Frequently Asked Questions
Please click the following if you have a particular question. If your question remains unanswered, please contact us to discuss your query.
- I am interested in coming for therapy and have emailed you – what happens next?
One of our psychological therapists will telephone you and discuss your difficulties and what you hope to gain from therapy. This phone call should take no more than around 10 minutes and is intended to establish whether psychological therapy is likely to be appropriate. We will also arrange a time for you to come and meet with one of psychological therapists at our premises for a longer assessment session, at a convenient time to suit you (see question 6 below). Where the problem is in connection with a child or young person, details will be taken from a parent or carer and the first appointment will generally be with the parent/carer only. We will send you an email confirming the arrangements for any assessment appointment
- I have arranged an appointment for an assessment with one of your therapists – what should I expect to happen at the assessment?
The initial appointment will last approximately one hour. You will be asked specific details about your (or your child’s) problems and how they affect you currently. You will also be asked general questions about your current circumstances and wellbeing, and about your early life history and experiences. We will also ask you about any previous experiences of therapy or contact with any other healthcare professionals. This is important to give us background information and context to your difficulties which will help us to understand your problems and to think about what kinds of input are likely to be most helpful. We can then discuss options for therapy, if we agree this is appropriate, including how many sessions you may need. You will never be placed under any pressure to continue with any therapy that you are not fully happy with and are welcome to ask questions about any aspect of our services at any time.
- Can I refer myself for therapy?
Yes: We accept referrals from General Practitioners (GP’s), psychiatrists, other healthcare professionals, insurance companies, employers, etc., as well as directly from individual members of the public.
- Will what I tell you be kept confidential?
All information given will be kept confidential to the practice with the following exceptions. We would like to advise your GP that we are working with you so would aim to agree with you what details we can share with them, so we will ask you for their contact details at your first appointment. If you are under the care of another healthcare professional (e.g., psychiatrist) for mental health issues it is likely to be helpful for us to have some communication with them to ensure you have the most effective and safest care so we will again agree with you what information you are happy for us to share with them and who else it may be relevant for us to contact. If we identify that you or another individual is at risk of harm then we are obliged, professionally, to act on this and inform the relevant authorities. We would aim to advise you we were going to take this action whenever possible. Finally, we are all required to have regular clinical supervision to ensure safe and effective practice so may share some information you are happy for us to share with them and who else it may be relevant for us to contact. Where we are working with children and young people, it may be helpful for us to have some contact with their school or college, however, we will check with both you and your child if you are happy with this and, again, what information you are comfortable with us to share. If we identify that you or another individual is at risk of harm then we are obliged, professionally, to act on this and inform the relevant authorities. We would aim to advise you we were going to take this action whenever possible. Finally, we are all required to have regular clinical supervision to ensure safe and effective practice so may share some information about your difficulties – in a personally non-identifiable form if the supervisor is not another member of the practice – with a named supervisor. You are welcome to request details about our supervisory arrangements at any time. All data we keep about you will be safely and securely stored and we will not disclose any information unnecessarily as we adhere to national Data Protection policies (we are registered with the government’s Information Commissioner’s Office).
- Can I see another healthcare professional at the same time as having therapy with you?
We would advise that you do not engage in more than one form of psychological therapy at the same time so if you are seeing another therapist/counsellor, etc., you are likely to be advised to complete this before commencing any therapy with us. Contact with a psychiatrist, non-active forms of therapy and the use of prescribed medication are fine. Please contact us to discuss your particular circumstances.
- How long are appointments for, how many sessions might I need and do you offer sessions outside of normal working hours?
Initial assessments are an hour in length. Follow-up sessions are typically for an hour, but may vary depending on the therapeutic model. We offer appointments between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on most weekdays, and some appointments on Saturdays may be possible. We will agree with you at the start of therapy the approximate number of sessions that are likely to be helpful for your difficulties. You might wish to consult the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: www.nice.org.uk) guideline for the relevant difficulty to give you an approximate idea of how many sessions might be needed. Please note that you may need fewer or more sessions than have been tested in the clinical trials quoted depending on a number of factors, for example, whether you are experiencing more than one problem. Most insurance companies put a cap on the number of sessions they will pay for initially (typically 6). You are not obliged to attend more sessions than you are comfortable with.
- How much can I expect to pay and how do I pay?
Fees are dependent on a number of factors including the type of therapeutic input offered and which psychological therapist you see so please contact us to discuss your individual needs and we can advise you accordingly. Psychologists within the UK typically charge between £75 and £125 per session, depending on location, profession, level of training and associated practice costs. This is comparable to other professional services, for example, dentistry. At Hillside Psychological Services we aim to charge an affordable rate for a professional service with highly skilled, accredited clinicians. Some of our clinicians will charge a reduced rate for clients on limited incomes (full-time students over the age of 18 who are funding themselves, those on long-term benefits, full-time carers, all individuals over the age of 65), where proof can be provided. Payment will typically be made at the end of each session, unless otherwise agreed. We would prefer payment to be made electronically, however, the practice will accept cheques, cash or payment via mobile phone app where this is not possible; receipts will be issued for all payments.
Fees for supervision again depend on the model of therapy and format of supervision. For consultation and training we have a set rate of fees for direct input, preparation and administrative costs which is available on request.
We review our fees annually in April and attempt to avoid any unnecessary increases in fees. Existing clients’ fees will not change throughout their episode of care. Please note that non-attended appointments, including cancellations with less than 24 hours’ notice, are likely to be charged for. There is typically an administration fee chargeable where reports are requested for other professionals, however, routine letters to GP’s, etc. (e.g., on discharge) are not liable to be charged for.
- Can I claim for therapy from my healthcase insurance company?
Some of our therapists are registered as “Recognised Providers” with a number of healthcare insurance companies, e.g., BUPA and AXA-PPP, so please check with us first to see if we have already been recognised by your insurer. You will need to be issued with a pre-authorisation reference from your insurer before we can offer you therapy, so please discuss your intent to seek therapy with them before attending an appointment with us otherwise you are likely to be liable for the fee. Please note that most insurance companies place a cap on the number of sessions they will commit to fund in the first instance (typically 6). We would also advise you to check your policy to determine whether any excess is payable as you will be liable to pay for this at the end of therapy.
- What is a Clinical Psychologist?
Clinical Psychologists have all completed an initial Psychology undergraduate degree and a 3-year practice-based doctoral level post-graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. Training in Clinical Psychology includes working with adults, children and young people, older people and individuals with learning disabilities, as well as pursuing individual interests in working with a particular model of therapy or client group. All Clinical Psychologists are trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and at least one other therapeutic model. Prior to completing a Clinical Psychology doctorate applicants for clinical training must usually have also completed some form of relevant work experience or further study. The HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council: www.hcpc-uk.org/check) took over in 2009 from the BPS (British Psychological Society) in acting as the regulatory body to maintain professional standards for Clinical Psychologists along with most other healthcare professionals. The BPS continues to provide information on specific professional practice and produces a “Find a Therapist” database of psychologists (www.bps.org.uk/psychology-public/find-psychologist), amongst other activities to support and develop the profession.
- What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (C.B.T.)?
CBT is a “talking therapy” which covers a number of therapeutic strategies. All of these broadly seek to identify and address unhelpful thought (cognition) and behavioural patterns that are associated with an individual’s difficulties. This is based on evidence that shows how we think about a situation is strongly linked to how we feel about it, and in turn how we act in relation to it – these thoughts and behaviours can be helpful or less helpful in maintaining a wide range of mental health difficulties. CBT is listed in the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: http://www.nice.org.uk) guidelines as being effective across a range of disorders; particularly anxiety disorders (including panic attacks and PTSD), depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia and psychosis, and bipolar disorder. CBT involves working with your therapist to set shared goals, develop a detailed understanding of your difficulties and then use a selection of techniques to address unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. You will be asked to complete a number of activities in between sessions (e.g., completing questionnaires or record sheets, or trying out different ways of approaching situations) in order to build on the work you do in therapy sessions.
- Why is it important to have an accredited C.B.T. therapist?
Therapists can claim to be CBT therapists but may have only completed a relatively short period of training and may, therefore, not have the skills or experience to address your difficulties most effectively. The BABCP (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies: www.babcp.com register of accredited practitioners: www.cbtregisteruk.com) is currently the only organisation offering accreditation for professionals offering CBT. Accredited CBT practitioners must have a core mental healthcare profession, have completed at least 450 hours of CBT training from appropriate providers, have completed at least 200 hours of clinical work with clients covering a range of problems and attend regular clinical supervision, amongst other criteria, thus setting a high standard for therapists to achieve. Following accreditation they are required to attend complete Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities, continue to receive regular monthly on-going supervision of their CBT practice and apply for re-accreditation every 5 years.
- Will therapy work for me?
There are no guarantees that talking therapy will work for everyone. Broadly speaking research has found that around a third of people entering therapy will recover completely from their difficulties, a third will receive considerable benefit from entering therapy (perhaps experiencing further episodes of difficulties but with these being less severe, distressing or lengthy then previously) and a third may not experience any clear benefit from therapy. The evidence suggests that the differences between when therapy is helpful and less helpful are to do with factors such as whether you and your therapist can form a good working relationship (e.g., you can communicate well, you feel you can trust your therapist and that they are warm, genuine, open and non-judgemental) and have a shared understanding of your difficulties and of how therapy is likely to work for you. A significant number of people report that psychological therapy helps them to develop a better understanding of their difficulties, feel less distressed by them and find their difficulties interfere less in many aspects of their functioning (e.g., the ability to work or take part in valued activities, or in how they relate to other people), regardless of whether or not their symptoms go away 100%. The NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: www.nice.org.uk) go into detail as to which particular therapies are likely to be most helpful for a range of specific mental health difficulties.