What is your service about?
We aspire to help fill a gap in counselling provision by making available a service to offer emotional support at the ‘point of need’ and in a more timely way that better meets that need.
Who can use the service?
Anyone and everyone. We are a non-profit making, non-sectarian, non-judgmental church-based service. We welcome those of all faiths and none, all ages, all colours and nationalities regardless of their past or sexual orientation. If you feel the need to talk and to explore your feelings or situation, we are here to listen and support you.
But I don’t do church – does that mean I’m not welcome or even that you will try to convert me?
Absolutely not! If you wish to introduce spiritual aspects into the discussions that is your choice; for us to introduce them, without a good therapeutic reason, would risk betraying your trust and being unethical. But if you want spiritual support, we have links to other faiths as well as close links to Christian healing and prayer-based services to which you can be referred but, again, that is entirely your decision.
If everything is my choice, my decision and counselling is so non-directive, is it going to be effective?
The short answer is ‘Yes’. The longer answer is that counselling provides you with the necessary safe space and structure within which you can explore your true feelings without fear of judgment, rebuke or rejection – no matter how horrible the circumstances. In time you will clarify your own issues and affect your own changes; what counsellors calls ‘self-actualising’. There are no off-the-shelf solutions to specific problems – everyone is unique and every situation is different.
How long is this likely to take?
Another short answer is – as long as it takes. We aim initially to provide 6-8 one hour weekly sessions but the number can be increased by mutual agreement. However, research shows that long term, open-ended, unstructured and unfocused therapy is often ineffective and to the detriment of the client.
Ok, so it’s scary stuff. How can I be assured of the competency of your agency and counsellors?
We are a professionally run service which abides by the standards and code of ethics of British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). (See www.bacp.co.uk) All our counsellors are professionally qualified or on placement with our agency in the final stages of attaining their qualification. All are professionally supervised and committed to ongoing training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD). More information about the counselling service can be obtained from our website:
Can I refer myself and how can I make an appointment?
Yes, of course, you can contact us directly. If you have a diagnosed mental illness or previously undertaken long-term counselling, you might like to discuss counselling with your GP/Psychiatrist and ask them to make a referral. Making an appointment is simple – the contact details are opposite.
I have a friend/family member/minor who I think would benefit from counselling. Are you prepared to see them?
Yes, but it must be their choice. We would satisfy ourselves that this is the case before agreeing to work with the individual. In the case of minors we would prefer it to be a professional referral from, for example, a GP or Social Services. If you are in any doubt, give us a ring; we are happy to advise on a hypothetical basis, without you divulging any details.
The service seems very secretive and protective.
Yes and for good reason. It is vital that clients feel safe and are assured of total confidentiality. Any very rare exceptions to total confidentiality, such as serious risk of harm to self or others, will be fully explained at the initial meeting.
Does that mean I can’t talk to others about my issues whilst undertaking counselling?
No; quite the contrary. We practice confidentiality for ethical reasons; you might still need support of others, including 24 hours helplines, during your time in therapy but this will be a different type of support from that offered during your weekly sessions.
Can I choose between seeing a male or a female counselor?
Yes but it might mean delaying counselling until your choice becomes available. We will discuss this during the initial assessment meeting.
How long might I have to wait to start therapy?
We aim to conduct initial assessments within 48 hours (excluding weekends) and, depending on availability of counsellors, commence counselling within two to four weeks.
Where do the counselling sessions take place and when are they available?
Primarily we conduct our sessions from our 162 Upper Knockbreda Road premises in Belfast but arrangements can be made to use other approved locations. Sessions are available both by day and on some evenings. All sessions are by appointment only and last approximately 50 minutes.