Emotional Support Service

Find out how our trained counsellors could help you if you are finding it hard to come to terms with feelings about sight loss

Who are we?

The RNIB Emotional Support Service (ESS) is a small team of telephone counsellors. Our service is accredited by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP). We offer confidential telephone support, information and counselling to people who, because of sight loss, are experiencing emotional difficulties.

Find out more by downloading the Emotional Support Service leaflet.

We also run telephone support groups facilitated by a counsellor. Groups are formed throughout the year so you can contact us anytime to know when the next one will start. Download more specific information about our "Seeing it through" telephone support groups:

What can we offer?

We give you time to talk about your situation and how you are feeling.

We will help you to identify what you need and the best way to get it. This could mean helping you find support in your local area through agencies offering specific services such as counselling, befriending, or support groups.

We can offer one-to-one telephone counselling and "Seeing it through" telephone support groups, so that you can explore your situation further. Counselling offers the opportunity to work through some of your feelings as well as gaining support. It may help you consider new ways of adapting to sight loss. The total number of sessions varies from person to person, but is usually up to a maximum of eight sessions.

Case study - Karen's story

Karen, who is 53, was referred to us by another RNIB team. Karen has Multiple Sclerosis and was registered blind many years ago.

At the time of being referred to us, Karen was feeling very low and frustrated, particularly about problems with getting adequate support for her needs. When Karen first spoke to a counsellor she felt very isolated and lacking in confidence. Although she had asked for help in the past, she had had some negative responses and felt very alone.

"At first I wasn't too sure of talking about my feelings but from the first session I was put at ease and I found it really helpful. It was good to be able to talk to someone outside my family who understands about losing your sight but also took everything else that was going on in my life into account. He (the counsellor) understood and believed me when told him how I was struggling, and I learnt to take things one day at a time".

Karen had ten sessions with a counsellor and used them to talk about how she was feeling and to explore ways of getting more support in her life. By the time the sessions ended she found that her confidence was growing and that she was feeling more positive.

"Having emotional support has helped me enormously, I was really struggling before. I now go to MS Society meetings every month and that really helps me. I go to computer class as well. It's really difficult, but I have to keep trying. I am more confident and I know I can get help if I need it in the future. I would recommend this kind of help to anyone who is losing their sight."

Is everything confidential?

Our service is confidential. This means that what you say to us will remain within the ESS and will not be passed on to anyone else without your consent. The only exception would be if we had very serious concerns about your safety or that of others. In such exceptional circumstances we would discuss this with you and encourage you to seek emergency support.

As an Organisational Member of BACP we are bound by its Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy, the Ethical Guidelines for Researching Counselling and Psychotherapy (where organisations undertake research) and subject to the Professional Conduct Procedure for the time being in force. We also comply with the Data Protection Act.

Contact us

Call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk and ask to be referred to the Emotional Support Service. You can contact us through Type Talk in the same way.

We are ready to answer your call Monday to Friday 8.45am to 5.30pm. Outside these times, leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Alternatively you can email us at ess@rnib.org.uk. The small size of our service means we cannot offer a direct telephone number.

What will happen next?

One of the team will phone you usually within a week (although it may take longer at busy times). If it is not a convenient time to talk we will arrange an appointment with you. The first appointment will be a chance to talk about your situation and to explore what further support could be helpful. Any further sessions will be arranged at mutually convenient times.

There is no charge for sessions or calls.

BACP is the registered Trade Mark of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

Related links

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