Counselling offers a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment in which to explore what has happened to you with the help of a qualified counsellor.

About counselling

Our counsellors are trained to understand the complexities of surviving sexual violence and abuse. They will have had experience of working with depression, anxiety, complex trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative conditions. They know how difficult it can be to tell your story, perhaps for the first time.

Your counsellor will listen, will help you to stabilise and regulate your emotions and work with you to find the strength you need to cope with and recover from your past experiences. Your counsellor will work with you to tailor your counselling sessions to meet your specific needs.

It is not your counsellor’s job to tell you what to do. It is their job to work with you so that you can make your own decisions about what to do.  They may, however, provide you with information or suggest some reading materials.

Anything you tell the counsellor is kept entirely confidential within Survive. Your counsellor will only breach this confidentiality if they think you, or someone else, is at risk of serious harm.

The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has produced a useful guide called ‘Introduction to counselling’ which you may find interesting.

What to expect

After an initial assessment, which is intended to help you and your counsellor explore whether counselling is likely to be helpful to you, you will receive up to 10 weekly one-to-one sessions. These sessions usually last around 50-55 minutes. You will be expected to commit to up to 10 consecutive weeks of counselling.

Am I ready for counselling?

You will be expected to commit up to 10 consecutive weeks of counselling.  Your sessions will be at the same time and on the same day each week. If you are currently in crisis or experiencing a period of upheaval, then it may be better to wait a while before you start your counselling journey. During this period, you can still access Survive Support Work and remain on our waiting list until you are ready.

Counselling is not considered suitable for certain groups of people such as:

  • anyone who has recently taken steps to take their own life
  • anyone in current mental health crisis
  • anyone who has recently been raped or sexually assaulted (i.e. in the last few days or weeks)
  • anyone who has drug or alcohol addiction issues (we would recommend these addiction issues are addressed prior to starting counselling)

What if 10 weeks is not enough?

In addition to the 10-week counselling programme, Survive also offers 20 weeks of trauma therapy or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). Your counsellor will be happy to talk to you about these other services. We normally recommend a break of 3 months before going on to access these other services. During this period, you will be able to access support from our Support Workers.

How to start the process

You can either self-refer to Survive’s counselling service by calling 01904 638 813, by emailing or you may be referred to us by the Supporting Victims Unit.


The first time you are called stupid you laugh it off. By the hundredth time, you start to believe it may be true and by the thousand time, you are convinced, it is true.

This is all the softening up so that you become vulnerable.

Sexual abuse counselling services York


I was in my 40s when I reached crisis point and was unable to function.

The abuse happened when I was a child and Survive was my last hope.

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