What to expect

St John's WortI know that choosing a therapist can be a really tough decision.

It can seem like such a leap into the unknown. Am I going to like this person? What exactly do they do? How will I feel afterwards? Will they be able to help me? Will it be worth the money? Should I just wait a while longer and see who else is out there?

With all of these questions in mind, I’ve laid out my process in detail to help you get a sense of what working with me is like, to help you decide - with as much confidence as possible - if we’re likely to work well together. And if you’ve had treatment from a herbalist before, you’ll hopefully get an understanding of my particularly person-centred approach to therapy, one that approaches healing on many levels and is collaborative, nurturing, occasionally challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.

The first consultation

One of the aspects of my practice that sets me apart from other therapists is the emphasis I place on our initial meeting. It’s a 3-hour process, divided into 2 hours together and a further hour that I spend alone, and its collaborative and exploratory nature sets the tone for everything that follows.

So why do we need that much time?

We need 2 hours together so that you have enough space to really tell your story, perhaps more fully than you’ve ever been able to before. This is so important. You need to feel heard and listened to with compassion and empathy, because no true healing can happen without that. We also need to connect, to start to develop a therapeutic relationship, because human connection is itself deeply healing. The time given to this first meeting allows us to come to a meaningful understanding of the patterns and root causes behind your symptoms, and for me to prepare a bespoke prescription of herbs that’s appropriate for you as a wonderfully unique individual, rather than a generic mix of herbs for a faceless person with similar symptoms. It takes time to do it right.

During the 2 hours we’ll explore your symptoms in detail: specifics such as when they began, what was happening in your life at that time, the progression of your symptoms, what makes them better or worse, and any previous or ongoing treatment are all going to be crucial pieces of information here. You’ll get a chance to voice your intuition about what might be causing your symptoms, and if you’ve been prescribed medication or are using supplements we’ll look closely at what you’re taking and discuss whether you think it’s helping, and if you’re experiencing any side-effects.

We’ll talk about any previous illnesses you’ve had, or periods when you felt particularly good, and how your health was when you were a child - for example, whether you were born by caesarean section, were vaccinated, had allergies or were given antibiotics. We’ll tour the systems of your body - from your digestion to your skin - identifying areas where things are working especially well or perhaps needing some support. You’ll get an opportunity to talk about your psychoemotional health, your ability to deal with stress and to cope with the peaks and troughs of life, and how this affects your energy, sleep and resilience.

We’ll explore your diet in detail, your food preferences and cravings, and consider which foods you find easy to digest and which you might be finding difficult. We may spend some time discussing your occupation, and how you choose to relax. And, if they seem relevant to you, we may also talk about the concepts of introversion and extroversion, and High Sensitivity, because these are important areas for many of the people I work with.

By now I’ll hopefully have a sense of the likely root cause (or causes) behind your symptoms and will be ready to prepare your first bespoke herbal prescription, usually including some Bach flower remedies (herbal medicines that help address specific psychoemotional challenges) that you’ll choose for yourself. You’ll get to ask me any questions that you have, and we’ll make arrangements for our second meeting, usually 2 weeks later. Then you’ll get to go home, possibly feeling a little tired from such a thorough discussion, but hopefully also feeling optimistic and nourished from having had my complete attention for two hours, focusing on nothing but you. Perhaps it will be the first time that’s happened to you, and that in itself can be a healing experience.

The third hour of the initial consultation is my time to study what we’ve discussed and do some deep thinking about your circumstances. If you’re taking medication then I’ll consider if it could potentially be reduced in the future. I’ll sketch a rough outline of the herbs I may want to prescribe over the course of treatment, which areas of your body are likely to particularly benefit from herbal support, and put them in an order of priority based on what I know about you so far. I’ll give some thought to any foods that might particularly help your symptoms and which you should probably avoid for now. I might think about the exercise you’re doing, whether you might benefit from meditation, and whether you’re getting (or allowing yourself) enough time for rest, relaxation and play. I may even consider the environmental toxins you’re exposed to in your home and elsewhere, and how these might be affecting you. Then I’ll put all of this into an email to you, together with details of the herbs in your first prescription and my reasons for choosing each of them. It’s extremely comprehensive.

I must stress that this is not a prescriptive plan that either of us has to stick to! It’s just a starting point, a way of helping us explore your options and perhaps triggering some new things to consider. I see my input at this early stage as a springboard for you to do your own research and develop your own strategies and ideas, to find what works for you. Hopefully you’ll feel the confidence and trust that you have my full support throughout, as well as my years of experience helping other people to draw on. I’ll never put pressure on you to do anything, but if I sense that your resistance to something is perhaps significant then I might suggest we explore that resistance together, in case it offers insights that we can use to deepen our understanding of your circumstances. Our work together will be a genuine collaboration in which I may occasionally challenge your opinions and perceptions about certain things, while you’ll undoubtedly be challenging my opinions and perceptions too. We’ll learn, grow and explore together.

And that concludes the 3-hour initial consultation! As you can see, it’s a very detailed and wide-ranging process. By taking such care and giving you the space you deserve, we’ve laid down some really strong foundations to build on for your future.

The second consultation

As with all of our subsequent meetings, this lasts for 1 hour. And like all of our time together from now on, I won’t be setting much of an agenda. I’ll definitely be checking in to see if you’re experiencing changes from taking the herbs, but other than that, the shape of each session will be dictated by whatever feels appropriate right then and there. This could include how you’re feeling, the ideas you’re pondering, how we’re connecting and your thoughts on the process so far, or something else entirely. Consultations from this point onwards are fluid, open, and very much directed by you.

At the end of the second consultation I’ll prepare a new prescription of herbs for you, probably for another two weeks. It may be slightly different from the first one, partly determined by how you’re responding so far and also influenced by the flexible, bespoke plan of herbs for you that I will have sketched out after our first meeting. And once again, you’ll get to choose more Bach flower remedies, depending on which of them resonate with you today.

Ongoing support

Subsequent sessions are likely to be similar to our second meeting. As before, I’ll be checking in to assess what the herbs are doing and adjusting your prescription if necessary, but other than that, I’ll be meeting you where you are on that day.

In the early stages of treatment you’re likely to be going through many changes. The herbs will hopefully be acting as catalysts for change, while any adjustments you’ve made to your diet and lifestyle may be starting to show some benefits too.

Perhaps you’ll be increasingly aware of the connections between your symptoms and other aspects of your life - your needs, your thought processes and how they influence your physical body, and the helpful and unhelpful patterns and habits that you’ve developed over the years. You might be broadening your ability to listen attentively to your body like a dear friend, nurturing its innate intelligence and practicing living life in a more ‘embodied’ way. Your experience may include all of these things or be entirely different, but the one certainty and constant will be my supportive presence – listening deeply, empathising compassionately, and encouraging you gently - every step of the way.

I like to meet with people every 2 weeks during the early stages of treatment. This is long enough to observe changes from the herbs while acknowledging that regular sessions are necessary for the wealth of discussion and deep-thinking that typically happens during that time, and for us to develop a therapeutic relationship. As treatment progresses and a pattern of healing is established, you’ll hopefully feel more settled and sure of the process and we may not need to meet as regularly - perhaps every 3 or 4 weeks instead. We’ll still examine what’s happening on a deep level and continue to develop insights into your circumstances, but my role in your health may gradually decrease in significance as you become less reliant on my input and support, and begin to feel more confidence in your new-found health and vitality.

Between consultations

At times you may need to contact me between consultations. You can reach me via email, and this can be an important way to bounce around ideas, feelings and thoughts, especially if changes are occurring rapidly and you’re trying to make sense of a range of new experiences. I’ll respond to your emails quickly and fully because it’s really important to me that you feel held between consultations, that my support doesn’t just stop when you leave my consulting room. Email contact is included in the cost of your face-to-face consultations.

So what’s next? If you have questions about my approach, you’ll hopefully find the answers on my FAQ page. To book a consultation or speak to me directly, head to my Contact Me page so that we can start talking.