Therapy with Steve Vinay Gunther:
My commitment is to your personal growth and empowerment.
The base of my approach is Gestalt therapy. Amongst other things that means that my focus in on increasing your awareness, expanding your range of choices, and assisting you to become more fully who you are. I intend to do this in a way which respects both of our wisdom and experience. That means I include myself in the process, and expect that I will also be challenged and grow from our meeting. I am open to being challenged by you if you think something doesn't fit.
What I don’t do is attempt to ‘fix’ you, rely on giving advice or solutions, or support you to remain in a victim role. The work is collaborative and you will benefit to the degree you are an active participant.
I do not generally come in with an agenda or overly control the flow of the therapy. I am interested in what is important to you. I am interested in your experience in the present. I am interested in your feelings, but do not want to open things up to a degree which you cannot integrate; I believe that going slowly is important.
Although the sessions may be very emotionally and psychologically intimate it is important for you to realise that the counselling relationship is strictly professional in nature.
The first session is an opportunity for us to meet and ascertain whether we will work together. I will spend a portion of the time getting background information from you, before we get to your current issues. That is the reason for a slighly longer session.
We can then decide on an initial course of therapy. I generally suggest a commitment of 6 sessions after the first consultation, to really 'try it on' to see if the therapy fits for you. After that we can review how things are going and decide on subsequent plans.
Generally weekly sessions are best, but frequency can be adjusted according to your availability and budget. Some people like a more intense rhythm of twice weekly therapy, and there are also options such as intensives of daily therapy for a week.
During times I am teaching in other countries, my availability is limited to online sessions. I prefer to use Zoom as it is very reliable. I am also available via Google Hangouts, Facebook video, Wei Xin video. Skype or telephone
If the connection is poor, then a phone call may also be an option. This is at my expense.
If after attempting through a few of the above means, if none of these mediums is working at a sufficient level of quality, then we can agree to reschedule the session.
Gestalt therapy does not work in a pre-programmed way. The subject of the session may arise out of a topic you bring, or something that I suggest. It may also be something that arises in the course of the process. If there is something very specific that is important for you to be addressed in the session, please make this explicit.
I do not use diagnosis in my therapy. If a third party such as an insurance company is paying for part of your bill, I may be required to give a diagnosis to that third party in order to be paid. Diagnoses are technical processes that describe the nature of your problems in reference to a set of created categories called DSMV5, and there is generally a requirement to identify whether the issues are short-term or long-term. If I do h to use a diagnosis, I will discuss it with you..
I am trained in Gestalt therapy, and am a member of EAGT (European Association of Gestalt Therapy). I am also accredited as a Career Counsellor with the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA), and provide a service in this area. My highest academic qualification is a Masters in Mental Health. I have training and experience in family and couples therapy, Family Constellations work, and I can also teach basic mediation practice.
I am committed to the professional code of ethics of the associations I belong to. The EAGT code of ethics can be looked up online here.
I hold myself accountable to this code, and if I unwittingly contravene it in some way that you are aware of, please tell me.
I consider the insurance industry to be an unethical participant in the counselling field, and do not support the holding of indemnity insurance. You can see a piece I have written on the subject here..
USA disclaimer and clarification
I am a registered psychotherapist, but this does not extend to practice in the USA. When I am in the US, and/or practice with clients in the US, I do not use the terms 'therapy', 'psychotherapy', or 'counselling' to describe my work or claim that as what I offer, as these words are reserved for those who are licensed in such terms. In this jurisdiction, I describe my work as 'Life coaching', 'Gestalt consultations' and 'Authentic facilitation'.
I write notes as I go. These notes not evaluative, just descriptive. All records are confidential with the provisos below, and are always open for clients to view their own file.
I am committed both personally and professionally to confidentiality: I respect your right to privacy. This is balanced by the rights of others and society in general. There are limits to confidentiality and certain situations where information must be disclosed by law. This includes:
- If abuse or neglect of children or elders is suspected or present
- If you are in real danger of significantly harming yourself, other people or property.
- If I am ordered to do so by the courts or by legal requirements
- If you are seeking reimbursement from an insurance company, they may require reports
- If you are participating in therapy due to a court order
- Clients under 18 cannot be assured of unconditional confidentiality from their parents
These situations are extremely rare, and breaking confidentiality will only occur after due consultation with senior colleagues and after informing you. In very exceptional cases it may not be possible to inform the client. These limits to confidentiality are based on the principle of doing the least harm.
I am in supervision, so your case may be discussed with a supervising professional. This person is also limited by professional confidentiality.
If you are doing couples therapy with me, it is on the basis that information disclosed to me will not provided by me in any legal dispute.
From my side I ensure that there will be no interruptions during the therapy session. Likewise, I ask you to turn your mobile phone off during the session, and to not answer any calls on it. If we are conducting therapy via the internet I wlil ensure that the space I use will not be interrupted, and I ask you to do the same.
As with individual therapy, it is rare for one session to be sufficient. Couples need to be prepared for more than 'fixing up' the other person. There is an excellent preparation sheet which you can view here..
If you and your partner decide to have some individual sessions as part of the couples therapy, what you say in those individual sessions will be considered to be a part of the couples therapy, and may be discussed in our joint sessions. .
Many people have experienced emotional and relational distress and trauma in the context of various religious settings, organisations, and their members or representatives. I call this 'religious wounding', and it can have negative effects on a person's connection with spirituality.
I believe this to be an important topic to address in the course of a personal therapy process, and it may be necessary to do so in order to approach the topic of spirituality without negative associations or distressing unfinished business.
I find that a spiritual practice can support therapeutic work. I have seen this from both my personal and professional experience. For this reason I see value in a regular practice. If you already have such a spiritual practice, I suggest you consider doing it consistently as a suport for the therapeutic work. If you don’t, I encourage you to consider finding one.
This may not suit or interest you, and that is okay with me. My focus is in what works best for you in your personal development. Because I am holistically oriented I see health and wellness in terms of mental, emotional, social, physical and spiritual facets of experience. People seem to benefit from therapy when thinking, feeling, behaviour and action are all included in the work.
Many people approach life with ethical beliefs or spiritual practices which inform their decisions and perspectives on life. Sometimes the link between these beliefs and practices to one's emotional issues or life circumstances is important to address. Transcendent beliefs or experiences can provide great support and meaning for the issues a client may face, or at times, may be associated with unfinished business and unresolved issues.
I am open to and welcome discussions addressing these issues as they may be relevant to you. Such dialogues are for the purpose of enriching our understanding of the issues at hand, and are not for the purpose of proselytising or debating the correctness of our ideas. I am comfortable including practices as they may be helpful for you, or discussion of spiritual documents. It is your prerogative to include or exclude these, or any related aspects of your personal thoughts or feelings.
A joint venture
If for some reason you are not getting what you want in the therapeutic process please let me know so I can address your concerns. Therapy does not deliver guaranteed outcomes. The result arises out of the relationship itself, and involves the joint efforts of therapist and client. There are times when familiar experiences of being stuck can arise in the therapeutic relationship. There is always an opportunity to work this through, providing a different experience in the end. However, this requires a commitment to the process of naming and addressing such stuck points. This can then be of value in other relationships. I outline these matters as it is important to understand some of the work involved with engagement in therapy, and the fact that you are not paying for specified outcomes being delivered to you, but for my time and dedication to an evolving process of learning.
I allow a full 60 minutes of my time for an hour of therapy. This is in contrast to practitioners who allow 45 or 50 minutes for a 'therapy hour'.
If we are using an online medium such as skype, there may be some time involved in getting the connection working, or in re-establishing connection if it drops out. I consider 5 minutes of disruption per hour an acceptable amount. If there is more disruption than that, I will add that on to the time I allow for the session.
The first session goes for 1.5 hours, billed at 1.5 x the hourly rate.
Subsequently, the average length of a session is one hour.
Longer sessions can be arranged; these are charged at the hourly rate. Some people prefer 1.5 or 2 hour sessions.
Couples sessions require 1.5 hours. Couples pay the same hourly rate as individuals.
Session length is agreed before hand. Sometimes when the time is coming up, it may seem to me that more time is necessary for the session. If this is the case, i will suggest a renegotiation of the time boundaries for that session.
There are two other ways to organise time boundaries which are possible, and work for some clients.
The first involves pre-agreed flexibility, so the time taken for the session is simply 'as needed', and then the client is charged according to the minutes used.
The second involves prepaying a certain sum of money, and then that gets used up according to the actual minutes used. I then notify you when the total amount has been used up.
These two options are available, by explicit agreement
The therapy contract involves an exchange. You pay me in money, I provide you with my time, and contribute my expertise and best efforts within that time frame.
Together, we work on the issue.
The time frame is negotiated beforehand. As a session nears completion, there may be occasions on which you want to extend the time. If this is the case, you can request that of me, and if I am available, we can contract for an additional amount of time.
There are other forms of contact that may occur in between sessions. This may for example include text or email.
Phone contact, other than making arrangements, I consider as my professional time. If there is an emergency or a very important situation I am fine for you to call me, and as soon as I am available, I will call you back. This may not be immediately if I am in transit or booked with clients.
If you are in pressing circumstances, I am willing to talk with you on the phone to see what it is that you need, and if necessary, we can arrange a session at short notice. We can also agree to have a phone or skype session immediately, if that is what you need, and I am available
Therapeutic contact outside of formal and full therapy sessions
Please note that I do not do therapy by email or text. I use these mediums only if it is necessary to change the arrangements of session time or date.
I will not conduct personal conversation of any type by email or text. If something comes up, you can always request a sesion. Please do not tell me about personal matters over email. If there is some document you want me to read as part of the therapy, you can send it to me, and I will read it during the therapy hour, and we can talk about it as part of the therapy.
My experience has been that misunderstandings and mis communications arise too easily by email or text, and important matters are raised which cannot be dealt with properly through such mediums. Therefore, please do not ask me to engage you via those means. I am available only for voice or video therapy contact.
In the event of an emergency for which you feel immediate attention is necessary, I will make reasonable efforts to make myself available. If I am not immediately available, please leave a message indicating the matter is urgent. If you need assistance before I can get in contact with you, please contact emergency services.
Fees and Payment
I do not extend credit. Sessions must be paid for on completion. Cash, Weixin, Alipay, credit card, direct debit or paypal is accepted (please note for paypal, you must elect to pay the paypal transfer charge).
Fees are applicable on a sliding scale, and are self assessed. Please view the payment options and scales as relevant for China. Please note, fee scales are assessed on the total income of a couple, if you are in a relationship.
If translation is required, translation fees are not included in the scale, and are payable directly to the translator
If my professional time is required for other services that you request such as report writing, attendance at meetings, or email exchanges, I charge my time on a prorated basis.
I charge an hourly rate. So sessions which are 1.5 hours - such as the first session - are charged at 1.5 x the hourly rate.
Attendance and cancellation
24 hours notice for cancellation is required or the session must be paid for in full, excepting in cases of emergency. If your sessions are being covered by a third party, this payment will have to be paid by you.
I do not provide reminder calls or messages for clients. I am responsible for being available at the agreed time, and the client is also responsible to do so. Sessions are never subject to confirmation - once a date and time are agreed, this is a final arrangement; the session can be changed to a different time or date if notification is received more than 24 hours before the session.You may request a calendar entry emailed to you, which I am fine to do; if so, it is important that you accept the calendar invitation when it arrives.
If you are late for a session, we will still end at the arranged time.
If I am late for a session, I will extend your session by that much time. If this is problematic for you, then I will owe you that portion of time, to be added onto a subsequent session.
If I miss a session, or have to cancel it with less than 24 hours notice to you, then I will owe you a session - at no charge to you.
You can terminate therapy at any time you so choose.
There are basically three types of therapy relationships - occasional, relaxed, and committed.
Occasional therapy includes one-off sessions, or sessions which occur in relation to specific and very time limited crises. These can be of great value, can help someone in an emergency, but they are more like calling the plumber when the sink is blocked. This is not the type of therapy I prefer, though it is remarkable just how much can be achieved in a single session sometimes.
A relaxed therapy relationship is casual - the client moves in and out of therapy at their own timing and pace, maintaining a loose relationship which they sometimes lean into, and sometimes lean away from. But there is some form of ongoing connection and utilisation of the therapy to address issues.
A committed therapy relationship can be terminated at any time. But it is characterised by a commitment for a period of time, or for the course of a particular issue, or as a part of one's ongoing development Sometimes people move between committed therapy and a more relaxed arrangement. When this occurs, I like to have it acknowledged.
I am fine with any of these relationships. I do like ask for clarity about the shift from one type of relationship to another though. In the event that a client moves from a committed or relaxed relationship to some kind of termination, then I require that we have a final session in which this is discussed, and closure is attended to. I consider it important for both of us that our working together is completed properly, rather than you simply stop coming. The door is still open after that for reengagement at any point, but this represents the drawing to a close of a phase of therapy, even if it may restart at some point.
How can one tell? The characteristic of a therapeutic relationship is that there is a date made for the next visit at the end of the current one. That date may be some time in the future, but it represents an intention to continue the relationship. The date may be changed, but it is is cancelled, and no date put in its place, that would likely signal the end of the ongoing momentum of therapeutic relationship.
I may propose termination if I think that I cannot help you further, and provide you with an onwards referral. I will always discuss this with you.
You can reach me in the following ways
Phone in Australia: (02) 8064 7431
Phone in the USA: (323) 381 9810
Phone in China: 185 1631 5629
You may find it useful for yourself to fill out a health and wellness self assessment that I have put together: download here
Your final registration steps are:
and then please fill in the intake form to register as a client.