Frequently Asked Questions

What do I bring to the first session?

Is there any parking?


2 hours free parking in the Wade Lane Council Car Park located at Gordon Station

Parking on the Pacific Highway after 10am (non-timed)
1 hour and non-timed street parking close-by (unmetered)

 
In your initial phone call, your therapist may have sent you information regarding matters of the counselling process (e.g. cost, consent, confidentiality).   If so this should be brought to your first the session.

 

What does the first session involve?

What will it cost?

Your first session will be a chance to meet and clarify the main issues you are concerned about, we will try and formulate a plan and some goals for sessions if you choose to continue with counselling.

Counselling sessions are typically 60 minutes in duration.
 
Some clients wish to book a block of sessions (for example 6 fortnightly sessions) in order to get the most out of coming to counselling  and maintain regularity and time convenience for you.
 
Thereafter, it should become clearer as to whether you feel you can benefit from, and are ready for counselling.  
 
Therapists sets their fee which reflects their level of training along with recommendations set  by the relevant governing Association (APS, AASW).  For information  on fees contact the Jenny directly.  Some clients are eligible for a rebate through Medicare.
 

What if I need to cancel an appointment


We understand things change but if you are able to give 48 hours notice to cancel a session it allows us time to offer your place to someone else.  For a late cancellation there is a fee (the cost of the session).
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Safety issues?


Children and Adolescents

If a child is at significant risk of harm Jenny is a  "Mandatory Reporter" which means that she is required by law to report to the NSW Department of Family and Community Services  any safety risk.  In the case of a child or adolescent engaging in unsafe or suicidal behaviour, parents will be informed and a safety plan devised.
 
Adults

Assessment incorporates a clients emotional and physical circumstances.  If safety risk emerges (for example through suicide risk, domestic violence etc) a management plan is devised incorporating a safety plan in order for therapy to commence or continue.  Communication with relevant treating professionals or emergency servies if there is a significant safety risk.
 

How long will I need to come to counselling for and how regularly should I go?


Some people have one or two sessions, others decide to come for a number of months. Many people come to counselling for a few years. Initially weekly appointments may be necessary depending on how severe and distressing the issue is at the time, however the majority of people come between fortnightly or monthly. It is also common for a person who has attended therapy to come intermittently once problems are largely resolved or make contact on an "as needed" basis.
 

What are some tips for making progress?

Can I be assured of confidentiality


Information communicated in the session is confidential unless there are concerns about someone’s safety.
At times communication with other health professionals is necessary, for example, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, GP’s and School counsellors.  In this case you will be asked to sign a “Release of Information Form” to allow this.
There are times when a file can be accessed via court subpoena or when a client is referred to another practitioner and permission is given by the client.

 
 
  • Use a reflective journal
 
  • Spend some time before and/or after the session thinking about what you have learnt, what you want to discuss etc
 
  • Expect set backs in progress.  Recovery or improvement with an issue is rarely straight forward and often involves a sense of “two steps forward one step back”.
 
  • Counselling is more likely to be of benefit to people who are willing to work on issues between sessions and use appointments as a “springboard” .  As with learning any new behaviour practice and homework will help consolidate areas you are working on.
 
  • Make a regular appointment time and stick to it even if you don't feel like coming - if after some time you feel the key issues are resolved space the sessions until you feel you no longer need to come.
 
  • Many people come to counselling because of an immediate crisis.  Equally as important is addressing issues in your life before they have escalated to crisis point.

What is the difference between a Social Worker, Psychologist, Psychiatrist and a Psychotherapist, and the treatments they provide?

 
 
When choosing a therapist it is best to be aware of their particular qualifications and training however it is also common for counsellors to have many years of experience that can't be "quantified" by a university qualification. The personality of the therapist as someone who "fits with you" is of great influence in choosing the best person to see.
 
The training of Social Workers is a university degree in Social Work. The course focusses on casework and counselling, mental health, family interaction, crisis intervention and issues such as loss and grief. There is also a focus on community development. Many social workers go on to do a master's degree in couple and family therapy. All Social Workers belong to the professional body called the Australian Association of Social Workers which regulates and sets professional standards. Social workers focus on maximising human potential and well being. Social workers help people thrive in their environment, promote positive relationships and work towards creating a socially just and equitable society.
 
The training of Psychologists is a university degree in psychology. This focuses on human behaviour, memory, learning and how people feel behave and react. The training can also focus on educational assessments. Some psychologists undergo further training to become Clinical Psychologists who may then offer more specialised treatments for clinical problems such as anxiety disorders. Psychologists belong to the Australian Psychological Society which regulates and sets professional standards.
 
The training of Psychiatrists is in medicine. After a medical degree, psychiatrists go through a training program to specialise in psychiatry. The training focuses on diagnosis and medication rather than on psychotherapy training. Some psychiatrists go on to do further training in psychotherapy. Psychiatrists belong to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists which regulates and sets professional standards.
 
 
 

How do I know if things can change?
 


There are a few factors that give counselling the best possible chance of success.

Recognising where a person is at in the “change process” is fundamental to therapy and provides a guide for regular review of goals, potential triggers for relapse and areas for growth.   Part of the work of therapy involves strengthening a persons own motivation and commitment to change by allowing the person to set the pace of the work.

Change is more likely to occur when a strong therapeutic alliance is established and where therapy is conducted in a non-blaming way and existing strengths are explored and built upon.  Change also depends on the clients level of insight and awareness into their own behaviour and thinking as a vehicle for change, rather than a reliance on changing or fixing others.
Counselling often involves hard work and examining behaviours that need to change.  It can also mean talking about difficult things with family members or your partner.

 

What's the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
 

Counselling is a term that can describe the process of talking through problems with a counsellor. The issues addressed may be more day to day, situational problems such as assertiveness, interpersonal skills or stress management and may not involve exploration of deeper, inner or longer term problems.
 
Psychotherapy is a process that helps people resolve their emotional problems usually through self-awareness that is gained in the therapeutic relationship. Psychotherapy explores the basis of concerns such as deeper level attitudes, behaviours and beliefs about oneself.
 
There are many different schools of thought or therapeutic approaches that vary greatly. The most well-known models include psychoanalysis (eg Freud), humanistic (Rogers) cognitive and behavioural approaches (eg Beck) and systemic approaches (Bowen, Milan).

The type of therapy offered also depends on the training and the personality of the therapist.
 

What if it's a crisis?

Northside Therapy is not able to provide crisis care.  In the case of an emergency or if there is an immediate need for assistance, please contact any of the following:
 
Lifeline:  131 114 (weekends/after hours)
 
Kids Help Line:  1800 55 1800
 
Domestic Violence Line:  1800 65 64 63
 
Tresillian Family Care Parents Helpline:  9787 0855
 
Local Crisis Numbers (Northern Sydney) :  Hornsby: 9477 9123
 
Royal North Shore:  9926 7111
 
Mental Health Access Line 24 hours 1800 011 511
 

What happens to my files?
 


All information collected is kept in the client’s file which is stored in a locked filing cabinet. Client files are legally required to be kept for a minimum of 7 years.  After this time your files can be shredded.