What is counselling?

In counselling, individuals, couples or family groups have sessions where they think through an issue or work through a problem. The counsellor is trained to help people understand themselves better, relate better to others, work things out for themselves and make decisions about what to do next. Your counsellor will help you talk openly and honestly.

In sex therapy, the therapist discusses the problems you have identified. If therapy is advised, the therapist will design a programme of exercises especially for you and you will be asked to do specific exercises privately at home. At your sessions the therapist will discuss your progress with the exercises and the best next steps for you. You will never be asked to undertake any sexual tasks during therapy sessions. Counselling and sex therapy always work at your pace, not to a specific timetable.

Should I do anything before my first session?

You might find it useful to think about how you want counselling to help. For example are you looking to feel better about something in the past or do you want to make changes in your life now? You might be coming to counselling with your partner, some of your family or alone. Whether they have a partner or not, people often come for counselling and sex therapy alone and find it helpful.

Do I have to be referred by someone?

No.  Anyone can come and see us for an Initial Consultation. If you do wish to attend as a couple we will ask you for all contact details. No cancellations of appointments are accepted by a third party.

Is counselling with Relate completely confidential?

We understand how important confidentiality is to our clients. The counsellor you see will explain our policy to you as soon as you arrive but broadly speaking, everything our clients tell us is confidential to Relate and we do not pass your details or anything about you to others. However, when it is apparent that someone and particularly a child is at risk from serious harm, we have to involve external agencies that may be better placed than Relate to offer safety and support. Where possible, we always try to involve our clients in these decisions.

Does Relate take notes of what I say?

Your counsellor makes a very brief note from session to session.  These are intended to act as an aid memoire.  They are not verbatim and we do not release them to clients or third parties. Neither does Relate produce reports or letters about what has happened during counselling for clients or third parties. We are legally obliged to retain any notes for seven years, after which they are destroyed.

Will I have the same counsellor all the time?

You will be seen by one of our experienced counsellors for your Initial Consultation.  It is not always possible to allocate the same person to you for ongoing counselling but once you start your counselling, you and the counsellor who has been allocated to you will continue together until the conclusion of the work.

Will I see a student counsellor?

It is possible we may allocate one of our student counsellors to work with you, once you have had your initial consultation.  Sometimes a client might feel concerned about this but our students have all undertaken considerable training at the Relate Institute before they are able to see clients and have been assessed by their trainers and the centre’s clinical supervisor as able to work effectively with a wide range of issues. All counsellors whether experienced or students receive regular ongoing clinical supervision from a qualified supervisor. You will always be made aware if your counsellor is a student.

How many sessions will I have?

That largely depends on you.  Your counsellor may suggest an initial number of sessions or you can decide week by week if you would like to continue. Usually your counsellor will regularly review with you if you’re finding the work helpful.
How often will I see the counsellor?

We normally offer weekly sessions, but you can discuss with your counsellor if work or other commitments make this difficult.  If you are coming as a family, it is quite usual for the counsellor to suggest you attend bi or tri weekly sessions.

What if my partner drops out of counselling?

Sometimes a partner doesn’t want to continue.  When this happens the counsellor will discuss with the person who stays if further work could be helpful.

How often will I have appointments?

Sessions are usually once a week for 50 minutes. Counselling will continue for as long as you and the counsellor feel it is helpful. The number of sessions depends on you, most people find six or seven sessions is about right for counselling, those coming to sex therapy can expect to attend for longer.

Do we have to pay for Relate Services?

You will normally be expected to pay a fee. Relate centres are charities and don’t aim to make a profit from the services they provide, the fee is to cover the cost of counselling sessions. A Limited bursary is available to help people on low income so please raise this when you contact us if it applies to you. Do not let financial worries prevent your call.

Do Relate Counsellors have special training?

Relate counsellors have all received special training in couple and family counselling. It takes two to three years to become a fully qualified Relate counsellor. They undergo further training to specialise in areas such as young person’s counselling and sex therapy. All counsellors continue with on-going training and consultation with other professionals to make sure they give you the highest standard of counselling.

Does Relate have to comply with any recognised standards?

Relate works to the relevant ethical framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) www.bacp.co.uk the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) www.cosrt.org.uk/ the Association of Family Therapy (AFT) www.aft.org.uk

What if violence or abuse is an issue?

Violence and abuse is an issue for some people who come to us for help with their relationship. We know that in this situation working with both partners together may not be safe. If this is the case then we would help each partner get individual specialist support from Relate or another agency such as the Hampton Trust who run ADAPT courses.

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