Counselling and Relationship Therapy

Sophia Elise

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about counselling and relationship therapy:


I'm in Crisis.  What should I do? 

Unfortunately I do not offer a mental health crisis service but here are some contacts for people who do:


In a real emergency where someones safety is at immediate risk please phone 111 

If you can make an appointment with your GP or see an emergency Dr, that is often a good place to start. They will know what services are available to help you.


There are also helplines you can phone:

Free call or txt 1737 any time to receive support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or free txt 4357 (HELP)

Youthline - 0800 376 633 or free txt 234

Samaritans - 0800 726 666


If you have been a victim of sexual assault you can contact:
The HELP foundation 09 623 1700 or  Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

If you have been a victim of domestic violence you can contact:
Shine 0508 744 633 or Women's Refuge 0800 733 843


If you are in Auckland and you or someone you know is actively suicidal or out of control, you can phone your local mental health crisis team.  Which one you phone, will depend where you live. 
Auckland DHB (Central Auckland) 0800 800 717
Counties Manukau DHB (Sout and East Auckland) 09 270 4742
Waitemata DHB (North Shore) 09 496 8900
West Auckland 09 839 0500
If you live outside of Auckland - Look up your local hospital boards Mental Health Service for  something like "Crisis Team" or "Community Assessment and Treatment Team" or "Psychiatric District Nurses".

Is what we talk about confidential?

Yes. What we talk about during a session remains between us. However, there are some exceptions to this
1.When you or someone else is at risk of serious harm.
2.When children are in danger.
3.When you give permission for your information to be shared with another person.
4.During Supervision. All counsellors are required to attend professional supervision. This means talking to an experienced counsellor about our client work to ensure that we are clear on our motivations, our own processes, and that both the clients and ourselves are kept safe. My supervisor is bound by the same ethics and confidentiality as me.


What happens during a first appointment?
The first session is usually about getting to know each other, finding out what has bought you to counselling, and what your expectations and goals are for counselling.  It’s also an opportunity for you to work out whether I’m the right counsellor for you. 


What if I don’t like you or we don’t click/connect?
Sometimes in life people just don’t click/connect and that’s ok.  If you think I’m not the right counsellor for you, I won’t be upset or offended.  Honesty is important. You just need to tell me and I will work with you to help find a counsellor who may be a better fit for you. I want you to get the help you need.


What if I don't want to talk about some topics?
Counselling is not about re-traumatising you or making you re-live painful or traumatic experiences.  I will respect your desire to discuss what is relevant and comfortable to you. Hopefully over time, as you learn to trust me more and we develop a rapport, you will feel more comfortable discussing topics that may once have been out of bounds for you.


Will you tell me what to do?
No.  Counselling is not about telling you what to do, telling you who to be with etc. I will work with you to work out what is right for you.


How many times sessions/appointments will I need?
You may find that one session is all you need for a specific issue. Sometimes ongoing support is required. I often find that 6-8 sessions is enough for most individual clients to feel that their life is back in control and that they feel confident in managing on their own again. With relationship therapy, couples usually require longer therapy but it can vary depending on the issues that brought you to see me and what you are hoping to achieve. 


How often do I need to see you?
If you are in crisis, more frequent sessions can be helpful at the beginning, and sessions can then be spread out as you feel stronger and more able to manage. Clients generally lose momentum and motivation if they wait too long between appointments. Therefore it is often better to have weekly appointments for the first 4 weeks, then reassess at that point and maybe move to fortnightly ones. With relationship therapy, I recommend that couples commit to weekly sessions for the first six weeks in order to achieve some traction and so that motivation remains high. 


How will I know when I don’t need to come anymore?
I often find that clients can tell within themselves when they no longer need to come.  I also look out for signs of increasing confidence and strength and will discuss these with you.  My goal is to help get you back to living your life with confidence as quickly as possible. Endings are important, so when you are ready to finish, let me know. Our final session is an opportunity for us to farewell each other and also to honour the journey we have taken together.


Can I bring my kids, partner or friend to my appointments?
You are welcome to bring a support person, partner or friend to your counselling appointments. They can be part of the counselling process or merely there for moral support - it's completely up to you. However, I don’t have a separate waiting room so if you do bring someone with you, you need to be comfortable with having them in the room with us.  With children it is better to make alternative arrangements for childcare so that you are able to give our sessions your undivided attention and that we can talk freely. If you have a young baby that you need to bring with you, please let me know prior to the session.


What if I see you when I’m out and about?
If we come across each other in another setting, I will not approach you (although I am happy to be approached by you!) This is to prevent any possible embarrassment for you; if you have company, you may not want the people you are with to know how we met.


Hugs?
It is unethical for me to offer a hug in case that makes you uncomfortable or it’s not what you are wanting. However, you are very welcome to ask, and I will happily oblige.

I am not sure I can find a place that I feel is sufficiently private. What can do?

This is a common concern that people have. Here are some ways people have found to manage this:- schedule the appointment for when other people in your home are out; sit in your car in the driveway or garage; drive your car to a nearby favourite place; use headphones so that people cant hear my voice; let others know that you are on an important call and not to enter the room or come down that end of the house.


Where will you be when you talk to me?

I will be sitting in my therapy office. So if you have visited my therapy office before, it will look the same. The door will be closed, and there won’t be anyone that can overhear our conversation.


Will therapy really work if we do it online?

I can understand that this feels different from being in the room with a counsellor. Research shows that online therapy is a viable and effective form of therapy. If you are unsure, we can always try a 30 minute appointment to try the experience. If you don’t like it, then we can explore other ways to engage moving forward.


I’m not a very technical person and technology scares me

I understand that you are concerned about your ability to work the technology. I will be right here to support you through that. Here are some tips to make the transition a bit easier - use the easiest and most reliable device you have; have your mobile phone handy so that you can use the hotspot function if the internet/wifi is unreliable or slow. I will send an email at least 24 hours prior to your appointment which will contain clear instructions on how to join the online session. If you have trouble connecting at the time of your appointment, phone me and we can talk through any issues. If it still doesn’t work, I will call you on your mobile or home line to continue our appointment.


What app/technology/platform do you use?

I use Zoom for most of my online appointments as it has been shown to be the most reliable, secure and easy to use. It is simple and free to download from the app store if you are using an iPad or mobile phone. If you are using a laptop or desktop you don’t need to download anything, just make sure your device has a camera and microphone.


Do I need anything specific with me for an online appointment?

Its always a good idea to make sure you have water, tissues, device charger nearby and a pen and paper. Remember to close the door as well. Make sure that you don’t have bright lights behind you or radios or TV in the background because it can make it harder to see and hear you.


I’m still not sure that online therapy is for me

I totally understand that you may really struggle with the idea of online therapy and it may feel odd at first. In those situations, we can always try a 30 minute appointment to see how it works for you. At the end of the session we can discuss how you found using the online platform and if you have any feedback or suggestions on how we could improve future appointments. In my experience, clients generally find it much better than they ever imagined.


Contact me now to make an appointment