School of Health and Society 10.09.20

Specialist domestic violence counselling service to expand

A specialist service based at the University of Salford is training an extra 14 counsellors to help meet an increase in demand.

Dr Jeannette Roddy

Dr Jeannette Roddy, (pictured) Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford, who led the research programme used to develop the specialist service, said: “When we started the service back in October 2019, we were receiving two or three referrals per month. Now we receive up to four per week. 

“We are therefore increasing the number of counsellors we have available, as we want to do all we can to support people in need of our help. From October, we will be able to see up to 60 clients per week.”

The service specifically prepares counsellors to work with victims of domestic abuse by looking at how people use and experience power and control, rather than using a gender-based approach. This means it is suitable for people of any background, gender or sexuality who have previously been in an abusive relationship.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the service now offers telephone and video counselling, meaning it is open to victims of abuse both within the local community and across the UK.
Individuals across Greater Manchester and beyond who may not have a local counselling service for domestic violence, can now access Jeannette’s team. However, the new approach has also brought its own challenges.

Jeannette explained: “Following the lockdown, we moved to online working to continue to support our clients. Most people were happy to move to an online or telephone service and to maintain their therapy with their counsellor. As a university, we provided training for our counsellors on how to work online and by telephone, compared to face to face. 

“But the move to online counselling can be complex for domestic violence. Counselling needs a quiet space, away from others and isn't appropriate if the abuser is in the home and likely to interrupt or if children are likely to come in unexpectedly. As the session is happening outside our clinic, we must think carefully about what we will do if someone else answers the call or interrupts the session, as well as what will happen if the call is unanswered. All of this is discussed and agreed with the client when the counselling begins.”

As schools return, Jeannette expects the team may see a further increase in the number of referrals, and the team are working to develop a new website for the service to help make it even easier for clients to get in touch.

Anyone interested in using the service can self-refer now through an online portal and should simply state domestic abuse or violence when asked what they wish to work on in counselling. You can access the service here. 

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.