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Unplanned pregnancy? Talking to a counsellor can help

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all counselling services the same?

No, pregnancy counselling services differ from each other when it comes to providing information on abortion services outside Ireland. Contact details for abortion services outside the country can only be provided during a counselling session and within a strict legal framework.

Most HSE-funded crisis pregnancy services provide information on abortion services that are lawfully available in another country, if you ask them to during your counselling session. Two agencies – Cura and Anew – will not provide information on abortion services abroad, although they will discuss abortion with you.

Before the counselling session begins, the counsellor should tell you what information he or she is able to provide or discuss during the session.

Will my session be confidential?

All personal information about clients, and anything discussed during a crisis pregnancy counselling session, is confidential.  There are circumstances however in which the crisis pregnancy counsellor may have a duty to disclose [share] client information.

This may arise where a counsellor has reason to believe that:

  • the client is at risk of harm
  • other people are at risk of harm
  • there is a child protection issue
  • he or she is mandated by law or a court order to disclose
  • it is in the public interest to disclose

If this happens, a counsellor will only give information to the relevant authorities. Counsellors will not break confidentiality without discussing it with you first unless discussing it with you puts you, or someone else, at risk.

Will the counsellor give me contact details for abortion clinics in other countries?

During a crisis pregnancy counselling session, if you request information about a termination, all of the HSE-funded services listed on this website, except CURA and ANEW, will provide you with information about services that are lawfully available in other countries. There are strict legal conditions around the giving of this information.  The most important condition for you to be aware of is that the counsellor must give you information, advice and counselling on all the courses of action (for example parenting and/or adoption and/or abortion) that are open to you in relation to your particular circumstances.

Can counsellors arrange an appointment for me at an abortion clinic?

No, counsellors are not allowed to arrange an appointment for you with an organisation that provides abortion services.  If you have made an appointment, then counsellors and other medical professionals may communicate with the clinic and provide them with any relevant letters or information.

I have told my parents I am pregnant and they want to come with me to counselling, but I would like to talk to the counsellor on my own. What can I do?

Counsellors normally try to speak to a client on their own as part of a counselling session, even when they bring a family member or friend. You could phone ahead of your appointment and check if this will happen.

Can I have a counselling session if I am under 18?

This will depend on your exact age and on the service’s policy.  No matter what age you are, what is most important is that you get the support you need.  All services should discuss this with you and support you to access the support of a parent/legal guardian or someone else appropriate if possible.

If you are over 16, you may be able to have counselling if the service provides this without a parent or legal guardian being with you or consenting to you having counselling.  Many services however will only provide counselling to persons under 18 if they have the consent of a parent or legal guardian. All services should discuss their policy with you around this and help you to get the support you need.

If you are under 16

If you are under 16 then a service will require parental/legal guardian consent for you to have a counselling session unless the circumstances are exceptional.  The service should discuss this with you and explain how important it is for you to have support.

Will my counselling session be confidential if I am under 18?

The counsellor should discuss this with you.  Confidentiality is very important but it can never be guaranteed whatever age you are, especially where there may be concerns around your own age, the age of the other party to the sexual activity or general child protection concerns.  Confidentiality can also not be guaranteed if, for example, there is a court order or a request under the Freedom of Information for a child’s records by a parent.