What is Counselling and Psychotherapy?
Counselling is a supportive service that provides a safe emotional space to help clients in understanding, accepting and overcoming emotional issues, problems and concerns, some of which may be long-standing.
Psychotherapy can provide help with a range of problems, from depression and low self-esteem to addiction and family or relationship disputes. Anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by their problems and unable to cope may be able to benefit from psychotherapy.
I use an ‘Integrative’ approach which means that I can choose the most effective way to help my clients.
My name is Stuart Toghill. I am an ‘Integrative’ Counsellor – which means that I don’t adhere to any particular counselling style but use a wide variety of approaches which I have found to be much more effective with my clients.
I also volunteer for the Bereavement Counselling Service in Plymouth which is a very worthy charity helping people with complicated grief.
I offer a private counselling and psychotherapy service for clients in the Plymouth and South Devon areas; I also provide counselling by phone and video (FaceTime/Skype).
I have a degree in Counselling & Psychotherapy from Worcester University.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
You have power over your mind – not outside events.
Realise this, and you will find strength.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Deciding to see a Counsellor is a very positive move. Now you have made that decision, you will probably find yourself asking lots of questions. Don’t worry! I have provided the answers to as many questions as I can, coming from real people who also had the same initial concerns. If you have a question that is not listed, please get in touch using the Contact Form so that I can reassure you.
I ask that all mobile devices, including smart watches, are turned off (airplane mode, not vibrate) during the session to avoid distractions.
In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to keep phones on – waiting for a call from children etc. In this case, please let me know.
A ‘counselling contract’ (or a ‘counselling agreement’) is a mutual agreement between the counsellor and the client in which the outline of the therapeutic working alliance is presented.
A counselling contract ensures that the counselling process will be performed in a good, safe and professional manner and highlights the responsibilities of the counsellor towards clients, as well as the responsibilities of the client towards the counsellor. A counselling contract is also a transparent basis for informed consent.
I will go through the contract with you at our first session. This is an essential part of the process and no counselling will take place until you have agreed to sign the contract.
I offer an initial interview free of charge. This is an opportunity for us to meet and for you to decide if you want to use my services. The services will be described, the way counselling and psychotherapy are used in my practice, and any questions you may have will be answered. This session lasts for 30 minutes; it is very important to understand that this is not a counselling session.
If you decide that you want to start counselling sessions with me – great! We will get our diaries out and book the Assessment meeting.
If you want to think about it, thats fine. You can get back in touch when you are ready to arrange your Assessment meeting.
If you decide that I am not right for you, then that is also fine – at least you took the massive step of trying to find the right Counsellor, and crossed me off your list. You could also try the counselling_directory.org to look at other counsellor’s credentials.
I offer a private counselling and psychotherapy service, not an emergency service.
Should you feel you cannot cope and are considering harming yourself or somebody else, you should contact the Samaritans on:
116 123 (from any phone, at any time)
or visit: www.samaritans.org
Under these circumstances please DO NOT leave me a message, either phone or email, or use the contact form on this site, as I may not get these until the next working day.
If you are struggling, you should also consider seeing your GP (tell them it is urgent).
Like everyone else, Counsellors need to take breaks from work. This means that there will be times during the year when I will not be available, or contactable. Generally, I each take eight weeks holiday per year. I do not work over the Christmas holiday, from Christmas Eve to the first working day of the new year.
Our sessions will be carefully planned to minimise disruption.
I use the CORE IMS system during the initial assessment and ending sessions. This process produces a numerical score of change: the producers of CORE IMS suggest that a score difference of five indicates that reliable change has taken place. Further scales may be used periodically to help identify some of the common mental health complaints.
I find it is very useful to be able to measure where positive change has taken place, and the CORE system enables me to do this accurately.
I offer a ‘bulk session’ discount if you decide to purchase 6 sessions in advance. Please contact me for details.
I sometimes offer discounts to counselling students (proof required); please ask.
I do not offer other discounts or concessions.
This is a very difficult question to answer. Everyone is different. I do not place a limit on counselling sessions (unlike some other agencies). I believe that the counselling process needs to take as long as it takes, and this depends on what the client brings.
That said, there will come a point when it becomes obvious that we should end our sessions; this may be your decision or mine, but usually we will reach a mutual agreement. We will discuss endings well in advance of your final session, so this will never come as a surprise.
It is very important for you to know that you are always in control – you can stop whenever you like; I am also ethically bound to bring our sessions to an end when it becomes clear that there is no more therapeutic benefit being achieved.
Of course, you can take a break from sessions if you feel this would help, and come back in the future. Your records will be securely stored in the meantime.
I hold a degree in Integrative Counselling & Psychotherapy, awarded by the University of Worcester.
I have comprehensive Professional Indemnity Insurance provided by an industry leading company.
Sometimes we may ‘bump into’ each other outside of the Counselling room. Your confidentiality is very important, so unless you acknowledge me first I will not acknowledge you. This will avoid us both having to make any explanations to family/friends we may be with at the time.
I offer a private counselling service for which there is always a charge. I do not offer free sessions, apart from the initial 30 minute interview. I consider my time to be valuable; I continue to work very hard to maintain my knowledge and experience and feel I am worth my fee!
We will agree payment terms at our initial meeting, as part of our contract.
The agreed payment needs to be made at the end of each session. The preferred method is by debit or credit card using a card reader. I also accept cash.
I offer a 6 session bulk discount which is paid for in advance. Please ask for details.
I require a deposit equivalent to one session to be paid at the end of the first session (not applicable to bulk discount deal); this will be held on account and used to pay for our final session (in the future), or to pay for a missed session (see below). Should you decide to finish our sessions, the deposit will be returned in full as long as there are no fees outstanding and the minimum notice period has been observed (see below). If you have purchaced the bulk discount package and want to end your sessions before having used all six sessions, I will refund any balance to you (e.g. if you have used three sessions and decide you do not want to continue, I will refund the value of the remaining three sessions, as long as the required notice period has been observed).
Session rates will be reviewed annually.
If you need to cancel or postpone a session, I require a minimum notice of 24 hours please. Failure to do so will result in full payment for the session being due (either using the deposit held on account or by separate payment at the start of the next session). Missed sessions without the minimum notice period will also count as a normal session within the bulk discount scheme.
Regrettably, any non-payment of outstanding fees will result in court action.
To maintain best practice, all counsellors should receive regular supervision (talking with another professional about our practice). This is a vital part of counselling and helps to maintain the the high standard our clients expect, and to keep counsellors safe.
During my supervision sessions I may discuss my case load, but I will never reveal any information that might identify my clients in any way, thus preserving confidentiality.
Supervision is a means of ensuring ‘quality control’, for learning and development, and to ensure we work ethically and within our levels of competence.
My counselling sessions last for 1 hour. This will be explained during your initial session.
It is really important that you arrive on time. Your session will begin at the agreed time even if you are late. I will always try to finish the session on time, as running over may create problems for other clients. This will be fully discussed and agreed as part of our contract.
All counsellors and psychotherapists abide by a professional codes of ethics, set by our membership bodies (in my case the BACP), and this includes confidentiality. I understand and respect the need for complete privacy and discretion when looking at sensitive issues.
However, if it seems there is a high risk of serious harm to yourself or someone else, then I will usually discuss that further with you, to see if anyone else might need to be informed (such as your GP).
If you tell me something that I am required to divulge under oath in a Court of Law, then I must do so.
For those under 18, there are additional rules about confidentiality to conform to the safeguards of UK Child Protection laws.
We will talk in more detail about confidentiality at our initial assessment session, and confidentiality is a key part of our contract.
Wonderful service. Stuart made me feel immediately comfortable and welcome. I was able to discuss a very difficult subject for the first time, and feel that this has made a huge positive difference to my life. I can’t thank you enough.
So grateful for the sessions I have had – I was really nervous about counselling, feeling that I would be judged. But Stuart has helped me to overcome my anxiety and helped me to move forwards. I would highly recommend Sound Counselling to anyone who is struggling.
A massive big fat thank-you for everything, you are a star! Thanks for your time, empathy, challenges, honesty and warmth. I’ve really enjoyed and benefitted from our sessions – it’s good to feel human again. Finally, thank you for being you.