Counselling and Groups Emotional support and counselling All women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse will need emotional support of some kind, but their needs will vary. All women need to be listened to with respect and without being judged when they choose to talk about their experiences. They want to be believed – and to feel they have been understood. Mutual support from other women who have had similarly abusive experiences can be very valuable: it will help you to feel less isolated and to recognise that none of the abuse you experienced was your fault. Some women may benefit from more formal counselling If you decide you would like some counselling, the following information may help you: Counselling is a two-way relationship, in which the counsellor listens to whatever you want to say, in confidence and without making judgements. Counsellors are not supposed to give advice, but they may ask questions or challenge you in ways which may help you to look more carefully at some of the assumptions you may have taken for granted. Usually you will have regular sessions, for an hour or slightly less, each week or every two weeks. Psychotherapy tends to be more intensive than counselling, and may continue for a longer period of time, as issues are explored in more depth. Some practitioners, however, use these terms interchangeably. The aim of counselling is to help you understand yourself better and come to terms with what has happened to you. Good counselling will help you to break away from past abusive relationships and work towards living in a way which is more satisfactory and fulfilling for you. It can also help you to build up your self esteem. However, counselling is not for everyone – and you have to decide whether it is right for you and whether this is the right time for it. Individual Counselling We offer a free programme of up to 18 weekly sessions with the same counsellor, where you can explore how you are feeling and discuss your experiences in a safe, non-judgemental environment. It’s important for us to understand your individual circumstances, so we can make sure we’re giving you the help you need. Our Domestic Abuse Practitioner will speak to you before you start your counselling or support group sessions and we will work out the right support for you, together. Our staff will explain how our counselling works, so you will know what to expect. You will have the chance to ask questions, or raise any concerns, you might have. After this discussion, if you decide you want counselling, we will add your name to the waiting list. We’ll be in touch as soon as a counselling slot is free. Waiting times will vary depending on current demand. Group Support Programmes One of the biggest effects of domestic abuse is isolation. You are not alone. We provide free access to group support and empowerment programmes like the freedom programme. If you would like to book a place on our Freedom Programme then please complete our Get Help form, choosing Freedom Programme in the options available. One of our Domestic Abuse Practitioners will get in touch with you at a safe time to discuss your individual circumstances, so we can make sure that we are giving you the help that you need and that a Freedom Programme place is the right support for you. If you decide that you wish to attend a Freedom Programme then our staff will advise you the dates and locations of the next courses so that you can book your place.