Harmony Counselling Service

Click here to edit subtitle

Frequent Questions & Answers For You

You Asked, I Answered

I receive a lot of inquiries about my counselling service at Harmony Counselling Service. To accommodate you faster, I have posted my answers to the questions I most frequently get. 

You can read them all on this page. 

Should you wish to speak with me personally, feel free to contact me so we discuss your particular needs and schedule a session to get things started. 

My service is based at my private consulting room, 50 Croziers Rd, St Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Lotus Flower Picture

What Are Your Qualifications And Experience?

I have a New Zealand Bachelor in Social Services (Counselling) achieved with Distinction and an Australian Diploma in Counselling. I am also qualified as a Restorative Justice Practitioner & Facilitator with endorsements in Sexual Violence and Family Violence specialities as well as being experienced as a Nurse in Australia within multiple specialty wards for many years.

This breadth of experience and knowledge allows me to understand better the impact of any health or other life issues and experiences you may have. 

I continuously undertake regular professional development as required by my membership with the New Zealand Association Counsellors - Provisional (NZAC), Level 4 Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) professional bodies, to ensure I work within a 'best practice' and ethical approach for my clients at all times.

What If I Don’t Feel Comfortable Or Like Your Style?

No problem, I encourage honest discussion and feedback within our sessions so I can adjust my style to fit what you need. If you prefer to see another counsellor, I would be happy to assist you with this.

What's The Difference Between A Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Psychologist And Psychiatrist?

There is a lot of similarities between counselling, psychotherapy and psychology - they all include various “talking therapy” methods. All these professions in New Zealand are based upon a high standard of rigorous training programmes to achieve their chosen qualification. All have professional organisational membership requirements to undertake ongoing professional development to maintain their competency and increase their skills sets as well as codes of conduct and ethics when working with clients.

Psychotherapy helps you to understand yourself by exploring how your early life experiences and personality affect your current thoughts, feelings, relationships and behaviour based on psychodynamic theories of human behaviour and personality. These theories emphasise the importance of unconscious mental processes, early childhood experiences, and the role of emotions in shaping behaviour with the idea being that once these buried experiences (and their accompanying emotions) are brought to the surface, they can be fully processed, and ultimately, released. For this reason, psychotherapy is normally a frequent (anywhere from 1 - 5 times a week) and long-term process (6 months to several years), allowing you the time and space to fully open up.

Counselling can also include these aspects, but will include a strong focus on your current difficulties and concerns to help you develop more satisfying and resourceful ways of living. A counsellor generally puts their focus to what’s happening to you in the present. This could be difficulties at work or home, one specific traumatic event such as a bad break up or losing your job, or even just feeling more stressed than usual. A counsellor will look at your immediate presenting symptoms and behaviour (e.g. feeling more anxious than usual) and how that’s impacting your life. Looking at these symptoms, the counsellor will then focus on equipping you with workable, effective 'tools' that can help you break out of unhelpful thoughts and habits. This means that counselling normally has a shorter duration, lasting anywhere from just a few sessions, to sometimes many months of therapy where needed.

There are two main types of Psychologists (Counselling or Clinical) with the differences being found in the types of issues they work with. A counselling psychologist will tend to work with 'healthier' clients (those experiencing more surface-level emotional and social issues), whereas a clinical psychologist will normally work with people suffering more complex mental health conditions, such as personality disorders, major depressive disorders, schizophrenia, psychosis, and more severe or complex behavioural problems often providing long term support with regular client sessions over several years.

Psychiatrists on the other hand are medical doctors who have completed their general medical training and then specialised in psychiatry.  In New Zealand, psychiatrists are generally seen for ongoing specialised medical management of various mental health specific medications, such as anti-depressants, mood stabilisers, sleeping tablets and other medical psychiatric treatments such as electric convulsive therapy.  They are also able to prescribe medications not available to your general practitioner and can advise your GP about the most appropriate treatment options for you.  While some psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy, they are, however, more likely to refer you to a counsellor, a psychotherapist or a psychologist due to the high demand for their specialist medication management.

What Modalities Or Approaches Do You Use During Sessions?

I work primarily from a Person-Centred Therapy approach. However, I can utilise other methods to suit your specific needs during each and every individual session.

The Person-Centred Therapy (PCT) approach is based on the core principles of empathy, genuineness, and acceptance. I then utilise Integrative Therapy which can incorporate techniques and concepts including practical and simple strategies including emotional regulation skills from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acknowledgement and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Solutions Focused Therapy (SFT), Gestalt Therapy, Imaginal Exposure Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Imago Relationships Therapy, Child Play Therapy (CPT), Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and various others when required, changing them to suit your needs as therapy progresses. 

I also utilise various assessments when appropriate, to measure the severity of a specific problem as well as determining your progress within therapy. I can provide a copy of these for your doctor to assist you further where requested.

What Is 'Animal Assisted Therapy' Or Pet Therapy, And How Can It Help Me?

You may choose to include my therapy pets ('Hamish' and 'Molly' the cats or 'Maggie' the Poochon dog) into your therapy sessions. (You can read about each animal on the 'About' page on this website.) 

The utilisation of Animal Assisted Therapy, can enhance your overall comfort and engagement with the counselling process itself and thus the gains you obtain in the following ways;

For Mental Health:
  • The simple act of petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response.
  • Releases many hormones such as Phenylethylamine which has the same effect as chocolate.
  • Lowers anxiety and helps people relax in a therapy setting.
  • Provides increased comfort when feeling distressed during sessions.
  • Assists in the recall of memories and may help clients with PTSD, head injuries or chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Can act as catalysts in the therapy process.
    • May help break the ice.
    • May reduce the initial resistance that might accompany therapy.
    • Clients report feeling increased motivation, enjoy the therapy sessions more, and feel the atmosphere of the session is less stressful during Animal-Assisted therapy.

For Physical Health:
  • Lowers blood pressure and pulse rate improving cardiovascular health.
  • Breathing slows in those who are anxious promoting greater emotional regulation.
  • Humans interacting with animals have found that petting an animal promoted the release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin - All hormones that can play a part in elevating mood and general feeling of wellbeing.
  • Diminishes overall physical pain.
  • People with Autism or other intellectual deficits engage with significantly greater use of language as well as social interaction within their therapy sessions that incorporated animals compared to standard therapy sessions without them.

What ‘Speciality’ Or Client Problems Can You Assist With?

I can assist clients with a range of life struggles including anxiety & panic attacks, depression, excess stress, work or relationship difficulties, experiences of grief & loss, family violence & anger management, sexual abuse, addictions, chronic pain or health issues, self-esteem and confidence issues, past trauma or a current critical incidents, separation issues, career issues & redundancy, loss of identity, personal or family crisis, hoarding or clutter behaviours, sexual & gender identity related issues,  intimacy issues and help with managing self-harm behaviours or suicidal thoughts. 

If the issue you are having difficulty with is not listed, please feel to discuss it with me during your initial phone call with me so I can ensure I have the appropriate skills to assist you. If I am not skilled in the area of your need, I am happy to refer you to an appropriately skilled therapist who can help you.

Do You Provide Sessions For People From ‘Minority’ Community Groups?

Absolutely. I provide a non-judgemental, supportive and equal service for all people including those with physical or intellectual disability, all ethnic groups, people identifying as LGBTQI+, all forms of spiritual or religious beliefs, sex workers, people who have committed crimes and people from other 'minority' groups.

Are You Registered With My Employers Employee Assistance Program (EAP) To Provide Free Counselling For Me?

I offer a set number of free sessions if you are an employee and eligible for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counselling with Benestar, EAP Works, Instep, and Stratos through your employer. If you are not sure if your employer is registered with one of these EAP companies, just check with your manager, HR department or myself to find out and how many free sessions you may access.

I Have Experienced A Sexual Assault Or Abuse - Can I Access ACC Funded Counselling?

Iyou have experienced sexual harm whether it be recently or many years ago, as an ACC Approved Provider for Sensitive Claims, you can access fully funded counselling with me. In our first session I can explain the ACC claims process and complete a quick simple form to get the process started. There are several options you can access including either a set number of short term therapy sessions or sessions provided over a longer term. You can stop therapy at any time, and resume again in the future as you need the support.

Don't worry...Not everyone one wants to talk in detail of the sexual harm they have experienced which is completely okay - I will support you to work on the issues that are impacting you now, that you feel are important for you in moving forward with your life positively.  

I Have Cerebral Palsy - Can I Receive Free Counselling?

As an approved Counsellor with The Cerebral Palsy Society, they have a program called Get Up Again where they can support people to access a limited number of counselling sessions. You can apply on their website directly and once approved, they will send you some vouchers which you can then give to me so I can receive payment from the Cerebral Palsy Society directly.

My Child Has Cancer - Can I Access Free Counselling?

As an approved therapist with the Child Cancer Foundation, you can access a set number of fully funded counselling sessions. Just contact them directly and they can arrange things for you to get started as well as they have a range of various types of additional Family Support you may access as needed.

Can WINZ Subsidise My Counselling Costs?

You may be eligible for the disability allowance specifically to cover counselling session costs. You do not need to be currently on a WINZ benefit to qualify for the counselling subsidy. WINZ can subsidise up to 40 payments per year at $64.29 each week, which they pay directly into your bank account to allow you to pay for your counselling sessions. I can provide receipts as required by WINZ to confirm your attendance for sessions. 

They can also provide additional financial support with funding to cover your travel costs to attend therapy.

Just ask your doctor to complete the WINZ Disability Certificate - Counselling Form. I will also need to complete a portion of your form for you to then lodge it with WINZ. You don't need to make an appointment with WINZ to submit the form – you may simply hand it in at their front desk of any branch for it to be processed. I recommend you make a follow up phone with them if you don’t see an increase in your payment upon your next normal benefit payment after lodging the form, to assist with speedy processing.

How Can I Access Free Sessions From Victim Support As I Have Been Impacted By A Serious Crime Or Natural Disaster?

If you have been a impacted a serious crime or natural disaster you may be eligible for the Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS) provided by Victim Support. They provide funding under four selected schemes with a set number of eligible therapy sessions - Homicide Counselling (HC), Death by a Criminal Act Counselling (DCC), Serious Crime Emergency (SCE) and Civil Defence Emergency Management Counselling (CDEM). 

You just need to contact them directly to discuss your situation. They will provide you with an 'Application Approval Number'. You then provide your allocated funding number to me so that I can quote this number for invoicing Victim Support directly for your sessions. If you need to travel more than 16kms (return journey) to your counselling sessions to see me, you may also be eligible for 'Travel to Counselling Reimbursement' from Victim Support - just ask them and they will assist you with this request. 

What If I Am Unsure If Harmony Counselling Service Is Right for Me Before My First Session?

I am happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have before your first session during a phone discussion about my practice and approach. This allows you to initially assess if I am the right counsellor for you, and for me to ensure I am suitable to assist your needs or specific problem. If I'm not, I am happy to refer you to another therapist who specialises in the area of your needs.

What Happens In My First Counselling Session?

We will go over a 'counselling contract' together in which I will explain my various professional responsibilities to you as a client, discussing your needs and expectations, and answering any questions you may have. We will also discuss any relevant life experiences that have impacted you thus far, including what brings you to counselling, and then set goals for treatment based on what you would like to achieve from counselling by the time you complete therapy. We then get started on the goal that is most important to you. We will regularly review your goals to ensure you are progressing as desired.

What Is Your Cancellation Policy?

24hrs notice is required before cancellation/rescheduling of appointments so that the time slot can be filled by another client. If less than 24hrs notice is provided or you don't attend your scheduled appointment, then the full session fee is required to be paid before further sessions can be held. The session fee will be waived on cancellations or non attendence due to emergency situations beyond your control.

What If I Need to Change Appointments?

I understand life circumstances can change quickly. Feel free to contact me to rearrange your appointment for another day and time that is more suitable for you. Please give 24 hours' notice otherwise a late cancellation fee of the full session payment will apply, except in an emergency.

What Are Your Consulting Hours?

You can make appointments to suit your schedule from Monday to Friday, between 10am – 530pm.

How Long Is Each Session?

You may choose to have 1 hour, 1.5hour, or 2-hour sessions according to your preference. I also have a 1⁄2 hour appointment time, more suitable for younger children if desired if they are unable to tolerate 1 hour sessions. Just let me know your choice when you book.

How Often Will My Sessions Be?

It is usually recommended for the best results that sessions are undertaken weekly initially and then tapered to longer intervals, such as fortnightly or monthly, as you feel appropriate until therapy completion. Some people feel they only need a few sessions, and others feel more comfortable with more sessions over an extended period of time. The choice is yours to make on what suits you best.

How Many Sessions Will I Need?

It is difficult to determine how many sessions a client will require. Counselling therapy is an individual process for each person. Some people only need a few sessions, while others may feel the benefit of more sessions to deal with more complex or ongoing life issues. I regularly 'check in' with you during therapy to ensure your needs from counselling are being met and how you are feeling about continuing therapy. 

The appropriate time for ending therapy is negotiated to be when you are feeling ready, and no longer require my support. You can always return for 'top up' sessions as needed, should your life circumstances change, and feel a session or two may be beneficial for you.

How Much Is Your Session Fee?

A half-hour appointment for young children is $65. A one-hour session for adults, children or couples is $130.  A 1.5-hour session is $195, and my 2-hour session fee is $260 for clients who prefer more extended sessions. These fees are GST inclusive.

A set number of free sessions are available for eligible ACC Sensitive Claim clients, Benestar, EAPWorks, Instep and Stratos Employee Assistance Program (EAP) clients, Victim Support clients, WINZ clients and Cerebral Palsy Society clients.

Are You Registered For GST With IRD?

Yes, all my prices include GST and reflect this on any invoices I generate or receipt you may require. 

My GST number is 116-851-571.

How Can I Pay For My Sessions As A Private Paying Client?

If seeing me in person, you can pay by cash, or alternatively pay directly into my Westpac business bank account - Gaye Mallinson T/A Harmony Counselling Service, account number 03-1592-0205396-00...just include your name as the reference so I know the payment came from you. 

For clients seeing me via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or Phone, payment can be made by internet transfer into my bank account directly on the day of each session held. Automatic payments can be easily set up with your bank to provide regular payments for each session.

What Happens If I Am Late Arriving For An Appointment?

We will be able to spend whatever remaining time is left for your scheduled appointment as per usual. Unfortunately, I am unable to extend the time as I have other bookings. The full session fee is required.

Where Can I Attend Sessions?

I have a private consulting room at 50 Croziers Road, St Albans, Christchurch which is set up as a safe, quiet and welcoming space for us to talk. When you arrive, just enter the property via the front pedestrian gate and follow the path to the front door and ring the bell. I will come out to greet you at the allocated time. A bathroom and coffee and teas are also available for your convenience.

Do You Provide Internet-Based Sessions Such As Skype, Zoom, Facetime or Other 'Telehealth' Video Link Services?

Yes, Telehealth is now widely recognised in New Zealand as an accepted medium to provide mental health services. If you are unable to attend my consulting room due to time restraints, health issues or are a long distance away, we can arrange to undertake your sessions via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or Phone. If by phone, I will call you to avoid any call costs to you. 

If you would like to see an overview of the pros and cons of Skype counselling, check out the following link: 

I Have An Urgent Situation I Need to Talk to You About Since Our Last Session – What Can I Do?

No problem, just contact me, and we can arrange for your next session to be brought forward to a day and time suitable for you based on my availability. 

If it is more urgent and outside of my consulting hours, please see my 'Links' page for various after-hours emergency support organisations you can contact to support you until I can return your call on my next business working day. 

I also have provided a list of other helpful organisations that you may find useful too.

Do You Have Professional Indemnity Or Public Liability Insurance?

Yes, I have both full professional indemnity and public liability insurance, which covers my private counselling practice. I am happy to show you my current policy upon request.

Do You Have A New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) And Are A Registered Legal Business?

Yes, my NZBN is 9429047527966. 

Feel free to check out my registered business details for Harmony Counselling Service on the NZBN government webpage https://www.nzbn.govt.nz.

Do You Abide By A Code Of Conduct (Ethics)?

Yes, I am a member of the New Zealand Association Counsellors (NZAC) - Provisional and Australian Counselling Association (ACA) - Level 4. Professional counselling membership requires me to abide by their code of ethics policy at all times. I am happy to show you their specific policies upon request.

Do You Receive Regular Professional Supervision?

Yes. As part of belonging to a professional counselling body, I am required to regularly attend supervision to discuss how I am working with my clients along with discussing any personal feelings I may be experiencing to maintain my empathic capacity and avoid compassion fatigue. This ensures ongoing professional development through the maintenance of ethical and best practice standards. However, any client information discussed is done so in a non-identifying way to ensure client confidentiality.

Is The Information I Discuss In My Appointment Kept Confidential?

Yes. I will not disclose any information about you to any other person or organisation unless required to do so by law or by your direct request.

There is an exception - Counsellors belonging to a professional counselling body (such as myself) are required to report only directly relevant information to an appropriate organisation such as your doctor or police if there is a serious concern for your safety, or if you intend to harm someone else. This also includes concerns around child safety and protection which requires notification to Oranga Tamariki for any further support as assessed by them. This would be discussed with you fully at that time, before any disclosure being reported in order to ensure your safety or that of someone else.

Also, as part of belonging to a professional counselling body, Counsellors are required to attend regular supervision sessions to specifically discuss how we are working with clients. This is to ensure ongoing professional development through the maintenance of ethical and best practice standards. However, any client information discussed is done so in a non-identifying way to ensure client confidentiality.

Do You Take Notes, What Happens To Them, And Can I Read Them?

Yes, I do record notes about each session and client contact which is held on a specific medical database which has encryption protection as required by my professional body membership. They are securely stored according to the requirements of my professional body and then safely destroyed according to their policy. If you wish to see your notes or require a copy, certainly please discuss this with me. 

I do not provide your information to any external organisation unless required by law or directly requested by you. Where your safety or that of someone else is of immediate concern, I am required to notify an appropriate person or organisation in order to safeguard that safety. However, this would be discussed with you personally at that time unless in an emergency.

How Can I Make A Complaint Should I Wish To?

I welcome you to discuss any concerns you have directly with me, and I will do my absolute best to resolve any issue you may have. I will not be offended and encourage you to be open and honest about your feelings and concerns with me at all times to ensure a successful therapeutic relationship.

I Have Another Question Not Listed Above?

Certainly, please contact me, and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

If you are in a crisis and you need to talk to a mental health professional outside of Harmony Counselling Service's business hours or urgently, please see my 'Links' page for a list of appropriate organisations able to provide 24 hour emergency guidance and support.