The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) recently promoted their useful Key Facts document on what to expect from your first session with a counsellor. You can find it here. There is more useful information on their website: www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk
This got me thinking about the counselling process and specifically the often unfamiliar language used. I thought it might be useful for me to attempt to explain some of the ‘jargon’ used in the counselling world. My hope is that by explaining these terms you will feel more confident and in control when embarking on this path.
Let’s start with the term ‘Contracting’…
‘Contracting’ is where your counsellor will explain the basis on which you will work together. This conversation will normally take place at the start of your first session but, depending on how they work, your counsellor may have also emailed or posted you a written version of the contract, prior to your first session.
The contract will normally cover a range of topics including:
– Duration of each session (50 minutes is typical)
– Confidentiality (most things will normally be confidential between you and your counsellor although there are likely to be limits to this such as risk of harm to self or others)
– Number of sessions (this may be time-limited i.e. 6-8 sessions or open-ended)
– Cancellation policy
– Cost of each session (where relevant)
– Note-keeping (where any notes are stored and whether you are able to request access to these)
Some counsellors have quite detailed contracts and some have quite simple ones. If there is something you are curious or concerned about that is not explicitly covered in the contract it is perfectly acceptable to ask your counsellor for this information.
You can also ask your counsellor whether it is possible to vary the contract if there is an element you do not feel comfortable with. Your counsellor may not be able to do this for ethical/ agency/ personal reasons but they should seek to explain this to you and to have an open conversation with you about how you go from there.
You will normally be provided with a written contract during the first session (if this has not already been sent to you). If you are not given a copy of this to take away with you, you are able to ask to be provided with one. You might find that questions come up later on in your counselling journey that you want to check out with your counsellor.
Remember that this is your counselling and that you are empowered to make it an experience that you will get the most out of.
Did you enjoy this post? Let me know if there are any other terms you would like to see covered!