People have different experiences of ‘therapists’ and ‘therapy’. Some are very used to having therapy and see it as an important part of their well-being, similar to seeing their doctor or regular physical activity. For other people, seeing a therapist can be a scary idea, which comes with a lot of shame and stigma. I have experience of working with people from many different backgrounds and with a range of views and beliefs about ‘therapy’ and what they would like from it.

Below are a list of questions that people frequently have when they are thinking about seeing someone for psychological therapy.

If you have a question that doesn’t appear below, please do get in touch to learn more.

[expand title=”Will you tell other people that I’m seeing you or what we talk about?” notitle=”true”]
Your story is not mine to share. I will not tell others that I am seeing you or what we talk about, unless you give explicit permission.

However, if I am concerned that you or someone else is going to come to harm, then I am obliged to report this. I will always talk to you before I share information, unless I believe it will increase the risk of harm.[/expand]

[expand title=” What if my problems aren’t bad enough? I don’t want to waste your time.” notitle=”true”]I believe that prevention is often better than cure so I do not have a ‘bad enough’ limit. If you are struggling with something or want help to think about things differently, that is enough for me. If you’re really unsure, do get in touch for free and we can think about that more.[/expand]

[expand title=” How do I know if you’re the right therapist for me?” notitle=”true”]

The starting point is what I have to say on this website. Do I sound as though I would be interested in getting to know you? Do I sound like I could understand you? Could you want me to get to know you? If you think yes, then get in touch and see what you think about me from my responses to you. If you’re still hopeful then we can meet for an initial consultation. Following this, ask yourself:

  • Did I feel relaxed and safe?
  • Do I think she listened to me?
  • Did she get me or get my problem?
  • Am I happy with our goals and the plan?
  • Could I tell her my some of my deepest thoughts, feelings, wishes, desires, fears, motivations?
  • If no, to any of the above, could I talk about that with Maxine and could we work on that?
  • Did I feel judged, ridiculed, rushed, pushed or criticised? If yes, could I talk about that with Maxine and could we work on that together?

Therapy won’t be a perfect experience and I am unlikely to meet all of your expectations. The main thing is whether you feel safe enough to talk about those things with me and to explore them together. If you don’t, then I’m probably not the right person for you, right now, and I am happy to help you think about who or what might be.[/expand]

[expand title=” How do I know you are a safe, ethical practitioner?” notitle=”true”]

The title of ‘Clinical Psychologist’ is a protected one. Therefore, in order to be allowed to call myself a Clinical Psychologist, I must be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council. This ensures that my work meets high professional and ethical standards. Thus, you can feel safe and I maintain high levels of satisfaction within my practice. [/expand]

[expand title=” Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Therapist? What’s the difference?” notitle=”true”]

This is not the easiest question to answer and there is often much overlap across the professions. The basic differences lie in the background training. After that, a Clinical Psychologist’s practice could seem very similar or very different to that of a Counsellor or Psychotherapist, particularly privately. However, within the NHS and other organisations, a Clinical Psychologist will tend to be responsible for care planning and management, as well as service planning and development. Clinical Psychologists are known to consult to other professionals regarding approaches to treatment, to run training and to work strategically across services in leadership positions. While this can also be true of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, it is not always part of their job descriptions.

Here, I will attempt to tease apart some of the differences in background training. Ultimately, the decision of whether I am the right therapist for you comes down to whether you like the sound of me and how I think about emotional distress and well-being. You can get a flavour of my approach by reading the rest of this site and you can also contact me for a free discussion of whether I could be helpful to you.

The easiest place to start, is to distinguish Psychiatrists from the other professions. Psychiatrists are doctors of medicine and have specialised in psychiatry. This means that Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and, unlike the professionals, they do not need to be trained in talking therapies. However, they will have some therapeutic knowledge and some may have specialised further and may even also be psychotherapists. Psychiatrists are concerned with how your physiology is affecting your mood, thoughts and feelings. Thus, often, Psychiatrists will work with a talking therapist to ensure that they have the most appropriate package of care available.

The next titles are the ‘catch alls’ – ‘Therapist’ and ‘Psychologist’. ‘Therapist’, is not a protected title and there is no regulation on it – anyone can call themselves a therapist. ‘Psychologists’ are people who have an undergraduate degree in psychology.

‘Clinical Psychologist’ and ‘Counselling Psychologist’ are protected titles. This means that we have completed doctoral level qualifications (at least 6 years training) and must be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council to use those titles. There are other kinds of Psychologists that are also protected titles, including Educational, Forensic, Health and Occupational. All of these psychologists could be referred to as ‘Applied Psychologists’ or ‘Practitioner Psychologists’. As a general rule, the title preceding ‘psychologist’ refers to either the setting in which a psychologist might work or the kinds of people the with whom the psychologist works.

However, you could find a Clinical Psychologist in any of the above settings – the NHS, mental health services, education, prisons, secure hospitals, healthcare settings and occupational health. Clinical Psychologists have a broad training, which prepares us to work across age and ability ranges. We have been trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches, in order to be able to make informed and evidence-based decisions about the most appropriate therapeutic approaches for a situation. In addition, we work with teams, and offer consultation and supervision to a range of professionals about how to relate psychology to their work with clients, patients and service users.

Counselling Psychologists also tend to work with people experiencing emotional or relational distress. As a general rule, Clinical Psychologists have tended to work with people who are experiencing more intense distress or symptoms. Additionally, as referenced above, they tend to have a large amount of responsibility for the care of individuals, as well as the overall organisational approach.  By contrast, Counselling Psychologists might work with people who are experiencing less intense difficulties. However, the difference is increasingly small and I adamantly do not have thresholds for how ‘bad’ your problems have to be.

‘Psychotherapist’ is another overarching term for anyone who conducts talking therapies. As such, a Counsellor is a type of psychotherapist. However, the general belief is that counselling goes less ‘deep’ than psychotherapy might. If you are looking for a Counsellor or Psychotherapist, their regulatory bodies are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapies and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.[/expand]

[expand title=” What do you, the therapist, expect from me, the client?” notitle=”true”]

I believe that the more open and honest you can be, the more we can do. I understand that this can be incredibly scary and so do not expect you to divulge all of your inner-most experiences or secrets immediately. Indeed, that may never come about. The more you can share, and the more able you feel to think about yourself openly, the more we can make sense of what is going on.

There is no rush and no pressure, we will go at your pace and talk about it on the way.[/expand]

[expand title=” How often will I see you?” notitle=”true”]

If we agree to more sessions then we will have a regular appointment, usually at the same time every week.

If you would like to see me more than once per week, or you feel like you need contact in between sessions, we can develop a plan of how to make sure you feel like you have the support you need.[/expand]

[expand title=”Is there a standard number of sessions that people generally have?” notitle=”true”]

No. During your initial consultation, we will discuss what you are looking for from therapy. From there, we will think about what is feasible in what kind of time frame and we can agree an initial number of sessions. This may be:

  • No further sessions
  • A few weeks
  • A few months
  • Over a year

I usually offer sessions weekly and normally book them in blocks of 6.

We will continue to review our work together to ensure that we are on the right track for you.[/expand]

[expand title=”Do you work with people with diagnosed mental health problems?” notitle=”true”]

Yes. You may notice that, throughout this site, I have avoided using terms that could be seen as labels or diagnoses. This is because I feel mixed about how helpful these can be. I can see the benefits for or against.

If you have a diagnosis or think they would fit into one, the following are the kinds of areas in which I have experience.

If your ‘problem’ or experience does not feature in this list, you are still very welcome to contact me and we can explore, together, whether I would be the right therapist for you. There is also information, here, about who I work with that describes experiences, rather than diagnoses.

Equally, you may have a diagnosis of one of the below but be seeking support for a different experience. I endeavour to work with you on the areas you would like to explore at this time. I work with what you bring, and you can choose to disclose as much as you feel comfortable.

  • Addiction
  • Adjustment to physical illness
  • Anger management problems
  • Anxiety and anxiety disorders
  • Attachment Disorders
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Bereavement and Complex Bereavement
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Drugs usage – recreational drugs & alcohol
  • Eating Disorders
  • Loneliness
  • Identity Issues
  • Medically Unexplained Symptoms
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Personality disorders – with particular experience and interest in working with ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress[/expand]

[expand title=” Do you prescribe medication?” notitle=”true”]

No. I am not qualified to prescribe medication. However, I do work with people taking medication to manage their emotional, psychological and physical well-being.

I am also happy to work, in conjunction with your prescribing physician, towards reducing your medication, where appropriate.[/expand]

[expand title=” I’m worried about someone I care about, what should I do?” notitle=”true”]

If you are a parent or carer, take a look at the Parent and Carer Consultation Service. If you are worried about a client, service user, one of your pupils, or a member of your religious group, have a look at the Supporting Others page.

You are welcome to discuss any worries you have about a family member or friend with me. I cannot change your loved one by meeting with you and you are also unlikely to be able to change them. What we can do is make sense of how the problem is affecting you and how you can keep yourself well within the relationship. Additionally, we might be able to think about what you could do to support your loved one. We could also consider how you could share your concerns and encourage them to get the help they might need. I suggest you contact me for a conversation, so we can see whether I might be able to help you.[/expand]

[expand title=” My child has the problem, why are you only working with me?” notitle=”true”]

In the context of your child’s life, you are the people who are most available to them. You are most able to offer support to your child as and when she or he needs it. Therefore, it is critical that you are supported and educated in how to do this.

Sometimes, children and young people need an opportunity away from their parents to explore their thoughts and feelings. In these instances, I will always include you as part of their ‘therapeutic team’.

Our understanding of your concerns will inform the approach we take.[/expand]

[expand title=” Can I see you for myself, even if I’m a parent?” notitle=”true”]

Yes! Therapy can be incredibly beneficial for parents. It offers a space for you to understand your own processes. You can then choose to apply what you learn to your children.[/expand]

[expand title=”How do I raise a concern or make a complaint?” notitle=”true”]

If you have a query or would like to make a complaint, you are welcome to talk to me about it. However, I understand that this does not always feel possible. In such cases, you can discuss your concerns with the Health and Care Professionals Council. More information can be found here [/expand]