals.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to guarantee that you can have your previous time slot.
More process-related information
My FAQ contains additional information about the practicalities of engaging with my private practice.
You are very welcome to contact me either directly, or through one of the various practitioner directories that I am listed on. There is no difference in cost and I give equal weighting to all enquiries, regardless of how they are received.
If you are considering contacting me on behalf of someone else (e.g. your child/relative/friend/employee/etc) you should read my FAQ which sets out just how little visibility and control a referring party will have over the therapy, even if they are funding it. I would advise you that any ethical practitioner will apply the same constraints.
The options to contact me directly are to use the ‘Enquire’ menu option on this website which is my preference, or to email me at ‘email@example.com’ or to call me on +44 (0)207 101 3249, preferably leaving a voicemail in the event that I miss the call.
I usually reply within a few hours and always within 24 hours, even if you contact me at the weekend.
If I have your email address, I will always reply in the first instance from my company email account which is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
If I receive a call from you, or if I only have your phone number via a third party website, I will speak to you on the phone in the first instance but during that first conversation, I will request an email address for subsequent use.
I ask all prospective clients (either verbally or via a text to their mobile number if they have provided one) to actively monitor their email system’s spam folder because there is a good chance that my first email will get blocked, even though this website is verified by Google and Microsoft.