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Frequently Asked Questions: Counselling

Q: Are you a Rape Crisis Centre?

A: No. We are not affiliated to Rape Crisis. We have our own operational policies and ethos. Although we provide some support in much the same way, we only employ fully qualified professionals to support you. Unless you decide to join a support group of other survivors, you will not ordinarily be supported by an ex-service user.

We are also very keen to make sure our services are accessible to all. We do not discriminate against any person and welcome both male and female clients. We have specialised in supporting male victims of sexual harm since 2005 and are proud of the work we have achieved in this area.

Q: How long can I see a counsellor?

A: Solution focused brief therapy is a type of talking therapy that focuses on what clients want to achieve, through therapy, rather than on the problems that made them seek help. The approach does not focus on the past, but instead, focuses on the present and future.

Initially, you will be offered six, one-hour appointments on a one-to-one basis. If you feel that you would benefit from exploring your past in more depth, we can arrange for you to access a different style of counseling at another agency.

Q: How do I know if I can trust my counsellor?

A: If you have had your trust betrayed in the past, it’s very likely (and probably quite sensible) for you to be cautious about trusting again, especially when it comes to getting help from a complete stranger.

The simple answer is – you don’t have to trust your counsellor, at least, not to begin with! He or she will understand that trust sometimes needs to be earned and will not try to rush this process. All of our counsellors are professionally qualified and were appointed on the basis of their integrity, skill, warmth and compassion. They are never beyond challenge and scrutiny.

It is always ok to share any anxieties, ask questions or seek reassurance over any concerns you might have. Our staff will always respond to you with honesty and respect.

Q: Do I have to share things I would rather keep to myself?

A: No. We will always respect your right to choose what you do, and do not wish to discuss. We will not pressure you or try to pry into what you choose to keep private.

You are free to talk about the issues that affect your life and explore them as you wish. Your counsellor will encourage you to look at your strengths, what is positive about your life, and will work with you to identify better ways of dealing with issues that currently concern you. For some people, a deep exploration of their past can be beneficial, for others it is not. Whatever you decide, we will support and respect your wishes. You are always in the “driving seat.”

Q: I feel partly to blame for my childhood abuse/I sometimes sought out my abuser / enjoyed some parts of the abuse. Is there something wrong with me? Will the counsellor judge me?

A: No – on all counts! Legally and morally a child cannot be even partly responsible for their own abuse. It is the responsibility of adults to protect and uphold the rights of children to develop their own healthy sense of sexuality, in their own time, without violation.

Nearly all survivors of childhood sex abuse suffer guilt and shame. Counselling will help you to realise you have nothing to be guilty for. The guilt belongs solely with the perpetrator.

Most abusers use a whole range of “tactics” to attract, seduce and silence their victims and often seek out lonely or vulnerable people who like to feel wanted, loved and special. Finding parts of the abuse enjoyable is also totally normal, – especially for victims of historic childhood abuse. Sexual experiences are supposed to be enjoyable and sexual stimulation (wanted or un-wanted) is extremely powerful. The only one responsible for your abuse is your abuser.

Q: I have never spoken about this before; will I have to make a statement to the police?

A: No, we will not ask you to make a statement to the police. It is an incredibly brave thing for you to seek help for issues that affect you. Our first concern is for your emotional and personal safety. You have many reasons for coping with things by yourself up until now, and we will support you in your ongoing efforts to manage your life safely.

Many clients who attend counselling initially do not wish to take legal action against their abuser. Occasionally a client will later change their mind and we take all necessary steps to ensure that we do not jeopardise any positive future outcome. To this end we may ask a formal set of questions which remain confidential, and are not disclosed to the police without your express permission.

Q: I don’t think I would feel safe alone in a counselling room with a stranger?

A: Bearing in mind your past experiences this is very understandable. Your counsellor will do whatever they can to help you feel safe and relaxed.

Q: Does seeing a counsellor mean I’m a failure who can’t solve my own problems?

A: Seeing a counsellor means you have the courage and determination to tackle your problems. In reality none of us can solve all of our own problems – that’s why we might use an accountant or see a dentist. A counsellor is no different. In any case, the counsellor can’t do your recovery for you – all they can do is support and guide you.