There appears a mystification regarding what exactly happens in a clinical session when a patient or client meets a psychotherapist or counsellor for counselling psychotherapy for the first time. It is evident to me that patients appear to perceive such sessions as daunting due to the ‘unknown factor’. Of course, this is amplified further when a patient meets a hypnotherapist as hypnosis has mystical associations with science, spiritualism and even the occult. Such perceptions can be incorrectly nourished and completely distorted from the exact psychological therapy process due to social fears, speculation, and lack of knowledge.
I hear you pose the question, how can counselling psychotherapists and hypnotherapists convey to society the accurate perceptions of what takes place within the 50 or 60 minute therapy hour? It is very difficult for therapists alike as both media and society love to feed, mystify, and distort the true crux of psychological (talking) therapy. This self-perpetuates an ever-increasing lack of education that is deep rooted in the social and clinical psyche of perspective clients and patients. Therefore, when I am approached via email, telephone or in person, I attempt to inform them with ease by stripping away their incorrect perceptions and reframe them with accurate and realistic psychology (psycho-education) in relation to their condition(s). Only then, can society begin to learn truth; when one draws on individual experience and build a reputation via word of mouth.
Within the session, after I have delivered the ‘meet, greet, and seat’, I present to my patient a verbal resume of my qualifications, theories, therapeutic experience, and knowledge of my governing bodies. It is fundamental that ethics are upheld, which encompass: confidentiality, therapeutic boundaries, and taking down a case history. This records physical, psychological, and emotional health, and includes medical practitioners contact details. Additionally, the patient will be encouraged to disclose a symptoms history, i.e. historical factors that relate influence and reduce symptoms and the behaviours the patient inadvertently, or purposely acts out in connection to their condition(s). I even take notes regarding the patient’s leisure activities and dreams as this can present the therapist with crucial patient knowledge as can the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of the patient’s ‘self’. Schultz, et al., commented in the (2005, p. 302) of The Journal of Sexual Medicine that a marriage of the mind and body in current classification is epistemology necessary. I would take it one step further and include the spirit.
When commencing actual psychological therapy, I have noticed it can vary depending on the therapist’s training and ethics. Therefore, I can only disclose and comment on my clinical approach. I am an eclectic psychotherapist whereby I utilise a plethora of techniques which I had obtained either from my psychotherapy training or my clinical hypnosis training. Fortunately, some of these techniques are interchangeable between conscious (out of trance) therapy and unconscious (in trance) therapy. The fine line between conscious and subconscious is sometimes indistinct as there are sub-conscious parts of the mind that entertain waking-hypnosis, meditation, focusing techniques and prayer, which present themselves in a therapeutic toolbox for a plateau of measureless amounts of modus operandi (abilities, methods, and systematic procedures).
Therefore, depending on the patient’s notes information design, the therapist can explore patterns within the knowledge supplied, and reflect upon them before considering the contraindications of the condition and treatment(s). I personally process much of my patient’s therapeutic treatment plan when I am asleep at night. I am certain; other therapists’ have their own instinctual processing method, which might vary from mine. I tend to place a pencil and piece of paper on my bedside table and if I wake up with some level of awareness regarding a patient and their case, I record it there and then, as by morning time, it will have been wiped from my working memory. Sessions with patients can vary from patient to patient, depending on their complexity and condition. I tend to treat sex and relationship and trauma patients on a more long-term basis, whereas patients who seek treatment on quitting smoking etc. are considered to be short time and will require at most 6 sessions.
I think I have given examples of information on what happens within therapy, which will definitely help to clear any doubts that readers might have on this matter. Readers can always follow me on my websites and blogs if they require more succinct answers to their queries.