Frequently Asked Questions

If I email, call or text you how soon will you get back to me?

I work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays.  If you send an email or text I can send you more information and arrange a time to call in the next 2 working days.

What is your availability like?

At this stage I am accepting new clients and it is approximately a 3-4 week wait to get your first appointment. If you let me know your availability I might be able to get you in sooner if there is a cancellation.

How do you do the counselling/coaching sessions?

Counselling/Coaching sessions can be conducted in person at my office, or by zoom or over the phone. I am very comfortable with counselling /coaching over the phone /zoom as I have used these modalities since 2015, and extensively since March 2020.

There is also an option to do a counselling/coaching half day retreat where you can cover a lot of ground, and learn many more strategies in one go. See below for Relationship Counselling & also Nature-based Soul Coaching.

What type of counselling/coaching do you do?

More information on the types of counselling/coaching I provide is here:  https://deepheartwisdom.com/counselling/ and here: https://deepheartwisdom.com/coaching/

What is the best way to proceed with counselling?

Research shows that the first 6 sessions of counselling can be where you make the most positive change to your life and subsequent sessions can support you to maintain those positive changes. I recommend you book several weekly sessions when you begin counselling, you can then move to fortnightly and then monthly appointments as you and I feel into what suits you best. If you are like me then you might dip into counselling for a particular issue, take a break and then dive back into counselling/coaching as other issues arise in your life (And let’s face it life is fairly consistent at bringing up issues for us to face!!). Other research indicates that if you have experienced trauma, particularly in your childhood then it can take 20-40 sessions to have made sustained improvements to your emotional well-being, sense of safety and relationships

Why is practicing skills/strategies important between sessions?

Creating change in your thinking, feeling or actions in your life takes practice! The more you practice the more you can bring about new changes in your brain, new ways of thinking, new ways of feeling and new ways of relating to your loved ones. It’s exactly like going to the gym or learning to play an instrument….we can only improve the more we practice!

What sort of Relationship Counselling do you do?

I mostly use the Gottman method of Couples therapy https://www.gottman.com/ which is well researched and I find really useful and effective for most couples, including same sex couples.   I also use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) where appropriate.

Research indicates that you will make more progress if you have longer and closer together counselling sessions, particularly with couples counselling, particularly at the beginning of the process. It is recommended that you book weekly sessions of 90 minutes for your first few appointments. OR you may like to try booking longer half day couples counselling retreats of 3-4 hours where we can cover more ground and implement more strategies AND it can be easier to make the time in your busy schedules.

How do you do child and teen (under 16) appointments?

I have a 60 minute appointment with the parent/s before I meet with the child/teen (under 16) and then it is usually optional for the child/teen as to whether parents stay in the room with them and for how long.

What is Reconnecting with Soul & Nature Coaching?

This is where for 90 minutes up to a half-day retreat (3-4 hours) we immerse ourselves in nature and not only will you receive coaching but you will also be able to learn and practice the Soul practices in SoulCraft by Bill Plotkin while reconnecting to your heart and soul, your true soul purpose and to Mother Earth and all the wisdom, healing and insights she offers to us.

These practices include: dreamwork, deep imagery visualisations, dialogues with nature, self-designed ceremony, symbolic artwork, journalling, use of symbols and sacred objects, stories, soul poetry, soulitude, nature as mirror, befriending the shadow, living the questions of the soul…

What is the difference between seeing a psychologist & counsellor?

Each counsellor & psychologist works uniquely and so it is important to find the person you connect with, trust and feel rapport with.   I use the same evidence-based programs ACT & CBT as many psychologists / social workers. To see a psychologist/social worker and to receive the Medicare rebate, for up to 10 sessions per year, you need a mental health care plan (available through your GP). In most instances you will still need to pay a significant gap fee similar to a counselling fee. To see a Counsellor you don’t need a mental health care plan, you can have as many sessions as you like and the fee is similar to the gap fee.  Some of my clients choose to see me for counselling while on the waitlist for a psychologist.   The Mental Health Care Plan does not cover relationship counselling or coaching.

What is the difference between counselling & coaching?

Coaching is solution focused so that there is an emphasis on setting a goal each session that is inline with your values, identifying the obstacles to that goal (inner and outer obstacles, e.g. thoughts, fears, practical concerns), brainstorming solutions and then taking committed action. However I was a coach first before I became a counsellor so in every counselling session we will also identify a goal, and you will leave with action to take whether that is noticing old patterns, making small changes, practicing new strategies. In my view counselling is used to dive deeper, to cope with the really tough issues in life…whereas coaching can be used to improve your life and the two work together beautifully!

What types of clients do you work with?

I work with all clients from all ages, all cultural backgrounds and spiritual beliefs, and with all families, including LGTBIQ families.  If I am not the right person for you or I do not have sufficient expertise for your issues I will refer you on to the appropriate practitioner.

When do you refer to other services?

Having worked at Headspace and Interrelate I won’t hesitate to refer you on to the appropriate services if I feel an integrated approach is necessary or if I feel you need more comprehensive medical or specialist services. I often refer clients to speak to their GP as a starting point.  I refer on to specialist services if you are experiencing domestic and family violence, court orders, current addiction or severe mental health issues.

Will everything be confidential?

Confidentiality and Privacy: are integral and important to the trust between client and counsellor. I will maintain confidentiality of all personal information obtained during the counselling process. There are legal limits to my confidentiality, and I would seek to discuss such breaches with you beforehand. The few situations that would oblige me to break with confidentiality include:

  • Any disclosure that indicates the potential for physical danger to yourself or another person 
  • A child or elder at risk of abuse or neglect
  • Information legitimately subpoenaed by a court or otherwise authorised for release by law

As part of providing a counselling service to you, I will need to collect and record personal information from you that is relevant to your current situation.  The information is gathered as part of the assessment and treatment and is seen only by me.  The information is retained in order to document what happens during sessions and enables me to provide a relevant and informed counselling service.  As part of ongoing professional development and to improve my counselling practice I attend regular clinical supervision where situations regarding my clinical work may be shared but this will be done so anonymously without including any identifying information.

Information Storage and Security: Halaxy Practice Management Software is used to store personal information including your name, address, phone number, date of birth and clinical information.  Halaxy is a cloud based software  protected by bank-grade security and encryption.  Your personal information can only be accessed with my unique username and password.

Access to Client Information: At any stage you as a client are entitled to access to the information about you kept on file, unless the relevant legislation provides otherwise.  I can only share your information with another professional of your choosing with your consent and prior approval.

The information you provide in the online intake form supports me to plan for your first session and to provide you with the most effective service. Within the online details form there is a screening tool called the DASS-21 which gives you and I a measure for your emotional well-being and stress levels now and then we can redo the survey in 2-3 months and measure your progress. Occasionally you might be asked to fill out other screening tools for similar reasons.

Who do I contact in a crisis/emergency?

After hours and Emergency care:  It is important for clients experiencing a Crisis or Emergency to not rely solely on counselling appointments and to seek appropriate assistance if the need arises (E.g.  phone Emergency Services 000, Lifeline 24 hour counselling line 13,11,14, Beyondblue  24 hour helpline 1300,224,636  Alcohol & Drug Information and Counselling 1800,422,599, Respect (phoneline for domestic violence/abuse) https://1800respect.org.au/, eheadspace or kids/youth helpline: 1800 551 800 or by contacting your local GP/hospital services).

Do you offer counselling/coaching between appointments?

Communication: The therapeutic relationship is created and maintained within counselling sessions (either face to face, zoom or phone). Emails and text messages, can be used for brief incidental communications, but I am unable to guarantee a response, they are not used as a mode of counselling and are not intended to be a substitute for counselling.


What are your fees for counselling/coaching appointments?

As of 1st October 2022 the fees for NEW clients are (rates may change once per year):

60 minute appointments:

  • $129 for all appointments
  • $95 for concession card holders (please let me know if this applies to you before your first appointment).

90 minute appointments:

  • $175 for all 90 minute appointments. 
  • No Concession rate for 90 minute appointments including all relationship counselling appointments
  • The Gottman Relationship Check-up Questionnaire https://checkup.gottman.com/ is an extra once off payment of $50.

Half-Day Counselling / Coaching Retreats (3-4 hours)

  • $270 for 3 hours
  • $360 for 4 hours

Is there a cancellation fee?

Please give 24 hours notice if you need to change or reschedule an appointment so someone else can be offered that appointment. A $45 cancellation fee will apply if there is not enough notice given before cancelling an appointment.

What is the process and the fees for Couples Counselling?

With couples counselling I prefer to do an individual appointment with each of you first so you can each share your perspective uninhibited (these appointments will be 60 minutes each, ($129 each session). The first few couples counselling sessions where I see you both together, weekly or fortnightly, are 90 minutes long ($175 for all sessions). I recommend completing the Gottman Relationship Check-up Questionnaire https://checkup.gottman.com/ for an extra $50 (after 1st October 2022) before your first couples counselling session to give a detailed picture of the strengths and challenges of your relationship.

Research indicates that you will make more progress if you have longer and closer together counselling sessions, particularly with couples counselling, particularly at the beginning of the process. It is recommended that you book weekly sessions of 90 minutes for your first few appointments. OR you may like to try booking longer couples counselling retreats of 3-4 hours where we can cover more ground and implement more strategies AND it can be easier to make the time in your busy schedules.

How do I pay for an appointment, especially if we meet by phone or zoom?

Payment can be made on the day by credit card or bank transfer: a $25 late fee applies if not paid on the day.   

Are you a Private Health Refund Provider?

I am a private health fund provider for GU Health, Doctors Health Fund, BUPA, Police Health, Emergency Services Health, Phoenix Health Fund and St Lukes Health – please check with your private health fund if you are covered for counselling.

Are you an EAP provider?

Yes, I currently provide EAP services for Converge and Early Connections. With Converge EAP you need to arrange these sessions through Converge.  With Early COnnections you can book your first appointment with me ph 0458231968. Check with your workplace who your EAP provider is and how many sessions you and your family members qualify for.

Are you an NDIS provider?

Yes I work with NDIS clients if they are plan managed and they can claim Counselling under Capacity Building, Daily Living Skills.

Is coaching/counselling tax deductible?

You may be able to claim back counselling/coaching in your tax return as professional development – please check with your accountant.

Client Contract & Details Form

Feel free to download and read, print and fill in these forms before your first appointment, (email to saraphillipsnsw@gmail.com OR wait for the online link to be emailed to you once you have booked in your first appointment.