SARC Counselling Services

Counselling Services

SARC provides counselling to people who have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused at some time in the past (there are no restrictions based on how long ago the assault or abuse took place). SARC has both female and male counsellors and preferences are given where possible.

Sexual violence can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. It can affect relationships, coping, self-worth, and confidence. Victims often experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder such as:

  • Upsetting or distressing nightmares related to the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks, which can feel like the event is happening again
  • Physical reactions to psychological reminders of the traumatic event, such as reactions on a certain date, or to a smell or sound
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings or even people that are connected to the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself or the world
  • A sense of blame for one’s self or others, related to the event
  • Being stuck in severe emotions related to the trauma (e.g. horror, shame, sadness)
  • A reduction in going out or being involved in usual activities
  • Feeling detached, isolated or disconnected from other people
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability, increased temper or anger
  •  Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Constantly on high alert (hypervigilance) and constantly on the lookout for danger, even when it is not there
  • Being easily startled
Two comfy chairs in our waiting room

SARC counsellors are experienced in providing counselling to deal with the aftermath of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

Counselling is also available for partners, family and friends.  Where the victim is accessing the SARC therapy service, SARC are usually able to provide short term follow up for significant others.  Support needs can be discussed with duty counsellors and counselling can be organised where appropriate. 

SARC has several outreach locations where counselling can be accessed including Midland, Gosnells, Joondalup, Clarkson, Fremantle, and Rockingham. To make an appointment at these locations, it is necessary to call the central SARC office on (08) 6458 1828.

Apart from individual counselling, SARC offers group sessions to those who have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused, including a sexual abuse survivors group, a mindfulness skills group and a group for men.

More information about SARC group programs see down the page.

What happens in counselling
Two women in a counselling session

In counselling, clients will meet face to face with a counsellor after they have first made contact with SARC by phone (08 6458 1828 or free call from landlines 1800 199 888).  Once it has been established that SARC is the right agency for the individual at this time, they will be allocated a counsellor at either our head office in Subiaco, or one of our outreach centres in metropolitan Perth.  The counsellor will telephone the client and offer them an appointment time that is mutually agreeable. During this call, the client will be provided with the address and additional appointment information. With the client’s permission, a reminder text can be sent the day before their appointment.  Clients are welcome to inform their counsellor of any particular concerns they may have either before they begin counselling, or at their counselling sessions. The counsellor will always ensure that clients are treated with empathy, compassion and an understanding of trauma.

The counsellor will focus on the client’s feelings and emotional reactions and together with the client, explore strategies to help them to recover from the trauma and to feel in control of their lives. Clients will not be forced to talk about anything they do not want to talk about.

In counselling, clients can expect to:

  • Be treated with dignity, respect and understanding 
  • Be believed 
  • Have an opportunity to express feelings and thoughts without being judged 
  • Receive accurate information 
  • Make decisions in their own time 
  • Communicate in their own language, with the help of an interpreter if required 

A counselling session is usually 50 minutes to 1 hour in length.  As a general guide, SARC can offer up to 15 counselling sessions per client, and there are no fees.

Contacting for crisis counselling
If you are in crisis emotionally, you can speak to a SARC counsellor over the telephone between 8.30am and 11pm any day of the week. 

Telephone (08) 6458 1828

After 4.30pm, your call will be answered by an after-hours service. They will ask your name, contact number and some basic details.

A counsellor will call you back on the number you have provided. The counsellor can provide telephone counselling and support until 11pm.

You do not have to provide your full name and contact details if you do not want to, but a telephone number is needed so the counsellor can contact you.

Contacting to request a counselling appointment

You need to telephone SARC between 8.30am and 4.30pm on weekdays to request a counselling appointment.

Telephone (08) 6458 1828

A man talking on the phone

Your call will be answered by a SARC counsellor. They will ask you some details such as your name, contact details and date of birth. They will also ask basic details about the sexual violence to ensure that SARC is the most appropriate service to help.

You will then be contacted by a counsellor and your counselling needs will be discussed. At times, when there is high demand for counselling, a waiting period may be necessary. SARC offers emergency counselling in the interim if required and this will be individually assessed at the time of the first phone call. You may be offered up to 4 emergency counselling sessions to help reduce your immediate distress and help maximise your coping strategies. Your counselling needs will then be reviewed and discussed as to best options for you moving forward.

During the initial telephone call, you will generally be asked if you would prefer to have counselling at SARC in Subiaco or at a centre in a suburb closer to your home.

If SARC is not the best service to provide assistance, you will be provided with details of another, more appropriate service to contact.

Finding SARC
Woman behind reception counter

SARC provides services to members of the community who have been impacted by sexual violence.  We do not provide services to perpetrators of sexual violence. 

To ensure safety for our clients, we do not publicise our address. However, when an appointment is made for you, a member of the team will provide you with SARC’s address at our main office in Subiaco.  We can advise you of local transport links as well as local parking options.

The SARC building has wheelchair access and unisex toilets. 

Depending on client needs, SARC may be able to offer counselling at one of their outreach counselling centres around Perth. These options will be discussed.

What happens when you arrive at SARC?
When you arrive at SARC, you will be greeted by a member of the administration team who will invite you to sit in the waiting room or if preferred, in a private space while you wait to see your counsellor or Doctor.

Our reception staff have received training in working with trauma and will be sensitive to the issues you may be experiencing.  Please advise SARC reception staff if you have any particular needs.

Tea, coffee and other hot drinks as well as reading material are available to you in the waiting areas.  There are also some colouring in materials and a small number of puzzles and activities for children if needed.  

Clients with small children are encouraged to use the King Edward Memorial Hospital crèche or to try and organise care with family members or friends.  The hospital crèche is open 9am-3pm, Monday to Friday for children between 2 and 7 years old. No appointment is necessary.  Appointments at SARC can be lengthy and SARC workers are unable to provide supervision to children. 

Your SARC doctor or counsellor will be notified as soon as you arrive at SARC. They will come and get you from the waiting room and take you to a private room for your appointment.

Counselling appointments typically run for one hour though some may extend to one and a half hours.  Your counsellor will advise you when your appointment is going to be longer.

If you are attending SARC following a recent assault, your appointment may well be longer than the standard one hour counselling appointment and in some cases can take up to 3 or 4 hours.

Groups at SARC

SARC counsellors run a number of group programs at the SARC office based in Subiaco.  Information about the different groups are listed below.

Clients already seeing a counsellor at SARC can ask their counsellor to be referred to one of the groups.

People not seeing a SARC counsellor who are interested in attending a group, or simply finding out more information about a group, can contact the SARC office on 6458 1828. In most cases, the group coordinator will telephone you and arrange to meet with you in person to ensure that the group is going to meet your needs.

A group counselling session of women

The Power Within

SARC provides a therapeutic group program for survivors of child sexual abuse called ‘The Power Within’.  This empowering group provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their feelings and thoughts, gain a deeper understanding of their trauma experiences without self-blame and shame, and share strategies in order to reclaim their lives.

The group meets on a Tuesday morning in Subiaco over 7 weeks, and generally runs twice each year. 

The group is suitable for people who are:
  • Female
  • Aged 21 years or older
  • A survivor of child sexual abuse
  • Have seen a counsellor, either at SARC or elsewhere, and have access to the counsellor if needed
  • Able to commit to a 7 week group and attend all sessions
  • Considered to be suitable for the group after meeting with the group coordinator

What previous participants have said:

‘Thank you. This group has helped me feel valued and less shameful, more connected’. 
 (Group participant).

‘Fantastic – changed my whole outlook on who I am, how I think/feel and behave, how I relate to others, how I view the world’
 (Group participant).

‘I believe this has been a good stepping stone to feeling less a victim and more in control of my life’.
(Group participant).

‘Enjoying the Power’ skills group

This group is a follow-on from ‘The Power Within’ group. It is designed for participants to build life skills.

The group meets on a Tuesday morning in Subiaco over 7 weeks, and generally runs twice each year. Participants must have completed ‘The Power Within’ program to access this group.

Topics covered in the group include:

  • Coping with the effects of trauma
  • Developing self-respect
  • Increasing self-confidence
  • Building self esteem
  • Developing effective communication skills
  • Managing anger
  • Creating positive relationships
  • Using assertiveness

Men’s group

This is an interpersonal group for men.  The group provides participants with an opportunity to benefit from connecting with others as well as share their stories and experiences with other men.

The group meets on a Wednesday afternoon in Subiaco and runs over 10 weeks. It generally runs three times a year. Participants are free to come along to as many or as few group sessions as they like.

Aims of the group include:
  • Learn more about yourself and others
  • Learn how to connect with others
  • Learn from other men who have experienced similar difficulties
 
The group is suitable for people who are:

  • Male
  • Aged 21 years or older
  • Have experienced sexual assault or child sexual abuse
  • Have seen a counsellor, either at SARC or elsewhere, and have access to the counsellor if needed

Mindfulness group

The mindfulness course runs for 8 weeks and offers a practical introduction to living more mindfully with trauma.  Being mindful means being present and non-judgemental as you experience life.   With practice, this translates to experiencing less anxiety and having a greater sense of connection to self and others. Classes are experiential and include guided meditation practice and group discussion.  There is an expectation that group members will also commit to engaging in regular, supported home practice to enhance their skill learning within the group.  

The group meets on Thursday mornings in Subiaco for 1.5 hours.  We aim to run the course at least twice throughout the year.

Sessions include:

  • Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices
  • Some gentle stretching exercises 
  • Group reflection
  • Home practice worksheets.  

The group is suitable for people who have a history of sexual assault and / or childhood sexual abuse and:

  • are currently accessing or willing to access counselling through SARC or another professional support network for the duration of the course.
  • have an interest in learning about mindfulness skills and are able to commit fully to the 8 week program.
  • can attend a pre-group interview with a group facilitator to assess current needs in relation to the group program.