Ask Sam letter


To Sam

1 to 1 counselling

Hi Sam, I think I might need 1 to 1 counselling, but I’m a bit scared to get it, I don’t know why. Anyway, I have a few questions: 1. Are the chats on the Childline website or on the messages app 2. Does it cost any money 3. Can the messages be easily traced (for example in online history) 4. If we don’t want any information being shared and no one else is being harmed, is there a 100% guarentee that it will be kept confidential 5. How long does the average chat go on for, is it just a few messages or does it go on for weeks or something Thanks, I would really appreciate it if you could reply to this. xxx

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Getting counselling can feel intimidating, and it’s OK to feel nervous about the process and how it works. I often get questions about talking to a counsellor and how our online chat works, and I’m happy to answer anyone else who wants to know more.

1. Talking to a counsellor online on our 1-2-1 counsellor chat can be easier for some people, and it could be a good way to build up the confidence to call and speak to one of our counsellors directly. You can chat either through our For Me app or through the website on your phone, laptop, desktop or tablet.

2. Everything you do with Childline is free, unless you’re on your mobile and pay for your data. Using any website, including Childline, can use mobile data if you're not connected to WiFi.

3. We store what was said in the chats securely. Nobody outside of Childline can see it, unless we need to tell someone else to keep you safe. We will only do this if we think that you or someone else is at risk. What’s said in the chat is not kept on your device after the chat has finished, so nobody can read through your messages afterwards. Emails to Childline are saved, and you can access those to re-read them, but only if you are logged in. If you make sure you logout of your account or close the app when you are finished, everything will stay completely private.

However, people can tell you have visited the Childline website unless you take some steps to cover your tracks. This means using things like private/incognito mode in your browser or clearing your cookies and history. If your parents have put parental control apps on your phone or computer then your visit might still show up to those, even if you take all the steps I’ve just mentioned. If it's important that your visit to us stays secret and you think your parents track what you do online then you could use a computer at school or the library.

If you don't feel you can use a computer to chat online with us,you can always call. It's free to call Childline, and they don’t show up on any phone bill. However, the number will still be stored in your phone's "dialled numbers" list, so remember to clear that. For a bit more detail, here is a video going through what happens when you contact Childline.

4. We have a promise about what we can and can't keep confidential. We keep most things between you and us but if we think you could die if we don't get you help, we would want to make sure you are okay. We also won't keep it confidential if someone like a teacher is abusing you, or if you tell us that you're abusing children yourself.

5. There is no right or wrong time for a chat to go on for. Some people have a single short chat or phone call and that's enough - others use Childline over a long period of time to talk about their problems. If you have called Childline, be aware that if you call back it is unlikely you will speak to the same person. Chats can take around half an hour so make sure you have the time to talk. Counsellors will also make notes about what you said in case you get in touch again, to make sure everyone is on the same page. Whatever you need, Childline can be there for you.

I hope this has answered your questions but if you have more, you can always call Childline or contact them on chat and any counsellor would be happy to explain how we work to you.

Take care.


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