Frequently Asked Questions
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 at the sessions. Counselling is available to all adult couples and all families regardless of race, ability or sexual orientation.
What will happen when I come for counselling?
You might be coming to counselling with your partner, your family or a family member. Many people also find it helpful to come on their own for counselling and sex therapy, whether or not they are in a relationship. At your first session a counsellor will talk with you for up to one hour. You and your counsellor will discuss how Relate might be able to help and, if appropriate, your counsellor will recommend a Relate counselling service, Relate sex therapy or another Relate service. If your counsellor doesn’t think we are best placed to help, they may suggest another organisation.
When you first arrive you will be asked to answer some questions in order to help the counsellor understand more about your situation and record your ongoing progress. These forms are confidential and will not be shown to your partner. If you are unsure about how Relate will use any of the information held about you, please ask your counsellor or a member of staff.
Should I do anything before my first session?
You might find it useful to think about how you want counselling to help. For example, are you looking to feel better about something in the past or do you want to make a change to your life now?
How often will I have appointments?
Sessions are usually once a week for up to an hour. Counselling will continue for as long as you and the counsellor feel it is helpful. The number of sessions depends on you. Most people find four or six sessions is about right for counselling, but sex therapy can be a longer process.
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. They undergo further training to specialise in areas such as family counselling and sex therapy. Relate Cambridge 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.
Does Relate comply with any recognised standards?
Relate works 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.
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 the organisation unless we have reason to believe that someone, especially a child, is at risk of serious harm. We will give you more information about confidentiality when you come for your first session.
Does Relate keep records of our sessions?
Relate keeps confidential records and statistics about our clients. Records are kept for a limited period and are then destroyed. Relate complies with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. We will give you more information about this when you come for your first session.
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 relationship. We know that in this situation working with both partners together may not be safe. If this is the case then we would help each partner to get individual specialist support from Relate or another agency.
What if I have a complaint?
We welcome feedback and want to hear your views on our services. If you wish to make a complaint, please refer to our complaints procedure.