If I seek counselling or psychotherapy, does it mean that I am sick?

The answer is NO. The fact that we occasionally encounter situations in our life that overwhelm our coping abilities does not mean we are sick. It only proves once again that we are human...

In the modern world, rapid technology developments bring with them changes in values, beliefs, and lifestyles -- with major changes occurring in the span of a single generation. These changes often happen much faster than we are able to adapt to them, so it is no wonder that most of us, at some time in our lives, feel our coping abilities are failing us. This may result in severe stress, anxiety, a loss of solid ground under one's feet, a loss of self-confidence or trust in others, or an inability to enjoy life and -- as a result -- to answer the ultimate question: What is my life about?

Even as the pace of modern change has accelerated, traditional support systems -- such as a stable, supportive community; an extended family; a church community; a network of long-time friends with time to listen -- have eroded. We often feel that we have nowhere to turn for help. This feeling of isolation in suffering can become overwhelming and cause even more suffering. And living in a foreign culture can make matters significantly more difficult.

Balanced Lifestyles Counselling in Prague offers a safe and supportive environment that will anchor you through times of uncertainty or personal crisis. Even more importantly, together we can explore alternative possibilities for living your life in a happier, more personally satisfying way. There are no miracles. But you may discover, given some support and motivation, that there are ways to deal with your predicament that you can't see from where you are now and that some things that are holding you back in life don't really have to be there. Think of what you've got to lose by trying. Even when you think you have got no choice and no way out, you can at least choose to try and find help.

How long is one session and how often do I have to come?

Each session usually lasts 60 minutes. One-and-a-half or double sessions may be scheduled on request. Usually one session per week is recommended, although frequency may vary, often with more than one session a week at the beginning and longer intervals between sessions toward the end (every other week or monthly). The benefits of all these options will be discussed and a decision about the frequency of the sessions will be made together with you. Naturally, you are free to terminate your therapy at any time.

How many visits will it take to solve my problem?

The number of visits required depends on the concerns that clients bring to counselling. I will ask you questions to develop a thorough understanding of the problem as you see it. An initial, personalized plan may be worked out together with you. It may later be modified when both the client and the counsellor have a better grasp of the range and depth of the client's needs.

The initial intention is to try and do a relatively short course of counselling / psychotherapy. This usually involves eight to twenty visits. However, some people who have a single presenting concern clearly defined may require only two or three sessions to get what they need out of counselling to be able to move on with their lives. Others may require more time due to the number and complexity of their concerns.

How much does a session cost? Does the price depend on the language? When do I pay?

One session usually costs 1300 kc (around 50 euro) for all appointments during regular working hours. I conduct sessions only in the languages that I feel absolutely fluent and comfortable in. The price is the same for therapy in any language offered. The fee is for an hour of my work. Payment is accepted at the beginning or the end of every session. (If you feel more comfortable paying after the session, you are welcome to do so. Some clients find it more comfortable to get financial issues out of the way before they proceed to discuss their personal concern).

Currently I accept cash only. A receipt will be provided.

If I am interested in couples or marriage counseling, do I first come alone or do I need to bring my partner?

The answer depends on your circumstances, and we can discuss both options when we schedule an appointment. If at all possible, try to come together. If it is not possible, but you do plan or hope to include your partner in the sessions in the future, it is usually preferable that he/she knows you are starting counselling. If your partner refuses to attend counselling, coming alone and working on your side of the problem may still prove beneficial.

Are your services confidential?

Yes. What you say in session -- and even the fact that you are/were attending therapy -- is kept totally confidential and will not be discussed with anyone without your prior consent. In accordance with existing laws, confidentiality is only broken if a person presents a danger to himself or others.

Sometimes therapists may need to discuss some aspects of your case in clinical supervision (with an accredited supervisor who is also bound by confidentiality). Supervision for all psychotherapists and counsellors, especially those in private practice, is required by most professional psychotherapy associations as it helps to maintain high professional and ethical standards. If any aspects of your case ever come up in a supervision session, your name will never be mentioned and your personal details will be changed to make identification impossible.

At Balanced Lifestyles Counselling in Prague I abide by "Ethics for Counselling and Psychotherapy" of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

What approach do you specialize in?

Although I was educated/trained primarily in existential-humanistic and psychodynamic approaches, with additional training in cognitive-behavior and Gestalt techniques, in my practice I do not work strictly within a particular modality, but rather with individual client and his/her specific problem, or range of problems, using what I feel may best suit this particular person and the nature of his/her concern.

In most cases it is hard to separate unresolved issues from the past from a client's situation in the present or from the way he/she attributes meaning to his/her life in general. I prefer to look at these issues as various elements that contribute to a person's sense of well-being (or lack thereof).

The existing research on the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatment indicates that 15% of the successful outcome depends on techniques specific to a particular modality, but 30% depends on creating a successful therapeutic relationship between the practitioner and the client, and the rest on other, extra-therapeutic factors, such as client's motivation for change. I believe in the primary importance of a good working alliance between the client and the practitioner, however a successful outcome is rarely possible if the therapist's approach does not match the client's concerns.

What if I don't like the counsellor during the first visit? Can I ask to work with another person?

In the initial consultation you may be deciding whether the counsellor's personal style of working suits you. Counselling/ psychotherapy is a highly individual matter; something that is right for others may not work for you. If you feel very strongly that you will not be able to work successfully with a particular counsellor, don't hesitate to ask for a referral somewhere else. The main thing is not to get discouraged if things don't work out, and not to give up hope that you can get the help you need.

However please keep in mind that it takes some time to get used to the therapy process, and for it to start being effective. A relationship of trust takes time to develop. Effective therapy can be a challenge before it becomes rewarding. There should never be an expectation of a magical cure. So it may be worthwhile trying at least two or three sessions to see if the process feels better with time as you and your therapist get to know each other.

Is anyone accepted for counselling/therapy?

The decision to take a client into counselling/ psychotherapy should be based on the practitioner's preliminary assessment of her ability to help. At the initial consultation the practitioner may try to assess your problem more deeply to decide if she would be the right person to work with you. Occasionally she may feel the need to refer you to a more appropriate specialist (for example, if she feels that a particular modality or technique that she is not qualified to provide could be most helpful -- for example EMDR, specific therapy for addiction, child assessment, etc.); if she thinks that psychiatric assessment and possible medication would be a priority before non-medical approaches can become helpful (such as in cases of severe depression or suicidal tendencies, where the client's condition has to be stabilized first); or if the counsellor suspects that a serious medical, not just psychological, condition may be at the root of your problem (many medical conditions create psychological symptoms, like fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, etc.).