Our Services

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Who are we?

At Sunderland Counselling Service we are an independent local charity that has been established for over 30 years. We are funded by the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group to provide counselling to anyone living in Sunderland who needs support with a common mental health issue.

We are proud to be a British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Accredited Counselling Service.

Everyone who has counselling with us will receive:

  • Empathy – Your counsellor will do their best to understand you and your experiences by learning to ‘walk in your shoes’
  • Unconditional Positive Regard – Your counsellor will care about you and not make any judgements about who you are, your lifestyle or the decisions you have made
  • Congruence – Your counsellor will be honest with you
  • Confidential – Everything you say in the counselling room will be confidential, except when you or someone else may be harmed
  • Focus – Your counsellor will help you focus on what issues are bothering you
  • Safety – Your counsellor will work with you to feel safe in the counselling room to get what you need from counselling

At Sunderland Counselling Service, we offer the following levels of counselling:

Step One Counselling

Step one counselling is helpful to support your wellbeing.

Step one counselling is usually offered up to 6 sessions, either individually or in a group.

Counsellors will build a supportive and non-judgmental relationship with you based on empathy and honesty. Your counsellor will provide a safe environment for you to:

  • Explore what is bothering you
  • Support you to feel better
  • Raise awareness of your emotions
  • Make sense of your circumstances and experiences.

Step one counselling can be helpful for individuals experiencing mild feelings of:

  • Low Mood
  • Relationship issues
  • Bereavement, Grief and Loss
  • Work problems
  • Adjusting to significant life events and changes
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Loss of confidence

We offer Step One Counselling through Talking Changes Durham and Darlington.
For more info or to make a referral visit: 

Step Two Counselling

Step two counselling is a low intensity intervention

Step two counselling is usually offered up to 6 sessions, either individually or in a group.

Step two counselling will help you to explore your feelings and emotions in a safe, supportive environment. This will help you to:

  • Reduce your negative thoughts and feelings
  • Feel better about yourself and your life
  • Make sense of and find meaning in your circumstances and experiences
  • Find ways to achieve a greater degree of choice and purpose in the world
  • Develop emotional awareness
  • Gain greater understanding of yourself, your relationships and your responses to others
  • Find different ways to manage your feelings.

Counselling at step two is suitable for:

  • People who can explain what is bothering them
  • People who can be reflective between counselling sessions
  • People who mainly want to explore feelings and emotions

Step Two counselling can be helpful for individuals experiencing mild and moderate feelings of:

  • Low Mood
  • Relationship issues
  • Bereavement, Grief and Loss
  • Work problems
  • Adjusting to significant Life events and Changes
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Loss of confidence
  • Anger

We offer Step Two Counselling through North Tyneside Talking Therapies.
For more info or to make a referral visit: 

Step Three Counselling

Step Three Counselling is a high intensity intervention

This can sometimes be called CfD or Counselling for Depression. Sunderland Counselling Service are a leading local provider of CfD Counselling and Supervision.

Counsellors will build a supportive, non-judgmental and in-depth relationship with you based on empathy and honesty.

Together with your counsellor, you will establish and work towards a therapeutic aim. Through exploration of your experiences and emotions, your counsellor will support you to:

  • Access and express underlying feelings and make sense of them
  • Find new meanings to make positive changes in your life.
  • Reduce your negative thoughts and feelings
  • Feel better about yourself and your life
  • Find ways to achieve a greater degree of choice and purpose in the world
  • Develop emotional awareness
  • Gain greater understanding of yourself, your relationships and your responses to others
  • Find different ways to manage your feelings
  • Explore childhood experiences and feelings and how they related to present day situations

Counselling at step three is suitable for:

  • People who can explain what is bothering them
  • People who may have tried other support first
  • People whose problems have continued for a longer time
  • People who can be reflective between counselling sessions
  • People who want to explore feelings and emotions

Step three counselling can be helpful for individuals experiencing mild and moderate feelings of:

  • Depression or low mood
  • Relationship issues
  • Bereavement, Grief and Loss
  • Complicated or long-lasting feelings of grief
  • Work problems
  • Adjusting to significant Life events and Changes
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Loss of confidence
  • Anger
  • Issues around maintaining attachments and relationships

Step three counselling can be offered between 6 to 8 sessions, or up to 20 sessions, depending on the service.

We offer Step three counselling through:
If you live in Sunderland go here: (link) Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service
If you live in Durham or Darlington go Here: Durham and Darlington Talking Changes and
If you live in Northumberland: Talking Matters Northumberland.

For more info or to make a referral visit:

Specialist Counselling

We offer a number of specialist counselling services.

Our counsellors working in these specialist counselling services will use the person-centered approach and will also have specialist training to meet the needs of a particular group of people.

Our Specialist Counselling areas are:

Bereavement Counselling

Living with Cancer and End of Life Counselling

Trauma Counselling for Survivors of Sexual Violence

Workplace Occupational Health Counselling

Counselling for Children and Young People

Please see our Useful Information page for more information on these areas

When is Counselling not the right option?

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
  • Psychosis
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Chronic physical health problems
  • OCD
  • Panic Disorder
  • PTSD
  • 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.

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. Details can be found here (Wear Recovery link)

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. Details can be found here. (link to crisis here)

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.

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
  • Murder
  • Domestic Violence
  • Manslaughter
  • Terrorism
  • 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 …. (link?)

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