What to expect
What to expect
The first step to getting help is arranging a consultation session. What is this?
The first appointment you will be offered is called the consultation session and this lasts for one hour. Prior to this initial session, you will be sent a registration form to complete and either bring with you to your consultation, or return by email.
Depending on the difficulties you describe during the consultation, a number of therapy options will be discussed with you. Sometimes it may become clear during the consultation that therapy is not suitable for the difficulties you describe; if this were to be the case I would discuss this with you, and help you to find an alternative and more suitable source of support.
At the end of the consultation, you will understand the type of therapy that is being offered to you, what the focus of the sessions will be, and the initial number & frequency of sessions.
You will NOT be asked to agree to commence therapy there and then. You will leave the consultation without any requirement to continue with therapy. Should you wish to continue with therapy, you will then contact me after the consultation session to book in for further sessions. I will not contact you to follow up your consultation, as this fits with the principle of autonomy in therapy; the notion that you are in charge of the choices you make.
To confirm your consultation session, you will also be asked to pay for your session in advance by BACS payment. If you cancel your session with less than 24 hours notice, or do not attend your session, you will still be charged the full cost of the session.
The cost of a consultation session is £60.
What happens during therapy sessions?
During therapy sessions, you will be encouraged to talk openly with your therapist about things that may be difficult or painful for you. Your therapist will not judge you or tell you what you should do, instead will listen empathically, and help you to process any painful feelings that you have, without fear of judgment or criticism. Your therapist will work hard to try and help you to understand what you may need to begin to feel better.
How many therapy sessions will I need?
At the consultation, we will agree an initial number of therapy sessions, and this depends upon a number of factors, including the extent of the difficulties you are experiencing. Four sessions are usually offered initially, followed by a review and together we will decide how many further sessions you may need. Initially, therapy should take place on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
The number of sessions required is reviewed regularly as circumstances change. Sessions are usually 50 minutes long, and to gain the maximum benefit from your session, it is important to arrive promptly as the therapy session will need to end on time. The number of sessions is offered as a guide only, and you have the right to withdraw from therapy at any time; you are not ‘contracted’ into a set number of sessions.
Some difficulties are more suited to a brief intervention (6-8 sessions). Often trauma-informed therapy lasts between 12-18 sessions. However, people respond to therapy in different ways and so we always keep a close eye on the number of sessions and regularly review how we are progressing.
Will therapy make me feel better straight away?
Many people sit before me in the hope that therapy will make them feel better quickly and painlessly, and an important part of my role is to manage expectations about what happens during sessions. Sadly, usually the reason you may be seeking therapy is because something very painful has happened, or you are experiencing difficulties that you have not been able to resolve. Often when difficult things have happened, it seems like a good way of coping is to shut these feelings out, as they are too painful to think about. Whilst blocking out can be a helpful measure in the short term, over the longer term, some people find that they experience emotional difficulties as a result of these painful feelings and experiences remaining unprocessed. Therapy encourages you to open yourself up to discussing these feelings or experiences, and explore them safely with your therapist, who will help you to work through, and make sense. This is known as the ‘process’ of therapy. This process can take time, particularly when things have been buried or hidden for a long time, and this can be a very painful process, with the aim of ‘working through’, supported by the warmth, understanding and encouragement of your therapist. Therefore, things can feel worse before they feel better, and that is a natural and necessary part of therapy.
Is therapy confidential?
A vital aspect of developing an atmosphere of warmth and trust is knowing that what you tell your therapist won’t go any further. Therapy sessions are confidential, meaning that the information shared between you and your therapist is held confidentially including the notes that are taken as a record of your session. However, in order to work legally, ethically and to promote your safety, there are some circumstances in which this confidentiality agreement may be broken, and these are outlined below.
Quite often people seek therapy when they feel they are in some sort of crisis, and may even feel suicidal. Counsellors and Psychotherapists are used to hearing these ideas, and an important part of therapy is to explore these feelings with you fully; more often than not these feelings subside as a result of them being better understood by being discussed openly. In the rare event of these feelings becoming worse and you believe that you may take action to seriously harm yourself or another then additional support is required. In these circumstances I will discuss this with you, and hope to gain your consent to contact other medical professionals to enable us to keep you safe, and this is usually your GP. In addition, I may seek to contact the emergency contact that you provide in your information sheet. This means that I may need to break our confidentiality agreement in order to protect you.
Additionally, the protection of children and vulnerable others is paramount, and if you were to disclose any information to indicate that a child or vulnerable other has been harmed, or is in danger of being harmed, I would need to share this information with other agencies. In addition, from a legal perspective, I am required by law to report any information that is shared regarding serious criminal activity such as dealing in weapons, terrorism, money laundering, or drug or human trafficking.
In any of these circumstances only relevant information will be shared with relevant agencies, this means that a lot of the information that you have shared with your therapist will still remain confidential.
How much are therapy sessions?
Individual therapy sessions cost £60 per session. Sessions usually last between 50 minutes and 1 hour.
Where will therapy take place?
Face to face sessions will take place at my practice ‘Nine Wellbeing’, in West Kirby, Wirral. This is a discrete and private wellbeing practice within a comfortable and serene setting, and a stones-throw away from the beach.
If you are unable to attend face to face sessions, we may be able to meet by telephone, or I have access to a secure business platform for web-based meetings. We can discuss any requirements you have for remote sessions, however remote working will require further discussions around confidentiality.
Nicola Forshaw holds a Masters Degree in Counselling (with distinction), a diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and a certificate in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. Nicola is a highly experienced trauma/PTSD therapist and is and is fully qualified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). She is accredited by BACP (British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy), and is also a registered member. You can verify Nicola’s registration and credentials at