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Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

What are your online support services?

Off the Record provides two online services:

  • Online Workshops: Free and informal online workshops, designed to provide practical help and information about key issues you might be struggling with in your life. 
  • Online Counselling: Free online counselling, giving you one-to-one support to help you through tough times. 

Are your services free?

Like all of Off the Record’s services, our online support is free and available to all young people aged 14-25 in Croydon, Sutton and Merton.

I'm not from Croydon, Sutton or Merton. Can I use your services?

Our Online Services are only available to young people aged 14-25 in Croydon, Sutton and Merton. There are other online counselling services available in the country, such as Childline. Click here to see more national services for young people in England.

I want to give you feedback, how do I do this?

There are lots of ways that you can give us your feedback. This is a new website, so we'd love to hear how you are finding everything. The quickest and easiest way to give us your feedback is to use the feedback form.

If you are registered for online counselling, you will be asked for feedback on a regular basis by your counsellor, particularly during the early and final stages of your counselling sessions. This is to help us get an idea of whether the counselling is working for you and if you feel that you are getting what you need from your sessions.

If you are registered for online workshops, we will ask you for feedback from time to time, such as when you sign up to a particular session. We will also ask you how you are doing on the day of the session as well as how you found the session at the end.

I’m having technical issues with the site… Help!?

You can use our online services with a mobile phone or tablet, but you'll get the best experience using a laptop or computer. This is particularly true if you are planning to attend an online workshop, as you will need to download an app if you come to the session using a phone/tablet. 

If you need any further help with using the site, you’ll find a button on the homepage saying ‘I need help on the site’. Write us a message telling us what sort of help you need and which service (online counsellng or online workshops) you need help with, and we will get back to you as soon as possible to point you in the right direction.

Please note that our online services are not staffed 24/7 but we will aim to respond to your query within 48 hours. If you haven’t heard back after this time, please contact Off the Record by phone or email and we will get back to.

I need help now, what should I do?

You might be looking at this site and be feeling desperate for help. Even if it is in the middle of the night, you might feel you need help right now. If you are in crisis, feeling suicidal or having thoughts of self harm there is information about what to do next here.

(Please note that if we have concerns for you or feel that you or someone else may be in danger, we may also try to contact you and possibly suggest that you talk to someone in one of our face to face services, in line with our confidentiality policy.)

Online Counselling FAQs

How does online counselling work?

Online counselling is slightly different to face to face counselling because rather than talking about your problems, you write about them. All of our counselling happens through this website, so instead of using video or skype-based counselling, we offer online counselling via private, confidential messages which are sent between you and your counsellor. To find out more about how it works click here.

I want an online counsellor, what do I do?

There are two ways to request an online counsellor.

If you are not already registered for our online support services, you will need to complete our online registration form. This form will ask you a few questions about yourself as well as ask you to tell us a little bit about why you want to talk to an online counsellor. (All of this information is subject to our data policy and will be kept private and confidential).

If you are already a registered user who has been attending our online workshops, or have already completed some online counselling, you will be able to request a counsellor using your existing account. Simply go to the homepage and select ‘I want to talk to a counsellor’.

Is the information I share with my counsellor private and confidential?

Everything you share with our online support services is strictly confidential and will only ever be shared with a third party if we believe you may be at risk of harm to yourself or to others. You can find out more about how we keep things private and confidential by clicking here.

Follow these top tips to further protect your confidentiality:

  • Make sure you are in a private and safe place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Avoid using shared computers at school, college or uni as these devices may monitor your activity. This also applies to devices issued by your place of study such as laptops. Schools often have extra safety in place and your activity on the site may not be confidential.
  • If needed, use the Exit button on the right hand side for a speedy exit from the site.
  • Make sure that your laptop, mobile or tablet is password protected so that only you can access it. Update your password regularly. Make sure you always log out when you’re finished on the site.
  • The site will send you auto-mated email reminders about your sessions and/or new messages from your counsellor. Consider who might have access to your email account and be sure to update your email password too. You may even want to set up a separate email account to use with this service, for an extra layer of security.
  • Most web browsers have a ‘private browsing’ mode that means your internet history isn’t stored on your device. You can also delete your browsing history if you need to. Women’s Aid provide detailed advice on how to do this if you feel concerned about your safety.

Can I meet my counsellor face to face?

If you have been talking to a counsellor on online and decide that you would prefer face to face counselling, you can contact Off the Record and we will talk to you and explain how our face to face counselling service works. However, it unlikely we will be able to offer you face to face counselling with your online counsellor and you may be offered sessions with a different counsellor.

I’ve registered for online counselling but haven’t heard anything. How long will I have to wait for a response?

Within 48 hours of you requesting a counsellor, a member of the team will respond with an introductory welcome message. This will include some information about who your counsellor is going to be and when you can expect to hear from them. Our waiting times will vary, depending on the level of demand for the service. If you haven’t received a message 48 hours after registering, please email onlinecounselling@talkofftherecord.org and we will get back to you.

I haven’t heard anything back from my counsellor, what should I do?

Your counsellor will normally respond to your messages on a weekly basis, as outlined in Our Counselling Agreement. Usually at the start of your counselling, your counsellor will have gone through this with you, so if you are unsure, track back through your chat and you should be able to find some information about when you counsellor will normally respond to your messages.

If your counsellor has not responded and it is still within this agreed time, then it is likely they will get back within this agreed timeframe. However, if it is after this agreed time, it may be that there is a technical issue that we are unaware of. The best thing to do is to use the ‘I need help on the site’ button on our homepage and send us a message explaining that you haven’t heard back from your counsellor.

If you haven’t logged into the site for a while or went away for a while but want to come back to counselling, it might be that your counsellor hasn’t responded because your counselling contract has been deactivated. In order to start counselling again, you will need to click on the ‘I want to talk to a counsellor’ button on the homepage and a member of the counselling team will get back to you.

My counsellor is online, but isn't answering me!

Your counsellor is online but will only contact you during your agreed times (if you having live chat session). If you are unsure, have a look at our counselling agreement for more information.

Online Workshops FAQs

What happens in a workshop?

A workshop is usually about an hour long and takes place in the evening from Monday – Friday. During the session, the facilitator(s) will give a bit of an introduction about that particular topic as well as looking at coping strategies and positive things that might help when facing the particular issue you’re dealing with.

To find out more about what is covered in our workshops, have a look at our ‘What’s On’ page for more details here. 

I want to sign up, what do I need to do?

In order to attend an online workshop, you need to register for the service. When you register, we will ask you a few questions about yourself. All of this information is protected under our data policy and kept confidential. However, we do ask that when you register, you pick a display name that is not your name, an email address or a username you use regularly on other sites, so that you feel able to chat in the workshops knowing things are anonymous and confidential.

(Please note, the onlien workshops are only available to young people aged 14-25 in Croydon, Sutton and Merton. If you are living outside this area, please visit our website for more information on other national services available).

I’m registered, what happens next?

Once you are registered, you will be invited to sign up for some of the online workshops that are coming up. Have a look at What’s on and sign up to a session that is running at a convenient time. If there are no sessions available on an issue you are struggling with, or if there isn’t a time that works for you, send us your feedback so we can try and fix this!

I want to attend a workshop from my phone/tablet. Why isn’t it working?

We understand that lots of people might want to use their phone or tablet to attend a workshop, however, for the best experience we'd advise you try to attend from a laptop or desktop computer. This will allow you to view all elements of the session at once.

In order to get into the session, you will need to have Flash installed as well as an up to date browser. If you are on your mobile or tablet you will be prompted to download the ClickMeeting app which will also allow you to enter the session.

If I come to a workshop, will I be expected to speak/type?

During the workshop, the facilitator(s) will invite you to talk about your experiences alongside the other people taking part in the session. However, there will never be any pressure to share, you can just sit and watch if you want to.

Are your online workshops really private and confidential?

Everyone who attends an online workshop has agreed to the confidentiality policy. This means that everything that is discussed in the session should not be discussed by anyone who attends the session outside of the group. The only exception to this is if Off the Record had a particular concern, as outlined in the confidentiality policy.

In order to protect your confidentiality, we do ask that when you register, you pick a display name that is not your name, email address or a username you use regularly on other sites, so that you feel able to chat in the workshops knowing things are anonymous and confidential.

Follow these top tips to further protect your confidentiality:

  • Make sure you are in a private and safe place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Avoid using shared computers at school, college or uni as these devices may monitor your activity. This also applies to devices issued by your place of study such as laptops. Schools often have extra safety in place and your activity on the site may not be confidential.
  • If needed, use the Exit button on the right hand side for a speedy exit from the site.
  • Make sure that your laptop, mobile or tablet is password protected so that only you can access it. Update your password regularly. Make sure you always log out when you’re finished on the site.
  • The site will send you auto-mated email reminders about your sessions and/or new messages from your counsellor. Consider who might have access to your email account and be sure to update your email password too. You may even want to set up a separate email account to use with this service, for an extra layer of security.
  • Most web browsers have a ‘private browsing’ mode that means your internet history isn’t stored on your device. You can also delete your browsing history if you need to. Women’s Aid provide detailed advice on how to do this if you feel concerned about your safety.

How can I make sure people don’t know who I am?

The best way to ensure that you feel anonymous when you come to a workshop is to carefully choose your display name. Please do not use name, email address or a username you use regularly on other sites. If whilst attending a workshop you feel that there is a possibility that someone else in the session knows you outside of the session, or indeed that you know them, our confidentiality policy asks that what is discussed during that session should not be mentioned elsewhere, whether in a future workshop with us, in another online forum, or in a face to face setting with other people. You are also asked to keep that person’s identity to yourself.

I think I know someone I met in an online workshop... What should I do?

The short answer is nothing. It’s really important to everyone that what is discussed in the online sessions is kept private and confidential. If you think you might know someone else in your session, or if you meet someone either online or offline that you think might have been to the same online workshop as you, we ask that you don’t mention this to the other person. More details about this can be found in our confidentiality policy.