I am a huge supporter of the NHS. It is a fantastic service built on wonderful principles. Unfortunately, it often lacks the resources and funding to offer the best possible care. This is particularly apparent when it comes to ‘mental health’ and emotional wellbeing.
– You don’t have to jump through hoops and assessment tools
In order to qualify for Counselling via the NHS, you must first jump through several hoops, including a requirement that you score high enough on tick box assessment tools to indicate that your ‘symptoms’ are severe enough to fit within the parameters of ‘clinical depression’ or anxiety, for example.
This saddens me as it means people cannot receive counselling when they feel themselves beginning to spiral and wish to get the right help and support before they get worse. I know from personal experience that it is much easier to prevent yourself spiralling into a deep depression than it is to climb out of that hole once you are in it!
You do not need to have a mental health diagnosis to come and see me, nor do you have to score within a certain range on an assessment tool or be at crisis point. In fact, you don’t even need to be in distress of any kind to decide to come for Counselling or Psychotherapy. Many choose to work with a therapist to support them with their self-awareness and personal growth. I dispense with tick box assessment tools all together – I trust you and my own professional experience and judgement in deciding if therapy would help you.
– You don’t need to wait a long time to get the support you need
People also choose private Counselling because they do not wish to wait as long as 6-12 months for Counselling through the NHS as is the case in many areas. I will see you promptly or refer you to another therapist who can.
– Greater choice and a personalised service
Another reason people choose private counselling is greater choice and a personalised service.
Through the NHS, in most areas you are first offered group-based psycho-educative workshops and/or a short course (6-8) sessions of CBT with a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP). PWP’s are not qualified Counsellors / Psychotherapists and are only trained in offering manualised CBT. This can be of benefit to some people, with some issues but does not suit everyone. There are a number of criticisms of CBT, particularly as a stand-alone therapy rather than as one tool in the context of an integrated approach.
If you choose private therapy, you get to choose the therapist you would like to work with, based on their approach and even their personality, age, gender etc. – it is important to have a therapist you feel that you can open up to and who makes you feel safe and comfortable.
– As many or as few sessions as you need
You also get to have as many (or as few!) sessions as you choose. 6-8 sessions can be enough for some people, with some issues. For others it takes 6 weeks just to feel safe and comfortable enough to begin to open up! People work with me for anything from 3 sessions to two years. This depends on your unique circumstances, your goals and the issues you wish to explore. With private therapy, you are in the driving seat and can work with me for as long as we both feel it is beneficial to you.
– Greater Privacy & discretion
The final reason people choose private therapy is greater privacy and discretion. Working with me will not appear on your medical records. In addition, unlike many organisations, I do not have policies that require me to share information with other agencies or break your confidentiality in the case of historic events or minor criminality.These policies are often more about covering the agencies backside than any real concern about risk.
I think it important that people have a safe space to discuss the darker and more shameful aspects of their thinking and behaviour. Many of my clients talk to me about suicidal thoughts, drug use and aspects of their thinking and behaviour that they feel ashamed or guilty about. The bar for confidentiality for me is set very high in order to respect your privacy and allow you to feel safe to talk openly about whatever you need to. I will only break your confidentiality if I believe you present an imminent risk of serious harm to yourself or somebody else.