Counselling is one of the ways that you can get support for yourself following a sexual assault. Counselling at Yarrow Place is provided by workers who are trained and have experience in supporting people who have been sexually assaulted. It is your decision about whether counselling will be useful for you.
Counselling may help you if:
- the effects of sexual assault are seriously impacting on your day to day life
- you feel confused about your feelings, or feel alone and as if nobody understands you
- you have strong feelings like anger, self-blame or depression and nothing seems to help
- you feel confused about legal processes
- you don’t want to burden friends or family.
The role of the counsellor is to:
- provide a safe place away from other demands in your life to think and talk about the impact the sexual assault has had on your life
- enable you to explore your thoughts and feelings at your own pace
- assist you in exploring options and strategies for dealing with difficulties you may be experiencing
- assist you to monitor how things are going.
The main aims of counselling are to help you to:
- feel more in control of your life
- try new coping strategies
- become clearer about your strengths and supports and how to use them to your best advantage.
At Yarrow Place, counselling services are free of charge.
What are my rights when seeing a Yarrow Place counsellor?
When using Yarrow Place counselling services, you have the right to:
- be treated with respect and in an empathic, constructive and reassuring way
- have your culture, ethnic background, beliefs and sexuality respected
- feel empowered to make your own decisions
- make a complaint if you are not satisfied with the service you receive.
Do I need to talk about details of the sexual assault in counselling?
That depends on what works for you. Some people find it helpful to talk about what happened; others don’t. If you don’t want to talk about the details, that’s okay. It is important to talk about is how the rape or sexual assault is affecting you and what you would like to do to manage those impacts.
Yarrow Place keeps counselling case notes to record information that you have discussed with the counsellor.
The benefits of keeping case notes for you are:
- a better quality service with more accurate information for future use
- less repetition of information, especially if you change worker.
What Information goes into counselling case notes?
- agreements that you have made with your counsellor
- a brief summary of issues you discuss with your counsellor, including intended outcomes or actions
- any items (letters, poems, drawings) that you have given to your counsellor
- any correspondence between Yarrow Place and any other service that you have agreed we can talk to.
Confidentiality and case notes
Case notes are confidential and are kept in a locked file room at Yarrow Place.
Information about you is confidential and subject to legal constraints. The situations when we cannot guarantee confidentiality are:
- if your worker believes that you are a danger to yourself or others
- if you are under 18 years of age or have told your worker about a child (under 18) being abused or at risk of abuse – in such cases we are required by law to notify Families SA
- notification of some sexually transmitted infections
- if you are assessed as high risk of imminent harm within a domestic violence situation
- if you take legal action against this service.
You may want information from case notes to be given to your family doctor, health worker or other persons. If you would like this to happen, you will be asked to give us permission in writing and the information will then be passed on.
You can also view your case notes, but the law makes some restrictions about what you can see. You will need to make an appointment for this to happen. If you disagree with what is written, you can record this in your notes.
Case notes and court cases
Sexual assault counselling case notes are protected communication under legislation. Because of this, counselling case notes are not made readily available for either defence or prosecution in a court case.
If Yarrow Place receives a Subpoena (a court ordered request) for your counselling case notes, the Judge will look at them to see if they are relevant to the court case. The Judge can only look at your notes or have someone else look at them in very specific instances.
This is not a common occurrence and we will tell you about this if it happens.
Attending counselling at Yarrow Place
When attending counselling at Yarrow Place, we ask that you:
- be considerate of the rights of others using the service, especially their right to confidentiality
- let us know if you have any special needs, such as childcare, an interpreter or disability requirements
- attend appointments without being under the influence of drugs and alcohol that affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.