Assessment and psychological formulation
Assessment sessions will typically last 90 minutes. The purpose of an assessment session is for us to begin discussing your difficulties that you would like to explore as part of therapy, and/or the specific areas or skills you'd like to develop within therapy. I will usually ask you to complete a few questionnaires to help identify specific problems, and we will try to identify your personal goals for therapy. The assessment session also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about therapy and to consider whether my therapeutic style is a good fit for you.
Prior to an assessment I would encourage you to contact me for a free telephone consultation in order to ask any questions you have about therapy and to briefly discuss your reasons for seeking therapy. I will advise you about whether I think an assessment session would be useful. In some cases I may feel that alternative sources of support would be more appropriate for your needs, in which case I will make this clear and advise you accordingly.
Developing your psychological formulation
During the initial assessment and first few therapy sessions we will work together to create a joint understanding of your specific problems, difficulties or needs. This process of 'making sense of things' together is essential as it gives us a direction for therapy, helping us to determine what to focus on within therapy. It also helps us to break things down into smaller, more manageable parts, so hopefully things begin to feel less overwhelming and start to make more sense. Creating a joint understanding of your difficulties is known as a 'psychological formulation', as it is informed by decades of psychological theory and research. A psychological formulation helps us to make sense of your difficulties in the context of your relationships, social circumstances, life events and personal qualities and characteristics, and so your psychological formulation will be unique to you. Your formulation is not a rigid construct, it is everchanging and we may reformulate over the course of your therapy as our understanding of things deepens.