What is child abuse?
There are three main types of child abuse:
- Emotional abuse is when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. It can include persistent criticism, being harshly punished, or exposed to verbal violence.
- Physical abuse is when a child suffers because they are physically harmed by someone else, are roughly handled or are harshly physically punished.
- Sexual abuse is when a child is used by another person for their own sexual needs.
What is trauma?
Trauma is a response to an event that involves actual or threatened death, serious injury or emotional distress, such as physical or sexual abuse. When a person is suffering trauma, they may feel intense fear, helplessness or horror. For more detail on abuse, trauma or neglect download the Department of Health and Children’s Children First national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children.
What is child neglect?
Child neglect is when a child suffers significant harm through being deprived of food, shelter, warmth, clothing, medical care, safety or affection from adults.
Who can use Connect?
Connect is for any adult who has experienced abuse, trauma or neglect in childhood. The service is also available to partners or relatives of people with these experiences.
What is phone counselling?
Phone counselling involves speaking to a qualified and experienced therapist over the phone at a time and place that suits you, no matter where you live. You can choose:
- to call whenever you feel the need to talk, with no appointment or arrangement in advance, or
- to receive regular one-to-one therapy, which involves a call for a fixed time with the same counsellor. This option is similar to face-to-face counselling.
I’m not sure if what happened to me was really abuse. Can I still use Connect?
Yes you can – the term ‘abuse’ covers a wide range of experiences, some of which might be very subtle. If you feel that experiences from your childhood are causing difficulties in your adult life, you can call the counselling line and discuss whether the service is right for you.
How might counselling help me?
Counselling might help by providing the time and space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings about what has occurred – and to discuss any difficulties in your life at the moment. You might find great relief in being able to share these experiences with a caring, non-judgmental professional who will support and encourage you.
Is there a type of counselling that would suit me best?
Connect provides two different types of counselling.
- Supportive counselling may suit you if you want to talk about your experience. It normally involves shorter phone calls over a number of weeks until you feel more able to cope with everyday life. After a few calls you may start to feel much better.
- Therapeutic counselling may suit you if your experience is affecting your present life and you want help to change this. This is more in-depth and involves scheduled therapy sessions for a number of months. After some time you may begin to understand more about the difficulties you are experiencing and become more able to take control of your life.
Does Connect offer face-to-face counselling?
We do not offer this service. If you would like face-to-face counselling, please contact the HSE National Counselling Service (NCS) on 1850 241 850, or log on to www.hse-ncs.ie
Is everything I say to the counsellor confidential?
Yes it is. However, if the counsellor believes that you or someone else is in serious danger they must share this information with the Gardaí and HSE.
Can I call Connect from outside Ireland?
You can call us from the UK and Northern Ireland on 00800 477 477 77. Calls are free from landlines, but there may be an operator charge from a mobile phone.
Is Connect a new service, or has it changed its name?
Connect has been in place since 2006. It was previously called the National Counselling Helpline Service but changed its name in late 2008 to Connect, the National Adults Counselling Service.
How often can I phone?
When you first phone Connect, you can talk to your counsellor about how often would be best for you to phone.
How long can I phone for?
The length of phone calls to Connect depend on each persons individual needs and will be for the length of time that is best suited to each person.
I am already seeing a counsellor. Can I still use the phone services?
You are welcome to use our phone services even if you are seeing a counsellor. However, we would strongly advise that you discuss this with your counsellor.
Do I have to talk about the abuse when I phone?
When you call or email you can talk about whatever you like. There is no expectation or pressure on you to talk about the abuse itself, but if you feel comfortable and safe to do so, you are more than welcome to explore these issues with your counsellor.
Are calls to the support line traced?
No. The calls are not traced and the counsellor does not have access to the phone number you are calling from.
I am concerned about a child I know. What do I do if I think there may be abuse happening?
If you suspect child abuse is taking place, it is important that this be reported to reduce the risk of serious harm occurring to a child in the future. If you are unsure about the validity of your concerns, please talk to a HSE social worker or public health nurse. You can also read the guidelines about reporting suspected childhood abuse at Children First Guidelines
Do I have to tell the counsellor contact details, name address and telephone number?
Absolutely not – Connect Counselling is an anonymous service – The counsellor will not ask you for any identifying details. when you first call the service the counsellor will introduce themselves to you by their first name and explain the service to you – they will ask you your first name only, you may use any name you wish – they ask you this so they can address you and arrange to speak to you again if you so wish.
Are the calls recorded?
No – calls are not recorded. Connect Counselling is an anonymous service to support you in a non-judgemental way, to listen to you and to provide a safe space for you to talk about your experiences.
Do I speak to the same counsellor every time I call the service?
That depends on the type of support you wish to receive. Callers use the service in different ways. Connect offer support calls and counselling calls. If you choose to avail of support calls, you would phone the service when you feel the need to speak to someone about your experience, this is on a ‘needs basis’. Some people call once while others call more regularly. In this case there is no prearranged time for a call, you would speak to the counsellor who answers the phone.
Callers are provided with a choice to interact with one counsellor. If you feel that you would like to engage in some counselling sessions with a counsellor, you can discuss this with the counsellor and make an appointment for a specific date and time to call. This helps some people as they feel they are not repeating their story each time they call the service and it builds the relationship between counsellor and the caller in the same way as face to face counselling.
Can I combine telephone counselling with face to face counselling at Connect?
That’s not possible as Connect only provides telephone counselling. There is no provision for face to face counselling.