Frequently Asked Questions
There are lots of different types of talking therapies that can help. Some of these are:
- Persona Centred Counselling
- Guided Self Help
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
- Computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (cCBT)
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Counselling for Depression (Cfd)
- Support Groups
Before starting any talking therapy, you will be offered an assessment to discuss your issues and find out which therapy is right for you.
We have a comprehensive suite of policies and procedures, covering all aspects of our work, including confidentiality, access to services, equal opportunities etc. All policies are available on request so please speak to one of our team.
The core principles of Person-Centered Counselling are:
- With the right support, everyone has the ability to change and grow
- A positive, supportive and caring relationship can help that change
- You are the best who knows what is best for you
You will meet one to one with a counsellor for 50 minutes to explore what is bothering you, learn more about your feelings, and find ways to manage them. Your counsellor will help you do this by building a supportive and non-judgmental relationship with you based on empathy and honesty, and by supporting you to guide the session.
Guided self-help is based on the idea that people are usually the best managers of their own mental health. This type of therapy is based on the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). CBT is about how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours link together and sometimes maintain problems we are having.
The treatment involves working through self-help materials to understand and manage problems. The materials used will be tailored to your individual needs, preferences, and goals. This is supported by short sessions with a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP). Your PWP can support you in making changes that the self-help material may suggest.
CBT is a talking therapy which helps you look at the way you think, your behaviour and how these make you feel. One of the main functions of CBT is identifying negative automatic thoughts and negative thinking patterns.
CBT focusses on current issues that you are struggling with before making links to the past. CBT is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. CBT is very effective in treating phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) and panic attacks as well as other anxiety causing issues.
You may be asked to do homework within your CBT therapy. This could include keeping a mood diary or logging your anxious thoughts.
cCBT is a computerised program for mild to moderate anxiety. It is a self-help interactive computer program, which will guide you through the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy over a period of time. During an initial assessment you will have an opportunity to talk about your difficulties and what your goals are with a therapist.
The program can help guide and teach you new tools and techniques to change unhelpful thinking and behaviours. It can work towards reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Your progress will be monitored and recorded throughout the therapy.
IPT is commonly used as a treatment for depression. Interpersonal Therapy is a psychotherapy primarily focusing on you and your relationships with other people. IPT looks at a person’s interpersonal relationships and social functioning to help reduce distress. This type of therapy focusses on communication patterns and how we relate to each other.
EMDR is a talking interactive therapy developed to help people who have experienced trauma. Traumatic events from the past can cause flashbacks, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, and memories. EMDR consists of eight protocols which include preparation, processing, and evaluation stages.
Through motion techniques to guide the eyes to move from side to side, EMDR helps the brain reprocess traumatic memories and helps to become less distressing.
CfD is a talking therapy that has been specially developed to help people understand the underlying causes of depression. CfD is a treatment offered to help with mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Low self-esteem and excessive self-criticism can maintain a depressed mood. This therapy aims to connect with the underlying feelings and make sense of them, reflecting on the new meanings which emerge. This in turn provides the possibility for change. The core of this therapy is emotional processing.
Being part of a bereavement support group allows those who have lost somebody the opportunity to meet with other people who may have gone through a similar experience of loss. Members of a support group are there to offer one another support through what can be a very difficult time.
You shall be offered practical advice and guidance on how to cope. The group environment is a safe place to express your feelings. You will be able to talk open and honestly about the impact of your loss surrounded by people who understand and may identify with the way you feel too.
The group is a safe, confidential space to explore topics, such as: Physical and emotional effects of grief; Looking after yourself; Loneliness; Managing difficult emotions; remembering and holidays; Finding meaning and moving on.
CAT is used to treat a wide range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, addictions, and relationship problems. It is also effective in the treatment of eating and personality disorders. As well as working with your current thoughts and behaviours CAT explores your past and childhood experiences.
CAT is an active therapy and you will normally be expected to keep a diary. This will help the therapist when working with you to recognise patterns of behaviour and how you react. Following the setting of targets for the therapy, new ways of coping shall be explored to replace old ways of thinking.
Counselling Services in Sunderland FAQ
It depends on the service you would like to access as we have different waiting times. This depends on how many counsellors are available in that service and the demand. You may wait slightly longer if you have restrictions about when and where you can attend, for example evening appointments are in high demand. Your counsellor will talk to you about the current waiting times when you have your telephone assessment.
If you cannot attend your appointment:
Please call: 0191 5147007
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
as soon as you can.
If you are unable to attend your session we request that you give at least 48 hours’ notice when possible.
Counselling sessions are offered via face to face, telephone or video call, depending on what is right for you. You will be given instructions on how to access each of these appointments.
Due to current circumstances around COVID 19, we are only able to offer telephone or video counselling. Our website will be updated with any change to this.
We recognise that attending your first counselling appointment can be scary and sometimes this means you want to bring someone along for support. We are more than happy for you to bring someone with you who can wait in the waiting room. However, counselling works best when it is one to one and even though it may seem helpful to have someone with you, it can sometimes stop you from being able to open up fully. It is the job of the counsellor to put you at ease and make you feel welcome and safe in the counselling room.
Counselling works best if you attend the same time, every week. When you are offered your first appointment, you will be asked if you can attend your appointment every week.
In every service we offer a set number of sessions so you will know at the beginning how many weeks you will be able to attend. Frequency is discussed in first session and can also be on a fortnightly basis if necessary.
You shall be asked if you prefer to see a male or female counsellor. If you would like to work with a specific counsellor we will try our best but cannot guarantee that this is always possible.
Counselling is a weekly intervention and there is no contact outside of your session time. This gives you time to think about what has been discussed in your counselling session and maintains the boundaries of the relationship.
As we are not a crisis service, we ask that you contact crisis services if you need this level of support outside of your counselling sessions. Our admin team are available every weekday if you need to discuss your attendance needs.
Our main building and our outreach bases all have disability access. We offer counselling across Sunderland in a variety of different accessible venues, this is also helpful if you are unable to travel or live in a remote community.
We can work with any kind of disability or difficulty, including those with hearing impairments or learning difficulties.
Your counselling sessions will take place at our office located at John street Sunderland, at one of our GP surgeries or a location based in one of our specialist counselling services.
Our therapists offer times which are flexible, we understand you may have commitments which we will work around and help you get the best time to suit your needs.
Our office opening hours for enquiries or counselling are:
Monday & Tuesday: 9am to 7.30pm
Wednesday: 9am to 4.30pm
Thursday: 9am to 7.30pm
Friday: 9am to 4pm
First appointments are usually from 9am and the last appointment time is 6pm depending on the day of the week. We offer a limited number of 8.30am appointments.
Yes, we will keep all your information confidential to the service. If we feel that you are at risk of harm to yourself or someone else is in danger, or you disclose information to us such as a crime that police are unaware of or child protection issues, we may need to share this information with others.
We will first discuss this with you before sharing any information unless there is a serious, significant risk to you or others.
We have a Client Charter which sets out in detail your rights as one of our clients and what we expect of you. This Charter includes a Privacy Notice which explains how we handle information about you including why we keep it, how long for, where it is kept and what we do with it.
All information is stored electronically on a secure recording keeping system called IAPTUS for around 7 years. The data we store is used anonymously to analyse our work to make sure we offer the best service and also to inform funders about our work.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018, our clients have rights with regard to their information held by our service. If you wish to see a copy of the information we hold about you, we can make it available to you. To do this, you need to ask for it in writing, which is called making a Subject Access Request.
We have various ways you can give feedback to us to develop and improve our service. You can complete a service evaluation form which is available through your counsellor, our admin team, on our website or in the John Street waiting room. This can be completed anonymously.
We also hold a quarterly Service User Forum which gives clients the opportunity to submit feedback and ideas to enhance our service.
If you have a complaint about our service, we encourage you to speak with your counsellor or if you feel unable to do this please put your complaint in writing to the Chief Executive.
Yes, we can provide an interpreter to help relay information between you and your therapist during the counselling session.
You would seek advice and support from your GP, if you are in crisis you would contact your local crisis team.
Thanks to our wonderful funders, all services provided by Sunderland Counselling Service are free.
Complex Mental Health Issues: If you are experiencing any current, severe mental health issues and need help with these issues, you will be best supported through a different treatment option and should seek guidance from your GP. These issues include:
- Diagnosed Severe Depression
- Bipolar Disorder
- Chronic physical health problems
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder / Phobia
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Complex bereavement
- Drug and Alcohol Issues
- Antenatal and Post Natal Mental Health
- Personality Disorders
If you have experienced any of the above significant mental health issues in the past or have a diagnosis of a mental health condition, it may be possible to access counselling for a different issue, such as bereavement counselling, as long as your mental health condition is stable and counselling would not cause this condition to become unstable.
Substance Misuse: If you are currently experiencing an issue with substances, such as drugs or alcohol, you will be best supported through your local recovery services. You will not be able to attend counselling whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are unable to attend counselling without the use of substances, you will need to seek support from local recovery services. Please call 0800 234 6798 for details.
Crisis: If you are currently in crisis or planning to take your own life, you will find the best support available is through the crisis service. (Link to Crisis Page)
Aggressive Behaviour: If you behave in a way that is violent, aggressive or threatening to anyone in our buildings, including members of staff, volunteers and other clients, we cannot offer counselling to you.
Serious Criminal Offending:
If you have committed a serious criminal offence, to ensure the safety of everyone, we can only offer counselling if we have the full details of this offence. This includes:
- Any violent crime
- Sexual Violence
- Domestic Violence
- Possession of Firearms
If you are currently under investigation or are awaiting trial for any of the above offences, it might not be the right time to access counselling due to limitations around testimony and confidentiality.
We do not provide a specialist counselling service for perpetrators of sexual violence. If you need support with this issue, please contact https://stopso.org.uk/
In most services, you can refer again after 3 months. This period helps you to put into practice all the things you have explored in counselling and you may find after 3 months you no longer need counselling.