We understand that the prospect of starting psychological therapy and talking to a stranger can feel daunting. Our practitioner psychologists have undertaken rigorous training in conducting psychological assessments and their therapeutic styles are underpinned with care and compassion to help you quickly feel at ease. This section is designed to help you to understand what to expect when you meet a psychologist.
Initially we offer all clients a psychological assessment before offering treatment. This is an opportunity for you to talk and think about your difficulties and try to make sense of them with the support of your psychologist. During this assessment a psychological history will be taken from you, to try and understand more about the presenting problem, your motivations for seeking therapy and hopes for the future. This often includes asking you questions about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and where appropriate, significant life events and childhood. Many psychologists use a timeline to help guide this part of the assessment. It is also common to talk about your family, significant relationships, occupation, faith, beliefs, physical health, and your current coping strategies. Sometimes the psychologist may ask you to fill in a questionnaire as part of your assessment, or if there are concerns for your wellbeing (e.g. self harm, suicidal plans) our psychologist may conduct a risk assessment to ensure you are receiving enough adequate support.
Our psychologist initially sets aside one-hour for an initial assessment. In the majority of sessions it is possible to offer a treatment plan or recommendation by the end of the session. Occasionally however it may be necessary to extend the assessment into a further separate sessions. This may be important if there are multiple difficulties or complexity to your life history or current circumstances. Sometimes when you first seek psychological therapy you may feel quite overwhelmed with emotion. In events such as this, your psychologist will prioritise helping you to feel safe and secure before completing a full assessment. Therefore the assessment can take place over as many sessions as necessary for you.
The aim of a psychological assessment is to develop a 'formulation' of the presenting difficulty, based on psychological theory, information about the nature of the problem, causal and maintaining factors. Practitioner psychologists are trained to consider biological, social and psychological factors. The formulation constitutes the basis for an ongoing treatment plan. This will be explicitly shared with you at the end of your assessment (sometimes formulation takes place over a number of sessions). All treatment plans are tentative and may change. This is because it may be common for details to emerge over the course of having therapy, particularly as you develop further insight and greater consciousness of your thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
Our individualised interventions are aimed at influencing positive change by helping you overcome your difficulties. The therapy offered to you will depend on your need, with all approaches informed by psychological theory and evidence based research. All approaches of therapy delivered by a psychologist are usually very 'active' to direct you to an alternative way of thinking, feeling or doing. This may be different to experiences of other forms of therapy you may have previously received e.g. less active, listening counselling approaches.