Counselling & Psychotherapy in Brussels
Judy Sleath - UKCP Registered/EAP Accredited Psychotherapist

Here are some questions which are frequently asked about psychotherapy and counselling. Responses to these questions are my personal opinions and should not be construed as representative of all counsellors and psychotherapists.

Why see a therapist - isn’t that the same as talking to a friend or someone who’s a good listener?

You may already have talked with friends about what is troubling you, and this may be sufficient for you. You may, however, have a need to talk to someone external - the issue you face may not be something you feel able to talk to friends or family about.

Here are some key differences between talking to counsellors/psychotherapists and talking to friends and family:

  • Unlike friends or family members, counsellors and psychotherapists have extensive professional training and experience in in how to listen, support and help you understand and deal with what you are experiencing.

  • Counsellors/psychotherapists are more independent and detached from your life than the people around you. Because of the therapist’s independence, there is no need to fear upsetting the therapist or hurting their feelings in the way you may with people closer to you.

  • Talking to a counsellor/psychotherapist is confidential.

  • You decide how much you chose to share with your therapist – you may not feel this with friends and family.

    How 'private' is it?

    What you tell me is entirely 'private' (see the question regarding Confidentiality further down this page). It may include things you have never spoken to anybody about before - you may experience this as a relief, and you may need to know that what you tell me goes no further. The fact that you are seeing me is also entirely private - you decide who, if anyone, you wish to tell.

    My practice is in a private room in my home (you can see a picture of the room on 'About Psychotherapy & Counselling'). I schedule some time between appointments to ensure privacy for my clients - there is no waiting area, specifically for this reason.

    Is it 'ok' to see a psychotherapist?

    Your state of mind is as valuable as your physical health and the desire to look at the problems you face and their underlying causes is a decision to be respected and often requires some courage. For a long time there has been some stigma attached to seeking professional help with deeply personal issues - I think this is now slowly changing and mental health is beginning to be perceived as on a par with physical health.

    However, it is also important to say that I am not looking to 'diagnose' you; I am interested in what is functioning and not functioning for you. It is likely that if you are seeking help, then you have a sense of something not working as you would like it to, whether that seems like a one-off crisis which you are struggling to cope with, or whether that is a longer-term, ongoing situation which you have perhaps struggled with for a number of years. My focus is understanding with you how and why things are 'difficult' and how to bring about change.

    What if you are not the 'right' person for me to see?

    There are two parts to this: the relationship that we form, and my competence to work with the particular issues that you bring. It has been shown that the quality of the relationship between therapist and client plays a significant role in the outcome, so it is important that you feel 'ok' about who you choose to work with. It is the strength of the relationship in terms of its safety that allows perhaps previously unarticulated issues and feelings to be aired and acknowledged.

    It may be that the issues you bring require a particular approach or specific skills which are different from what I can offer. In this case, we would discuss alternatives and I would refer you to other professionals who could help you. I have an ethical responsibility to consider with you what is appropriate for you, given your issues and situation, and my skills and competence to work with what you bring.

    Will I get more upset by seeing a psychotherapist than by just carrying on as I am?

    You may be both more and less upset. The process of talking with, being heard and witnessed, as you articulate what you think and feel can at times feel like a relief, at times feel painful and upsetting, sometimes both together. As we work together, you will gain greater awareness of the impact of carrying on as you are, or changing - some of this will be about external, behavioural changes, some of it will be about internal, less visible or immediately obvious changes.

    Is there a difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

    Whilst both counselling and psychotherapy involve meeting with a trained professional, to address some issue in your life, there are differences. I see counselling as a shorter-term approach, more focused on finding options to move forward with the immediate problems you are facing. Whereas I see psychotherapy as a longer-term process, usually working in greater depth. I offer both, think that both are useful, and that one may lead to another - in that when you are more able to deal with the problems you face right now, you may wish to look more at the underlying causes.

    In addition, counsellors and psychotherapists usually undertake a different length and type of training (with some overlap) and accreditation. I have both an MSc in Psychotherapy and a Diploma in Counselling.

    How often do I need to come and how long does psychotherapy take?

    Psychotherapy sessions are usually weekly. A commitment to coming weekly is part of the effectiveness of the therapy. Sometimes people elect to come twice weekly if the issues they bring mean this would be helpful or if they wish to work more intensively.

    If you are bringing a specific problem or crisis which is recent in nature, often 10 to 15 sessions will help you to deal with it. If it is something less specific which seems as if has been around for a longer period of time and is recurrent in nature, then the period of therapy is likely to be longer, too. Some people come for a period of months or years, but it is not a case of waiting until the 'end' in order to feel better or to see changes - they occur along the way, and you decide if there are still more issues you wish to deal with or changes you wish to make.

    How do I know if I need to see a psychotherapist

    One answer to this is to say that there are many ways of dealing with the issues you face in your life - psychotherapy is not the only route. And you may already have tried some options, for example self-help books, talking to friends or medication, with greater or lesser impact. If you are at a point where the strategies you have tried have not brought about lasting or deep changes, or your normal way of coping isn't working, or if the issue seems too complex or big to deal with in the ways you have tried thus far, it may be that you will benefit from psychotherapy. Sometimes people have a sense of things not being quite ‘right’, something being persistently uncomfortable, for example in relationships, or at work, which prevents them from living life fully. Sometimes people are in a crisis and need a safe place to find themselves.

    How do I choose a psychotherapist?

    Research has shown that one of the most significant factors in the effectiveness of the therapeutic process you undertake is the relationship you have with your psychotherapist, so choosing a psychotherapist who you feel you can trust and feel safe with is an important part of the process. This does not necessarily mean you will always ‘like’ your therapist. Psychotherapy often needs both to support and to challenge you in order to be effective.

    In many countries, the term ‘psychotherapist’ is not protected ie: it does not guarantee you a particular level of training or experience. For this reason it is important to know that you are working with a registered therapist, which tells you the level of training the person has had and the ethical and professional standards he/she adheres to. I am registered with the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) and with the EAP (European Association for Psychotherapy), both of which have rigorous accreditation criteria and a requirement of full professional training and experience in counselling, psychotherapy and mental health settings.

    Is my information kept confidential?

    Yes, what you tell me is kept in strictest confidence. I consider this a core element in the ethical code in the profession of psychotherapy. I may not disclose any of it to anyone, unless you give me permission. There are some specific exceptions to this: I reserve the right to break the confidentiality and contact appropriate services if I consider you, the client, to be at risk to yourself or others, or if disclosure is required by law. If this were to be the case, I would make every effort to talk to you about it beforehand.

    As with all properly accredited practitioners, I undertake regular supervision in which I talk about clients – but on a basis which does not disclose identity.

    Update January 2022 - Thank you for your interest in my website. I will no longer be working in person in Brussels from the end of March 2022

    Registered member of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) Registration number: 2011163234
    Accredited by the European Associaton for Psychotherapy (EAP)
    Graduate member of Metanoia Institute, London
    MSc.(Psych) Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy, Middlesex University, MA (Oxon)
    Member, International Association for Relational Transactional Analysis (IARTA)
    Member, Belgian Association for Transactional Analysis, Assobat

    Location: 1200 Woluwe St Lambert - close to central Brussels/Schuman, Mérode, Montgomery, Etterbeek, Kraainem, Tervuren, and the eastern Brussels areas.


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