Frequently Asked Questions

How can counselling or psychotherapy help?

Psychotherapy can give you an opportunity to talk in confidence to someone who has the skills and experience to listen carefully to you and to respond in depth. Therapy aims to help you to make the changes which you feel would benefit you. This may involve reaching a clearer understanding of what led to the problem in the first place. Often the origin of a problem is in the past, but the link may not be obvious. Therapy can help you to make connections between your past and your present. The insight you gain may in turn allow you a greater freedom of thought and action. Your therapist will not advise you or tell you what to do, but will be alongside to help you to make sense of your difficulties in a safe and accepting environment.

What if I am not sure what my problem is, or it all feels too much and I don’t know how to start?

There are times in most peoples’ lives when they feel unable to cope. It is not unusual to feel depressed, anxious or alone at some stage. You can talk with the counsellor or psychotherapist about anything bothering you, however large or small you think the problem is. Experience shows that it is often best to catch a difficulty early, before it has a chance to grow. But therapy can help even if you have reached crisis point and everything seems impossible. You may find there are things you can’t discuss with family or friends. Your therapist will not be judgemental or shocked by what you say. They won’t trivialise what is important to you. Your concern may be about something that happened years ago. Or you may need to talk about a particular problem in your current life. You may not even have a specific problem to bring but rather underlying feelings of unhappiness or confusion.

What happens in a session?

When you meet your therapist, they will introduce themselves but will not talk about themselves. This is to give you time and space to use your session in whichever way you want.
Regular sessions differ from the assessment session. In a regular session your therapist will not ask as many questions, nor will they be writing notes.
Some people may find the early stages of therapy uncomfortable as they are unsure what is expected of them or how to use the time since the therapist is not setting out an agenda. It is a good idea to let your therapist know if this happens as the communication of how you feel is an important aspect of the work.

How many sessions do I need?

Sometimes it is for a time-limited period which is agreed at the outset – for example 8 or 12 sessions. Or, you may not be clear about how long you need to be in therapy and sessions are then open-ended. You can talk to your therapist during your therapy to review how things are going. The ending of therapy is an important part of the process and should be planned by you and your therapist together.

How long is a session?

Sessions are usually once a week and last for 50 minutes. A therapist may suggest more frequent meetings if this is considered appropriate. The appointment must end on time even if you are late. If you are delayed, however, we still suggest that you attend your appointment.

I am interested, what do I do?

To find our more about our service or to make an appointment, please ring ACPS on . If we are not able to take your call, please leave a message and we will contact you as soon as we can. Alternatively you can email us at .

What happens when I contact ACPS?

When you contact ACPS for the first time, we will take some details and offer you an appointment for an initial meeting. During this meeting, you will have the opportunity to explore your reasons for getting in touch, and to clarify whether and how therapy can help you. This meeting lasts for 50 minutes, and there is a fee for this meeting. (Link to fee page)
If therapy is appropriate for you, we will then make every effort to match you with one of our therapists who best suits your needs.

How long will I have to wait?

We try to make an appointment for you to have an initial meeting with one our therapists within 1-2 weeks of your phone call. We will try and see you as quickly as we can, but at times of great demand, there may be a delay before we can offer regular therapy sessions.

Is the service confidential?

Your therapist will not give information to anyone else without your permission apart from their professional supervisors who are bound by the same confidentiality. Otherwise, the only reason your therapist might consider breaking confidentiality is if there is a serious risk of harm to you or others, or in very rare cases where required by law to do so. Wherever possible, your therapist would always discuss this with you first.

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Counselling and psychotherapy have many things in common. Counselling often addresses current issues that seem to have a particular focus and may be short term. In psychotherapy, you can more fully explore deeper underlying patterns and feelings concerning long standing issues that often go back to childhood. Psychotherapy is usually longer term; you decide with your therapist on the duration.

Does ACPS have wheelchair access?

Some of our consulting rooms in Bristol are on the groundfloor and have wheelchair access. Please telephone us if you do have special requirements so that we can make arrangements to suit your needs.