FAQs

This page is still under construction…

If you have any specific questions about my practice or counselling in general please do check out the FAQs below.

However, if you can’t find what you’re looking for here please do visit my Contact Me page to see how to get in touch by phone or e-mail.

About Confidentiality and Business Matter

This is an area I take extremely seriously.  I will never disclose information about you for private gain and I take every possible precaution to ensure that your private, sensitive information is stored securely and cannot be accidentally disclosed to or hacked by malicious third parties.

However, there are circumstances when I might break confidentiality in order to protect a client from serious harm or for legal reasons.  Wherever possible I will always try to secure formal consent before doing so.  If this is not possible for any reason I expect to be held accountable for making such a decision.

I enter into a formal data protection and confidentiality agreement with all of my clients so the limits to confidentiality are clear from the very beginning of our relationship.  For more information please visit my business and confidentiality pages here.

About James Field Counselling

There is a stereotype of a psychologist or psychiatrist as a cold analytical machine in a white coat looking down on us from a pedestal. You might think of the iconic image of Sigmund Freud sitting behind his patients scribbling in a note pad whilst his clients talk.

This approach has its merits but it’s not how I work.

One of the most powerful, healing experiences that we can have comes from deep connection with others and I try to be as present as I can be as both your counsellor and as a fellow human being.  I believe that I would be doing you a disservice if I left a big chunk of what makes me human outside when I entered the counselling room.

Boundaries are important and we will probably talk about these during therapy but I’m not afraid to say that I care deeply about my clients and I will almost certainly be affected by your story. The difference between me and a good friend or loved one is that I am trained to put aside my own prejudices, views and any issues I might have and to stay focussed on you and your needs.

I am not an expert whose job it is to diagnose and fix you. I like to think of myself more as a companion and a guide accompanying you on your counselling journey.  When I work with a client I may occasionally share a little of my myself and my life with you if and when I think it might be helpful to you. After all I don’t think I could do this job so well if I didn’t also know what it is to suffer and to struggle.

I recognise that life has a habit of getting in the way of things like counselling sessions so I will always work flexibly around your holidays and other life commitments.

 

I find that most clients benefit most from weekly sessions.  When sessions are less frequent it can be harder to establish real momentum in the therapy.  However, everyone is different and if, for any reason,  you’re unable to attend weekly sessions, we can discuss whether this is likely to work therapeutically for you.

I see the beard is something of a give away. I am happy to work with clients of either gender or those who see themselves as non-binary.

The most important thing is that you feel comfortable working with me. If you think you would feel more comfortable with a female counsellor then I am probably not going to be the right person for you. If you’re not sure then please feel free to arrange a free, initial session so you can make your mind up after you’ve met me.

I love working with both men and women but I am particularly aware that many men view counselling as something that wouldn’t be for them. As a man myself, particularly one working in a female dominated profession, I have had my own struggles with what masculinity means today. I welcome any men who would like to work with me on this area.

Yes. I am a volunteer at the Margaret Jackson Centre (MJC). My work as a private practitioner is completely separate from my work for the MJC and any complaints or questions about my private practice should be directed to me rather than the MJC.

Yes. I work part time for Iron Mill College (IMC) where I manage the Iron Mill Counselling Service (IMCS). My work as a private practitioner is completely separate from my work for the IMCS and any complaints or questions about my private practice should be directed to me rather than the IMC. This applies even when I occasionally rent a counselling room from the IMC.

I have an Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling from Iron Mill College, a specialist independent, training college. The course was accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and required me to undertake my own personal counselling and to complete 150 hours counselling practice for which I was assessed.

I am also a registered member of the BACP which requires me to operate within their Ethical Framework; to undertake regular supervision and CPD (Career Progression Development) to make sure my skills are regularly updated. I also hold professional liability insurance and have regular supervision with a qualified supervisor.

You can view the BACP Register here.  My membership number is 291319.

Yes.  As long as you are not a student of Iron Mill College in Exeter. I work for the college and there could be a conflict interest if I were to take you on as a private client.

No.  Not at this time although I hope this might change in the future.

I have helped individual clients to work through difficulties with their relationships  but I don’t work with couples.

Not usually although I will always listen to and consider representations to reduce my fee.

I am passionate about making counselling as accessible to people as possible and I recognise that, for many people, the cost of private counselling can be prohibitive. For this reason I have, for a number of years, offered my services as a counsellor for free to the Margaret Jackson Centre (MJC), a charity providing low cost counselling. I also manage the Iron Mill Counselling Service (IMCS), another affordable counselling service in Exeter.  I feel that this is my contribution to making counselling as accessible as possible.

I recommend contacting either of the above services if you are looking for counselling in Exeter and private fees are beyond your reach.

I believe that my standard rate is a fair one for the quality of service and care that I offer.

I charge £40 for a one hour session.

I will never surprise you with any hidden costs and you may cancel our contract, without penalty, at any time providing you have paid any outstanding fees.

Yes. However, please let me know that you require wheelchair access before attending your first session so I can make sureI am using one of the wheelchair accessible rooms.  If my usual location doesn’t have an accessible room I can sometimes use a different venue near by.

It depends on the nature and seriousness of your illness. If you’re suffering from a diagnosed mental health condition you deserve counselling as much as the next person.  However, I would need to be sure that therapy would not compromise any medical treatment you might be getting.

I would not usually consider working with someone who was suffering from psychosis.

Please feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion.

The short answer to this question is no. I take your right to confidentiality with the utmost seriousness and I will never sell any of your personal information to another organisation or individual.

The slightly longer answer is that there could be circumstances when I might need to break your confidentiality in order to protect your safety or wellbeing or if I am compelled to do so by the law. I will talk to you more about confidentiality when we meet and you can view my confidentiality policy here.

I am registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and comply with current data protection legislation in the UK as well as with the BACP’s ethical framework.

No. I only work with adults over the age of 18.

About the overall counselling journey

Even though counselling often involves you talking and me listening it is far more than that. Try it and see how you feel during and after sessions. You may feel invigorated, drained, or relieved in a way you never would after a casual chat with a friend. This is a complex subject but I have written more about how what counselling is and, in particular, how I work here.

Counselling is not a passive experience.  When you talk about stuff you are also making new connections, processing memories, identifying and changing fundamental beliefs, accessing inner resources, discovering new options and much more.  I also believe strongly that just the act of being full heard and understood by another human being can be fundamentally healing by itself.

Your feelings are probably a normal, healthy response to the difficulties of life. There are many reasons why you might feel ‘negative’ feelings – perhaps you’ve experienced loss, injustice or trauma or perhaps your life just isn’t working out the way you wanted.

If you are frequently overwhelmed by intense feelings to the point you cannot function we may have to look at techniques to help you manage and regulate your emotions but there is nothing anyone can do to take them away entirely. Similarly, if you have experienced intense loss or traumatic events in your life there is nothing anyone can do to change what happened to you or make you forget.

However, counselling can help you process what happened and to move on with your life. Ironically learning to feel our feelings rather than fighting them is the often the way to loosen the grip they have on us. You will still carry the grief and pain but it will, perhaps, weigh less heavily on you.

That’s OK.

Some clients are able to explain very clearly and concisely what they want from counselling. Others find it much harder to articulate what they need or aren’t even sure what that is.

If that last one sounds like you – don’t worry.  That’s our starting point right there.  Just figuring out what you need and what you want will be the first part of your counselling journey.  Sometimes just finding a way to frame our troubles can be a massive step towards changing our lives.

In our first session together we will enter into a business contract (sometimes described as the counselling contract) together.  This will clearly set out all of the business arrangements between us, such as how much sessions cost, cancellation charges, duration and frequency of sessions etc. The purpose of this is to foster complete transparency and trust and to ensure there is no danger of any misunderstandings once therapy is underway.  It is considered best practice for all counsellors to work in this way.

The word contract can sound a bit scary.  Please be assured that I will never try to bamboozle you with jargon or trick clauses and you will always be able to end counselling at any time without penalty.

The therapeutic contract is not a formal or legal document. It is different for every single client and sets out your therapeutic goals.  It might describe particular ways of working, or particular areas you would like to explore or steer clear of.  It might be something we put into writing or just a verbal agreement.  It is something we will keep under review as therapy progresses and may evolve over time. The therapeutic contract is how we will both know that you are getting what you need from counselling.

This will be different for everyone but endings are extremely important in counselling. In your first sessions we will talk about what you are hoping to get from counselling and how we might know when you’ve achieved that.  As your counselling progresses we will regularly review how you are finding the experience and this will guide us towards a planned ending at a time that is right for you.

This really is a ‘how long is a piece of string question?’ Some people will get what they need from counselling with just a few sessions whilst others require support over a longer period of time. I am able to work with clients on both a short and long term basis. Some clients find that dipping in and out of therapy throughout their lives as and when they need it works for them.

At the very beginning of therapy we will draw up a therapeutic contract. If you only wish to have a few sessions we will talk about what we can realistically achieve during that time. That might mean focussing on particular issues and not on others.

What happens during counselling sessions

NO!

The image of the client recumbent upon a couch whilst their therapist sits behind them scribbling notes dates all the way back to Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis.  He had his reasons for working this way and I believe that some psychoanalysts still operate this way.

However, this is not how I or most counsellors work today.  I practice from counselling rooms in the centre of Exeter and for the most part we will sit facing each other in comfy chairs.  However, I am always open to changing things around where it might be helpful.  This might include sitting or lying on the floor, standing or moving around during sessions. Whatever works best for you.

Then the session will have been a success because you will have made the right decision for you. There are many, many reasons why a particular counsellor might be right for you and another just isn’t.

If you don’t want to work with me after meeting me I promise I won’t take it personally. I will never ask you to explain your reasons if you don’t want to but I welcome constructive feedback if you wish to share with me.

You can read more here about how to find a counsellor.

Talking about painful experiences is often the first step towards moving on from them but I will never make you talk about anything you don’t want to. You will always be in control during your sessions.  This means you get to choose what areas of your life to talk about and what not to.

If you feel like you do need to talk about traumatic events in your life my job is to guide you through a safe and therapeutic way to do this.  This is likely to require a patient, gentle approach in which we slowly  build up to you talking about traumatic experiences.

The aim, always, is to re-process the experiences you’ve had so you can move on.

It is not possible to bring a friend or partner into the counselling session.

This is because you will need to be able to speak freely about whatever issues you want to talk about.  However close you might be to the other person you might find you have to censor yourself  in order to protect their feelings or to hide aspects of yourself from them.

However, I recognise that for some people, coming to see a counsellor for the first time might come with a lot of anxiety.  Under these circumstances, it will normally be OK for you to bring along someone for moral support on the first time we meet if that feels important to you.  They will be able to join you for the first part of our initial session while we talk through the preliminaries and I will be happy to answer any questions they might have as well.  However, I will have to ask them to leave when it is time for you to start talking about yourself.

Please note that in the rooms where I normally practice there will not be anywhere for them to wait inside the building.

I do not offer couples counselling at this time but this may change in the future.

For some people this can feel like the most mortifying thing in the world. However, crying is a normal, healthy response and letting the tears out can be a necessary precursor to change.

As a counsellor I see people crying everyday. I will not be embarrassed and I will not judge you or try to stop you.  I will be comfortable with your tears and stay with you whilst they flow.

Who I can work with and help

Yes.  To my regret I never learned any other languages with any degree of fluency but, providing you have a grasp of conservational English, we can work together.

My task as a counsellor is to work hard to understand your world and your experiences as completely and as accurately as I possibly can.  Even native English speakers can find that mere words become limited when trying to express their deepest selves in the counselling room.   At these times we need to work at an appropriate pace using whatever techniques that might be available to help us reach an understanding.  This will be the case whether to not we share a first language.

I am always pleased to work with clients from other cultures and nationalities.  Whilst it might seem that working with a counsellor who doesn’t share the same background as you would be a disadvantage in therapy it can be just the opposite.  One of the biggest mistakes I can make as a counsellor is to unintentionally make assumptions about my clients’ experiences or values.  Ironically, the more similar our backgrounds the more likely I am to fall into such a trap.

We all are shaped by the culture and society we grew up in and, sometimes, it can be easier for someone who doesn’t share the same cultural baggage as we do to help us see past our own assumptions and blind spots.

No.  I only work with adults over the age of 18 years at this time.

Yes.  Suicidal thoughts and feelings are very common and a normal human response at times when we feel hopeless or overwhelmed by pain.

As a counsellor I am very comfortable talking about such feelings and I won’t shy away from them or judge you.  My first priority will be to understand exactly what it is you are feeling and whether you might be at any serious risk of harm.  For many clients such feelings come and go and talking about them can be an important aspect of their therapy.

If you are considering taking steps to end your life we will talk in detail about what we might do in order to protect you as well as any actions you might not want me to take.  I believe that people do have the right to choose to take their own life but I will consider, under certain circumstances, breaking confidentiality to protect a client I thought was at imminent risk of serious harm.  This is a complex area and will be different for every single person.

If this is something you would like to talk about but are worried about the consequences of disclosing suicidal tendencies I offer a free, initial consultation where we can talk about this difficult area in a hypothetical manner such that you can make an informed choice about whether you would like to work with me or not.  I am also happy to talk about such matters anonymously over the phone.

If you are reading this and you are in imminent danger of causing serious harm to yourself right now then the Samaritans offer a life-saving, anonymous listening service 24 hours a day.  Just dial 116 123 from the UK.  You can also contact your GP or if you are already at crisis point you can dial 999 or take yourself to your nearest Accident and Emergency department.

Yes.  I have worked with and helped a number of clients who are in or have survived abusive relationships.  I recognise the huge impact that such relationships can have on us and how easy it can be to lose your sense of self.  I recognise that the emotional scars from an abusive relationship can remain long after the relationship itself has ended.

If you are currently in an abusive relationship then counselling can provide a safe space where you can make sense of what you’re going through and, perhaps, figure out what choices you might have before you.  As a counsellor it is not my place to ever tell you what you should do or to judge the decisions you might make.

If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship or relationships then I can help you to process your experiences and to understand the many ways in which that the relationship/s might have impacted upon your life.  Whilst there is nothing that I or anyone else can do to make up for those experiences I can help you to process them and move on.

 

Yes.  I’ve worked with a number of clients who have struggled to live with and manage their anger.  I believe that anger is a much-misunderstood emotion and one that often comes hand in hand with great fear and shame. If you struggle with feelings of anger and rage I can help you to explore what lies behind your feelings and to learn to manage and channel your feelings.

I am heavily influenced by the work of Sue Parker-Hall and have completed training in her empathic approach to anger management.

 

Yes. Most of us suffer loss and grief at points in our lives and the pain that comes from losing a loved one can be unbearable. Whilst that pain never completely leaves us I can help you though the grieving process.

Yes.  Depression is a complicated and varied phenomenon.  It has many possible causes and affects different people differently.  In my therapeutic experience depression is most often a normal, human response to things being wrong in our life.  These might be specific, identifiable things or a more general sense of wrongness with no apparent, specific cause.  Working on the underlying issues or feelings can help alleviate the depression.

However, I also recognise that severe depression can be a serious. mental health condition that can require medical intervention.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about your depression.  If I don’t think I am the right person to help I will do my best to point you in the direction of someone who can.

 

Yes.  Anxiety is a normal human emotion but one that a growing number of us experience as an overwhelming and disabling force in our lives.

I have successfully helped a number of clients who have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks and I feel that my approach to counselling along with my naturally gentle, patient manner are particularly suited to this type of work.

Please contact me here if you would like to discuss your particular needs. I recognise that, ironically, looking for a new counsellor can be exactly the sort of thing that might trigger high levels of anxiety in someone.  I promise to treat all of my clients with the utmost patience, respect and kindness from our very first contact to the our last.

It would depend.  Serious eating disorders like anorexia nervosa can be life threatening and if you are at serious risk of medical complications resulting from your eating disorder then you need specialist support and care that I am not qualified to provide.  Your GP should be your first port of call if you are worried that you or a loved one might be at serious risk of harm as a result of an eating disorder.

However, we all have a unique and complex relationship with food and diet and this can be rich and rewarding area to explore in counselling.  It is quite possible for us to have disordered eating patterns without necessarily needing to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

Please feel free to talk to me about your particular needs and if I can’t help I will do my best to point you in the direction of someone who can.

Yes. I am not a specialist in this field but I have worked with a number of clients and helped them in exploring their own sexuality.  As with any other issue I can offer you an open-minded, non-judgemental space where you can talk freely about this deep and complex part of ourselves.

Yes although I do not have any specialist training in this field. I would be pleased to meet you and talk about what your needs are. If I think you would benefit from more specialist support than I can offer I will tell you and try to point you in the right direction.

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