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More information on family counselling

Supporting and strengthening family ties

What happens in Family Counselling

Family counsellors do not take sides, blame, or provide simple ‘one size fits all’ answers. They aim to engage all family members in sharing understanding and views with each other and exploring ways forward that will work for them.

Meetings (or ‘sessions’) with a family counsellor usually last between 50 minutes and an hour.  


On occasion, and especially early on in our work with a family group, we may ask to have two counsellors present in a session. The presence of another counsellor helps the lead counsellor to gain a greater awareness of the dynamics operating within a family, of which the family itself and an individual counsellor may sometimes be unaware.


This process will help us to provide the best service possible to our family clients. If you would feel uncomfortable with two counsellors in your session, please feel free to express any concerns you may have in order that we can help to overcome them. In the event that your concerns cannot be allayed we shall ensure you work with an individual counsellor.

What is meant by 'Family'?

Different cultures and different groups of individuals have different notions of what 'family' means. CFC takes 'family' to mean any group of people who define themselves as such and who care about and for each other.


Your family counsellor can see up to 6 family members at any one time once counselling has begun. In order to ensure every family member seeking counselling feels valued and included it is important that all family members concerned with the difficulties attend the first assessment session. Often the whole family will be required in future sessions, but your counsellor will guide you on this. It can, on occasion, be very beneficial to work with smaller groups within the family, e.g. mum and daughter, dad and the children. Your counsellor will discuss this with you as counselling progresses. Please note, if you are bringing children as a part of the family work, their safety and wellbeing is your responsibility.

Please talk to your counsellor before inviting other family members to attend, as the names of those attending the next session are given to reception at the end of each counselling session.  Only those who are pre-booked in this way will be able to attend.

How many of us can come at once?

A limit of 6 family members is set in order to ensure that everyone attending can have a voice within the process. A larger number of people involved could hinder the effectiveness of the counselling. Generally though, size or age is not a barrier. These can be 'grown up' families too.

How long does it take?

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to help people free up their strengths and find ways forward. Sometimes difficulties are more complex and families may need longer to find solutions that work for them - so how long counselling takes will depend on your specific needs as a family. Your counsellor will help you to plan your sessions and identify what you want to achieve whilst you are with us

How regularly will I see my counsellor?

It’s best to keep the momentum going, so meeting once weekly at the same time and day will help you and your counsellor make progress together. It really helps if you can bring your diary with you to your first session in order to enable you and your counsellor to arrange a series of sessions, factoring in any foreseeable holidays or work/family commitments.


From the beginning of your time with your counsellor we ask you to think about what you would like to achieve before leaving us and to talk about how long you may need to come for. Endings are a very important part of your counselling, and you will benefit from the process of evaluation and completion. It can offer a real sense of achievement, insight and clarity. We do ask you not to just disappear.

Where financial considerations could limit the number of sessions you are able to attend, please let the counsellor know at the beginning and the work will be tailored to what is achievable in that time.

What if I have to cancel?

If you can’t keep an appointment for any reason, please let us know. If you are paying, a charge will be made if less than 24 hours’ notice is given. If you are accessing our subsidised sessions all missed appointments will count as one of your free sessions. If you miss 2 appointments in a row and we can’t contact you, we will assume that you do not want to continue with your counselling right now. 

Please note: if you do not come to your first appointment, and have not let us know in advance, you will be charged a £5 administration fee. This is payable before your next appointment.

What sort of counselling will I be offered?

We offer an Integrative style of working tailored to meet your specific family needs, which can include Person Centred, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic or Transactional Analysis. The focus of family counselling will be on the family system as a whole as well as looking at the individuals within the family. The aim of the work is to look at the dynamics between the members of the family. We aim to help the family understand where difficulty arises, and support them in finding ways to communicate with each other more effectively. Bearing in mind the differing ages and life experiences of each family, we may also work creatively to help family members to become more in touch with their difficulties and potential solutions.

What does family counselling offer?

Counselling for families allows you to talk about your situation in a safe, supportive, non-judgemental and confidential environment. Your counsellor will work with you to explore other ways of relating to each other, and look at ways of building emotional resilience in the face of life's challenges.

How can I be assured of my counsellor's professionalism?

Your counsellor(s) will be fully qualified and will abide by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) ethical guidelines. They have specific training in working with children and families. All our counsellors receive professional structured clinical support from our team of accredited and/or highly experienced and qualified clinical supervisors. We are organisational members of the BACP and are bound by its ethical framework for good practice.

Do we need to be referred to get an appointment?

No. You are free to refer yourself  -  Simply phone, email or drop in to make an appointment.

Will my counselling sessions be confidential?

Yes, counselling sessions are confidential.  However, there may be exceptions to this, for example, if your counsellor believes you, another person, or themselves to be at serious risk of harm, and particularly if there is a child at risk. In such an instance the counsellor will raise this with you, and discuss their obligation to take the matter further via their clinical supervisor and the Counselling Services manager. Other relevant professionals may need to be involved but this will be done carefully and with your knowledge.

Where do we offer appointments?

We offer our services at a number of locations around South Manchester. 

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40 Mayors Road, Altrincham, WA15 9RP, 0161 941 7754

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