About Counselling at SRASAC

The SRASAC Counselling Service provides specialist sexual violence support. When registering for counselling, or signposting people to our service, it is important to be aware that opening up sexual trauma (which is often complex) can be difficult and triggering for some people.

As such, it is important that you start counselling:

a) when the time feels right for you


b) when you have a solid and stable foundation from which to recover.

Without the right readiness and support in place, counselling for sexual trauma can pose a risk to survivors, and can even do more harm than good.

With this in mind, there are some circumstances in which SRASAC is unable to provide support because of the risks involved.

The Problem with Unsuitable Referrals

Health and Social Care professionals often signpost clients to SRASAC. We welcome this as part of our mission to support survivors of sexual violence in Sheffield.

However, in recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in unsuitable referrals. These can be harmful to survivors, and place a drain on our resources as a small voluntary sector organisation. 

Unsuitable referrals can create an expectation that cannot be met. For example, when a survivor is in crisis and/or is too unstable to access counselling. This can result in significant distress for the survivor, together with a sense of ‘failure’ and ‘rejection’ if hopes have been raised at the prospect of specialist trauma therapy.

We have created this webpage to help support people to make informed decisions when considering whether the time is right for them to start counselling, or whether it is helpful to signpost a client to SRASAC.  

What is a Suitable Referral to SRASAC? 

All SRASAC Clients:

  • Must be a permanent resident in the City of Sheffield.
  • Must be aged 13 or over (there is no upper age limit to access SRASAC).
  • SRASAC is open to people of all genders and sexualities.
  • Must be able to commit to a weekly counselling session at the same time every week.
  • Must self-refer into the service - we don't accept third-party referrals.  

Clinical Criteria 

In addition to the basic entrance criteria above, we consider a range of clinical criteria when considering suitability for our counselling service.

The table below offers some guidance as to who we can work with, and who would not be considered suitable for our service:

✓ Suitable for SRASAC Counselling

(all criteria must be met)

X Unsuitable for SRASAC at this time

(many of these factors pose risks to clients)

A victim of rape, sexual violence, or sexual abuse. This can be recent or historic, in childhood or adulthood.

X No experience of sexual violence or sexual abuse

X Anyone being investigated for, or convicted of, sexual violence or assault. SRASAC does not offer support to perpetrators of sexual violence – even if they are also a victim.

(Consider StopSo UK who work with perpetrators and victims of sexual violence)

X Anyone who may pose a risk to others or is known to the police for violent or sexual offences.

In a safe place (not currently at risk of serious harm from self or others).

X Is currently in a domestic abuse or stalking situation or has been until very recently.

X Sexual violence (or the threat of it) is ongoing.

X Actively engaged in suicide planning or has had recent suicide attempts.

X Current living situation is unsafe, chaotic or insecure.

Emotionally ‘stable enough’.

X Has ongoing multiple and/or complex mental health difficulties, where sexual violence is just one aspect of their presentation, and not their most urgent clinical need.

X Currently struggling with other major life stressors: bereavement, job loss, housing difficulties, relationship breakdown, custody battles etc.

Free from drug and alcohol addiction.

X Currently dependent on illegal drugs (including heavy cannabis use) or alcohol.

X In the early stages of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction (under 6 months).

Has reliable childcare in place 

X Has no or extremely unreliable access to childcare. This is important as we don't allow child dependents, even babies, into adult counselling sessions due to the traumatic nature of the material being discussed. This is true even for remote counselling sessions. 

Are ready to engage with and commit to Sexual Violence Recovery.

X Mentions sexual violence or abuse when telling their history, but their primary current concern is something else – e.g., suicidal thoughts, bereavement, social isolation or needing support with more general mental health difficulties.

X Actively says ‘I don’t feel ready’ – or ‘it feels too much’ to talk about sexual abuse or assault.

Have some support and healthy coping strategies in place.

X Extremely socially isolated with limited interpersonal support.

X A recent history of multiple crises, hospitalisations, repeated disengagement from other services.

Need more information?

If you have any questions about our service criteria or are unsure if it's the right time for you (or a patient of yours) to start counselling at SRASAC, please call our Information and Support Line on 07517 100 757.

Please note that SRASAC will carefully assess each referral to ensure that our counselling service is appropriate for the individual at this time, and to ensure they are able to access the service most appropriate to their needs.