Frequently Asked Questions about counselling:

Q. What is counselling? 

A. Counselling is confidential and non-judgmental process. First a trained and experienced psychologist spends time listening, getting to know you, and developing an understanding of your particular circumstances. Your counsellor will offer you support, insight and encouragement. They are not emotionally involved like family or friends so can help to:

•    Explore, clarify and understand your situation.

•    Discover a way to look at things that helps you find solutions and have a more positive outlook.

•    Behave or respond to situations or people in a way that works better for you

•    Create new strategies and solutions for your situation

•    Find ways to trust yourself and make your own decisions

•    Increase your self-awareness and skills

Q. Who can benefit from counselling? 

A. Sometimes we have to deal with too many problems at once. At other times, the ways we have tried to meet those challenges are not working. 

Q. Is going to counselling a sign of weakness?

A. No it takes insight and determination to acknowledge a problem and seek help. It is a sign of strength because it is certainly not an easy process. 

Q. What is the difference between seeing my GP and counselling?

A. Your GP will give you information about your health and may prescribe medication but generally does not have the time to talk about what is happening to you and help you find solutions.

Q. What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?

A. Psychiatrists are medical practitioners who are trained to diagnose mental illness and prescribe medication (drug therapy). Psychologists are non-medical professionals who are trained to use counselling and non-drug therapies with people who are facing issues. They also help people with mental health problems.

Q. Why see a Psychologist rather than a counsellor?

A. In Australia, all psychologists are registered under federal law and must have undergone extensive training and supervision. 

Q. How do I find the right Psychologist for me? 

A. Psychologists have a wide variety of training, experience, and styles of counselling. A Psychologist who was good for a friend or relative may not be the right counsellor for you. A good Psychologist will: 

•    Be warm, genuine and treat you with respect 

•    Be trustworthy and non-judgemental

•    Have faith in your ability to work through your issues 

•    Encourage you to make your own choices

•    Respectfully challenge your viewpoint when it is helpful to you

Go to the first appointment and trust your instinct. If during sessions, you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of the counselling, the best thing is to raise your concerns. If you continue to feel uncomfortable you can ask for a referral to someone else.

Q. How long does each session last? 

A. Each session last 55 minutes. 

Q. How often are counselling appointments scheduled?

A. Appointments are scheduled once a week, every two or three weeks, or monthly depending upon the nature of the concern, and your goals. 

Q. How long does counselling usually take?

A. The length of counselling depends upon the nature of your concern, and your goals. 

Q. Is the information I provide confidential? 

A. Communication between psychologists and clients are protected by law as confidential, but there are certain exceptions. For example, psychologists have a "duty of care" if they learn that a client plans to harm themselves seriously or another person. On these occasion, they may have to inform someone but will let the client know before they do. Also courts can subpoena psychological records if a crime has been committed. In all other situations counsellors do not discuss the counselling with anyone else unless you sign a release of information form (this does not include the report to your GP if you are on a Mental Health Plan). If a psychologist receives a request for information, either on the telephone or in writing, it will be ignored if it does not contain a release form with your signature on it. 

Q. I am interested on couple counselling but my partner will not come.

A. Even if your partner is uninterested in couple counselling, it is still worthwhile for one person to learn the skills for resolving their own issue in the relationship. Then, when they observe that their partner is less upset by things that have bothered them for months or years, they are often keen to experience some of the same benefits themselves. 

Q. Who can benefit from couple counselling?

A. Almost everyone can benefit from relationship counselling. It is better to learn how to prevent problems than to wait until they become entrenched. It is also easier to resolve conflicts when they first develop and there is relatively little ill feeling than to address the issue years down the track when the situation has escalated. However, it is never too late to attempt to resolve problems.

Q. How do I know if I am depressed?

A. If you experience some of these symptoms, you may be suffering from depression: 

•    Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells 

•    Increased or decreased appetite 

•    Changes in sleeping pattern 

•    Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety 

•    Pessimism 

•    Indifference 

•    Loss of energy, constant lethargy 

•    Feelings of guilt or worthlessness 

•    Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness 

•    Loss of pleasure in former interests 

•    Social withdrawal 

•    Unexplained aches and pains 

•    Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Depression often involves an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is not a sign of personal weakness. Depression is not just feeling a little sad or blue, and if you have it, you can’t make yourself better by just "snapping out of it." 

Q. How do I know if I am anxious?

A. If you experience some of these symptoms, you may be suffering from anxiety: 

•    Diarrhoea 

•    Dry mouth

•    Rapid heartbeat or palpitations 

•    Tightness or pain in chest 

•    Shortness of breath 

•    Dizziness 

•    Frequent urination 

•    Difficulty swallowing 

•    Insomnia 

•    Irritability or anger 

•    Inability to concentrate 

•    Anxiety attacks

Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis:

Q. What is hypnosis?

A. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis; the hypnotherapist is just a facilitator. Your are always in control. The hypnotherapist cannot make you do anything against your will. The myth that you are under the control of the hypnotherapist has been perpetuated by "stage" hypnosis. Hypnosis is a focussed attention trance state which makes available all the experiences that you have stored in your subconscious. It is a state in which the brain wave frequencies slow to the alpha and theta range instead of the beta range which we normally experience when we are awake and thinking. We naturally experience this state of hypnosis regularly, just as we drift off to sleep. We can also enter a state of hypnosis during other relaxing situations such as taking a bath, lying in the sun, meditating, listening to relaxing music or having a massage. Typically, we feel detached and dreamy, knowing that you could open your eyes at any time but feeling just too comfortable to bother.  When you are in this state you can not only access all of your experience but also tap into your natural ability for self-education (which helped you learned to walk or talk).

Q. How is hypnotherapy done? 

A. There are two aspects to the process. First, we trigger the hypnotic state through techniques such as breathing, visualization, muscle relaxation, and focusing. The second part of the hypnotherapy process involves counselling while you are in the hypnotic state. The client is aware of what is happening at all times and will remember their experiences after the session. 

Q. What is a hypnotherapist?

A. A Hypnotherapist is a specialist in hypnosis who has been trained and supervised. 

Q. Can anyone be hypnotised?

A. Anyone can be hypnotised, but some more easily than others. Some of us may have particular talent for hypnosis. Like anything else in life, the more someone practices hypnosis, the more easily he/she can enter the state of hypnosis. However, it is not necessary to be very practised or achieve a deep state of hypnosis in order to bring about change. A common myth about the ability to be hypnotised is the belief that "no one could hypnotise me I'm too strong minded". All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. A person goes into hypnosis only when they choose to. So strong-minded individuals are really good candidates for hypnosis provided they are committed to wanting it to work for them.

Q. When I am hypnotised, am I unconscious?

A. No, you will remember what happens; your conscious mind just takes a back seat and takes a rest. Hypnosis allows you to tap into the storehouse of information that lies in your subconscious.

Q. Is hypnosis the same as meditation?

A. Brain scans of people in hypnosis show that the brain activation seen in hypnosis is quite different from that seen in normal waking, sleeping or in meditation. They show that during hypnosis, you are in a deeper state of relaxation.

Q. Can people be made to do things against their will?

A. This is one of the common misunderstandings associated with hypnosis. This is probably tied in with the misconception that the hypnotherapist has control over the client. This is not the case. People will not do or say anything under hypnosis that they would not do when not under hypnosis. Basically all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, you cannot be hypnotised against your will.

Q. How safe is hypnosis?

A. Hypnosis is a normal, naturally occurring, healthy state of mind. What hypnotherapy does is to help bring out solutions and strengths that you were not previously aware of. Hypnosis will not force ideas or feelings into your mind that was not there in the first place. It just helps you to uncover your abilities, which you may not have known you had.

Q. Will my personality be changed?

A. No. What hypnotherapy does is to help bring out the best in you. This means that you will change by leaving behind any habits or baggage you no longer need or want and thereby become a stronger and happier you. Hypnosis is designed to help you to uncover your strengths, which you may not have known you had.

Q. In what areas can hypnotherapy be used?

A. Hypnotherapy can be used to help with: Abuse, Addictions, Anger, Anxiety, Assertiveness, Asthma, Bed wetting, Blood Pressure, Burnout, Childbirth, Chronic Fatigue, Communication, Confidence, Conflicts, Depression, Drug & Alcohol, Eating Disorders, Emotions, Exams, Fear, Habits, Headaches, Health, Insomnia, Jealousy, Gambling, Goal Setting, Grief and Loss, Guilt, Memory, Motivation, Nail-biting, Obsessions and Compulsions, Overeating, Pain, Panic Attacks, Personal Development, Phobias, Poor Body Image, Post Traumatic Stress, Pregnancy, Public Speaking, Relationship, Relaxation, Self Efficacy, Self-esteem, Sexuality, Sexual Problems, Shyness, Sleep, Smoking, Snoring, Sport, Stress, Study, Stuttering, Trauma, Weight Loss, Worry.

Q. How many sessions will it take?

A. The amount of sessions depends upon the nature of your concern, and your goals.