August 2019 – Common Questions – The Guildford Psychologist

During my 10 years in private practice there have been common questions I’m often asked. I thought it may be helpful sharing some of these. I’m sure there’s lots I’ve missed, so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.


What’s the process to see you?

After contacting me I’ll immediately let you know if I have a waiting list. If I do, I’ll let you know how long it is likely to be before I could offer you weekly appointments. Sometimes this may be a few weeks, sometimes, unfortunately, a couple of months. Whichever it is, if I have a wait time, I’ll always try to ensure I offer you cancellation appointments in the interim.

If the wait time is okay for you, I’ll then suggest we speak on the phone. This is just to see if you have a difficulty I feel I can help with. I do this, as the last thing I want is for you to make the effort to come to see me only for me to say I’m not the most appropriate practitioner. However, you do not have to have this call if you do not wish. It’s just there if you wish to have it.

If I feel I can help, I’ll then let you know when an appointment (cancellation or weekly) comes available. If you plan to fund through health insurance, I’ll also need a few pieces of information just to confirm treatment with your insurers.


How long is the wait for an appointment?

Unfortunately, my clinic is often full. Therefore, it’s common for there to be a bit of a wait for a weekly appointment. However, prior to a weekly appointment I’ll always try to offer you a couple of appointments that are available due to cancellations. These appointments are generally used to complete an assessment and they also give you a chance to work out if you feel we can work together – without having to wait until a weekly slot comes available to find out. Don’t get me wrong though, in an ideal world, I would be offering everyone weekly appointments from the first week they contact me. I can only apologise if I’m not able to offer this.


How many sessions will I need?

This question is easier for me to answer as the treatment progresses. It is a really common question that I’m asked over the phone or on email. I can completely understand this as it’s natural to want to have an idea on how much of your time may be required, and also your money (!). Unfortunately, the best I’m likely to say over phone or email is 4 – 20 sessions. I know this is often an unhelpful answer, but it is so difficult to ascertain how many sessions could be beneficial from a quick phone call or a brief email description.


I have health insurance, how do I ensure they fund the sessions?

The best thing to do is to speak to them. The most common process with insurers is that they’ll want to see a report from a medical practitioner (a GP / Psychiatrist) that states your need for treatment. Once they have this, they’ll hopefully give you an authorisation number for psychology treatment. We’d then be good to start.


I don’t really know what my thoughts are, I just feel so anxious / low / angry

This is a really common question.  Many people I meet struggle to identify thoughts, and sometimes a client may be really concerned by this. If this is you, you needn’t be concerned. It’s a really common concern. Indeed, Soucy et al (2019), recently identified it of the most common questions asked. We’ll work together on this, and sometimes we may even find that it is not even important to know what the thoughts are.


I’ve had CBT before and it didn’t help – how will you be able to help me?

As much as I wish it did, CBT does not work for everyone. However, CBT had developed so much in the past 20 years. There are now different variations of CBT, each with a great evidence base. For example, there’s Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy and Mindfulness-based CBT – all of which I can offer. All fall under the CBT umbrella but are also distinctly different. If you’ve had one type of CBT, it’s possible that another type may be more helpful. We can certainly spend time discussing this. Indeed, whenever I see anyone, I’m trying to think what type of therapy (or what type of CBT) could be most helpful to this person. Although I always aim to, I’d be lying if I said I always get this right. Sometimes we may start with one therapy and then realise it’s not quite achieving what we want so we’ll discuss whether to move to another. If I do not offer the therapy I feel would be the most helpful, I’ll help you to find a practitioner who does.


Do you see children?

I see both adults and children.


Do you work with people who are suicidal?

I’m afraid not. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that I’m part-time, and I feel I may not be able to offer the level of support that may be most beneficial. The second is that active suicidal behaviour is not something I’m particularly experienced in. I do know a few practitioners who are though, so do feel free to contact, even if it’s just to ask who I would recommend. Sometimes I recommend the NHS in these situations, simply because, when someone is highly suicidal, you’ll be able to receive support from teams specilised in this area. Those teams have lots of different practitioners (psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses). This can mean the level of support given can far outweigh what a private practitioner may be able to offer, and the support systems will be regularly able to meet to ensure the needs of the person at risk are met.


Will I need to attend regularly?

Therapy is generally considered to be so much more effective when attended regularly. In cognitive behavioural therapy, often a lot of information is learnt and getting into a ‘flow’ can be really helpful. Having a session once a month or every now and then can make things tricky. It’s a bit like physiotherapy exercises – if you do them once in a while they are often not that helpful, but if you’re regular with your exercises then progress can quickly occur.


Do you offer Skype sessions?

I do, but I always try to meet a person face to face first before progressing onto online sessions. Online has it’s pros (no travel, convenience), but sessions sometimes involve writing out things and face to face can be easier for this, and it can feel more personal too.