Here we answer some common questions about counselling and how we work.

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Question marks standing for commonly asked counselling questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need counselling / psychotherapy?

Counselling sessions can help you to gain clarity on an issue, change old patterns, untangle complex personal issues, or embark on a journey of self-development. You may seek counselling as a result of a crisis, or you may be encouraged to seek counselling by family members, friends or colleagues.

What happens in a counselling session?

There is no typical counselling session. Your counsellor will be highly trained in listening and reflecting, and provides a safe environment in which to explore your issues. With most types of therapy you are free to discuss what you wish. This might be everyday events, dilemmas, feelings, and thoughts, or regrets, aspirations, memories and dreams. Other, shorter-term forms of therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be more structured and provide practical exercises to help you understand your thoughts and actions. 

What issues can counselling help with?

Clients come to us with wide-ranging problems, including:

  • anxiety (generalised anxiety problems, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety, claustrophobia)
  • workplace issues (stress, work-life imbalances)
  • relationship issues (breakups, divorce, affairs, choosing inappropriate partners, loneliness, life adjustments, marital problems, arguments, jealousy, wedding and premarital issues)
  • depression (including suicidal thoughts, low mood, social withdrawal)
  • low self-esteem and lack of confidence
  • sexual problems (impotence, internet/pornography/sex addiction, loss of desire, infertility)
  • trauma (including post-traumatic stress disorder from accidents, rape and other attacks/incidents)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • eating problems (including bulimia, binge eating, negative body image)
  • phobias and fears
  • addiction and substance misuse
  • abuse (including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse)
  • bereavement/grief/loss. 
What kinds of people seek counselling?

There is no barrier to whom counselling can assist, and we welcome diversity at Harley Therapy. Our client group spans right across cultures, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and employment groups. Counselling is also not just for adult individuals, but is beneficial for couples, families, teenagers and children. 

How do I start with a counsellor / psychotherapist?

To book a general consultation you can book online, email us, or phone us and we will set up an appointment time at one of four central London locations.

If you prefer a specific counselling or psychotherapy approach (cognitive behavioural therapy/CBT, psychodynamic psychotherapy, existential therapy, person-centred counselling), we will match you up with a suitable psychotherapist or counsellor according to the issues you'd like to work on. In the event that your assessment therapist feels you would benefit from a different counselling or psychotherapy approach, they will normally recommend another specialist for you to consider.

How do I know which counselling approach is most suited to me?

There are many kinds of established therapeutic approaches nowadays, and you can read more about each under 'Services'.  Popular kinds of therapy with our clients include humanistic counselling (also called 'person-centred'), psychodynamic psychotherapy, existential therapy, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You may have an idea that a particular approach would be suited to you, but if not, you can call us to discuss beforehand. Or book in now for a general consultation, and you can explore your options with an assessment therapist. 

How do I know which therapist is best for me?

Developing rapport with your counsellor or psychotherapist is an important part of your therapy's effectiveness. So it's important you work with a therapist you feel you can eventually trust. Beyond this, all therapists will have slightly different approaches and orientations, as well as wider areas of interest. These are found on the individual profile of each therapist.

Still not sure? Our admin team can provide guidance based on your individual needs. And at your first meeting, both you and the therapist will have an opportunity to decide if you will benefit from working together. 

What if I want to try more than one kind of therapy?

Many therapists nowadays are what is known as 'integrative', meaning they are trained in and combine a variety of psychotherapeutic approaches to best help their clients. If this is of interest, look at individual profiles under 'Therapists' to find one that offers the several types of therapy you are interested in, or call us and we can advise you further. 

I only want one session, will the therapist be able to help?

Generally your first session will be used as an assessment and consultation, rather than for treatment. This allows you to identify your issues as you see them, and for your therapist to start to gain an idea of what your needs are. So unfortunately, having just one session is unlikely to have any lasting benefit for you.

How long should I expect to have to continue counselling?

The length of your treatment will then very much depend on your unique circumstances and needs, with six sessions often recommended and a review after that.

It also depends on the type of therapy you choose to try. Cognitive behavioural therapy is designed to be short term and lasts six to 20 sessions. Psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, and existential therapies tend to be longer term, and many last for many months or even years. 

Keep in mind that once you start sessions, new issues and angles can arise you were not aware existed that you then want to explore. It is of course possible to also see improvement faster than you expected. 

Can I have more than one session a week?

Yes. If you require more than one session a week, therapists may be able to accommodate this, with a review as things start to improve for you.

Sometimes, however, the therapist you are working with will not have any other availability, so will not be able to offer multiple weekly sessions.

Will my counselling sessions be confidential?

Yes, counselling sessions are confidential. The  exception would be if you were to pose a danger to yourself or others, in which case the relevant parties would be notified.

Does my GP need to refer me for an appointment?

No. You are free to refer yourself to our therapists.  The only exception to this is if your insurers require you to have a GP referral in order to use your policy for treatment.

If you are a private practice, why do I have to provide my GP details?

Therapists request GP details for the unlikely event you had a medical emergency while attending therapy. In the case of a psychological or emotional emergency, your therapist would seek your permission to contact your GP in the interests of your safety and/or wellbeing. 

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

In very basic terms, a psychiatrist is also a registered doctor who can diagnose mental illness and prescribe medication.  Psychologists and psychotherapists will not provide diagnoses or medication, but they will have a very good understanding of the diagnosis or even medication that might be applicable. Where necessary they will liaise with psychiatrists to support you further. 

Can a counsellor prescribe medication if I need it?

Our counsellors are not eligible to prescribe medication. We do, however, have an on-site private consultant psychiatrist who can assess you for a prescription, and this can complement your therapy work. Please note that the fee for psychiatry is significantly higher than that for counselling.

Can the psychiatrist refer me to the therapists and vice versa?

Yes. We work with in-house psychiatrists with extensive experience in a variety of fields and client groups. They will sometimes refer you to therapists, and vice versa. We also have a network of psychiatrists we work with to cover any further specialities. This enables a fast, effective and streamlined service for you.

Can I speak to a counsellor before my appointment?

Therapists are in sessions with clients during the day and simply can't make time to talk to every potential client. Your consultation appointment is the time to ask any questions you might have, find out about how your therapist will work with you, and discover if you feel a connection.

Remember that while the majority of consultations proceed to a full course of treatment, you are under no obligation to continue. 

Will my counsellor be available for me in a crisis?

Your counsellor will be available to you at your scheduled appointment time only. In the case of an emergency you will need to seek other resources. Contact your GP, the Samaritans (call 116 123,, or, if necessary, emergency services.

Can I use my health insurance to pay for counselling sessions?

This depends on the nature of your policy. Check with your provider to see if counselling sessions are covered, how many sessions can be included if so, and if there are any other restrictions. Then please do ask us before booking to see which counsellors are registered with the major health insurance providers that include Cigna and Aviva, BUPA International, etc. You will be responsible for any charges otherwise, so do follow these steps carefully. 

Do I have to contact my insurance first, or book an appointment first?

If you are familiar with the terms of your policy and are aware that therapy is covered, you are welcome to make an appointment with a therapist. You can then speak to your insurers to obtain an authorisation code before your session.  

If you are uncertain of the terms of your policy, your excess, etc., it is advisable to speak to your insurers before booking to ensure you are not personally invoiced for any charges.

Why do some therapists accept insurance referrals while others do not?

Some insurers only accept certain types of therapy, such as shorter-term therapies like CBT. This means therapists offering other types of counselling and psychotherapy are not eligible to register with them. Note that the types of therapy insurance will or won't cover has no relation whatsoever to the effectiveness of each therapy.

What hours are therapists available?

Sessions are usually available on an hourly basis from 8:00 a.m. until 21:00 on weekdays (finishing at 21:50). 

Sessions are also offered on Saturdays from 9:00 until 17:00 (finishing at 17:50).

Demand is high for sessions outside of normal working hours. If these are the times that suit you best but there is no slot available, it's advised you take another slot for the short-term. Therapists may be able to move you into a more convenient time when something becomes available. 

Why do I need to attend weekly sessions?

The standard format of weekly sessions helps you make gradual and steady progress that means you see real results. In some cases, a therapist will agree to two or more sessions per week, if you both deem it beneficial, but there is no guarantee. 

For couples therapy, do we have to attend all sessions together?

Ideally you will attend all sessions together as a couple. In instances where one of you is unable to attend, most therapists will see the person who can attend. The issues that arise in this individual session will then be shared at the next session when both partners are present.

Some couples therapists also work via video conference such as Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp, and can on occassion see you both via one of these platforms if required. 

Can I change my appointment slot after my assessment?

Regular, consistent work with your therapist is essential to see the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy. Your therapist will therefore reserve a mutually convenient weekly slot for you that you agree on during your assessment, and it will remain the same until such time that you decide to end therapy by giving him or her one week's notice.

Of course if the time you require appointments is not available, and you take another time slot while making it clear from the start this only works for you in the short-term, we will do our best to change you to a more appropriate slot when one becomes available. 

I need to change my time slot for next week, is this possible?

Once you have agreed to a mutually convenient slot within the first one or two sessions with your therapist, you will be allocated to the same day and time on an ongoing basis. In the case of an occassional emergency where you need another slot, it is in some instances possible to change if therapists have a slot free up, but it is not a guarantee. 

Why do I have to pay for missed/cancelled therapy sessions?

In order to reserve a certain time slot just for you each week there will be a cancellation policy that applies. Your therapist will share this cancellation policy with you prior to your first appointment. Any and all missed sessions outside of the agreed to terms will be charged at the full fee, including holidays, work commitments, illness and other emergencies. 

How can I pay for a therapy session?

The therapist will take payment in full at the end of each session via cash or cheque. They do not, unfortunately, have the facilities to accept credit or debit cards.

You will be sent an invoice for any missed or cancelled sessions that do not abide by the cancellation agreement you have with your therapist, and invoices must be paid upon receipt. Do note that any unpaid bills may be passed on to a debt collection agency.

Why do the costs vary from therapist to therapist?

Each of the therapists sets their own individual rates. Reasons why some therapists charge more than others can be based on their own principles and values, how they value their work, the extent of their experience and knowledge of working with clients, the types of therapy they offer, their own circumstances, etc. 


Why are the fees so high?

The fees are set by the individual therapists and reflect their years of experience, knowledge, skill and expertise. Working in the convenience of central and desirable London locations also means overheads are high, reflected in the fees set. 

Do you offer concessions, discounts for students, or low-cost therapy?

Unfortunately our therapists do not offer concessionary rates, free initial consultation,s or discounts for block bookings.

Rachel Miller, psychotherapist, is available for lower cost therapy. Please call her on 07855 652 938 or email Or read our guide on Free/Low Cost Therapy.

Is there any parking nearby?

Yes. The nearest paid parking is as follows:

Harley Street-

Street parking on Harley Street and Wimpole Street

QPark Harley Street 

QPark Oxford Street

Bishopsgate (Liverpool Street)-

Street parking on Middlesex Street, Devonshire Square, Liverpool Street

Broadgate Car Park 

Ely’s Yard Car Park 

Canary Wharf -

Street parking on Millharbour, Mastmaker Road, Westferry Road

London Dockland City Harbour Car Park

Asda Car Park - (free to customers)

London Bridge-

Street Parking on St Thomas Street, Southwark Street, Union Street

NCP Snowsfield/London Bridge


Are there any disabled facilities?

Yes, some locations and rooms do have disabled access. Unfortunately, our rooms on Harley Street are based in older buildings and therefore some of these rooms do not have disabled access.

If you require disabled access, please speak to staff when you are booking your initial appointment and they can advise you. 

My partner, friend, or family member really needs therapy. Can I refer someone for counselling?

You may be very concerned about someone's wellbeing and would like to see them have counselling. But it really is best if the person in question can reach out for support themselves. We are able to take enquiries from you on behalf of someone else, but you should have their full consent.

If you feel you must suggest counselling to someone, do it in as calm and private a moment as possible. It's important you express your concerns in a judgement-free manner, and backed up by facts over heresay. Make it clear you support the other person, do not see anything 'wrong' with them, and merely want to see them feeling better. Then do leave them to make the decision for themselves. 

Is my counsellor qualified?

Therapists at Harley Therapy hold a variety of qualifications, from postgraduate diplomas to doctorates. We only work with therapists who have been trained in colleges and universities that are registered and accredited by the professional governing bodies of the UK. The therapists are all also each personally registered and accredited (or eligible for accreditation) to practise by such professional organisations, which include:

BACP - British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
BABCP - British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
BPS - British Psychological Society
UKCP - United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
UKRC - United Kingdom Register of Counsellors.

How experienced is my therapist?

The therapists all have a minimum of seven years clinical experience that includes time spent working for the NHS.

What happens if I don't think the therapist is a good match for me?

If you do not feel the therapist is a good match, we offer you a free consultation with one other therapist of your choice.

What if I have a complaint about my counsellor?

Complaints should be raised with the therapist directly. If you are still not satisfied that your complaint has been addressed, then you should take this up with the counsellor's accredited body (includes BACP, BABCP, UKCP, UKRC & BPS). Each therapist will have professional indemnity insurance as well as a certificate to practise. If you have a query about the room or administrative service, then you can raise this with the Clinical Director who will endeavour to address your concerns.

What makes your company highly regarded?

We are very proud of our network of hand-selected therapists. Chosen for their dedication, their skills, their belief in the work they do, and their compassion, they all adhere to strong and clearly outlined ethics and principals set by our clinical director in founding the organisation.

Your wellbeing and safety is our utmost concern, and is at the heart of all we do. No matter your background or presenting issue, we welcome you and are committed to your progress. 

Will any of my information be shared?

Therapists are committed to your privacy, so sharing your personal information is a rare occurrence.

There are two exceptions. The first is if your therapist were to become aware that you are an imminent danger to yourself or others, or that someone else is a danger to you. You would first be encouraged to seek necessary support, and if you were unable or unwilling to do so your therapist has a duty of care to seek this support on your behalf.

The second exception is if your therapist were to become aware that you intended to commit a major crime of any sort. In such a case they have a legal obligation to disclose such information to the relevant authorities.

*Note that for the purposes of therapy, personal drug use or addictions are not considered to be criminal activities (unless they involve anyone underage). They are seen only as areas to be addressed in therapy.

Video: What issues can counselling help with?
Video: What happens in a typical counselling session?
Video: Why are cancelled sessions charged?
Video: What are the success rates in therapy?
Video: Are counselling sessions confidential?
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