What is an Assessment for Individual Counselling?
So, how do we get you started in counselling?
It’s an important rule that every ethical and professional counsellor performs an assessment with their client before individual counselling commences (see also: Counselling for Individuals).
An assessment for counselling is where a client and counsellor both work together in order to decide if continuing for further counselling sessions together is a good idea.
Certain matters need to be considered during the assessment:
- As the client: do you feel that working with this counsellor is suitable for you?
- As the counsellor: does the client appear to be able to work with your therapeutic approaches & methods?
- Can the client and counsellor agree on what will be the focus for their work?
- Is sufficient information gained to make a decision if counselling is appropriate?
- If counselling seems inappropriate, can the counsellor and client discuss a referral to a colleague or other therapy agency?
A Counselling Assessment Process.
As an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy in private practice, I perform my own assessments with people who are interested in working with me in counselling.
- We will meet for the assessment in my Portsmouth & Southsea office or via Skype Video.
- As to the assessment process itself, mostly I am interested in hearing your story, told in the way that you want to tell it.
- I won’t give you any tests to pass, or forms to fill out; our assessment is purely conversational.
- At the same time I will make some checks to see if my methods of counselling are helpful for you.
The aim of a counselling assessment is about help both you and the counsellor make an informed decision about entering into a counselling relationship.
- Before weekly counselling begins, the counsellor and you meet for an assessment – a sort of pre-counselling session.
- Usually one sessions is sufficient (for couple: further sessions are required).
- Both you and the counsellor will discuss your problems and what you are looking for from counselling.
- The session provides time to discuss if counselling may be helpful.
- Your counsellor will discuss what may be feasible in counselling – and what may not be.
- There will be a conversation about costs and time commitment.
- By the end of an assessment, both you and the counsellor can agree a focus of the work and can agree the next part of the work.
Overview of a a Counselling Assessment.
We meet for 50 minutes.
We will both have questions of each other – I need to know about you and you will need to know about me. This is a mutual assessment of each other.
Apart from noting down your story, I also have a form that helps us navigate through a counselling assessment. I will be learning:-
- What is(are) your current problem(s)?
- Have you had counselling before?
- Your occupation, relationship status, children, medical health.
- Why have you chosen counselling now?
- What do you hope to gain from counselling … and what your goals/achievements might be for when the counselling is completed.
- Some historical information (eg your first memory)
- A conversation about your family.
- A conversation about your work education.
- A conversation about your support networks.
- A discussion about if we both think if counselling might be helpful for you, or maybe to refer you to another therapy.
Keeping you Informed.
I will discuss with you about my approach to counselling and answer questions about my qualifications and ethical approach.
I’ll talk with you about confidentiality and how it effects you, about where the law requires I disclose information (such as serious criminal activity, intended harm to yourself and/or others, or the Children’s Act) and that I will discuss with you before I make such disclosures.
I will also inform you about my supervision arrangements.
By the end of a counselling assessment.
At the end of the assessment we should both have a better understanding of if we think we can work together, if counselling might be a helpful process (for you) to go through (together), and what will be the focus of our counselling work. We will discuss fees, appointment times and vacation/absences, and what we can expect from each other (we call this “contracting”). The location of the counselling will be in Portsmouth & Southsea or Online via Skype Video depending on the location of where you wish to work with me.
All in fifty minutes?
There is a lot to cover in an assessment session, which is why I won’t hurry you (your needs are primarily important over those of the form) … but this sometimes may lead us into continuing the assessment into a second (or more) session if we both agree that this would be helpful.
This is all perfectly fine and we can spend as much time on the assessment as we both need.
What to do next.
If you believe that you would like to meet with Dean Richardson to discuss your needs for counselling, make contact to arrange an initial appointment.