Supporting recovery and freedom from abuse

 

My Sisters Place offers a free and confidential one to one trauma informed counselling service for women 16 years and over who have experienced/witnessed abuse of any kind, and are still being affected physically and emotionally by the experience.  Abuse can include but is not limited to physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, harassment, stalking, on-line or digital and coercive control and includes forced marriage, honour based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM). These experiences of abuse may have been experienced with;

  • a partner of any sex, husband, boyfriend, wife, girlfriend
  • a parent either biological, adoptive or foster
  • in-laws
  • a grandparent
  • a brother
  • a sister
  • a daughter
  • a son
  • a family member
  • someone known to us or our family
  • a carer
  • someone we just met
  • someone we met on-line

We may have experienced or witnessed abuse as a CHILD,  as an ADULT or sometimes BOTH.

At My Sisters Place we understand that when we have experienced abuse of any kind we can be left with a whole range of difficult and challenging emotions and reactions,  which can leave us feeling confused, scared and unsure of many things.  Abuse is a very complex emotional process and at My Sisters Place we commit to support you at every stage of your recovery from your experiences, whenever those experiences happened or may be still happening.

We understand that being free of the impacts of abusive is very complicated and can take place over time.  Decisions sometimes are not easy and its just not that ‘black and white’.  Often the feelings don’t end when we leave relationships or the abuse stops.  We offer an accepting and non-judgemental space for you to discuss and explore the range of complicated thoughts feelings and emotions you are experiencing at whatever stage you are at in your journey. You may;

  • Still be in a relationship.
  • Be thinking about leaving.
  • Have left but are still dealing with confusing emotions.
  • Have left the relationship but are experiencing on-going issues with the abusive person/s.
  • Have been away from the abuser for many years but still feel impacted by your experiences.
  • Now be in a healthy relationship but feel your past experiences are affecting how you feel with your new partner.

What kind of issues can counselling help me with?

Our experiences of abuse can affect us all in very different ways and will always be unique to us as individuals. The decision to consider counselling may be influenced by how your experiences are affecting your life in the ‘here and now’. You may feel similar patterns of feelings, emotions or situations are repeating themselves over time.  Below are some of the areas that many of the women we work with want to talk about, explore and work on so they can feel some relief from the impacts of their experiences and feel in a better and stronger position moving forward.  Sometimes it may be one of the issues below or several that you may want to talk about and work through.  What you work on will always be what is important to you something that you feel is beneficial for you at this time;

  • Exploring confusing emotions over the decision to stay or leave
  • Explore mixed emotions and the feelings towards the abusive person
  • Understand and manage feelings of anxiety and panic
  • Understand how abuse can affect us; such as stress, depression, low mood, loss of motivation.
  • To understand what affected our self-esteem and how to re-build it
  • How to build confidence
  • Work through the impacts of different losses experienced during the relationship or in our lives
  • Coming to terms with the removal/loss of our children
  • Understanding the physical and emotional effects of trauma and abuse and how to support my own recovery
  • Learning to become more assertive
  • Exploring why we may use negative coping strategies in response to difficult emotions and situations
  • Develop positive coping strategies
  • Releasing ourselves from self-blame
  • Understanding and exploring guilt and shame
  • Exploring and understanding anger
  • Understanding why abusive people act the way they do, how they make us feel
  • Learning about abuse dynamics so I can spot the signs in the future
  • Emotional support and anxiety management through legal processes; criminal cases, child protection proceedings, family court
  • Find out who I am again

Counselling can be an opportunity to give yourself time and space to help you understand your thoughts, feelings and reactions which can help you gain some insight and understanding that may help you feel differently.  Often time and space is something we have not given ourselves or not been in a position to give ourselves when we have experienced abuse.

Its true, therapy can feel challenging, intense and difficult at times as we explore issues which we may have avoided or just found ways to manage at different times, only to find the problems are re appearing. However working through these difficult emotions and gaining some knowledge and understanding can leave us feeling differently and can often help us make different choices or decisions about our life that helps us move forward in a more positive way.

How do I know if Counselling or Therapy is for me?

You may not know if counselling or therapy is right for you until you find out more about our counselling service. To be sure that you are comfortable coming to our service and to make sure that we feel like the right service for you we offer an 30 minute face to face appointment.

How do I make an appointment to find out more about the service and discuss what I need?

The first step is to contact us so we can arrange a face to face appointment at My Sisters Place office on Borough Road where you will be greeted by a member of the counselling team.  This is an opportunity for you to find out more about counselling service and ask any questions you may have that will put you at ease.  Feel free to write down questions prior to the appointment if that helps. You can do this by contacting the Counselling Team directly on 01642 256036.  Sometimes we may not be able to answer your call immediately but you can leave a voicemail message leaving your name and a contact number and a member of the team will contact you to arrange the appointment.

During the appointment the counsellor will explain the different types of counselling and therapy we offer, let you know how long sessions are, how many session we can offer and explain about confidentiality. Most importantly we will discuss what brings you to counselling and what issues you want to gain some understanding of if you decide to go ahead with counselling.

At the end of the appointment if you feel that counselling is right for you, at this time, the counsellor will explain to you how your request will be progressed and how you will be contacted when a start date for your counselling becomes available. There is no obligation to go ahead at this time, if you need time to think about it, that’s ok too, you can re-contact us at anytime and let us know.  We appreciate that it has to feel like the right time for you.

What happens at my first session?

At your first session you will meet the counsellor you will be working with. This may be a different counsellor to the person you saw at the 30 minute face to face appointment. She will discuss with you what areas you feel you want to work on and you will agree to work on the most important areas first.  In the first few sessions this may involve her understanding you as a person and getting to know you, your life and your experiences, so she may ask questions about lots of different areas of your life so she is in a better position to provide you with therapy that is unique to you as an individual.   You will mutually agree your goals and the number of sessions you will attend. Together you will agree a therapy contract and your counsellor will explain any forms you will complete prior to each session.  She will provide you with the times and dates of your agreed sessions together with contact details for the service including a direct line number, a texting number and an email should you need to let us know if you need to cancel a pre-booked session.

What happens if I start therapy then decide its not for me?

Sure, that happens sometimes, its not a problem for us and we certainly don’t place any judgements on your decisions. We understand that it has to feel the right time for you.  At My Sisters Place you can suspend your therapy, delay your therapy or end your therapy at any time.  This doesn’t mean that you cant re-access the service at any time, and it doesn’t matter how much time has gone by.  All you need to do is to call us and let us know you want to go ahead or re-start your sessions.  Don’t worry if you change your mind a few times, this happens sometimes and we do understand.  We trust you will know when it feels like the right time.

If you do decide to suspend or end your sessions all we ask is that you let us know, out of courtesy so we can keep waiting times down and that way your session can be offered to the next person.

If you feel uncomfortable or awkward you can do this by text, phone or email.  Whatever way you choose to let us know its OK, we appreciate you keeping us informed.

What happens if I don’t feel the counsellor is the right counsellor for me?

Again we completely understand.  We are all human and we connect with and feel more comfortable with some people more than others. If after 2 or 3 sessions it doesn’t feel as though the relationship is working rather than not coming back to your counselling you can ask to work with another counsellor.  We never take this personally and encourage you to ask to change counsellor as we want you to feel comfortable so you can get what you need from your counselling. Sometimes this can happen straight away or at times there may be a short delay in us transferring you to another counsellor.

Can I bring someone with me into the session?

You can bring someone with you to My Sisters Place, but we are a women only space and there are no males over 16 years allowed in the building unless in a professional capacity.  We have a comfortable waiting area with tea and coffee making facilities and a TV where the person who is bringing you can wait.  This waiting area is close to all of our therapy rooms.  Unfortunately the sessions are on a one to one with your counsellor so you would not be able to take the person into your session.

However we understand that sometimes you may feel anxious during the first sessions until you feel more comfortable. If this happens you can take a break during the session and seek support with the person who came with you and then proceed with the session when you feel comfortable to do so.  The reason we ask you not to invite someone into the session is that it may get in the way of you being able to truly express your thoughts and feelings and you might restrict what you say to protect them or not upset them.

Can I ask for someone else to refer me?

Any other professional or service you are working with can make a referral to our counselling service on your behalf and they will be asked to complete a referral form which they can request directly from us.  We are unable to accept referrals on your behalf from friends or family members you will need to contact us directly.

How confidential are my counselling sessions?

Everything you discuss with your counsellor is confidential unless we are concerned about risk to yourself, children or others and then we may need to disclose the risk to get you support or protect children or others who may be at risk of harm.

Sometimes you may be working with another support worker within My Sisters Place as well as accessing counselling, who may be supporting you with other practical issues. The content of your sessions is not shared with any other person you may be working with at My Sisters Place.  This is the same for any other services you may be working with, no information regarding what you talk about in your counselling sessions is shared. Even if they have referred you, once your have accessed counselling we are not obliged to update them regarding any aspect of your counselling.  There may of course be some situations where you may want us to do so.  If this is the case we will always would seek your confirmation and consent as well as instructions from yourself on what you want and don’t want to be shared.

Your counsellor will keep a record or your sessions with her, these notes are a record of your counselling and available at your request at any time.  The notes do not contain your name are coded and contain no information which identifies you personally.  We keep these records for up to 6 years following the end of your therapy.  Copies of your notes are available at your request and details of how to do this will be made available to you if that is something that you need.

In order to ensure that your counsellor is meeting your needs in therapy and working safely and ethically with you she has to take part in regular clinical supervision.  This involves the counsellor taking aspects of her work to a clinical supervisor.  The clinical supervisor is a senior and experienced practitioner who ensures that your counsellor is consistently working to professional and ethical standards at all times and that the therapy is meeting   The clinical supervisor is bound by My Sisters Place confidentiality policies and procedures.

What if I just don’t know?

You are very welcome to contact us at anytime if you have any questions.  We cant always ensure that you will reach us directly as our counsellors may be in session but you can leave a message and ask us to call.  We are happy to answer any questions you have.