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Some common questions about therapy and how we work.

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Question marks standing for commonly asked counselling questions in London

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?

Your counsellor provides a safe environment in which to explore your issues, and will be highly trained in listening and reflecting. With most types of therapy you are free to discuss what you wish, from everyday events, dilemmas, feelings, and thoughts, to regrets, aspirations, memories and dreams.

Other, shorter-term forms of therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be more structured, and can 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:

What kinds of people seek counselling?

There is no barrier to whom counselling can assist. We welcome you, regardless of your culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or employment group. Counselling is also not just for adult individuals, but is beneficial for couples, families, teenagers and children. 

Can I do all my sessions over the internet?

Yes, you can. Many of our therapists now work with clients over secure video platforms like Skype or Zoom. If you would like to attend in person where possible and over the internet otherwise, you can discuss this blended approach with your therapist. 

How do I start with a counsellor / psychotherapist?

To book a general consultation you can use our online form, email us, or phone us. We will set you up an appointment time at one of three central London locations, or over the internet. 

If you prefer a specific counselling or psychotherapy approach, we will match you up with a suitable psychotherapist or counsellor. Your first appointment consists of an assessment, and in the event the 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. Popular choices include humanistic counselling (also called 'person-centred'), psychodynamic psychotherapyexistential therapy, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You can read more about each type under 'Services'.  

Don't worry if you are simply not sure what particular approach would be suited to you. During your first appointment you can discuss your issues and the different types of therapy that might help. Many of the therapists are also what is known as 'integrative', meaning they are trained in several types of therapy they can blend to best match your issues. And if they feel the approaches they offer are not right for you, they will recommended you to a more suitable therapist. 

How do I know which therapist is best for me?

You can learn about each therapist and their approach by reading the individual profiles under 'Therapists'. You can also talk to our admin team who can provide you with further guidance. 

For your therapy to be effective, it's important you work with a counsellor or psychotherapist you feel you can eventually trust. At your first meeting both you and the therapist will have an opportunity to honestly decide if you will benefit from working together. And if after several sessions you simply don't feel the therapist is a good match, we are one of the only UK companies to offer you a free consulation with another therapist of your choice. 

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 therapies you are interested in, or call us and we can advise you further. 

How long should I expect to have to continue counselling?

The length of your treatment will very much depend on your unique circumstances. We recommend six sessions followed by a review to discuss your needs. 

It also depends on the type of therapy you choose to try. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is designed to be short-term and lasts six to 20 sessions. Psychodynamic, humanistic, 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 also possible to see improvement faster than you expected. In summary, it is best to keep an open mind over how long you will be in therapy, and discuss it with your therapist. 

Will my counselling sessions be confidential?

Yes, counselling sessions are confidential. Your therapist is ethically bound to keep what you share private.

Note that registered therapists are obliged to have a supervisor overseeing their work, to ensure they are maintaining a high level of assistance to their clients. While they might discuss the generalities of your case with their supervisor, a therapist would not divulge your identity, and the supervisor would also be under oath to protect the privacy of any information that is shared.

Is my counsellor qualified?

At Harley Therapy all therapists have at minimum a postgraduate diploma, with many holding doctorates. And all have graduated from educational institutions that are recognised and accredited by the professional governing bodies of the psychotherapy industry here in the UK.

The therapists are also all registered and accredited (or eligible for accreditation) themselves, with at least one of the following bodies: 

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.

How experienced is my therapist?

The therapists all have a minimum of seven years clinical experience that often 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.

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.

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 and they have the availability. 

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.

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. 

Does my GP need to refer me for an appointment?

No. You are free to refer yourself to any of the therapists at Harley Therapy. The only exception 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 basic terms, a psychiatrist is a registered doctor who can diagnose mental illness and prescribe medication.

Psychologists and psychotherapists offer talking therapy and would not typically provide a diagnosis or medication. That said, they have a good understanding of all diagnoses, or even the medication that might be applicable, and can refer you to a psychiatrist if required. Or, where necessary, they will liaise with psychiatrists to support you further. 

Can a counsellor prescribe medication if I need it?

The counsellors are not eligible to prescribe medication. There is, however, a 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 specialist psychiatrists we can refer you to if required. 

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, www.samaritans.org), 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 and Sundays 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. 

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 using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or WhatsApp, and can 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 session become available, 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?

Payment is required at the time of making an appointment. You will be asked to provide a credit or debit card and this same card will be charged 48 hours in advance of any further sessions. The therapists do not accept cash or cheques.

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?

Therapists set their own fees to reflect their years of experience, knowledge, and skill. Prices also encompass the cost of desirable central London locations for you to meet your therapist in. 

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

Our team of expert and experienced therapists can unfortunately not offer you concessionary rates, free initial consultations, or discounts for block bookings.

But on our sister site HarleyTherapy.com you can book low cost, UK-wide registered talk therapists, including many who also or exclusively work over secure video platforms such as Zoom or Skype. 

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.


Is there any parking nearby?

Yes. The nearest paid parking is as follows:

Harley Street

Bishopsgate (Liverpool Street)

London Bridge


Are there any disabled facilities?

Yes, some locations and rooms do 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 really 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 hearsay. Make it clear you support him or her and merely want to see them be helped in feeling better. Then leave them to make the decision for themselves. 

Can I still use one of your online therapists if I live overseas?

This is a decision that is left to the discretion of each individual therapist, and depends on factors such as whether their insurance will cover them or not.  If you have a certain therapist in mind, don't hesitate to call us to discuss whether working with them is an option for you. 

What if I have a complaint?

If you have a query about the room your sessions are in or our administrative service, you can raise your issues with the Clinical Director who will endeavour to address your concerns.

Complaints about your therapist should be raised with the therapist directly. If you are not satisfied that your complaint has been addressed, then you should take this up with the counsellor's accredited body (BACP, BABCP, UKCP, UKRC, BPS, etc).


What makes Harley Therapy so highly regarded?

Our network of therapists is carefully selected for their dedication, skills, experience, 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. 

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