“The best thing about counselling is being listened to and understood.”
Counselling is a safe, confidential place where you can talk about anything that is important to you with a trained counsellor.
Here are some of the things that people ask when they are thinking about counselling:
If you’re feeling distressed or overwhelmed, it’s good to ask for help. Even people who seem really sorted sometimes need counselling. Everyone has problems and usually there are people around who can help, but sometimes that’s not enough, and you might need to see a counsellor.
People might see a counsellor because …
- things are really difficult and they don’t know how to cope.
- someone is ill and it’s confusing or hard to cope with.
- they are having problems with their own or someone else’s substance use – drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
- they self harm when they’ve been trying to cope alone for a long time.
- they are having problems with friends, or worrying that they sometimes bully or intimidate people – or feel like they are being bullied.
- they are worried about something that they can’t talk to anyone else about.
- someone has died. Even if it was a long time ago, they might still be finding it hard and need support.
- it’s complicated when parents separate. They may need someone to help them make sense of things and let them express how they feel about it all – especially if they feel trapped in the middle or feel like they’ve had to take a side.
- they feel depressed or anxious. Lots of young people suffer with depression or anxiety, sometimes for a short time, sometimes for many years. If this is you, then you don’t have to be alone with it.
- something is happening at home, in school or somewhere else, that doesn’t feel right. One in four young people experience abuse. If you think this is you, or someone else, then you need to tell someone you trust and get the right support.
- they feel shy. Shyness can make every day a drag; low self-esteem doesn’t help things either. Lots of people find that counselling helps them understand themselves better, and feel better about who they are.
- they are having problems at home, or there’s lots of arguing and fighting.
- they are finding it hard to come to school. School anxiety is common, and it’s best to tell someone in school you can trust – like your Tutor or Year Head. But if that’s too difficult, a counsellor might be able to help too.
There are also many other reasons why people go to counselling. You don’t really need a reason, but you do need to ask for help if something just isn’t right – especially if you don’t have anyone else who can help.
In your first session, your counsellor will find out a little about you and your situation, and help you explore what you want from counselling.
Counsellors understand that it can be difficult to open up and talk, so they won’t put you in the spotlight. Even if you find talking difficult, you can still get a lot from counselling.
Your counsellor won’t tell you what to do, but they will share resources and discuss ideas with you. For example, your counsellor can give you strategies for improving sleep and relaxation, managing stress and anxiety, handling conflict and managing strong emotions.
Sometimes counsellors will suggest other services which might be helpful, but will only put you in touch with other services if that’s what you want. Counsellors can also teach life skills.
Counselling sessions last between 30 and 50 minutes. We use recognised counselling approaches, such as Person Centred Approach, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Systemic Family therapy. Our counsellors sometimes use creative approaches such as play, art, sand tray, drama therapy, clay, arts and crafts, mask making, creative visualisation, mindfulness, relaxation techniques and other approaches.
Most appointments are held in the counselling rooms in the Community Centre, which is attached to Okehampton College, near Simmons Park.
On average, people have eight appointments, but you might only need one or two, or maybe lots more. We will discuss when you are available and find a time which suits. If you are in school you will normally be offered lunchtime or after school appointments. Appointments are usually at the same time every week or fortnight.
We are not an NHS or emergency service, and we can’t offer a full-time service. We are a small charity and most appointments are during term time. We can sometimes see people very quickly, on the same day or week. However, we can’t always see everyone so quickly, and often have a waiting list.
We usually only see people by appointment, but if you are in Okehampton College and want to find out about counselling, pop down to the Community Centre. It’s easy to find, just turn left after the drama room. If you are thinking of making a referral please email or call us.
If it feels like you need urgent help, there are other people you can talk to right now:
Most teenagers and young adults want independent counselling. However it is sometimes appropriate to include family or carers. For children aged 12 or younger we seek parental permission before starting counselling, and may include parents or carers in sessions.
What you say to your counsellor will normally be confidential. That means your counsellor will not talk to other people about what you have said, except for the following circumstances:
- Counsellors normally speak to a supervisor about their client work. This helps the counsellor to be professional and offer the best support they can.
- If your counsellor is concerned about you or someone else being at risk of serious harm, then the counsellor will need to speak to someone else. This helps to keep everyone safe and well cared for. If this happens you or other people may be offered more support.
- Sometimes a young person gives permission for their counsellor to speak to someone else, for example to make a referral to another agency
- If we need to speak to someone else, we will talk to you about that first unless to do so would put you or someone else at further risk of harm.
We keep records according to the Data Protection Act 1998. This act says that organisations can only keep information about you if you give your permission. Your name and address are written onto referral and registration forms. These are kept locked away securely and will not be shared with anyone outside of TSS.
Your counsellor usually writes some notes about the counselling sessions. These notes are confidential and do not have your name on them. These notes are kept separately from the referral and registration form.