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Support and Counselling for Adults

What do we do?

We offer counselling for male and female survivors of sexual assault/abuse.

Referral criteria?

Our referral criteria is set by our commissioners and we can only offer short term therapy within this. Our criteria for assessment in Plymouth is:

  • 18+
  • Has experienced sexual violence in their lives, including incidents in childhood

Please be aware this is for assessment only. There are other criteria which we may need to take into consideration when you are being assessed to ensure the service we offer is suitable for you. These criteria include; any secondary mental health conditions you may be suffering from, if you are able to attend regularly etc.

You will also be able to access therapy if you have accessed our Independent Sexual Violence Advisory (ISVA) Service. The ISVA service is only available to people who have reported to the police, or are looking for advice on how to report to the police, or provide anonymous intelligence.

What can you expect?

You will be offered an assessment, which will help us decide if counselling is the right service for you.

At your assessment you will sign the agreement which will include details of our cancellation and confidentiality policies, and will be asked what your hopes for counselling are.

After your assessment, we will write to you to confirm that you have been accepted for counselling and you will be placed on a waiting list until a counsellor becomes available.

We will contact you to arrange a suitable appointment time. Unfortunately, we are unable to be exact about how long you will wait as it depends on a number of things that will be explained to you at your assessment.

What is counselling?

Counselling is an opportunity to talk about what brought you to First Light, in a safe place without fear of judgement. The counsellors understand the impact and effects of sexual violence and trauma, and can help you cope with the negative feelings that accompany this.

Counselling is a process that helps you understand why you feel the way you do. It can help you to begin to feel resourceful again and to move forward with your life. As you gain strength and confidence it may provide an opportunity to focus on new realistic goals.

How long does it take?

You will be offered an initial six sessions, with a maximum of nine sessions. Each session will last no longer than an hour. During this time, you and the counsellor will discuss how best to use the time you spend in counselling.

How much does it cost?

This is a free service for clients who meet our criteria and would benefit from it. We do always welcome donations for the work of First Light.

What area do you cover?

We will generally assess anyone who can access our services at Cattedown Road, Plymouth. However, there may be circumstances where more appropriate support is available elsewhere.

How will I know that what you offer is best for me?

The short answer is you don’t until you have tried it. We offer therapy provided by highly qualified, trained and experienced specialist counsellors. Our counsellors are accredited with either BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) and/or UKCP (UK Council of Psychotherapists). They work in an integrative way, and will respond to your individual needs.

Can I bring someone with me for support?

You can of course bring someone with you to First Light, however we would expect you to attend the counselling session on your own. Your companion can wait in the reception area for you.

What times do you offer?

We offer appointments in the day time Monday – Friday, and evening sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays.


The information you give is important to us and will remain confidential. Exceptions to this may occur if you or your children are at risk of significant harm. We have a written confidentiality policy which will be explained to you in detail at your first appointment.

How do I refer to you?

You can refer yourself or a professional can make a referral on your behalf. You can email, phone or make a referral online.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs)

Our specialist advisors are here to help you pursue justice and find closure through the courts. When you feel overwhelmed by the challenge, they will be your strength. When you are too tired to continue, they will be your energy. When you feel lost in the chaos, they will be your guide. When fear strikes you numb, they will be your voice…

What can you expect from your advisor?

  • Confidential and Independent Service – Not Linked to the Police
  • Gender choice of advisor for all adults and those over 16
  • A safe, comfortable and private place to meet
  • Options of remote or face to face meetings at appropriate locations including home address
  • Full explanation of the Criminal Justice System
  • One to One support & Guidance through the Investigation and Court Process
  • Frequency of contact decided with you dependent on needs or requirements
  • Attendance as your representative at Interviews & Court Appearances
  • Pre-court visits & introduction to Witness Care Staff
  • Assistance with Criminal Injuries Compensation
  • Information and support regarding your options around reporting a crime to police.
  • Fast-track referral pathways to supporting agencies
  • Assistance to submit anonymous intelligence to the Police
  • Coping Skills
  • Liaison between you, the police, CPS and barristers etc
  • Signposting and referrals to other specialist agencies
  • A bespoke support plan tailored to your ongoing needs

Our Advisors have received extensive training and come with many years experience of supporting people at a time of crisis. They are funded by the Government and local partners and cost you nothing. They are here to represent your best interests and make sure you have all the information you need to make informed choices about your case and your future.