START provides services to all age groups but has a specialist service for those who are Under 18 and need some support to deal with their unwanted experiences of sexual abuse and the sexual trauma that follows these experiences.
We have specialist counsellors, who you can find here, who have had experience and training in working with young people. The team will go into schools and colleges across Central, West and North Hampshire to see children and teenagers, as well as providing a service at one of our offices should a young person want to be seen outside of the school or college environment.
Young people who have been sexually abused can experience many emotions and feelings which can be difficult to recognise and cope with on their own. Feelings can be anger, shame, guilt, confusion, sadness and many more. None of these are wrong, but they can affect your life and your relationships with the people around you and make you feel lonely and afraid. F2F counselling will help you understand your feelings and help you develop strategies to make positive changes in life. Whatever you say is confidential and private to you and the counsellor.
Counselling means seeing someone in a safe and secure place that you choose. It can be at your school or college, if they have rooms, and we can talk to the school or college about that, or you can come to us here at the counselling centre in Winchester. It can be during the day or during the evening or on a Saturday morning, whatever suits you best.
Yes we can arrange remote counselling sessions, which can be discussed at the initial assessment stage with the Under 18s counselling assessor.
Counsellors don’t have two heads… they are just people who you can trust and talk with about anything you want. Counsellors will not judge you or make you talk about anything you don’t want to. They will not discuss anything you tell them with anyone else… including your family, or social worker or school. Our counsellors are trained in talking with and listening to you. They have loads of experience. They have worked with young people in schools and colleges and understand what you want and don’t want!
It’s not all about sitting and talking about your feelings. But there might be times when you do want to just talk. Your counsellor will ask you what you want to do each week, so they can bring in something to do, or you can even make something over the time you are together. You might want to write a song, or draw a picture, or if you like to write you can develop a story.
Sometimes you might want to sit and say nothing much, maybe discuss your friends, or what you watched on YouTube. You may just want to sit and be quiet, or listen to music together or draw or paint or write and that’s all fine, it is your time to spend with the counsellor in any way you choose! Whatever you want to do and feel is totally acceptable because you are in control.
You can stop at any time you like, whether during a session, or have a week or two off if you want to, the time is yours and you decide how to use it and when you want it.
The counselling is about 50 minutes long each week and will last between 6 and 12 weeks. It depends on how well it’s going, and whether you want to continue. There will be times when you are sad or angry at the end of the counselling and may not want to come again and other times when you feel really good about yourself and want to come the next day!
The counselling is one-to-one with a counsellor, but at the beginning your friend or parent or person you trust can meet the counsellor before the first session. If it’s in Winchester they can either sit and wait each time or go and have a coffee in Winchester while you see your counsellor. There are lots of places for coffee in Winchester!
We will talk to you along the way about how things are going and whether we think more counselling is needed, usually it’s not, but we will not just end it if we think there is more to do and you want to continue.
We hope you will get on with your counsellor and look forward to your time with her or him. That’s not always the case and if you don’t like your counsellor, or find it hard to talk with them, you can tell us, or ask someone else who can tell us. We will do our best to find someone else to meet with you.
If you can’t make it that’s okay we just ask that you let us know in advance.
We need to let the counsellor know you aren’t able to come.
If you don’t let us know, we will try to contact you (or someone you trust) to find out why and to make sure you are coming next time.
You can stop the regular slots at any time, but if you miss three consecutive appointments we will cancel your counselling sessions. You can always come back at a later time and date when you are ready.
The majority of our counsellors are volunteers and are not contactable outside counselling hours, but you can always call, text, or email the Service Support line and someone will contact you within 24 hours. In an emergency you should speak to someone you can trust. Check out our Advice and Information page for more info.
You can call or contact us at any time for advice and information. You can also use other parts of this website to find some answers about questions you might have. If you suspect or know someone is being abused you should talk to someone you trust.
Don’t hold onto any worries you have or think they’re silly, or that you will not be believed. You will be believed.
We do not offer a counselling service where the the sexual abuse relates to an online issues such as grooming or cohesive control. We do offer advice and guidance around online issues or concerns and the impact these on both parents and young people which can be found under resources on our website.
Please click here to access our Under-18s referral form.
Call our Advice & Support Line on 01962 868 688 or 01962 864 433
Anonymous SMS Text helpline service: 07860 027 793
Available 24 hours
"I am now in control of my thoughts and my life. I have gained self-confidence in so many ways and I am no longer haunted by the past."
"I have been given the tools to cope with everyday life. Without counselling I would have continued to deny my situation and feelings which was having extreme detrimental effect on myself, family and friends… RASAC has saved me from self destruction without the support I would have crumbled – a true life saver."
"My RASAC counselling has completely changed my life… I am a better mother, a more involved member of the community and I am able to keep myself safe."
"I was counselled for almost a year. I had a wonderful counsellor who helped me through a very difficult and unpleasant time in my life. It has been a process of healing by revisiting past places which at one time felt unimaginable. The journey has been raw and unnerving but slowly I came to see how I was repairing my damaged self. I finally accepted ownership of what had happened to me and was able to let go of my guilt and shame. My counsellor understood my outlook on life and created a connection with me that was very special. I eventually looked forward to my session as a weekly debrief rather than a purge. I am as happy and confident as I have ever been and I tell people about what I have learnt to help turn their negativity into positivity. Fear can be a very powerful emotion and prevent us from moving on in our lives but once it is confronted the clouds separate and you can focus on that hint of sunshine."
"Thank-you for the support, for the first time since talking about the sexual abuse to someone it is really helping me."
"Thank you so much for all your time and support while I was working through all of the stuff that happened - I really couldn't have done it without your help and input." Male client - June 2021
"The support, understanding and guidance that I've received from START has been life-changing. The whole process has been crucial for me to understand some of the trauma I'd experienced during my childhood. Who I've become as a consequence, who I am today, and how I process some of my thoughts, feelings and emotions." - April 2023
"I cannot thank Sarah at START enough for the counselling I received. I was a bit sceptical of the EMDR therapy I was offered at first but it really has helped me a great deal and I'm grateful for having the opportunity to go through it." - April 2023
"I'd like to thank everyone involved at START. You're doing a phenomenal job. I can't stress how important this journey has been for me. It's been a life altering experience." - April 2023
"Thank you for the Lotus week end, my life is taking a turn for the better and my new journey begins now." - July 2023