Frequently Asked Questions
At ISAS we believe in the client's right to information about our organisation, our counsellors and the counselling process.
The following question and answer list has been developed as a result of our relationships with former clients and it is hoped that it will assist new clients with any concerns they may have.
If your question is not on this list, then please contact us and let us know.
What is counselling and how does it work?
Counselling is a professional relationship bounded by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy's ethical framework. It is a process of support and exploration in which the counsellor provides a safe environment for you to explore at your own pace, the issues of concern. The aim is to provide the opportunity for you to work towards living in a more satisfying and resourceful way.
Counselling works by allowing you to talk and explore your feelings in such a way that a deeper understanding and healing can be achieved. This can be a painful process but you have a right to your pain and to its healing. You will not be told what to do and will be supported through this process with respect and compassion.
Is what I talk about confidential?
What you say to your counsellor will be kept confidential within the organisation. Your identity will not be revealed and we do not give out any information about our clients to anyone without your permission.
Confidentiality will only be breached in very specific and special circumstances - you will be made aware of these at your assessment. In any breach of confidentiality, unless it is an emergency, we would not do anything without talking to you first and any information would be restricted to the particular issue. It is very rare for confidentiality to be broken.
Do counsellors keep records?
Yes, however only your client number and/or initial will identify you. Counsellors who are attending a training course are often required to record their sessions but will not do so without your permission. The records are for training purposes only and are wiped after use.
Additionally, counsellors in training are required to present client case-studies - client identity is disguised and the counsellor will ask permission before using any client information. You have the right to refuse and the right to see your case notes.
What qualifications/experience do ISAS counsellors have?
All ISAS counsellors are either qualified to at least Diploma level or are in their final year of Diploma training. In addition they receive specialised training within ISAS on the effects and treatment of childhood sexual trauma. They have all undergone their own personal therapy.
Are ISAS counsellors supervised?
Yes, all counsellors receive professional supervision in accordance with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) guidelines. Client identification is kept confidential as previously stated.
ISAS is an organisational member of BACP and is bound by its Code of Ethics and Practice.
How long will each session last and how frequent will sessions be?
Sessions generally last between 50 minutes and one hour, depending on the counsellor. This will be explained to you in your initial session. The frequency of sessions is usually once a week. Any changes to these can be negotiated with your counsellor - for example a longer session may be required for a particular piece of work. Other appointments, work or family issues may require missing or moving an appointment.
It is not possible to state how long you will need to continue with your counselling as this is a very individual process. We offer 8, 12, 24 and 36 sessions.
Clients who have completed counselling for more than 3 months can, if they wish go back on the waiting list for further counselling. Going back on the waiting list will not guarantee that they will see the same counsellor.
What if I can't make a session?
We require at least 24 hours notice (except in emergencies) for any cancellations, but please inform us as soon as you know you will be unable to attend your appointment as this time could then be used for another client.
How much will it cost?
ISAS provides a free service but as a charity donations are always welcome.
Most counselling organisations calculate their counselling costs at between £40-£60 per hour. This means even though ISAS is lucky enough to receive free time from its dedicated pool of Volunteers, that ISAS needs donations and financial support to keep the service running.
If you can then we would ask you to donate to us wherever possible. £40 will cover an initial assessment with a survivor, helping them to know that help is finally on its way. £300 will help to deliver a course of counselling sessions for those less traumatised and £900 will help offer support to a survivor needing longer term support.
What if I find it hard to trust people and am very nervous about my first session?
We do not expect you to trust us immediately and we encourage clients to take their time, to check us out and allow the relationship to develop. It is natural to feel nervous and we understand it is a big step for most people to take.
What if I feel I am not getting what I need from my counsellor - can I change?
It is possible to change your counsellor at any time during your counselling relationship. If you feel that this is something you wish to do, either talk to your counsellor or an ISAS member of staff. You will be encouraged to explore what is not working for you in order that it can be either put right or avoided in the future. It is recommended that new clients allow a few weeks for the relationship to become established before requesting a change. However, if you have any concerns at any time we do want to hear about them.
Is there a complaints procedure?
ISAS has a written complaints procedure in accordance with the BACP and we will take any complaint seriously and deal with it swiftly.
What if I decide to end counselling?
Your decisions will always be respected. Endings are very important and often this issue will have been discussed during your sessions. The ideal ending would be planned and built up to where goodbyes can be said, your strengths honoured and applauded and the work you have done acknowledged. Endings happen in a variety of ways and ideally you will be in control of how you choose to do this. On rare occasions a counsellor may have to leave due to illness or other personal reasons. If this happens you will be informed immediately and offered another counsellor.
Does ISAS and its Counsellors have adequate insurance cover?
Yes, we have comprehensive Public Liability Insurance and are covered wherever we provide our service.
ISAS will offer help to anyone over the age of 16 regardless of race, personal beliefs, sexual orientation, social background, disability, special needs, gender reassignment or transgender related issues. We have access and toilets suitable for wheelchair users.
ISAS does have a no-violence contract, if a client harms the counsellor, the counsellor's belongings or damages any of the property we reserve the right to terminate the contract immediately and if necessary, call the police.
ISAS does not offer legal, financial or medical advice. If you need these or other services not offered by ISAS we may be able to suggest an alternative source of help.
ISAS attempts to provide a caring, effective and efficient service. To help us with this, we invite clients to comment on their experience of ISAS. If you want to comment about any part of our service please contact the Chairperson or the Chief Executive Officer as soon as possible
We are committed to raising awareness on issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse and to achieve positive change in society through education and campaigning.