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This FAQ page includes questions you might have about face-to-face counselling with OTR. If your question isn’t answered here, then call or email us.

  • What is Off the Record / OTR?

Off the Record (OTR) is a young people’s charity supporting young people in South London for over 20 years. Over 1,000 young people use our free counselling services in Croydon, Sutton and Merton each year.

  • What is counselling?

Counselling is a chance to talk regularly (usually 50 minutes weekly) with the same counsellor who can support you and help you talk about your feelings and experiences.

  • What age do I need to be to start counselling?

Our services in Sutton and Merton provide face-to-face counselling to ages 11-25. Our Croydon service is open to ages 14-25.
11-13 year olds in Croydon can access our online service for free counselling.

  • Do you have a referral form and how do I go about referring myself?

Our Croydon face-to-face counselling service is self-referral which means if you are aged between 14-25, you can sign yourself up for counselling. Our counselling services in Merton and Sutton also accepts self-referrals. If you’re aged 11-13, we will need your parent/carer to consent to your referral. All self-referrals can be made through our website: www.talkofftherecord.org/sign-up

  • What happens when I'm referred or first make contact?

If you are referred through CAMHS, we will make contact within a few days to check that you would like counselling with us and when you can meet with a counsellor. If you refer yourself, then we will contact you to attend an initial meeting (this is likely to be with someone different from the person who will be your regular counsellor). There may be a wait for a regular counselling space, to check waiting times or ask anything, please call or email us.

  • What will happen when I first meet a counsellor?

Most face-to-face counselling takes place in our buildings which are ordinary houses. Due to the pandemic, counselling also takes place on the phone and Zoom. Before you first meet with your counsellor, you’ll be asked to fill in some forms to make sure we have all the right contact details and other information about you and to find out how you’ve been feeling recently. You’ll also be given lots more information about privacy and confidentiality. It can feel like a lot to take in at that first meeting but we’ll do our best to make things as friendly and straightforward as possible. Once you’ve finished the forms, you and your counsellor will meet in a private room (in-person or online) to start talking about whatever is worrying you.

  • What is an initial assessment?

An initial assessment is your first meeting with a counsellor (or mental health practitioner) where you get to discuss your feelings and the areas you need support in. You can choose whether the support is right for you and if you would like to start ongoing counselling sessions.

  • Will my parents be involved?

Counselling is your space so we encourage you to talk to your counsellor on your own, rather than with someone else like a parent. But, you’re welcome to bring a parent or someone else with you who can wait for you and if it feels too difficult to talk to the counsellor on your own, then just let us know. We don’t feedback or give information to your parents (unless you agree or we feel you are at risk) so what your parents know about your counselling is up to you.

  • How long can I come to counselling?

Usually between 6 and 12 sessions depending on which service you’re using. Your counsellor will explain this to you.

  • Where can I get help immediately?

If you are struggling to cope either before or during counselling, let us know so we can suggest extra support. You can also visit the Need Help Now section on our website.

Call us

Saturday Support 020 8175 6776

Open on Saturdays from 10am-1pm

Croydon Service 020 8251 0251

Merton Service 020 3984 4004

Sutton Service 020 8680 8899

Email us

General enquiries info@talkofftherecord.org