Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I make an appointment?
The best way to make an appointment is to fill in our online Counselling Enquiry Form.

Alternatively you can email us on or ring the office on 01206 791661 and leave a message on the confidential answer phone and one of our referral team will get back to you within 24 hours. We will then take your details and begin the referral process. If you email us could you please let us know your contact details as we need to speak to you in order to take your information.

You've taken all of my details. What happens next?
Once we have filled out a referral form with you over the phone we will check our list of Team Counsellors or mature trainee counsellors on placement at LIFE-FORCE, and see which one is most appropriate for you to see taking into consideration your specific needs, availability and the chosen fee. The counsellor will then ring you directly to arrange your first appointment. Occasionally, you may get a phone call from the office before this happens, possibly to clarify your availability or ask a question that may not have been fully answered at referral stage.

I need to make a difficult choice, will the counsellor tell me what to do?
The aim of counselling is not for your counsellor to tell you what to do, but is rather to help you explore the situation so that you can reach your own decision as to what to do for the best.

I've been to your website and have seen a counsellor I'd like to have sessions with. Can I pick him?
This will depend on the specific Team Counsellor's fee and availability; if these meet your needs then we would refer you to your chosen counsellor. With this in mind it's a good idea to perhaps choose a few counsellors from the website and then the office will aim to refer you to one of these if at all possible. If this does not turn out to be possible then we will do our best to find you a counsellor with a similar approach and specialist area of expertise.

I don't want my GP to know about the counselling I'm having. Do they have to know?
If you are seeing a qualified counsellor we would not take your GP details. To see a mature trainee counsellor on placement at the Centre you need to be registered with a GP and provide us with the details. However, we would not inform your GP that you are attending counselling at LIFE-FORCE.
In either case, the only time your counsellor would contact your GP would be if they had a serious concern regarding your physical, emotional or mental well-being. They would encourage you to self disclose to your GP or alternatively write a letter that you could take to the GP yourself.

How confidential is it really?
Confidentiality is really important and LIFE-FORCE has a Confidentiality Policy to which all team counsellors are required to adhere. All of our Team Counsellors are members of BACP and as such are required to attend monthly supervision where they discuss their client work. However, all clients are presented under a pseudonym and any identifying details are never described.
There are situations where your counsellor may need to breach confidentiality in order to comply with the policies and procedures of LIFE-FORCE and BACP . These are as follows:

~ If you are considered to be a serious risk to yourself or to other people, then further professional advice could be beneficial.
~ Any illegal activities of public interest and acts of terrorism where not to disclose would break the law.
~ Any child protection issues where a child could be at risk of harm or neglect must be reported to the appropriate authorities as required by The Children Act 1989.

However, depending on the circumstances, your counsellor would always aim to seek your consent prior to disclosing any confidential information to the relevant professional person or organisation.

Do I need to ask my GP to refer me?
We operate an open access policy which means you can self-refer to our Counselling Service. 

I have a history of serious mental health issues. Will I still be able to see a trainee?
If you have a history of serious mental health problems then we would not be able to refer you to a trainee but would recommend a qualified counsellor. Sessions can be arranged fortnightly in order to reduce the cost if necessary.

My relative/friend is seeing a LIFE-FORCE counsellor, will I be seeing the same person? Due to confidentiality and in order to maintain good ethical practice you would be referred to a different counsellor from the one someone close to you know is seeing.

Can I ask to see a male or female counsellor?
We always ask all clients at the referral stage whether they would prefer to see a male or female counsellor, and then we aim to accommodate this preference if we possibly can.

I just found out I was adopted and I need to speak to someone. Do you have counsellors for that?
Anyone who has concerns where the main focus of the work is an adoption-related issue needs to see a counsellor at an adoption support agency registered with Ofsted. Please contact LINK BARNARDO'S on 01206 362540 or email

I work all week and have children to look after. Do you have any sessions at weekends?
We are open in the evenings during the week and also have some counsellors who work Saturdays and Sundays.

How long will it be before I have my first session?
The LIFE-FORCE office always aims to arrange the initial assessment session within a few working working days of contacting the service, however we do often have a waiting list to see a trainee counsellor.

How long does a session last?
Counselling sessions last 50 minutes.

How many sessions will I need?
Once you have attended your initial assessment session with your counsellor, if you both decide you wish to continue working together, then you will be offered either a short term contract, usually 6 weeks or an open longer term contract depending on what is most applicable.

What happens if I cancel a session?
Once you and your counsellor agree to work together you will be given a Client Therapy Contract which will include a cancellation arrangement. If you are unable to attend at any time then you will need to contact your counsellor and let them know. If you do not give the agreed amount of notice, then you would usually be required to pay a cancellation fee which is generally the cost of one session.

How do I pay?
Session fees are paid directly to your counsellor at either at the start or end of each session and payment is typically by cash or by BACS depending on the arrangement with your counsellor.

Will the counsellor write reports for me?
Your counsellor will write a report for you about the therapeutic work if you need them to for some professional reason. Normally there would be an additional charge for this service. Your counsellor may keep brief case notes about your sessions however, these will be stored in a secure location and will be destroyed after 7 years.

What if I don't get on with the therapist?
We always tell all clients at the referral stage that if you don't connect with the counsellor that we refer you to then you can contact the office who will arrange an appointment to see a different counsellor. We always do our best to find the right counsellor to suit the needs of each individual client enquiry.

I can't get a babysitter for my 9 year old daughter. Can I bring her with me?
Unfortunately we do not have a creche or child-care facilities. Due to the nature of counselling and the need for quiet, therapeutic space it would not be beneficial to bring children to the counselling sessions; unless, of course, it is for child counselling sessions.

I'm in a wheelchair. Is LIFE-FORCE accessible? Do you have disabled parking?
LIFE-FORCE has a disabled-friendly policy and we will do our best to accommodate the needs of disabled clients. The building is furnished with a disabled ramp at the rear of the premises, and providing the wheelchair is not wider than 27 inches, then disabled access is possible. Disabled parking is not provided, however visitors can be dropped off at the back entrance to the Centre. We also have a ground floor therapy room for clients who cannot manage the stairs. Visitors who can manage the three front steps and have a disabled blue car-parking badge can park outside the front of the building and can then enter via the front door.

Someone will be bringing me to my sessions. Is there somewhere they can wait for me?
Visitors are welcome to wait in either the Rainbow Room if free or alternatively they can wait in the Centre's kitchen where they can make a hot drink whilst waiting for a friend or relative.

What if I have a question that isn't answered here?
Please feel free to phone the office and speak to Alison or Sarah who will do their best to answer any other questions or concerns that you may have.

3 East Hill, Colchester, Essex CO1 2QL
Telephone Number 01206 791661