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General FAQs

IMPORTANT – The young person referral is currently closed

We’ve experienced a 67% increase in children and young people needing our support this year compared to 2019, and sadly don’t have enough money coming into the charity to reduce our waiting list of 10+ months fast enough. Therefore, it is with great sadness that we are having to close our system to any new referral forms being completed until we have reduced this waiting list. Please note that we can still accept parents and adult referral forms, as the waiting time for adults is only a few weeks. Please ring 01942 679300 to make an adult referral.

PLEASE NOTE: We do not currently have any student counsellor placement opportunities.

Please make a note of our landline 01942 679300, as this is the number you will be contacted on when you reach the top of the waiting list and a slot becomes available.

Where is Willow Project based?

We are a charity in the Wigan Borough, in the North West of England. You can access support from us if you live in the Wigan Borough, this includes Leigh, Tyldesley and Atherton. Our address is 98 Bolton Road, Atherton, M46 9JY.

What is counselling?

Counselling from Willow Project is on a confidential one-to-one basis, lasting 40 minutes. A counsellor will see you at the same place, in Atherton, at the same time and on the same day every week.

The way that we work is that you talk about the things that are important to you without us judging or telling you what to do.

If you don’t think that counselling is for you, then there are other things and ways to help yourself. Take a look at the ‘MH Resources‘ and ‘Other Services‘ sections of our website.

How long does the counselling session last?

Counselling sessions last up to 40 minutes, and are on a weekly basis.

When can I have a counselling session?

Once you have submitted a referral form to us, you will be added to the waiting list and contacted when a counsellor becomes available. Please make a note of our landline 01942 679300, as this is the number you will be contacted on when you reach the top of the waiting list and a slot becomes available.

Can I go into the counselling session with my child?

You will be asked to go into the first session if your child is young, i.e. aged 10 or under, and/or if your child asks for you to go into the first session. But you will only be expected to stay in the session for 10 minutes.

You won’t be invited to go into future sessions.

How can I find out what is being talked about?

Counselling only works best when a young person can talk freely and in confidence. The counsellor respects this confidentiality, unless there is reason to break it.

Whilst the young person is free to discuss what has been talked about in the session with whoever they choose, we strongly recommend that a young person is not pressed by anyone to do this, as they may feel pressure to talk about it and this could impact on their progress.

For more support around this, head over to our blog piece on Supporting Your Child.

When will I see a change in my child?

The aim of our work is to help young people explore emotions that they are feeling, and to help them to come to terms with experiences that are beyond their control. Other aims are to improve self-confidence, self-esteem, reduce anxiety and make changes. These changes may be subtle and not always what parents are expecting.

What does the optional paid service mean?

As a charity we believe that all children and young people should have access to free counselling. However, we don’t currently have enough money to see everyone quickly and this is the reason we have such a long waiting list. For parents/carers who would like to reduce this waiting time, you can do so by paying a contribution of £35 towards the counselling sessions. This payment should be made either by card payment or cash. We accept all major debit, credit, and mastercards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay,

How do I fill out a referral form?

If you have decided that you wish to have counselling, please head over to the young person referral section and fill out a referral form. Once submitted (please make sure you wait for the thank you page to appear), this will be sent directly to the Willow Project office and you will be added to the waiting list.

Do you have counselling for adults?

Yes. Our service for adults is open to parents/carers of any young people accessing the service. Please ring the office to fill out a referral over the phone with one of our office staff. 

Are you open in school holidays?

We are not open on any bank holidays, and we are not open during school holidays. The counsellor will make you aware of any breaks that may occur due to school holidays with plenty of notice.

What happens if I miss a session?

Please give 24 hours notice if you can’t make a session. If your session is on a Monday, you can leave a voicemail on our answering machine. We only accept two last minute cancellations or not attending your session without prior notice.

How long is the waiting list?

Currently, our free waiting list is around 10+ months long, and 4/5 months long if someone can pay for the sessions.

When will I know I have counselling?

Once you’ve submitted the referral form it will be received by the office and put onto the waiting list. Once a counsellor becomes available, you will be contacted with the start date and time.

Can my children be seen together?

Counselling from Willow Project is on a confidential one-to-one basis. You can refer all of your children into the service, but they will be seen separately and given different counsellors, when they become available.

Who is counselling best for?

Counselling works best for individuals that are struggling with their emotional or mental health. 

Please note: Counselling only works if the individual being referred wants counselling.

What to expect on the first session?

On the first session, the counsellor will introduce themselves, and parents/carers will be asked to go into the first session if the child is young, i.e. aged 10 and under, and/or if the child asks for them to go into the first session. Parent/carer will be expected to stay in the session for the first 10 minutes.

If you are paying for the sessions, you will be given a contract by a member of office staff, to read and sign.

Where is it?

98 Bolton Road, Atherton, M46 9JY.  Please see the Find Us tab for more details and a link to Maps.

Can I speak to the child’s counsellor about any concerns I have?

If you have any concerns please speak to a member of staff in the office or ring 01942 679300, rather than speak to your child’s counsellor directly.

My child is showing signs of self-harm, what should I do?

Please consult the NHS website for information around self-harm: NHS Website