Some common questions about counselling and how we work.
1. What is counselling
Counselling involves individuals, couples or family groups having sessions with a counsellor where they talk through an issue or work through a problem. The counsellor is trained to help people understand themselves better, relate better to others and make decisions about what to do next. Your counsellor will help you talk openly and honestly.
In sex therapy, your therapist will carefully assess with you what the sexual difficulties are and how you can be helped. This usually means they will design a sequence of tasks and exercises that you complete together (if you’re attending with a partner) or individually at home. The therapist will discuss your progress at each session and work at your pace to build on new learning and experience. Sex therapy is a talking therapy and you will not be asked to undress or do anything sexual during the sessions.
2. How much does it cost
Relate Cambridgeshire is a registered charity and a not-for-profit organisation; we aim to provide a service for everybody. We ask you to pay the minimum fee to cover our costs and to increase that amount, based on your income if you are able.
You can read about our fees here.
3. What if I have to cancel my appointment?
If you are unable to keep an appointment, please telephone or email us as soon as possible and another appointment can be scheduled for you.
However, if an appointment is cancelled with less than 48 hours' notice, full payment will be due.
4. Once I’ve registered what will happen next?
We want everyone who visits us to get the most effective support available. That's why your first visit with a counsellor will generally be about deciding together if we are best placed to give you the support you need or whether somewhere else might be more appropriate.
We have different ways of doing this depending on the kind of counselling you're coming for. For instance, if you're coming for relationship counselling we'll ask to see all those in the relationship individually as well as together before deciding on the way forward. We call this an Initial Assessment. This means that if you're in a couple, it will generally take three sessions (two individually and one together) to complete your Initial Assessment. In family counselling, however, your counsellor will explore how it's best to get everyone's thoughts before suggesting ongoing family counselling with us.
It might seem drawn out or complicated, but our only aim is to ensure we don't waste your time and that you get the support that's right for you.
5. What can I expect when I come for counselling – length of session, number of sessions
Each counselling session lasts for up to 50 minutes. The number of sessions you need can be discussed with your counsellor, but we can offer you up to 20 sessions for Individual Counselling and up to 15 for Relationship Counselling. If your sessions are paid for through a contract or by our Bursary the number of sessions are limited to 6.
6. What if violence or abuse is an issue?
Violence and abuse is an issue for some people who come to us for help with their relationships. We know that in this situation working with both partners together may not be safe. If this is the case then we will suggest each partner receives individual specialist support either from Relate or another agency. The counsellor will explain at the first session how we work.
7. Can we use counselling to help with a separation?
Yes. Counselling is a very effective way of talking through and negotiating a separation or divorce. It can help you process any of the tough emotions you might be struggling to deal with, and bring the relationship to an end with as little pain or misunderstanding as possible.
If you think you might need a bit more support to make arrangements about finances or children, mediation might be the best option for you.
8. Does Relate work with LGBTQ+ clients
Yes. We welcome all individuals and couples irrespective of how they identify in terms of sexuality or gender. All our services offer professional counselling support to LGBTQ+ couples, individuals and families. Our professionally trained counsellors will support you in a non-judgmental way and will always give you the respect you deserve. The Family Counselling service does not rely on a strict definition of who constitutes a family, it can include parents, children, step-parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and close family friends.
9. Can I bring my children with me?
No, it is not appropriate to bring your children or baby with you if you are seeing a counsellor face to face as we are unable to offer crèche facilities at our counselling locations. Even small babies can pick up on emotions in the counselling room and the counsellor will be able to support you best if your whole attention is given to the counselling process. The same applies if you are seeing a counsellor online and we would ask you to make arrangements for children to be cared for by someone else for the duration of you counselling session.
If you are attending for Family Counselling it may be appropriate to bring a child with you if you have arranged this with your counsellor in advance. For a first assessment appointment for Family Counselling, please discuss the age/s of your children when booking and the appointments team will guide you as to what is suitable.
10. Do you have disability access to your counselling rooms?
Yes, we do. We will ask when booking your initial appointment if there are accessibility issues for us to consider. We are also able to offer you online counselling if you are unable to get to our locations. So please do tell us if there is anything we can help with in advance of your session.
11. Can I come to counselling on my own?
We offer a Relationship Counselling service that can be attended as a couple or as an individual if the main focus of the counselling is on relationship difficulties.
We also have an Individual Counselling service for clients who may be facing all sorts of challenges ranging from low self-esteem, depression, to work-related issues.
As part of the assessment process, the counsellor will be able to discuss with you which of our services would be most helpful for you.
12. Do I have to be referred by my GP to receive counselling? Or can I self-refer
You do not need a GP referral to make an appointment for our counselling services. Please just contact us directly and we’ll help you find the right service for your needs.
13. Will you ring my partner for me and tell them to come?
We can't do this for you, but when you come to the first session, the counsellor will help you to approach and encourage your partner to come if that is appropriate.
14. Do Relate counsellors have special training?
Relate counsellors have all received special training in relationship counselling. It takes two to three years to become a fully-qualified Relate counsellor. All our Relationship counsellors are skilled in offering individual counselling too.
Some of our team have undergone further training to specialise in areas such as family counselling and sex therapy.
Relate Cambridgeshire may talk to you about seeing a trainee counsellor. Trainees receive thorough academic and practical training and are carefully assessed throughout this process and also after they qualify. All counsellors continue with ongoing training and consultation with other professionals to make sure they give you the highest standard of counselling.
15. Is it confidential?
Relate offers private and confidential help to our clients.
We will not give your name or any information about you to anyone outside Relate, unless someone’s personal safety is at risk.
We will give you more information about confidentiality when you come for your first session.
16. Does Relate comply with recognised standards
We work to the relevant ethical framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the College of Relationship and Sex Therapists (COSRT) and the Association for Family Therapy (AFT). The Department of Health’s publication, “Talking Therapies” also recommends Relate as a reputable provider of counselling.
17. Does Relate keep records of the sessions
We keep confidential records and statistics about our clients. Records are kept for a limited period and are then destroyed.We comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018. We will give you more information about this when you come for your first session.