It’s often a good idea to first make an initial appointment. This is where we meet together for 50 minutes to talk about any difficulties you (or your children/ family) are currently experiencing and think about how a course of therapy could be useful.
The format of the first session consists of an informal assessment where I ask you some questions about what you are experiencing in the present, any related past experiences and also discuss your future plans – what you would like to be different. I aim to work collaboratively so we both gain an understanding of the psychological explanation for why things are how they are. I may draw out a psychological formulation of the various factors that I believe could be contributing to any distress. I may also provide some clarity around whether any symptoms are indicative of particular mental health difficulties such as depression or anxiety. I may give out structured questionnaires for you to complete in the session or take away.
With children, there is often a greater emphasis on engagement and ensuring the young person feels relaxed and has a positive first experience. With this in mind, it can be useful to have the initial session with just parents to be able to gather information and talk openly without worrying about little ears. I am also happy to have brief telephone conversations prior to a first assessment meeting or to receive a written summary of any issues.
It is completely your choice whether you attend the session alone or with a supportive person. With young children, it is usually a good idea for an adult to be present for the whole session. With older children and young people, it can often work well for parents to attend for the beginning and the end of a session but for us to have some time to talk alone in between. If the young person feels uncomfortable with meeting alone, it is absolutely fine to have an adult there for the entire duration. The aim is for people to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
The initial assessment session is charged at the standard rate and there is no obligation for further sessions. Specialist assessments can also be arranged to consider diagnosis or to provide a more comprehensive explanation of any difficulties. This may involve two sessions. Reports can also be arranged for a charge.
Oh and there is no couch involved! However the chairs are very comfortable.