Monday, 27 March 2017

Facebook Live: Q&A broadcast with Rob and Chris

Family Support Services Manager Rob and Clinical Lead Counsellor Christopher hosted our very first online Q&A and discussion last Friday via Facebook Live. Here are some highlights from the broadcast:

Q: What is ambiguous loss?

Rob: “Ambiguous loss is a concept developed by Dr Pauline Boss. In the context of 'missing', the best way to explain it is when someone is physically absent yet psychologically present.

Ambiguous loss tries to tries to explain the pain and unending anguish that families and friends feel when a loved one goes missing. It explains that they become trapped in the grief process, unable to move on or develop relationships within their life. It also recognises that the ambiguous loss people feel is a recognised trauma.

Ambiguous loss is the framework and the understanding that we use throughout the whole organisation to deliver the services that we do. And more importantly, is the foundation of all of the support services we provide.”

Q: What is telephone counselling?

Chris: “Telephone counselling, and any counselling really, can help to focus on any specific processes that might be going on for you, or that you might be struggling with; sadness, depression, anxiety, existential feelings like feeling trapped, stuck. Sometimes having a special place at an agreed time to talk to somebody who is neutral, who understands, who doesn’t judge, can be very helpful in order to access the deeper feelings that might be going on for you around missing your loved one. And a space, perhaps, where you do feel listened to.”

Q: What are the facilitated peer face to face group trials?

Chris: “We’ve had our first meeting; families showed up for about an hour and a half’s session. I’m there to get it going and to hold it in a psychological sense. But what was really powerful, and the families did say this, was to be able to share with somebody who’d had a similar experience."

“It’s group therapy / emotional support; to be able to talk and share what’s going on. By talking yourselves you get some support, but by listening to others who have been through something similar, you can deal with that uncertainty, you can deal with that loss, sharing the thousands of stories that go on in your mind about what’s happened to whoever has gone missing. I personally found it a very powerful and meaningful experience."

Rob: “I think ‘missing’ is such a unique issue, so the opportunity to come together is so rare which probably adds to how powerful it is. If anybody wants to attend, if there are any families or friends with missing loved ones that would like to attend these groups then by all means call in to 116 000 or email me.”

Q: What is the difference between the telephone counselling service, and the helpline service?

Rob: “From my point of view, I think the telephone counselling can help with more specific issues that people might be struggling to overcome.”

Chris: “Yes, it is more structured. If you’re accessing the telephone counselling service you would agree a day and time and when to speak. The session is 45 minutes long, so it’s a very specific time, as opposed to the telephone support service which is accessible 24/7. So it’s a very focused, boundaried space for you to talk about psychological and emotional impact, and by that I mean how it’s affecting you, whereas the telephone support service can also be looking at practical issues around help with police, finance, things like that. Counselling would focus on emotions, feeling, affect; there’s also room to talk about what’s going on in your life, but the counsellor would probably be helping you to focus on how it’s affecting you, tools and strategies to deal with things as well."

Rob: “The 116 000 telephone helpline that we have provides practical and emotional support and is 24/7 and we’re there as long as the journey takes with missing, and as you say, the counselling is time limited, boundaried and more focused.”

Q: Do I have to pay for telephone counselling?

Rob: “The answer is no. We provide the telephone counselling free of charge. There are 7 sessions; the first session is an assessment where you will speak with your counsellor and establish what you want the counselling for and what the boundaries are.”

Q: Do I get a choice of when I receive my counselling sessions?

Chris: “Absolutely. You would complete a referral form, and in there you would be able to put down the best time for you to have the appointments, and then the counsellor would get in touch and you would agree a mutually convenient time which works for both of you. Usually it would be the same day and the same time each week”

Q: Is the telephone counselling all confidential?

Chris: “Absolutely. With all types of counselling and therapy, and any contact you have with Missing People, there’s confidentiality to what you’re talking about. Certain things which your counsellor would discuss with you, serious crime, things like that then our counselling profession can’t hold in confidence but it is a space for you to feel and to be able to talk about whatever it is hats on your mind and that info isn’t passed on or shared anywhere.”

Rob: “Another interesting point around that is that it will remain confidential from the helpline, from the family support worker and from Missing People. It’s a really protected space.”

If anybody with a missing loved one needs help or support or would like to find out more about the services we offer, please call our 24 hour dedicated helpline on 116 000

Watch the full video below:

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Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

Written by families and friends of missing people, supporters working to raise awareness of the cause, and volunteers and staff at the charity Missing People, we hope that this blog will offer a window into the issue of missing.

The charity Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. To find out more about Missing People and ways that you can support the charity visit

Call or text the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.