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BLOG: Day 13 of 16 days of action to end violence against women


Don't Diss the Therapy

By Kerri Brems, Counsellor - Arch North East

Working for an amazing charity like ARCH as a specialist counsellor means I can often help make a positive and long-lasting difference to someone’s life! My name is Kerri and for nearly 5 years now, I have been working with many clients to help them cope with their traumatic experiences of sexual violence and abuse.

Sadly, we continue to hear more horrific stories of sexual violence and abuse in the media but as a result; I see more people coming forward to report. Prominent figures are being held to account thanks to the courage and bravery of many of their victims, leading to the amazing #Metoo movement.

Being a counsellor at ARCH, I have worked with hundreds of clients who have suffered the most horrific sexual violence and abuse, and in many cases from someone who they thought they could trust. Through therapy the trauma is recognised and understood. With my help, it is processed and made sense of and the client is able to name what they have experienced and we work together to manage their distress. My working experiences tell me that supporting clients in developing effective coping strategies can help many of them to manage their lives much better.

Telling someone about my work can be harder for me than doing it. What I do know is it involves a survivor focused approach. I offer a range of interventions suitable for individual clients that is a trauma-informed humanistic approach to best work with the impact. I have found that with a trusting and safe environment, the client can work through issues to help take control of their own life.

What some people don’t understand is that when someone experiences sexual violence, they can lose all sense of their identity and who they are. Some of the effects of sexual violence can last a lifetime. Clients come to my sessions with feelings of, self-blame, shame, guilt, anger, anxiety & depression. Some can develop mental health conditions such as eating disorders, OCD, PTSD which includes flashbacks, nightmares, sleep and emotional disturbances. It can affect their intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships and survivors often have thoughts of suicide. What I know from my experience is it is vital that support is in place to help, when victims and survivors feel ready to do so.

Not many people now that many of the clients we work with are also part of an ongoing police investigation. An integral part of the counselling we offer at ARCH is providing Pre -Trial Therapy. We have worked with the CPS and Cleveland Police to ensure that a survivor’s need for counselling outweighs the need for a police result. This means victims and survivors have access to support during rather than after a police investigation.

I am so proud to be part of an amazing team who between January 2016 and September 2018 supported 504 clients with a remarkable 95% of clients identifying as, showing or demonstrating, an improvement as a result of being supported by our ARCH counselling service.

I believe every survivor has the right to be heard and believed. The work we do is so important to help unravel some of the issues and complexities that our clients present with. We work to empower and encourage our clients to see, that what happened to them was not their fault. With the right support recovery is possible.

“Through therapy I have realised that I am not to blame for what has happened to me.” (ARCH Client)

Arch is a small charity based in Middlesbrough that provides advocacy, support and counselling to children, men and women who have experienced any form of sexual violence.

We work closely in partnership with Teesside SARC who provide a 24/7 accessible crisis service for victims of rape and sexual violence. Telephone 03333 44 8283.

The Counselling Service provided by ARCH is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

For any further information you can contact: 

01642 822331




Posted on Friday 7th December 2018
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