Some common questions answered
I am new to counselling. What are the next steps?
Once you make contact by email or phone, we will have a brief discussion about what issue/s you would like to bring to counselling, and decide together if this Practice and online counselling are the right choice for you.
Before we have our first session, you will receive an information pack by email that explains how therapy will work, information about booking, fees, payments, your rights as a client, how you can prepare for your session, how we maintain professional and ethical practice, privacy, security, safety and confidentiality. If you agree to engage Conscious Minds Counselling, then we will meet at the agreed scheduled time online.
Do I need a referral and can I use a Mental Health Care Plan
No you don't need a referral from a doctor. If you have talked to your doctor and would like your doctor to send on some notes, you are most welcome to do so, but it is not expected.
Counsellors in Australia do not have Medicare Provider numbers, so you will not be able to claim a Medicare rebate with counsellors. If your Doctor has given you a Mental Health Care Plan, and you want to use your 6-10 subsidised sessions, you will need to see a Psychologist. You may have to pay a gap fee.
I have Private Health Insurance, can I claim a rebate for counselling?
Yes you may be able to. I am an Accredited Counsellor, registered with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, and a registered Private Health Provider for Medibank, ahm, Bupa, Australia Regional Health Group (ARHG) including Police Health, St Luke's Health, Phoenix Health Fund, and Emergency Services Health. If you have private health cover with one of these insurers, you may be able to claim a rebate on counselling services. Contact them to see.
How do I know you are the right person to talk to?
Before you even start talking about what is on your mind, you need to feel perfectly comfortable, trust your counsellor, and feel a real rapport.
In the first session, as we start to talk about what you are wanting from counselling, I expect you will develop a sense of whether I am the right person to talk to. I will also let you know if your issues need the help from someone with other specialised experience. What I will always do is help you feel relaxed and comfortable sharing your story.
We can also reflect as we go along how you feel about the counselling, and whether it is right for you and meeting your needs.
What if I don’t want to talk about the past?
There is often no need to start from the very beginning of your life, childhood. We can concentrate on what is happening for you now, and it is always up to you what you tell me, and we will decide together what you would like to gain from your sessions.
Will you analyse or judge me?
You will never be judged for any thought, feeling, decision or action you have taken. We are simply here to help you as much as possible.
As a counsellor trained in applied psychology, I may be able to offer some insight to help you understand human thinking and behaviour. If it is relevant and helpful I may share some of that knowledge with you.
Can you help me figure out who I am, where I am going, what to do?
One of the great things about counselling with the right person is that you can focus just on you, with no other distractions. It’s then that things become clearer, and together we find out who you really are, how to be you in this world.
Often in the course of your sessions, we will find answers to problems, work out a plan for moving forward, work out how to keep you safe as you discover yourself.
I have a problem with something, can’t you just tell me how to fix it and what I should do?
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our thoughts and problems we just would love someone else to make the decision or come up with wise words to just solve it. Most people have an opinion about how you should live your life, and what actions you should take.
How we will work in your counselling sessions though, is together we will discover what you want, what is a good option and course of action for you, so that you have control over the decisions you make and the actions you choose.
What is talking to you as a counsellor like?
I hope that it is like talking to the best person you can imagine – the ideal listener, who knows when to just listen, knows when to ask a question, knows when you just need silence.
Someone with whom you can be totally yourself, knowing no-one else is listening, you can say anything at all, someone who will simply accept you no matter what you feel or say, and help you understand yourself and what is happening around you.
Someone who can offer comfort if you are sad, bear with you if you are angry, understand your frustrations, clarify your confusing thoughts, offer a different point of view, help you solve problems, work with you on ideas about what to do next.
What can I expect in a counselling session?
Hopefully for you, counselling is relaxed and a personal experience where you feel completely comfortable being you.
In one-on-one counselling sessions, we sit together in a calm, quiet space, where we have privacy and no-one can see or overhear us. I will invite you to discuss what has been happening for you and what you are thinking about. I will listen, might ask you some questions to understand your situation and feelings better. We might explore options for your problems, how to approach relationships if needed.
Sessions are usually an hour-long. When the focus is on you, it can be quite intense emotionally, so we keep to this length of time.
Our sessions start with a chat, and then a general check in, sometimes a review of our previous session and a lot of time on what is happening currently, how you are feeling, what you have been reflecting on, what is working, what isn’t, and a plan for between sessions.
It is mostly talking, and I may take some brief notes as we talk, or we might work on something together. I may challenge some entrenched ways of thinking, explore alternative views. We will certainly celebrate your successes and achievements together.
Where will we meet? Counselling online or in-person?
You can have counselling wherever you are
Senta Sharp Counselling is located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and supports clients wherever they are based, throughout Australia and internationally in the UK via online counselling and coaching.
Mail: Suite 13, 1b/47 Park Rd, Milton, QLD 4064 Australia
Phone:+61 438 326 872
Counselling rooms for face-to-face in person sessions
Latrobe Allied Health
Paddington Central Level 5, 107 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, 4064
Online counselling is conducted by Zoom. You do not have to have your own zoom account to join a meeting you are invited to, but you can install Zoom on your device, which is free. You will receive a link to connect for your personal counselling sessions.
At the time of the appointment, you simply log in from your tablet, laptop or computer and we will connect from our own spaces on video and audio.
When I am counselling, I will always be in a private, quiet room so that you will never be over-heard, and our discussions will remain confidential.
Mobile counselling and consulting
When it has been arranged with an organisation, facility or community, to counsel, coach or consult, I will visit onsite. This mobile service will set up in a quiet, private space where people feel comfortable and sessions won't be interrupted.
How long will I need to have counselling and how often?
If your problem is not overly complex, several sessions will be enough to help you move through your issue with a resolution. Of course, you may come with another problem whenever something crops up.
If you have more complex problems or some things that might take quite a long time to delve into and explore, bringing to your consciousness, the number of sessions will be longer.
Some people have 6 sessions, some people may need support over a year, or ongoing. You can decide how you are progressing and what you need.
You may feel a need for weekly sessions at the start, and generally as time goes on, appointments shift to fortnightly, monthly and sometimes longer.
What else do you do after listening?
Counselling can be a balance between listening, reflecting, planning, and resolving.
Sometimes you just need to be able to talk with someone who does not know anyone else around you and has no vested interest or their own agenda. It can be enough to help you see your way clear of your issues.
Other times, you might feel stuck, or not have considered another way to look at an issue. You might feel you need guidance or advice, or someone to nut out a plan. Can I help you? Together we can work on finding out what you need, and what you can try doing to solve your problem.
You might have some tough things to work on, to understand, to face up to. We can decide together, if you are ready to go deeper, and help bring some things into your consciousness that you have not realised or understood.
At times, if it is relevant and helpful, I may offer insight and educational information about a mental health issue.
Counselling is different from Coaching. If you need coaching on your career, relationships, work-life balance, we will make the distinction.
Is what I say confidential?
When you have any session with Senta Sharp Counselling, your sessions are private and confidential. There are no doctor’s referrals and therefore I do not report on the process or content of your sessions.
If I am already your individual client, can you also counsel my partner or family?
If you come for private individual sessions, then you and you alone are the client. If you come to counselling for the first time with a partner or someone else and you are wanting to work on issues together, this is couples therapy, or family therapy, and so all or both of you are the client and all of your therapy is done together. I will talk with you about what issues we might need to seek outside help with, when we connect.
Do you tailor counselling for me? Is the therapy style a prescribed approach?
There is no plan you have to fit into, we won’t be jumping into advice before we’ve explored your problems. If we do have a plan and something crops up between our sessions that you need to discuss, then we can shift to that. Because that’s life.
There is no onerous homework, you won’t be chastised for not doing something.
We can choose from a variety of tools for what will best work for you. It could be a plan of action, it could be the chance to tell your story that’s never been heard, it could be some take-home ideas to try, it might be helping you become more assertive, control your anger, deal with your boss, actively grieve your loss so you can heal and move on.
Whatever it is, we have a lot of options in our toolbox, but it won’t be a prescriptive formula one-size fits all approach.
If you have had counselling before and techniques that didn’t work for you then we will draw on others.
I've heard of PCT, CBT, SFT, DBT, ACT? So you do any of these?
You may have heard of some of these, had some recommended, may have had some of these types of therapy already, or just be overwhelmed or not interested in the technical jargon.
I use an integrated style of therapy, which means that I draw from different approaches and techniques we have learned to help your specific issue. At the heart of our approach is the person, you. I concentrate on my relationship with you, not a medical or psychological diagnosis, nor one theoretical approach.
In fact, a different approach is necessary for each person because of the unique issues and circumstances you find yourself in. So, I will always listen and try to understand your needs and then tailor an approach that is right for you.
I don’t have a psychological or mental health issue, I just need practical solutions to my problems.
That’s great, that’s what we will focus on.
I have a mental health disorder and nothing I have done, no-one I have talked to has been able to help me. How is this going to be different?
What I can do is listen to you, identify what you need help with, help you cope and understand how you are feeling and what you are experiencing, and plan some actions on what or who could help.
Yes I have a mental health issue and a dysfunctional family, but my issue is not about this. I just need help to cope with my current life challenge, are you going to label me?
Labels are not necessary in counselling and sometimes are not helpful at all for you from day-to-day or in counselling. We will focus on the challenges you are facing now, and what I can do to help you cope and/or overcome them. If you feel your other experiences or relationships are impacting on you and you would like to explore how they interact with your day-to-day life now, we can explore those.
I’m on medication and see a psychiatrist. Can I have counselling at the same time? Is it still worthwhile having counselling?
Yes, there is a lot of evidence accepted around the world that when Counselling is combined with Pharmacotherapy or medication, the combined effects are more effective. This is particularly true for more severe and chronic cases including major depression, panic disorders, social anxiety, and for substance use disorders and addictions when combined with evidence based therapy such as CBT.
Counselling is a non-medical therapy – it is based on talking about feelings, thoughts and behaviours, seeking understanding, and consciously embarking on change. I am very happy to support you alongside any treatment you and your doctor have decided on.
Some doctors have time to support you with talking therapy, which is great. Counselling with Senta Sharp Counselling can extend the value you gain from medical therapy by helping you with daily life challenges, planning, impacts on relationships.
Have a question that is not answered here?
You can ask anything when you have a session. Make contact now to book your session.