Sexual Trauma & Abuse Restorative Therapies

Advice & Support Line
01962 868 688

The Lotus Programme

The Lotus flower has its roots in the deepest mud, and grows far away from the sun, but sooner or later it reaches the light and becomes a beautiful flower.

Welcome to the Lotus programme, the unique alternative to traditional weekly counselling for those who have experienced and survived Childhood Sexual Abuse. The Lotus programme brings together individual counselling, group-work and specialist workshops under the umbrella of an intensive, interactive and integrated programme of residential therapeutic support. Set within a safe and confidential environment, the Lotus programme aims to provide the opportunity to look at Childhood Sexual Abuse and the consequences of the trauma it has caused and how this influences adulthood. Lotus will explore a range of coping strategies which can be used and employed to manage and conquer the negative impact the trauma has had. By gaining an insight into your trauma you will emerge a stronger, better equipped and more self-confident individual, armed with an understanding of what happened to you and with a tool bag of strategies with which you can move forward and feel more positive about what the future holds.

What you need to consider before applying to join the Lotus residential programme …the three Rs

Can you relax?

Are you able to…relax?

We live in a world dominated by continual commitments, energy-sapping expectations and stressful situations and it is becoming increasingly harder to switch off and Relax. If you had the chance of getting away from it all for just a few days, to escape from the daily demands and regular routines of your life to focus on your needs, would you take it? Not, would you like to take it, but could you say “this week-end is for me and I am going”?. Could you set aside time without the fear of letting anyone else down, leave commitments to people and pets behind – and relax?

Are you able to…retreat?

We live in a world dominated by Technology, a fact. The internet invasion now seems to motivate and manage all our daily actions and interactions. Whether through tablets, PCs, laptops, or mobiles we no longer seem to be able to go through the day without them. Hours spent on Google, Twitter, Whats App, Texting, Facebook and Instagram, to name but a few. The Lotus programme is a haven from technology. So, ask yourself – “could I go for a few days without looking at or logging into a device and forget the latest tweet, post or notification – and retreat?’’

Are you able to…reflect?

We live in a world dominated by the here and now, the quick fix , the must have and move on society. We want to solve our issues and problems instantly, the internet to be just a few seconds quicker, the queue to go down a bit faster. Difficulties that take time become things to ignore, to short-circuit or side-step. Being able to successfully deal with real issues, especially deep-seated ones, involves slowing down and being able to reflect, not deflect, to step back, and not step around. Are you ready to listen, learn and look at things differently–and reflect?

The Three Rs


During the programme we will help and support you to reframe what happened to you, how to put your unwanted experiences into a different context. Your abuse happened to you as a child and you dealt with it as a child, but you are now an adult. Reframing what happened after the abuse will lead to positive ways of coping with the impact of the sexual trauma that you experienced as a child so that it no longer dominates your adult life. To see relationships
as potential avenues of intimacy and pleasure and not as cul-de-sacs of pain, mistrust and disappointment.


We will look at ways of restoring what you have lost – your self-determination, your self- confidence and your self-esteem, so that you may lead your life the way you want to, and might have done, had you not been living with, and under, the cloud created by what happened to you and the trauma that followed. We look to restore positive feelings and emotions such as pride and joy and an overall feeling of positivity about all you do, all that you are, and all you can become.


The Lotus programme is not the end of the journey, but provides a significant step on the road towards recovery. Recovery from sexual trauma comes in many forms and can take many months or even years and is different for everyone. You may find you want to address an issue that has been bothering you for some time – a relationship issue, a work issue or a negative coping strategy that you use, such as a reliance on alcohol or substance misuse. You may decide you want to re-enter education and make up for lost time, or try something new.

There are many roads to recovery and there are often bumps in the road. Whatever your recovery plan it will evolve, change and develop over time and will not always go as planned, but it will eventually lead to you becoming the person you could have been, should have been and want to be.

As we say, “You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can START from where you are and change the ending “

To find out more about the Lotus programme, without any commitment, just contact us and we will get back in touch to discuss the programme in more detail. As our motto says – ‘’START…it’s never too late.’’


How much does the programme cost?

The programme is funded by a government grant and is free for Hampshire residents referred through a professional referral source, such as the Police, your doctor, or another specialist agency, or you can refer yourself.

What happens then?

Someone from our Lotus team will contact you to discuss the programme in more detail and arrange an initial meeting with you to see if the programme is suitable for you.

How long is the actual programme?

The programme will run from midday on a Friday to midday on a Monday with morning, afternoon and evening sessions.

Where does the programme take place?

The programme will be run in a discrete location in Hampshire.

What will I need to bring with me?

You will need to pack as if you were going away for an all-inclusive weekend, maybe a few personal toiletries but we provide food, drinks (non-alcoholic) bedding and will cater for all special diets.

Is there Wi-Fi?

Yes. but the programme does not allow the use of any device while actually with us, as we see this as an intrusion into what is a retreat week end. You are welcome to bring a phone but we ask you to leave this with us upon arrival.

What happens if there is an emergency?

We will take emergency contact details from you so we can contact someone for you should there be a need. We will give any emergency contact you may have a 24/7 contact number in case there is an emergency while you are with us. The idea is that you are free from all distractions and influences and if we get a call from home asking something like “ where are the toilet rolls kept” we will not pass this on!

Who else will be going on the programme?

Each programme will consist of no more than 6 survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and each group will be single sex. We will be running specific week-ends for other groups such as students, LGBT+, depending on the number of referrals received.

What if I find it too much and want to leave the programme?

You are free to leave the programme at any time, but once you leave you will not be allowed to return. If during a session you need a short “time out” then that is acceptable, as for some people, we expect certain sessions may be harder than others to sit through without a few minutes respite.

Do I need to bring any money?

Not really. The 3 evenings you will be with us will be catered for in terms of arranged activities and are included in the programme.

Will the others in the group know about me?

No, they will only know what you tell them. You will all be survivors of CSA, have had similar experiences and be suffering from sexual trauma as a result of the abuse. Some of the group may want to share their story but this is not part of the programme (except in the individual counselling sessions).

Will I be able to keep in touch with the group after the programme?

Yes. A post programme monthly group get together will be organised so you can keep in touch and reflect on where you are a month on from the programme and, if you want to, you can swap contact details upon completion of the Lotus programme.

Will I need to talk about my abuse as I don't like speaking out loud with strangers?

No. There is no requirement for you to discuss your abuse or its impact speak during the programme outside the counselling sessions. However, some may find this easier to do and want to speak out, but, if you so choose, you can just sit and listen.

Will I get individual counselling while on the programme?

Yes, you will be seen at least 4 times over the 4 days for one-to-one counselling and with the same counsellor, plus a follow-up counselling session a week after the end of the programme to see how your recovery plan is going.

What happens if I get a panic attack or become very anxious?

You will be able to leave the session and go and talk with a counsellor who will help you calm down, using a range of well-known techniques. You can then decide to remain or leave the programme and we can arrange to take you home or have you collected if you prefer.

What if I am on medication?

We will need to know exactly what medication you are on, how it needs to be taken and how it might affect you, so we can make a risk assessment regarding whether the programme is right for you at this time.

Can I get dropped off or do I need to make my own way to the programme and is there parking?

You will be able to drive to the location, but we will be organising mini-bus transport for you so you only have to make it to the nearby train station and we will pick you up. If you feel you can’t arrive without support from someone else, you need to discuss this with us in advance.

Will I get to meet any of the programme organisers in advance?

Yes. Anyone wanting to come on the programme will have an initial assessment meeting with one of the team to make sure you are ready for the programme and answer any questions you may have. This team will be the ones meeting you with the transport.

Can I bring alcohol with me?

No. For many survivors of CSA, alcohol has associated bad memories or the abuse has led to a dependence on alcohol as a negative coping mechanism. Anyone who brings alcohol will be asked to leave the programme.

Do I have to join in with the activities as I am not into sports?

Don’t worry. We will be offering a range of non-physical and optional evening activities which the group can decide upon – such as a karaoke night, an outside BBQ (weather permitting) or a games night, amongst others, so no need to bring your running gear unless you want to!

Can I still have other services from you such as 121 counselling?

Yes. You can access our 121 counselling services if you are in our catchment area, but we ask that you wait for 6 months to fully appreciate and benefit from the programme, including the follow up Peer Group meetings.

I am not very confident in expressing myself in writing, will I need to do this as part of the programme?

No. There are no written assignments or written work so no need to worry. We do ask you to write down your own thoughts and feelings, or do this through drawings, in a Lotus journey journal which we will provide for you at the outset of the programme. This will belong to you, and you will take this away with you at the end of the programme.

I am not good in the company of strangers and people I don’t know?

Remember you will be with other survivors, so not really true strangers as you already have a common bond and most likely common thoughts, feelings and similar experiences, and they will most likely feel exactly the same as you – apprehensive, worried and a little uncertain, but wanting to attend regardless of these fears.

If I like the Lotus programme can I attend again?

Sadly, we can only offer every survivor one free programme but we will consider offering a refresher Lotus programme as a follow up to those groups that really gel and feel this would be useful. There would need to be a small cost for this refresher programme.




Amanda joined START in 2017. Amanda has recently attained a 1st Class Honours Degree in Humanistic and Integrative Counselling.

Amanda is an experienced counsellor and works with adult survivors twice a week in the daytime. She is also one of our Lotus Project managers.



Bev joined START in May 2019 and will be working on our new STEPS support programme, she has been working as a rape crisis counsellor for the last three years.

Bev is has a qualified person centred counsellor and has recently attained a 1st Class Honours Degree in Humanistic and Integrative Counselling. She is also one of our Lotus Project managers.



Diane joined START in November 2021, she trained as a counsellor whilst a researcher at Harefield Hospital and moved to Hampshire to run the BA Hons in Counselling & Psychotherapy at the University of Southampton.

She has appeared on television and radio in the UK (Victoria Derbyshire Show; Radio 4 and regional BBC radio) and China speaking about counselling & mental health and the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy.

In addition, Diane runs an eclectic assortment of workshops such as Dream Analysis, Effective Supervision; Animal Assisted Therapy and the use of Complementary Therapies.

Call our Advice & Support Line on 01962 868 688 or 01962 864 433

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