1. How can counselling help me?
Sometimes it can be a huge help to talk through your thoughts and feelings about what happened and to know that someone else is there for you, will come with you through it all, and will help you to process what you experienced. Whilst friends and family can be an important support, it can also be complicated with them as what you share has a knock on affect on them and therefore your relationship with them. A counsellor can provide you with a safe, independent place to work through what is important to you without worrying about the effects of this on your relationships.
• Counselling can help you see new perspectives or angles that you have not noticed up to now.
• Counselling can give you an uncluttered space in which you can offload and leave things behind.
• Counselling can enable you to break the silence.
• Counselling can help you notice any wonky thinking (cognitive distortions) you have got into.
• Counselling can help you turn flashbacks into controllable and re-sized memories.
• Counselling can help you separate out what is the abuser's voice and opnions in your head from what is true and healthy to believe.
2. What will is cost?
• Every client hour costs Lifecentre about £45. If you are over 18, we ask you to pay according to what you can afford. We don't want anyone turned away because of financial pressure.
• We ask you to be honest about what you can contribute and then we will undertake to fundraise to support you through the difference. Talk it through with us at your Initial Assessment Interview.
3. How do I get to see a counsellor?
• The easiest thing is to call the Life Centre office number on 01243 786349.
If the office is closed, it's OK to leave a message and someone will get back to you.
4. How quickly will I get to see someone?
• You will first be invited to meet one of our counsellors for an Initial Assessment. This gives us the chance to see whether Life Centre will be the right place for you to get help and it also gives you a chance to check us out! We will do our best to offer you an Initial Assessment Interview within 4 weeks of you making contact with us. After this first meeting, one of the counsellors will get in touch with you to book your first appointment. Counselling can usually start straight away after your initial assesment.
5. Where does counselling happen?
• We have counselling venues in central Chichester, central Worthing, Littlehampton and Bognor. We also see Saturn centre clients (www.saturncentre.org) at the Saturn centre in Crawley hospital.
• Our counselling venues are all confidential addresses, apart from the Saturn centre. We want to respect the privacy of our clients and make sure that this is a safe place for you. We reveal our address on a strictly need to know basis, and we ask our clients to respect that confidentiality for themselves and for others.
6. What is meant by confidentiality?
• Anything you tell your counsellor is kept entirely private within the Lifecentre team. This team will also include the counsellor's supervisor. Every counsellor regularly sees a personal supervisor of their work and this ensures that they are giving you the best help they possibly can. This also makes it safe for you!
Have a look at our Lifecentre Confidentiality Policy, also on the website.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
There are some very important exceptions to our confidentiality:
• We work within Safeguarding Children Policy. This means that, if you tell us information about a child or vulnerable adult who is being abused, or who is at risk of being abused, we must tell someone about it. As much as is possible, we won't go behind your back to do this. We will always try to have your co-operation in what we do and if we are able to, we will tell you what we need to do about the information you have given us. But, either the Police or Children and Young People's Services (CYPS) will eventually need to be told so that the young person or vulnerable adult can be protected. We appreciate that you may be the yopung person or vulnerable adult in this situation. This is our priority.
• If you tell us that you are definitely planning serious harm either to yourself or to someone else, we will tell an appropriate person about it urgently. This may well be the GP of the person at risk. We may need to tell someone about your intentions, even without your permission, and will do so, to protect you or that other person you have told us about.
• If there is a court case for the abuse you have suffered, the Judge has the right to subpoena counselling notes as part of the evidence for the case.
• The other exceptions to our confidentiality are the legal obligations we have to report to the police anyone who is planning offences under the Terrorism or Data Protection Acts.
Our full Confidentiality Policy is available on the website. You may also like to look up our Vulnerable Adults policy to understand how a 'vulnerable adult' is defined.
7. Can I choose whether I have a male or a female counsellor?
• Yes. Some male clients prefer a male counsellor. Some prefer female. Ditto female clients. We have both. You can talk through your preference at your Initial Assessment.
8. How good will the counsellor be?
• All of our counsellors have a minimum qualification of a Diploma in Counselling. They are also all trained in working with trauma, using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy. They are all trained in providing Pre Trial therapy and the issues that raises for any potential court hearing. They are all trained in using creative techniques within the counselling such as different forms of art therapy. Many of them have special additional areas of expertise - like psychosexual counselling, substance mis-use and addictions expertise, bereavement counselling, mindfulness or play therapy. All of us have specialist experience and training in helping survivors of sexual trauma.
• Perhaps most important of all, however, is that we have chosen to do this work because we each feel personally committed to helping people who have suffered abuse and sexual trauma.
9. What if things go wrong - if I don't like my counsellor or don't like things he or she does?
• Talk to us about it. You can tell your counsellor or, if that is not enough, phone our office on 01243 786349 and let us know what the problem is. If you don't find you can connect with your counsellor, our Director will talk the reasons for this through with you and your counsellor to see if it can be resolved. But if it can't, we can happily arrange for you to see another member of our team.
We have a Service User's Complaints Procedure and you are welcome to use it.
10. What will happen at the Initial Assessment Interview?
• You should allow about an hour and a half for this first meeting.
• You will meet with one of our female counsellors (unless you specifically request to see a man).
• We will ask you for some basics facts - like your name, address, contact details, details of any physical health problems you may have and your GP surgery contact details. We will ask whether you are receiving help from anyone else at the moment - like substance mis-use team or someone from the mental health team.
• You won't be pushed to divulge any more details than you want to about the sexual abuse you have experienced, although we will ask you to give us some indication of what has been the nature of that abuse and when it happened.
• We will ask you some questions to help us get a clearer picture of what sort of support you need, and you are welcome to ask anything you want to check us out.
• We greatly appreciate the challenge of talking about such difficult things when you don't yet know us very well. We will do all we can to support you in this and to make this first meeting as easy as we can for you. If you are worried about it for any reason, please do phone (01243 786349) or contact our office in advance to let us know what you are worried about and we will do all we can to make this easier for you.
11. What happens after the Initial Assessment Interview?
• Usually, if you feel you would like to come to us for counselling after your Initial Assessment Interview, you will very quickly be teamed up with a suitable counsellor who will make contact with you within a week or two and arrange for your first appointment together. We will ask you how you prefer us to make contact with you.
• Occasionally, and always with your permission, the counsellor who met with you for the Initial Assessment Interview will want to contact your psychiatrist if you have one, before offering counselling. This would be to check with the person already helping you that we were an appropriate service for you to come to for counselling at this time.
12. How long does the counselling go on for?
• We find it works well to see clients weekly for the first 12 weeks of counselling. After that, you will be encouraged to come once a fortnight for the next 6 sessions.
13. Can I bring someone with me to my counselling session and/or Initial Assessment Interview?
• Yes you can; however, normally we advise that whoever accompanies you waits outside the room so that you can have private space to talk.