Our Therapy Full Description

Though the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has published the guidelines and ethics for how therapy is to be constrained, there are many differences in the types and models of therapy that can be deemed effective and good within these bounds. Thus within the field, you will find great diversity among therapists that range from person centered therapy to psychoanalytic to cognitive behavioral therapy and so forth. A quick google search leads to a site where over 125 models for therapy are listed and described. Though many of the approaches to therapy overlap in some way, it is safe to say that the diversity within the field should be noted as the different approaches may produce different outcomes. Even amongst other professionals that adhere to similar Core Principles, all counsellors come with unique personalities, temperaments, interests, genders, insights, areas of focus and experience both in life and in the profession and thus the therapy you received from any particular counsellor would not be exactly like the therapy that would be received from another. Though written with some technical jargon, the description below is an attempt to paint a clearer picture of the actual therapy that we offer.

For ease of description, we use the pronoun "he/him" to refer to the client but Dundee Counselling provides therapy for both male and female individual clients, couples and families.

Before starting the therapeutic relationship, we explain to the client(s) how he is protected in terms of confidentiality. We explain what is expected of the client including the payment scale and once informed consent is obtained, therapy can begin.

The first phase is known as the listening phase. We work hard to understand what has brought the client to therapy. We focus on listening and reflectively responding {caringly pointing out the observations we see that the client is experiencing - emotionally, behaviorally, cognitively (thoughts), and somatically (bodily sensations) - that are problematic for the client} to both what the client is communicating in language as well as how the client's narrative is being expressed in facial expression, tone, and any other mode of expression. We desire to be extra caring and compassionate as well as non judgmental particularly in the early stages of therapy because this aids the client to feel free to express himself more fully, gain more insight into the surface and deeper realities of his situation and build trust and safety in the therapeutic relationship. We ask what the client's goals are for therapy and if the client is not sure about appropriate goals, we collaboratively help him construct goals that we feel comfortable setting. This first phase typically takes one to two sessions.

Secondly, we focus on learning from the client's history and past successes or attempts at dealing with the problem of concern, like a detective. This may require the investigation of the influence of the Family of Origin on the patterns of operating and may spend time constructing a client timeline or genogram. This again promotes understanding and insight for the client as well as some separation from the problem, relieving a portion of the intensity of the pain. During this phase we hope to find the various factors that contribute to why the client is feeling stuck in his pattern of operating. We encourage and compliment all coping mechanisms that the client has developed in order to make it through whatever situation the client has faced. In this we are forming trust. Often clients find themselves stuck because their normal coping mechanisms lack the power to help in the new situations they are facing. We use our education and intuition to try different techniques that would most benefit the client. This phase may take several sessions.

The third phase of therapy is referred to as the work of therapy. In it, we use the particular technique referred to in phase two to help the client understand, experience and practice new ways of dealing with their situation. For instance, a client that is experiencing depression and stuck in the "feeling" part of his brain would perhaps benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to use the "thinking" part of his brain more. And vice versa, someone who appears stuck in "intellectualizing" his world may benefit from Emotion Focused Therapy. Sometimes we use Internal Family Systems Therapy with clients who have over-reactive parts that seem to control the client, rather than he being in control of his reactive parts. For couples that experience communication and conflict resolution barriers, we use practical education including the Awareness Wheel and Listening Cycle principles for open communication as well as Pragmatic Experiential Therapy for Couples which involves helping couples shift out of protective brain states to connective brain states in the midst of resolving conflict. For premarital couples, we conduct an 8 session look at what a couple should expect in marriage as well as the Prepare/Enrich assessment which is designed to give insight into the actual couple's relationship before they marry. Whatever the technique used, we frequently review the process with the client to determine that the approach is effective for the client and that it is helping him reach his goals in therapy. We have written and administer some tests if the test would be beneficial and therapeutic for the client. We are comfortable dealing with Christian faith issues if the client would like to include this in their therapy, but regardless of faith position we treat all our clients with care, respect, dignity and grace. This phase of therapy ranges in duration but can be expected to last for one to several months. Although quick change does happen in people sometimes, more often it is gradual change that occurs, and if it is gradual, there is a greater chance that it will last. It is not shameful if therapy takes a while.

The fourth phase of therapy is known as self leadership and is characterized by increasingly less reliance upon the therapist. The client feels more centered and confident about navigating in his world and can articulate what he has done or how he has changed to be empowered. He typically has more hope and joy. He has approached his goal for therapy and has several choices. He may discontinue therapy, meet less frequently with the therapist for continued but less involved support or he may decide on a new goal for therapy. Whatever the decision, the client and therapist collaboratively agree on a decision that is best for him. Follow up sessions can be arranged and reentering therapy down the road is common, but dissolving the therapeutic relationship is as important as any of the other phases in therapy because it can include grief and joy mixed together. We think that the best part about our therapy is that we are personally tailoring the relationship for the needs of each individual client, couple or family. Each client's needs are different and always changing, and giving that individual attention is what we believe makes our therapy so effective for our clients.