Dr Alexander Fox MBACP Dip.Coun MSc PhD
Suite 5, Bannerman House
27 South Tay Street
How I Got Started in Counselling
Several years ago, I helped a friend who was going through a very difficult time in his life. After he had started to feel much better, I decided that, while I was completing my doctorate in English Literature, I would train to be a professional counsellor at Abertay university; since then I have counselled a wide variety of clients at different organizations, which either offer short-term or long-term counselling. I can honestly say that I find nothing more rewarding than helping people tackle their problems and move forward with their lives.
How Counselling Can Help
Many people seeking help quite naturally wonder what going to see a counsellor involves, and often they feel intimidated at the prospect of opening up to someone they have never met before. To help allay your fears, and demystify the process about what it entails, I would say that good counselling fundamentally involves the counsellor providing a safe and supportive environment, so that the client can feel comfortable about exploring painful aspects of their lives. Indeed, in many respects, good counselling confirms the old proverb that a 'problem shared is a problem halved', as talking to a trained professional can help clarify your feelings about important things in your life, as well as help you find solutions that are right for you.
Overall, in my experience, I have noted time and time again that even those clients who were most discouraged by their problems at the beginning of their counselling have still been able to move much closer to where they have wanted to be in their lives. With the right kind of help, counselling can be a truly transformational process.
How I Generally Work as a Counsellor
If I were to define my work as a counsellor in two words, these would be 'flexible' and 'practical'. I aim to be flexible with all of my clients, because, whether they want to work short-term or long-term, I always foreground what my clients want from therapy. What this means in practice is that I will adapt the counselling to what you believe that you need and I will also adapt the therapeutic approach to what you find works for you. A good analogy is that of going to a tailor for a tailored suit or dress; what the customer wants is something that is designed specifically for them. My intention with all of my clients is to 'tailor' the therapy specifically for them as individuals, and, to achieve this, I draw upon a wide variety of approaches and techniques to find the right combination for each client.
I also aim to be practical with all of my clients.I do not believe that counselling needs to be always solution focused (for example, some clients want to gently explore their feelings for a while or for the whole duration of their counselling), but it is important, in my view, that the counsellor tries to be effective and as time-saving as much as possible. What this means in practice is that I will always be thinking of how to help you achieve what you want from your counselling as quickly as possible. An analogy would be that, if what you want from your counselling is the destination, we will work together to construct as direct a route to it as we can.
Differences between Short-term and Long-term Counselling
In my opinion, part of being a flexible therapist is being able to offer your clients the option of short-term or long-term counselling. This is one of the principal virtues of seeing a counsellor in private practice, as many agencies offering free counselling set a limit on the maximum number of sessions that you can have (for example ten). In contrast, when you come to see me, you will have the benefit of knowing that the decision for when your counselling ends ultimately rests with you.
In my view, neither short-term or long-term counselling is 'better' or 'superior' to the other.Again it depends on what the client wants and the nature of their specific problems. Unless the client wishes to select an option of short-term or long-term at the beginning of their counselling, I believe that it is best to be open to the process and see how long it takes, knowing that I will try and help you achieve what you want as quickly as possible.
I do work rather differently depending on whether it is short-term or long-term work. With the former, I tend to be solution-focused, which involves helping the client tackle their concrete problems and come to a resolution as quickly as possible. With the latter, I see this as a process of exploring more underlying issues by helping the client to change how they relate to themselves and to others.
A useful example that illustrates the distinction between the two is that a client might want to learn how better to communicate with his partner, as he finds it difficult to open up and say how he feels; this could be achieved in short-term work, where we could discuss different strategies that can help him to better express his feelings. However, the same client might wish to explore why he retreats from being too close to people, particularly those that he starts to feel dependent upon; with this kind of focus, I would help the client to explore how he relates to others and how he related to people in the past. This kind of exploratory work can result in insights that help him transform how he sees himself and how he sees others.
What happens at a first session
The first session is called an initial consultation. It is an opportunity for me to hear the background to your problems and for us to decide whether we can work together, and if so, how best we can work together.
I would like to make a few things clear as they are important. First of all, please do not think that when you come for your initial consultation that you must know all of the ins and outs of your problems and be able to express them as thoroughly and as precisely as you can. Very often our pain is not articulate and it is not uncommon to feel that you do not quite know what the problem is. A key part of the process of counselling is helping the client come to a greater awareness of what the problem is, so starting from a vague sense of 'wrongness' is completely fine and to be expected.
Secondly, unless you would find it helpful, I will not be proposing short-term or long-term counselling, as I believe that it is best to see how the therapy process develops. You will certainly not be 'signing up' for anything at your initial meeting, as I think it is important that the client should always feel that he or she can end the counselling when they so wish.
In general, after six sessions, I typically do a review with my clients, checking in with how they are doing and how they want to proceed. By that time, clients usually have a better idea of whether they want to work longer or shorter term.
Training, qualifications & experience
MA Honours Philosophy, University of Dundee
MSc Literature and Modernism, University of Edinburgh
PhD English Literature, University of Dundee
Postgraduate Diploma Pluralistic Counselling, University of Abertay
I have worked at a number of organizations providing short-term and long-term counselling, such as Insight Counselling service and Tayside Centre for Counselling at Abertay University.
I am a registered member of BACP.
I am a pluralistic counsellor, which means that I am knowledgeable about a number of different ways to help clients (i.e. I am 'plural' in my approach) and I adapt what I do to the particular needs of my clients.
My PhD in English Literature required an extensive knowledge of psychodynamic theory, and where relevant, I use this knowledge to help my clients.
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Domestic violence
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
For 1 hour appointments:
£25 for initial consultation
£45 for adults (under certain circumstances, this is open to negotiation)
£30 for students
£50 for home visits (Dundee area only)
90 minute sessions are also available:
£60 for adults
£40 for students
£65 for home visits (Dundee area only)
For clients who wish to see me twice weekly, this can be arranged too.
I also offer online counselling where the client and I exchange emails. This kind of counselling works for clients that are looking for more advice-based counselling and who are more comfortable writing about their problems rather than talking about them.For clients to get the proper value from this kind of counselling, I suggest that they try to be as clear and as detailed as they can, so that I can tailor my response to them as much as possible. Price per email: £40
- On damaging relationship styles - further considerations
- One way to work with your dreams
- The secret to achieving mental health
- Take a worry break
- Are you trying too hard to be happy?
- Are you reading too much self-help?
- On self-fulfilling prophecies
- On damaging relationship styles
CCounselling is a small private practice, consisting of myself and a colleague. The 'C' in CCounselling stands for the following: Caring; Collaborative; Compassionate; Client-led; Confidential. These represent the core values of this practice.
Our practice is in the West end of Dundee city centre on the same street as the Dundee Repertory Theatre. Parking is available on the street itself or in the small car park at one end of the street.
Below is a representative testimonial from a female client who worked with me long-term. She describes what I consider to be my particular strengths as a counsellor:
Alex is an exceptional counsellor. I was immediately put at ease when I first met with him and during our subsequent discussions he was patient, friendly, flexible and insightful. I think Alex’s vast knowledge of counselling theory makes him stand out as a practitioner; the discussion of this was incredibly helpful for me in establishing a perspective from which to view my personal emotional issues. The sessions with Alex had a significant and lasting impact on my life, and I would enthusiastically recommend him as a counsellor.
And here is another testimonial from a male client who is currently in counselling with me. I believe his account accurately expresses the kind of non-judgemental therapeutic relationship that I foster and how this helps my clients to find out important truths about themselves:
From my first session with Alex, I felt completely at ease and able to communicate with him on a very personal level. I’ve been quite taken aback by the amount I’m learning about myself through the positive counselling I am receiving. I’m finding over time that I’m capable of expressing my feelings and who I really am and what I really thought without having any feeling of being judged.The experience for me is definitely enlightening and I really appreciate Alex's honesty when it is called for. It's hard making that first step into admitting you need help but Alex has and continues to help me.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Office Hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm/ Fridays 5pm-8pm/ Saturdays 10am-3pm. Home visits: daytime and evenings available
Types of client