Counselling service

Brighton YMCA Counselling Service

Since September 2015 Brighton YMCA has been offering its residents the opportunity to access free counselling within the organisation, following a simple referral process.

The two in-house counsellors, Clare Burholt and Sarah Law, are both trained in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy at Northbrook College in Worthing.

Clare is based at the George Williams Centre, offering the residents who live here, and at Morton Court, counselling assessments and sessions. Sarah provides counselling to Brighton YMCA residents living in our other projects: William Collier House, Fred Emery Court, Stanley Court and Steine House, and her counselling room is situated in Head Office (Steine House).

Please note that Sarah Law is on maternity leave. Contact Joanna Hansen in her absence.

Please note that due to funding restrictions, at the moment we only offer counselling services to Brighton YMCA residents.

What is counselling?

The terms ‘counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’ both refer to talking therapy within a safe and confidential space, with a trained practitioner.  The non-judgemental and empathic approach of the counsellor encourages clients to explore difficult thoughts and feelings, come to terms with problems they are facing and work towards overcoming their issues.

The ‘Integrative Approach’ brings together different elements of specific therapies including Person-centred (Humanistic), Cognitive-Behavioural (CBT) and Psychodynamic approaches. Based on the belief that human psychology can be explored and understood in many different ways, Integrative counselling is tailored to each individual’s expressed needs and circumstances. The aim is to facilitate the client’s self-exploration, enabling them to uncover their own insights, deepen their understanding of their issues and identify appropriate goals.

Experienced practitioners

In addition to their extensive training in counselling, both Sarah and Clare have worked for Brighton YMCA for a number of years in various different roles and so they are very familiar with many of the issues often experienced by our residents and those who have been affected by homelessness.

Why would I want to see a counsellor?

There are many reasons why someone chooses to see a counsellor. Lots of people find it useful to discuss their concerns and feelings in a warm environment with a trained professional where they can experience acceptance while safely exploring their self.

You do not have to have any specific needs in order to request a referral for counselling, however some common presenting problems include: depression; anxiety; bereavement; stress; panic attacks; addiction.

See the leaflet here.

How do I get referred for counselling?

There are two referral routes:

  • Self-referral: Completed referral forms are sent directly to the Counselling Service via email or using the free internal mail service. Download the referral form here.
  • Supported Referral: Referral forms are completed and sent to the Counselling Service with support from keyworker/project staff.

Based on the referral information, the Counselling Service will decide whether or not they are able to offer the individual an assessment appointment; so far all forty-three people who were referred to the Counselling Service were offered an assessment.


The assessment takes around forty-five minutes; during the appointment the client will be invited to share some further information which will help the counsellor assess the suitability of the Counselling Service for them. This meeting is also an opportunity for the resident to find out whether or not the service being offered feels right for them. After an agreed amount of reflection time, the counsellor will inform the resident of their decision and, if both parties agree to commence counselling, an appointment for the first session will be arranged for as soon as possible.  The vast majority of assessment appointments so far have resulted in offers of counselling. There is an appeals procedure for those residents who do not receive an offer of counselling.


It’s so exciting that Brighton YMCA have set up a counselling service exclusively for our residents. It means that waiting times, both for assessments and for counselling sessions are really short, 1-2 weeks rather than months. Our rooms, based at Steine House, are calm, comfortable and private spaces and, whatever you choose to bring to counselling, you will be received with warmth and empathy. If you’ve ever wondered about having counselling, this is a great opportunity to give it a try.’ (Clare Burholt, Counsellor)