The following are a selection of some of the frequently asked questions:
- What is counseling?
- How long does a session last?
- How much does counselling at the Centre cost?
- Are the counsellors fully qualified?
- How long do I have to wait to see a counsellor?
- Is counselling available to men?
- How long will it take before I feel better?
- Is there any point in counselling?
- Can I really recover from such a traumatic experience?
- Will I ever be the same again?
- Am I going mad?
What is counselling?
Counselling is an opportunity to talk about feelings, memories, beliefs, attitudes and events which have affected the person’s life and their ability to cope with work and relationships - it is not uncommon to feel fearful and anxious before undergoing counselling. People may have ‘bottled’ up painful feelings and events and fear that they will be unable to cope with anything once they start to speak about what has happened to them. In a counselling setting, the counsellor provides the support and encouragement for the person to go at their own pace with the counselling. They will receive encouragement but not pressure or expectations.
For further information on the different kinds of counselling available at the Centre please visit our services page.
How long does a counselling session last?
Counselling sessions are every week at the same time for one hour.
How much does counselling at the Centre cost?
All counselling services are free at the Sexual Violence Centre Cork.
Are the counsellors fully qualified?
Yes. All the counsellors employed by the Centre are qualified and accredited to professional organisations e.g. the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. The Centre also employs an external counselling supervisor.
How long do I have to wait to see a counsellor?
When you make contact with the Centre you will have an initial visit in a matter of days. Your name is then put on a waiting list until a space becomes free. The average length of time someone waits is three months but this can vary. The Centre provides crisis counselling immediately and can offer support counselling to those on the waiting list.
Confidentiality is very important in the work of the Centre. What is discussed in your counselling sessions is confidential. The only exceptions arise if the Centre becomes aware of a child at risk or if the counsellor is concerned that the person in counselling could be at serious risk. In either of these rare situations, the counsellor will discuss everything fully with the client as there is an obligation to report to the relevant authorities.
Is counselling available to men?
Yes. The Centre provides counselling to men who have been raped, assaulted or are survivors of child sexual abuse.
How long will it take before I feel better?
Unfortunately a counsellor cannot give a definite answer to this question. The pace and duration of healing is unique to the individual. Most people feel better pretty well straightaway; bottling up feelings and guarding secrets can lead to depression and there can often be a feeling of relief after the first sessions. In the later stages of counselling people begin to feel able to live life relatively free from troubling symptoms, however, reaching a point of completion may take a little longer for some people.
Is there any point in counselling?
There are ways in which people have been known to cope with the aftermath of child sexual abuse, rape and assault. Some of the more common ways people have spoken of are abuse of alcohol and drugs. Others develop eating disorders such as anorexia/bulimia. Some survivors get involved in abusive relationships.
As a result of the abuse people may have nightmares, experience shame, some may develop depression and it is common for survivors to have difficulty coping with day to day stresses.
In all of the above the person has found a way of coping which is not healthy. Counselling provides an avenue for dealing with the person’s past and present without further damaging him/her.
Can I really recover from such a traumatic experience?
There is a simple answer to the above question and it is yes.
There is a wealth of information available from people who have written about their recovery from such traumatic experiences. What recovery means to one person will mean something else to another but the effect is the same. The survivor “feels” better in her/himself - the abusive memories of what has happened in either his/her childhood or adulthood are now in a place where they no longer cause him/her shame, embarrassment, rage, loneliness, depression, isolation, alienation, etc.
In the process of recovery those feelings become smaller and smaller and even disappear to be replaced by feelings of worth in oneself, courage, faith, hope, capability, new direction, new dreams, opportunities to develop different types of relationships and or lifestyles.
However, counselling is not for everyone. Some people find it is not for them. The Centre will help a person to make their own decision about the place counselling can play in their unique recovery path.
Will I ever be the same again?
In recovery there is no turning back to the person one was before the abuse occurred. Time does not allow one to go back, but forward. It is “change” that will occur as opposed to finding oneself the “same” again.
Once a person begins to deal with the abusive history that one carries there is a slow gradual process that begins to enable one to move from the horrors of one’s experience to a different way of living in herself and with herself. Although she may begin to feel like the self that she once was before she was abused, there will be subtle changes that have occurred in herself whilst recovering and these changes ensure her healing from her past and support her as she continues to grow and develop in herself in her future living.
Am I going mad?
People who have suffered trauma through having been abused in childhood sometimes repress (i.e. put it away from conscious memory) the memory as it is too painful to cope with. Much later on, something may trigger a part of the memory or feeling in relation to the abuse and the person may feel shock, disbelief and confusion.
Usually if the person can attend for counselling and talk about what they are experiencing they will retrieve more memory and it clarifies the confusion. However if the abuse happened when they were very young it may be very difficult to remember but exploring the feelings in a supportive environment can help a lot.
People who have been abused often have intense feelings of fear, anger and sadness, to the degree that some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. These intense feelings are normally reactions to traumatic experiences. When someone is going through such an intense period they need lots of support and rest.