Here are some frequently asked questions and please do not hesitate to call or email with any others you may have.
What is your training and experience?
Please refer to the “About Clare” page for my training and experience.
What type of issues do you deal with?
Having worked with literally hundreds of clients over the last two decades, I am familiar with a broad variety of issues and if I do not feel competent or confident with something you present, I will help you find someone who is. Areas of my expertise follow.
- seeking job promotion
- desire to improve communication skills
- contemplating relocation
- desire to improve relationship skills, especially for the workplace
- “mid-life crisis” offering the opportunity to assess career choice and potential change in direction
- desire to build confidence
- wanting to be assessed by others as a leader
- feeling unmotivated in life when previously have been very motivated
- stress management
- family of origin concerns (relationship with parents especially if alcoholic or abusive, sibling issues, limiting familial beliefs, etc.)
- mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
- alcoholism or drug addiction
- pre-marital counselling and marriage counselling (gay or straight)
- blending families due to second or third marriage
- affair recovery
- divorce preparation or recovery
- parenting issues
- trauma whether childhood in origin or as a result of accident, abuse, war, etc.
- sexual abuse and rape
- resolution of grief whether through death or abandonment
In California, the work of psychotherapy and coaching is kept quite separate and when I practiced there, I was required to agree the relevant type of contract at the outset of work with a client. By contrast, in the UK there is increasing acceptance that some seasoned clinicians, like me, can navigate smoothly between the approaches, enabling the client to have their needs met whatever the focus of the work. More about the therapeutic-coaching or personal consultancy approach here.
What's the difference between coaching and psychotherapy?
I am a member of various professional organisations, in the US and UK, which give parameters for how counselling and coaching may proceed ethically. I am guided by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, its Coaching division, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists , the Association for Coaching and the Association for Integrative Coach-Therapist Professionals. Each body has their own approach to the difference between psychotherapy and coaching, so even though it’s a useful question, the answer is not necessarily straightforward.
Briefly, the basic difference between psychotherapy and coaching is that psychotherapy deals with how someone’s present life is influenced by their past and coaching focuses on someone’s present and how they can design their future. Given the complexity of human experience and behaviour, and reflecting my own training, my approach is one of therapeutic-coaching or personal consultancy.
More information about this distinction can be found on the page “Counselling or Coaching” and in the previous question about issues I work with.
What is your approach and philosophy?
My approach and philosophy has definitely evolved over the years. Initially educated in what’s called “family systems theory” I was trained to assess how our family of origin influences who we are and who we become. While I continue to believe this is an important piece of the puzzle I have since come to believe there are other major influences and that we have power over how we allow those influences to control us. I also believe that unless we look at the whole person – that is, body, mind and spirit – little progress will be made. This realisation comes out of working with clients over a period of years and noticing that despite amazing insights about why they were the way they were, these insights did little to change anything. Disappointing to say the least.
This disappointment is what led me to study with Strozzi Institute. I kept meeting people who had studied at the Institute who exuded a vibrant, authentic, confident self and I wanted to know how they’d achieved this way of being in the world. (I know to my British audience this may sound very “California” but there’s no other way to describe it, this is what happened).
I began studying with Richard Strozzi Heckler, Ph.D. and his team at SI in 1998. The Institute teaches embodied leadership and I committed to this both for myself and to pass on to my clients. The results have been extraordinary, beyond my expectations. I am absolutely clear that unless and until a body oriented approach is included in the equation of change, change may happen briefly but cannot be sustained over time. If someone wants to shift the way they are, they way they feel, they way they are perceived, then a wholistic approach incorporating the power of the body-mind-spirit is essential.
This body oriented approach is what we term “somatic” – “soma” being the Greek word for the “body” in its wholeness; not just skin and bone, but the body in its aliveness. This approach acknowledges the latest research revealing humans as an integrated neuro-psycho-biological being. Our neurology, psychology and biology are intertwined like the weave of a fabric and cannot be separated out.
By bringing attention to the body, being aware of our breathing, posture, and internal experience, the body becomes a resource rather than simply a vehicle for the head. As such, it becomes a powerful and invaluable resource as the leader of our own lives, families or the leader of others in organizations.
Whatever concern you bring to me to work on, a somatic approach will be beneficial. To resolve depression (think here your emotional self and your physical body) will need to learn how to be happy; to communicate more effectively you will not only need to cognitively learn the skills and techniques but also train your body to deliver the words in a more commanding way; to improve relationships you will need to communicate more effectively and have a vision of how you want the relationship to evolve over time. Every aspect involves your intellectual self, emotional self and physical self.
Is your curiousity piqued? Does this sound like something you would like to explore? Already have a sense that previous work you’ve done had something missing? Give me a call to see how a somatic approach can help you change your life.
How long do sessions last?
Sessions usually take an hour. Occasionally we may be complete before the scheduled end of our session and it is always your option to leave early if need be, although not best use of your investment.
When working with couples or families it is often optimal to work for a session and a half (about ninety minutes) to give voice to all present – if this is your particular situation, we will discuss your needs and decide if this is a good approach to take of your concerns.
If we are working on the phone, there may be times when we choose to schedule a thirty minute call. Either way, we will agree ahead of time how long the session will be.
You may have read elsewhere that sometimes it is beneficial to meet for longer than a standard session – I meet with some clients for half-day and day-long intensives. We can talk about the benefits of such arrangements for you when we work together.
How much does a session cost?
Fees vary according to service and will be assessed and discussed when we begin our work together, being reviewed annually. The assessment we go through includes your objectives, any corporate contribution, and whether we contract per session, by objective, or for a period of time (such a six months). Fees are further determined by the intensity of meetings and their location – for example, some clients benefit from and prefer a schedule of half-day or full-day intensives, either at my office or closer to their home location. For those committing to and paying for ten or more sessions in advance, a 5% discount applies.
I accept cash at time of session and, by arrangement, BACS transfers within 24 hours of session completion or at the outset if a series has been arranged.
What happens in a typical session?
An initial session is about gathering information and agreeing the contract for our work. Sometimes we may have time to set goals, sometimes this takes place at the next meeting.
Depending on your circumstances, some sessions may be focused on examining the past and how it’s influencing your life currently so there will be conversation about these times and events. Some sessions will be focused on what practices you need to be in today to create the future you want for yourself. Sessions will therefore reflect the goals you’ve set for yourself and how you’re progressing with the appropriate practices to reach those goals. We may do some practices in session – for example, rehearsing something you want to say to somebody; acting “as if” in some new role; walking with a confident air, etc. Somatic coaching sessions may include somatic bodywork and we can talk about whether or not this is relevant for you when we discuss your goals and objectives.
If we are coaching over the phone or webcam (Zoom) you will call me at the agreed upon time just as if you were attending for an in-person appointment, and be available and undisturbed for our time together. I recommend the use of a headset and/or microphone. This facilitates hands-free conversation, enabling you to get up and move around if necessary.
Will what I say be private, just between us?
Absolutely. Unless clients can be assured of complete confidentiality they do not feel safe; safety is a key ingredient in the process. I am deeply committed to my clients feeling safe with me and keeping their identity as clients confidential, as well as the nature and content of our conversations.
The ethical guidelines set out by the B.A.C.P. ensure clients have confidentiality to the extent the law permits – for example, there is an exception to keeping confidentiality if a life threatening safety issue is at hand. My working agreement goes into more depth and please feel free to discuss if you have specific questions and concerns.
How many sessions will I need?
This is always the hardest question to answer. The nature of the concern you bring determines how many sessions you need; the simpler the issue, the less the time it takes. I’ve known couples come to counselling and be complete in as few as six sessions; others have benefitted with a full eight or so months and thereby avoided the emotional and financial costs of a divorce. I’ve known clients present with what seems to be a simple issue and found something much more complex lurking beneath requiring lengthy attention. When we have our initial conversation I’ll do my best to give you an idea of how long I think we’ll need based on my experience and we’ll monitor your progress and satisfaction as we go.
What happens if I can't attend an appointment?
It’s customary in our profession for forty-eight hours notice of cancellation to be given, otherwise you will be charged in full for the session you have missed (unless there is a legitimate emergency). Further details are available in my working agreement which will be supplied for your perusal prior to work commencing.
Where do we meet?
When meeting in-person is possible, I use office space in Birmingham and London – check Links for further details. If meeting in-person is not possible meaningful work can be done on zoom or phone.