Frequently Asked Questions
How do I contact you?
When are you open?
Who are you?
Can I see you in my school?
I am under 18 years old – do I need permission from Mum/Dad/Carer?
I have been referred to you – what does that mean?
What is counselling?
Who provides the counselling?
How would I know if I could benefit from counselling?
How can counselling help me?
What does successful counselling feel like?
Do you tell me what to do?
Do you sort out my problems?
Will you give me advice?
How would I know if counselling is working?
What do you mean ‘confidential’?
Is everything discussed with a Counsellor confidential?
What do you mean Child Protection?
What do I do if I forget to come along to my session?
What is the Waiting List?
What if I don’t like my counsellor?
What if my mum or dad or carer wants to speak with my counsellor?
What if my social worker or GP wants to talk to my counsellor?
What if I feel bad in between sessions?
What if I am going on holiday?
What if I need a break but still want to see my counsellor when I come?
I find it difficult to talk openly about myself
I want counselling but I fell I would be wasting your time?
How much does it cost?
How many sessions are needed?
How can I help myself in counselling?
What should I know about my counsellor?
What can I expect from my counsellor?
Your Rights
How do I make a complaint if I am unhappy with HYCS?
Can I give you feedback?
What is the difference between a Psychiatrist, a Psychologist, a Counsellor, Learning Mentor, Youth Worker and a Social Worker?


Introduction
You may have some questions about counselling and the Hounslow Youth Counselling Service (HYCS) so we have tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. If you have questions that are not addressed here, please contact us and we will answer them. We hope the information here will help you to understand what counselling is. We also hope it may be helpful for parents/carers and professionals.

How do I contact you?
You can email us on our contact page or text us on 0208 568 1818 OR ring us on 0208 568 1818. If nobody answers your call immediately leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We also have a drop-in session that you can come along to without an appointment. Take a look at our website - it may be helpful.

When are you open?
We are open during the day and in the evenings, Monday to Friday. Normally you will need an appointment but there is a drop-in session.

Who are you?
We are the Hounslow Youth Counselling Service (HYCS) a registered, independent charity supported by the Hounslow Youth Support Services (IYSS). We have been working in the London Borough of Hounslow for over 20 years.

Can I see you in my school?
We do have counsellors in secondary schools in Hounslow.
  • Feltham Community College
  • Heathland School 
  • Hounslow Manor
  • Gunnersbury School
  • Chiswick Community School
  • Rivers Academy
If your school does have a HYCS counsellor then you can see the counsellor there. It is your choice – in school or at 78 St John’s Road.

I am under 18 years old – do I need permission from Mum/Dad/Carer?
The law is fairly clear that you don’t need permission to have counselling and we don’t need permission to work with you as long as you can understand what counselling is. You are free to tell your parents or carers that you want counselling from us or that you are receiving counselling and listen to their advice.

I have been referred to you – what does that mean?
If you have been referred that usually means someone, maybe your doctor, teacher, parent or social worker, is concerned about you. They might have contacted us and asked us to see you. We will always talk to you before we offer you counselling. We will ask if you want counselling and if you don’t then you do not have to see a HYCS counsellor. We will not persuade you or force you. If you change your mind and do want to see us then a counsellor will see you. It is your choice.

What is counselling?
Counselling is when you talk to someone who is trained to listen to you and is not involved personally with your life. The counsellor is there for you and will give you time and attention in a safe place for an hour, once per week. Counselling gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about what is going on in your life. It can also help you to see what potential you might have to make choices. You choose what you want to work on and the counsellor helps you to make your own decisions and choices. An honest, trusting and supportive relationship between counsellor and client is essential for the counselling process, and this means you are in control of what you say to your counsellor.

The counsellor will not be judgmental and will respect you for who you are, whatever your gender, ethnicity, beliefs, lifestyle, religion or sexual orientation.

Who provides the counselling?
Counselling is provided by our volunteer and paid staff who are all carefully selected and trained. They are all supported by the HYCS team of supervisors and managers and receive on going training.

How would I know if I could benefit from counselling?
Often people come for counselling because they are feeling confused, upset and don’t know what to do. If you are experiencing or feeling ongoing anger, depression, anxiety, or other emotions or feelings that are causing you physical or emotional discomfort, you may benefit from talking with a Counsellor.

How can counselling help me?
Friends and family can be supportive when life gets too much but at times it is so difficult to talk to them?
• You may be worried about hurting other people's feelings
• You may feel ashamed or embarrassed or guilty
• You don't want to show strong feelings like crying or anger in front of others
• Other people may not understand you
• Other people in your life may also be hurting and don’t want to listen to you or don’t know what to do

Counselling can help you to feel and think about your life in a different way.
Generally, the goal of counselling is to help people find their own solutions to problems, gain understanding of themselves and others, develop options in their life, explore values, express feelings, change behaviour, make choices, change relationships, or to become more fully alive.

Talking to one of our counsellors gives you the opportunity to say things you might not able to tell friends and family. And talking is the important thing in counselling. When we talk about what we feel or what we have experienced it help us to make some sense of it all. If the problem stays inside us it can get to grow bigger and be more of a problem and then it is even harder to tell someone else.

You have to do the work with the counsellor – it is a joint effort. Counselling can help alleviate emotional pain and suffering. It can help you develop new skills to deal with the problems at hand. It can help increase your self-esteem. It can give you hope that there is a better way. You can take the new ideas and skills and put them into practice in your life.

What does successful counselling feel like?
Successful counselling means different things to different people. Everybody has their own feelings about it. Some clients say “it feels like something has changed - something is different”. You may feel more hope and self-confidence. Some clients say “it helped me to get through the difficult times – they were still difficult but I came out the other end”. Some clients say “I tried out being different and people noticed. It felt good to be out of the bad patterns”.
In the end, you are the one who makes the decision about whether counselling has been successful.

Do you tell me what to do?
No – we don’t tell you what to do about your life. We might ask you to try something in a counselling session or give you some information.

Do you sort out my problems?
No – but we will help you explore them and see how they might be sorted.

Will you give me advice?
No – we won’t tell you what is best for you. But when you talk with your counsellor ideas and options will come out and the counsellor will help you to decide on what appears best for you at that time. The counsellor or HYCS might give you information.

How would I know if counselling is working?
If you are benefiting from counselling then you may feel that you don’t feel as bad, your thoughts are clearer and you have ideas about what you want and how to get it. You will most likely feel "listened to" and understood.

What do you mean ‘confidential’?
It is always our intention to keep what you say to us confidential. This means that what you say to the counsellor will normally, only be spoken about within the Service. A counsellor will speak to a supervisor and other relevant staff to ensure we are offering you the best service.

Is everything discussed with a Counsellor confidential?
There are however some limits to confidentiality. If we are very worried about your safety because the situation you say you are in makes us think your life or the life of someone else is being threatened, we will talk to you about the need for other people to know. Your counsellor will only take action to talk to someone outside of the service without your consent if she feels it's an emergency.

There are other exceptions, for example, in rare circumstances our records can be subpoenaed by the Court or we may be called to testify. Also we are obliged to report to the police if we know about acts of terrorism or drug trafficking and laundering of drug money. Child protection is another area where counsellors need to think carefully about confidentiality.

What do you mean Child Protection and Safeguarding?
When a child (anyone under 18) or a vulnerable adult is at risk of serious harm then HYCS’ counsellors will need to think about the safety of that person. At HYCS we have procedures which will guide the counsellor and the client through what can be difficult situations.

What do I do if I forget to come along to my session?
We realise that you may have other things on your mind and forget to come along or get confused about the timing. Sometimes you maybe won’t feel up to it. You will not be in trouble for not attending. All we ask is that you give us a ring to say whether you want to keep coming and then come along for the next session.

If you miss 2 sessions without letting us know we will not book you in for a 3rd session. We will contact you to let you know that. The counsellor will then need to book another person in to that time slot.

You can contact us at any time to come back for counselling.

What is the Waiting List?
When someone rings up to see one of our counsellors we put them on a list. We normally have more people wanting to talk with us than we have free counsellors and so there can be a bit of wait. We try to see everybody as soon as we can and book people in by date order. If you want to find out where you are on the list just give us a ring, text or email and we will let you know.

What if I don’t like my counsellor?
We know that it is important to feel comfortable with your counsellor but he or she may not be right for you. You do not have to see the counsellor you first meet with. We hope that you can talk about it with your counsellor. He or she will help you to talk about it and if necessary to sort out you seeing someone else. Not a problem.

What if my mum or dad or carer wants to speak with my counsellor?
Normally the counsellor will not speak with carers or parents. They can speak with the service managers who will explain how we work. It is important that this service is for you. We don’t offer counselling which involves family members and we don’t pass on information about you to your family or friends. We would encourage you to speak about your issues to important people in your life when you are ready.

What if my social worker or GP wants to talk to my counsellor?
Again the counsellor will not normally speak with anyone outside the service. The counselling managers will talk to other professionals about how the service works. If other professionals are working with you then, if necessary and with your permission, managers might check we are all working in your best interests. Again we would support you in speaking about important issues to other key workers.

What if I feel bad in between sessions?
Sometimes this happens and you may feel that you want to talk to someone. You can always ring us and if a counsellor is available you will be able to speak over the phone. You can also come along to the drop-in session and talk with someone. We will also give you a list of agencies you can talk to over the phone if we are not available.

What if I am going on holiday?
That’s fine if you go on holiday. Your counsellor will keep a space open for your return. If you go away for a long holiday, say, more than 4 weeks then you would need to discuss with your counsellor how that might work.

What if I need a break but still want to see my counsellor when I come back?
No problem taking a break. You can request to see your counsellor when you return. If you have been away for a while then you might have to go back on the waiting to list until your counsellor is free to see you.

I find it difficult to talk openly about myself
It is not unusual to find the early counselling sessions difficult or uncomfortable. Sometimes people do not know what to say and feel a pressure to say anything. The counsellors are trained to work with these difficult moments and silences can be a normal part of sessions. As you become more used to having a chance to talk about yourself and as you realise you have a non-judgmental counsellor to listen, you will almost certainly find it easier to talk and will begin to appreciate the benefits of being able to do this.

I want to talk to someone but I feel I would be wasting your time
We are trained to listen to whatever you want to talk about and to listen to anyone that wants to talk. The topic and how difficult it is does not matter to us. We are there if you want to talk – about anything. Difficulties can be too much one minute and not a problem the next.
And it doesn’t have to be a problem you talk about – everyday stuff and successes are good to talk about as well.

How much does counselling cost?
Nothing. It is free for all clients aged between 11 and 26 who live, work and/or study in the London Borough of Hounslow.

How many sessions are needed?
It's up to you. Your counsellor will ask to meet with you once per week for up to 1 hour. It may be 1 session or it may be a lot more. Everyone is different and we don’t tell you how many sessions you should have but we do listen to you if you say you want to continue or end the counselling. When you feel you are ready to end the sessions then you can talk this over with your counsellor.

The doors at HYCS are always open, and you can choose to end, take a break, seek counselling elsewhere, and return to counselling at HYCS any time. It really is your choice - you will know when you are ready to finish meeting your counsellor.

How can I help myself in counselling?
Counselling can at times seem difficult. You may have to talk about painful or embarrassing topics. You may feel worse at times because you have opened up memories. You can help yourself by talking with the counsellor about these difficulties.

Of course it is important to turn up to the sessions but if you feel you cannot attend then to tell your counsellor and talk about when you can next attend.

We also know that having enough sleep and a reasonable diet can help you to have the energy to do the work.

What should I know about my counsellor?
It is important to feel as comfortable about your counsellor as possible. You should be satisfied that your counsellor is able to be there for you and listen.
Hounslow Youth Counselling Service has carefully selected all the counsellors that work for us. All have had counselling training and follow our policies and procedures that are designed to give you a good service. All counsellors receive supervision and on-going training.

HYCS is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and all counsellors with HYCS follow the BACP code of ethics. This is for your protection.

What can I expect from my counsellor?
Your counsellor will:
• treat you with integrity
• be non-judgemental
• respect your opinions and beliefs even if they differ from their own
• be honest and forthright with you
• act ethically and morally
• make you aware of your rights and responsibilities at the beginning of counselling

Your Rights
As a consumer of counselling services at HYCS, you have the right to:
• be treated with respect at all times
• ask questions about anything that occurs during counselling
• choose not to participate in any counselling technique suggested by your counsellor
• end counselling at any time without any obligations
• confidentiality - within the limitations mentioned above
• request a referral to other services at any time
• the highest quality of professional care and competence

How do I make a complaint if I am unhappy with HYCS?
We have a complaints procedure at HYCS and you can make a complaint about the service you have received if you feel unhappy with it. We would ask you to speak firstly with your counsellor but if that is not possible then there are other people within the organisation that will listen to you. If we fail to resolve the problem you can always go to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy www.bacp.co.uk
We will take your complaint seriously.

Can I give you feedback?
Yes – we ask all clients to give us feedback. There is an evaluation form that you can fill in and send back to us at any time if you want to.

What is the difference between a Psychiatrist, a Psychologist, a Counsellor, Learning Mentor, Youth Worker and a Social Worker?
All these professionals work with young people and children. They all have different jobs but they are all there to help and the welfare of their clients is top of the list. Sometimes what each person does seems similar and they will all talk to you. But they have different roles and it is important to know how each person can help you.

Psychiatrists
Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors that receive additional training in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication if they feel it is called for. They tend to be called upon to treat the more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and manic depression.

Psychologists
They typically carry out much of the research in the field of psychology. Unlike psychiatry, psychology is a non-medical discipline that has been firstly concerned with the normal functioning of the mind and has explored areas such as learning, remembering and the normal psychological development of children. Psychologists are not able to prescribe medication and so concentrate exclusively on psychological or 'talking treatments'. They treat a wide range of conditions, including phobias, depression, other individual emotional problems and family problems. Psychologists might be involved in assessment of psychological or physical problems.

Social Workers
Social workers usually help children and families who are having difficulties coping with the everyday routines. This may be as a result of physical or mental illness or other extreme events. They will know about services in the area and support people towards a more fulfilling life. They have statutory powers which means they can get the courts to insist that, for example, children are properly cared for.

Learning Mentor
This job covers a variety of areas from careers guidance to working with students in classrooms. A Learning Mentor will help you with your education in practical ways.

Youth Worker
Youth workers work in different places: youth centres; on the streets; in the outdoors as well as in schools. The youth worker will help you develop as a person by introducing you to activities that are challenging and educational. For example, youth workers may set up arts projects in a centre or teach you about the outdoors through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

Counsellors
The role of Counsellor has many similarities to the other professionals. The counsellor will listen to you and help you to develop. Counselling at HYCS will be much less directive and the counsellor will only work in the room with you. The counsellor has no legal powers to make you do anything and the work will be about what you feel and think about your situation.