Psychological & Counselling

Service Overview

The Ely Centre deliver talking therapies to clients from across Northern Ireland through a sessional counselling team.

Our service aim is to Deliver quality care incorporating bio-psychosocial assessments, internationally validated appropriate psychometrics, at risk protocols and procedures.

Our service goal is to Implement a Victim informed and centred systemic approach by considering each person’s needs and goals in a holistic manner utilising  qualified staff /volunteers and programmes

When you refer to this service you may be unsure what to expect. The information below answers the most frequently asked questions. It is important to read it all before registering for counselling with us. We hope that you will find it helpful.

In Brief, Counselling is about enabling you to explore your feelings and relationships more effectively. It gives you a chance to really look at issues in some depth, and gain a more confident perspective.

Mental Health and the “Troubles”.

In Northern Ireland one in six people experience problems with their mental health, at any one time. This is not surprising, given the nature of life, and the many difficulties, losses and changes that occur.

In addition to the many difficult experiences of human beings across the world, the people of Northern Ireland have had to deal with the consequences of terrorism, the intense violence, injustice and sectarian hatred. In order to fully understand the emotional and psychological wellbeing of all of us who live in Northern Ireland we must really reflect upon the nature of our society that has often been described as the most violent in Western Europe.

Since the advent of the most recent “Troubles” in 1969, over 3,600 people have died, and tens of thousands have suffered physical, psychological, and emotional injury as a result of terrorism and paramilitary activity.

The different ways the troubles have impacted individuals and our communities are broad, varied and complex. So many people have experienced direct violent, and literally explosive trauma, whether that be someone who has been physically injured, has witnessed an event, lost a family member in a traumatic way, or have been involved in rescuing and caring for others (both professionals and civilians). Due to this Northern Ireland has the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in the world.

Many in our community have been impacted by the troubles one way or another, whether through the loss of a loved one, loss of an aspect of oneself, sectarian hatred, anger and rage, a sense of injustice, in addition to a constant sense of not being safe in one’s home or community.

Therapy! Is It for Me?

Evidence illustrates the effectiveness of professional, counselling and psychology services in helping the people and communities of Northern Ireland; helping people process some of their experiences and work towards a more grounded sense of psychological well- being.

Over the last decade the limitations of the past services provided to those who have suffered due to the troubles has been recognised. Funding has been provided to develop professional, evidence based accredited, accessible and confidential psychology and counselling services combined with a complementary therapeutic approach to release physical tension and promote a more relaxed frame of mind.

Considering seeing a counsellor can be very daunting. It can be very difficult to know what to expect, and be unsure as to how it might feel talking to a professional about difficult things you may have experienced recently, or indeed often in the past.

For so many years in Northern Ireland many people have been exposed to much psychological distress and trauma. As human beings we try and process this trauma as best as possible with the skills we have. A common way of coping with such difficulties is to distance ourselves from our emotional pain. This is a very natural react to any threat.

The repeated exposure to conflictual and unstable experiences in Northern Ireland have in many of us resulted in “hard states of mind” in order to manage our persecutory and negative feelings. Many people have understandably carried around such negative feelings for many years.

The prospect of finding alternative ways of coping with their experiences through the process of sharing and reflecting on their life within a counselling/therapeutic relationship can be confusing and over whelming.

Whether you are considering attending  therapy for any difficulties you may be experiencing, or feel like talking to someone is not for you, or perhaps not the right time at the moment, it is important that you know that our service doors will always be open, should you want to come and talk about your experiences.

All members of the team understand how difficult it can be to come and talk about your problems and will always move forward at a pace you feel comfortable with.

When to Seek Help

The Ely Centre provides support for individuals experiencing a wide range of psychological problems, our sessional therapists are trained to intervene or provide support for a countless number of issues, far too many to list in any comprehensive way.

While counselling might be helpful in numerous situations, there are some conditions in which we would strongly encourage you to seek counselling services, such as:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Life Adjustment / Loss/ Bereavement
  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Trauma
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obesity / Compulsive Overeating
  • Relationship Difficulties
  • Interpersonal Problems
  • Diversity related issues - Gender / Sexuality /Culture / Race / Religion

It is important to know that although the service is being developed to specifically meet the needs of individuals in Northern Ireland affected in any way by the troubles, it does not necessarily have to be a particular “troubles” issue you may want to address.

Although you may have been affected by the troubles this does not mean that this is the only thing that therapy is there for. It may be that you want to come and talk about something that is or appears separate in some way from your experience of the troubles, such as, relationship difficulties, any losses whether that is health, physical or psychological, of those we love or of something we have hoped and dreamt of.

Furthermore, it is important that you do not feel that somehow your experiences are less or “not as serious” as other peoples and therefore feel like you for one reason or another you should not access or indeed need help with your psychological wellbeing.

Who can benefit from counselling?

Just about anyone can benefit. No problem is too big or small. Listed below are just a few examples of some common concerns which bring individuals to the Ely Centre:

  • Symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Troubles related Trauma and Suffering
  • Life adjustment issues such as Unemployment / Retirement.
  • Interpersonal difficulties, including, family problems, relationship concerns, problems with assertiveness, and other issues
  • Bereavement and grief related to the loss of a loved one (such as relationship breakups, deaths, parental divorce, or other major losses)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Questions/confusion about identity, self-image, sexuality, gender, or religious concerns
  • Concerns about body image, food, eating, or weight, as well as treatment for eating disorders
  • Experience with sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, abuse, or other trauma
  • Thoughts of suicide, death, or hurting others
  • Behaviours that can be harmful to you, like drug or alcohol abuse.

Psychological Therapies Provided

The Ely Centre provide a variety of different psychological treatments often the therapist will integrate various treatments to meet your individual/ family needs. If you would like to find out more about a specific therapeutic treatment please do not hesitate to contact us.


Sessions last for up to 50 minutes. Your counsellor will discuss with you how often and when you will meet depending on the problem you are encountering. It is important to arrive on time as your counsellor will be working to an appointment system, sessions that start late will still need to finish on time.

Counselling is limited to a maximum of 8 sessions per year however there are exceptional circumstances.

The Process

Your first meeting is called a Clinical Assessment and this meeting is used to establish.

What your concerns are, if counselling is able to help with them, if you would be better supported by another service; if you are able to commit to counselling.

If at the end of this meeting you and the therapist agree that this is the best form of support for you, and you are able to commit to counselling, you will be allocated a practitioner to commence working with. Your allocated counsellor may not be the same one who conducted your initial assessment.

Occasionally due to service demand there can be a delay between your initial assessment meeting and your first ongoing counselling session, however this will always be kept to a minimum.

Your counsellor will listen carefully to the difficulties you are experiencing. Your counsellor is a professional qualified and experienced practitioner, and the work you do together will be about helping you to find the right solutions for you, rather than telling you what to do.

Holistic Approach

Counselling  services link effectively with additional wellness services to allow people the benefit of dual participation, whilst facilitating relief from distress and recovery.

Our holistic approach also allows you to benefit from other Ely Centre services including Welfare and Benefits Advice, Befriending Outreach, Carers Support, Peer Group Support, Personal Development Courses, Respite Opportunities and Legacy Programmes.


Strict confidentiality is always maintained. No personal information either verbal or written will be disclosed to anyone without your consent, unless you or someone else is in danger. Some non-personal information will be shared within the centre for administration purposes.

Therapists are required to have a supervisor who monitors the quality of their work. The process of supervision is conducted in a way that ensures your confidentiality.

Refer To Our Service

If you would like to refer to this service please drop into the centre, give us a call, or fill in the service referral form which should only take a few minutes.