Frequently Asked Questions

home » Frequently Asked Questions

We support anyone who is distressed as a result of a relationship, whether current or past. Counselling helps you take time out from your situation and see it from a fresh perspective. Working with a counsellor gives you, or you and your partner, a chance to think about what you can do to change your situation for the better. It also gives you a chance to explore complex or difficult issues in a safe and confidential environment.

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.

You will initially have an assessment session with an experienced relationship counsellor. You and the Relate counsellor will discuss the issues you bring and how Relate works. Sometimes a one-off appointment can be enough to help you, but more likely your counsellor will recommend some ongoing Relate counselling. If your counsellor doesn’t think we are best placed to help, they may suggest another organisation that would be better placed to support you. When you first arrive you will be asked to fill out some forms in order to help the counsellor understand more about your situation and record your on-going 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. If you decide to have ongoing counselling the appointments team will discuss dates and times with you and match you to the next available regular slot. This may or may not mean you have to wait – it depends on how flexible you can be – daytime appointments often being more available than evening ones. You might be coming to counselling with your partner, your family, a family member or alone. Many people also find it helpful to come on their own for counselling and sex therapy, whether or not they are in a relationship.

We are a BACP Accredited organisation, regularly monitored to ensure that we fully adhere to the BACP Code of Ethics,  and we have stringent supervision of our staff team to ensure they are adhering to all our policies and procedures. Before we undertake counselling we have an assessment to ensure that our service is suitable for clients, and if not, we will signpost to a more appropriate service. All our counsellors have mandatory ongoing training to ensure they are up to date.

Relate counsellors have all received specialist 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, children and young people counselling and sex therapy. Your Relate Centre may talk to you about seeing a “counsellor-in-training”. Counsellors-in-training receive thorough academic and practical training and are carefully assessed throughout this process and after they qualify. All counsellors continue with on-going training and consultation with other professionals to make sure they give you the highest standard of counselling.

No. 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.

The cost of sessions will be determined by your household income. People often ask why if we are a charity we charge. Relate London North East and Essex is a ‘not for profit’ charity and the money that we charge goes straight back into providing the best service possible. We try to keep the cost of counselling as low as possible, but we need to make a charge to cover the cost of what we spend.  We have a limited bursary fund for clients who cannot afford to pay the full cost. Please do ask if you think a bursary is what you need. To confirm your appointment you will be asked for a payment in advance of all booked appointments.

Yes. Counselling is a very effective way of negotiating a separation or divorce. It can help you to process any emotions that you might be struggling to deal with, or bring the relationship to a conclusion with as little pain or misunderstanding as possible. We run a follow on Mediation service which will help you with all the practicalities of splitting up, and it is a cost effective way of divorcing. Most importantly, it is an effective way of ensuring that the voice of the child is heard in these difficult circumstances. Please see the Mediation tab on our website for further information.

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-judgemental way. Our counsellors and trainers will always give you the respect you deserve. 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, close family friends.

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?

Please try to get to your first appointment in good time so that it allows you some space to settle and consider the issues you want to raise in the counselling room.

We strive to offer you the best counselling experience in a professional, positive and informative way.

We welcome feedback and want to hear your views on our services. Please do help us by completing the questionnaire that you will be given both before and after counselling.

If however you are unhappy with any aspect of our services please do talk to us about it and should you wish to make a formal complaint, please ask for a copy of our complaint procedure.

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.

First appointments are usually given within 1-2 weeks of contacting Relate.

Counselling sessions are available at various times throughout the day and on several evenings a week until 10.00pm. You do need to make an appointment. Our appointment team will be able to give you details.

Sessions are usually once a week for 50 minutes but this can be flexible according to your particular circumstances.

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 anything from six to ten sessions is about right for counselling, but Sex therapy can be a longer process.

In Sex therapy, your therapist will carefully assess with you what the sexual difficulties are and how they can be helped.

This usually means he or she will design a sequence of tasks and exercises that you can 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.

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 suggest each partner receives individual specialist support either from Relate or another agency.

The counsellor will explain at the first session how we work.

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 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

We will give your more information about this when you come for your first session.

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.

No, it is not appropriate to bring your children or baby with you and 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.

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.

Usually no one has to wait more than one week for an initial appointment. The waiting time for ongoing counselling depends on your availability and the centre you would like to attend.

There may be a shorter wait time for daytime appointments (before 4.00pm).

Can I come on my own?

Yes. Whether you are single or your partner does not want to be involved you are welcome to attend.

Yes we do.

We will ask when booking in your initial appointment is there are accessibility issues for us to consider.

We are also able to offer you skype 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.

No, but if you need one we can arrange this but regrettably we will have to charge for it.

If you inform us before you come along we can arrange to fill in the form for you. If you don’t, please mention it to the administrator who will help you.

All our staff are trained in Systemic and Psychodynamic interventions, these form the basis of the Relate training.  However, a large number of our staff team are qualified counsellors when they decide to work for us, and they may have extensive experience in other types of intervention, for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Person Centred Therapy, Transactional Analysis etc.  This means that when the client comes into counselling, the counsellor can make a judgement on how he/she will work with them, which would be the therapy that would be most suitable.  Usually it is Systemic or Psychodynamic, but often interspersed with different approaches in order to get the best out of the counselling.

Feeling at the end of your tether, stuck at home with everyone?  If you would like to have a video call from one of our expert relationship counsellors, that’s easy for us to arrange at a time to suit you.

Just call 01708 441722 to speak to our friendly staff team.  We are also available to provide a phone call if that would suit you better.