Wellbeing Dictionary Entries

[ Go to dictionary index / short alphabetical list ]



You might be troubled about abuse that is happening now, or it may be something that happened in the past but is still affecting you. Abuse can take several different forms: emotional, physical and sexual. Neglect is another form of abuse. All of these can make you feel really bad about yourself (low self esteem), angry, hopeless or despairing. Very often people who suffer from abuse feel isolated and find it hard to open up because they feel ashamed, or frightened that they won’t be believed or taken seriously. Sometimes they worry that their problems would be ‘too much’ for someone to hear. It is not unusual to suffer from more than one form of abuse at any one time. You might find abuse affects you in other ways besides physical signs, you may:

  • Become sad or depressed
  • Become angry or aggressive
  • Use drugs, alcohol or self harm to blot out painful feelings or memories
  • Display fear in certain situations, or with some people
  • Have difficulty studying or concentrating
  • Feel suicidal

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can have a damaging effect, and make you feel lacking in confidence, believe that something is wrong with you, and fearful of going out (agoraphobic). Emotional abuse can be:

  • Bullying
  • Name calling
  • Threatening
  • Blanking or ignoring someone
  • Purposely excluding someone from group activities
  • Treating someone differently for no reason.
  • Controlling behaviour eg. telling you what you can and can’t wear

Emotional abuse can be difficult to spot as there are no visible signs, although in some cases it can lead to physical abuse. If you are being treated like this you need to take steps to get help – you don’t have to go through it alone. By coming to therapy or counselling you can share your experiences and so feel less isolated. You may be able to develop resilience and build self-confidence so that you are better able to assert yourself. It might also involve working together with your counsellor or therapist to developing specific strategies for coping with difficult situations.

Physical Abuse

The signs of physical abuse are more easily noticed. If someone has hurt you, you may feel too frightened or embarrassed to tell anyone what’s happening.

Physical abuse within relationships and families is known as domestic abuse and can include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, head-butting, biting and burning. If an adult gives a young person alcohol or drugs then that too counts as physical abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Maybe you are feeling pressured or forced into being sexually active when you don’t want to or are not ready. Sexual abuse doesn’t have to involve full (penetrative) sex, it might be touching or kissing. It doesn’t even have to be face to face but could be via the internet, or text messaging. If someone makes you look at sexual or pornographic pictures, that could also be sexual abuse. Although often between an adult and a young person, sexual abuse can also be between older and younger children or even amongst peer groups.
Incest is when one person in your family sexually abuses another family member.



“The right to adequate housing applies to everyone. (...) All individuals, as well as families, are entitled to adequate housing regardless of age, economic status, group or other affiliation or status and other such factors. In particular, enjoyment of this right must, in accordance with article 2 (2) of the Covenant, not be subject to any form of discrimination.” - United Nations Human Rights

In other words, everybody has to right to a space where you feel secure and where you can relax. We do our best at Off Centre to help homeless young people to access housing.














Anger can sometimes feel out of our control and can overwhelm us. It can also be held in or ‘repressed’. If our anger is not expressed, this can sometimes lead to depression. Sometimes when we bottle up anger we find ourselves taking it out on the wrong person or blowing up at what seem like little things to other people. We can become easily irritated and this can lead to problems in our relationships. 

Anger can be:

  • About ‘something’ (for example an injustice or a time that we were treated unfairly)
  • About something that happened to us in our past (that may not have been explored before)
  • Directed at someone in our life (a parent, partner or friend)
  • Directed at us (by someone else)
  • Internalised so that we become angry with ourselves
  • Violent and destructive
  • Hard to express

It is important to recognise that everyone feels angry and to recognise that anger is not a ‘bad’ emotion that should be stopped altogether. Anger can be used as a tool to bring about positive change to our lives. For example if a friend of ours was shot we may join an anti knife and gun crime campaign. It is how we express our anger that is important and if we can learn to express our anger in a constructive rather than a destructive way this will benefit us. This includes learning to assert ourselves and to have the confidence to say in a calm and clear way when we feel that something is wrong, without losing our cool.
Sometimes through counselling or therapy we can begin to understand and explore where our anger comes from, what happens physically when we become angry and to learn to recognise when we are getting angry. We may explore family patterns of anger and how anger was expressed in our family (or not) and how this may have impacted on our own anger. We can gain knowledge and understanding about the triggers that make us angry, calming techniques and strategies to help us deal with conflict.



When someone we care about dies we can be left with a range of thoughts and feelings, like:

  • Thinking of things we meant to have said but never did.
  • Thinking about them in the places we use to visit together.
  • Wishing they were still alive.
  • Feelings of anger because they’re not here anymore.
  • Blaming ourselves or others.
  • The list goes on . . .

Being able to talk with a counsellor who is not in your family or a close friend, can be helpful in enabling you to understand your thoughts and feelings. This can help you begin to come to terms with the death and make sense of your grief.

For some people talking can be difficult so art and drama therapy can be useful ways of helping you to express your feelings.



We can help you to get the information you need. If you are out of school but would like to get trained we can get you on track. Check out The Right Track (TRT) for more information about training opportunities.

















Most people at some time in their life will feel down, low, sad or tearful and often these symptoms pass relatively quickly. However sometimes we find that we feel like this most of the time, during most days and over several weeks and it we may also find that we are:

  • Losing interest and motivation to do things that used to be enjoyable
  • Withdrawing socially and not wanting to see people, not picking up the phone or wanting to go out with our friends
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate on school or college work or in our jobs
  • Feeling tired with aches and pains
  • Having difficulty getting to sleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling more hungry than usual or that we have lost our appetite
  • Feeling useless, worthless and unloved
  • Feeling hopeless and as if we have let our family down
  • Thinking about  or attempting suicide and /or self harm

These symptoms can cause distress, or difficulty coping with everyday life and can affect relationships with friends and family. Sometimes it can feel as if it is a vicious cycle and that things will never change and this can cause us to feel even more depressed or hopeless.

Sometimes through counselling and therapy we can begin to explore the events and life experiences that have led to us feeling like this, this in turn can help us to recognise why we feel depressed as well as to think about strategies to move us out of our depression. This can sometimes happen very quickly or can take a long time, depending on what has led to our feeling depressed in the first place.


Family Breakdown

Watching your family breakdown can be a very painful experience. Maybe you parents are arguing a lot or you find yourself doing things to hurt your parents so they understand how much they are hurting you with their behaviour. This can be because you might feel that you are the cause for the breakdown between your parents.

You must remember that you parents are adults and they are responsible for their behaviour: you are not powerful enough to make to people begin to hurt each other. The break down is about them not you.

Some young people say that when they have problems at home with their parents their school work begins to suffer and they lose concentration and interest. Their friendships sometimes suffer too and they generally feel like they can’t be bored to with anything.

Being able to speak to a counsellor or therapist at Off Centre can give you the space to talk about what’s important for you and also help you to understand your feelings. Sometimes we can help you to let you parents understand a little more what it is like for you as they begin to separate from each other. We can also help you to manage some of the feeling you have around the fact that your family is changing and it will never be the same again.







Our identity is made up of many different layers. As individuals we are all unique, so finding out who you are and what’s important to you is something only you can do. For most people this is a process that continues throughout our lives, as identity isn’t rigid but is influenced by the world around us. As you are growing up, the question of who you are is particularly important as you form a life apart from your parents and family.

Some factors that make up your identity include:

  • Culture
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Nationality

But other things like personal tastes (what music or clothes you prefer), values and attitudes are also really important. Your upbringing, family, friends and cultural values will be a big influence but as you get older you may find it harder to accept certain values, or else feel pressured to conform to other people’s. 

Counselling or therapy can offer you space to really think about what matters to you. Maybe you have a tendency to follow the crowd because you’re worried about what other people will think if you express a different opinion, or dress in a way that stands out from the rest of your friends. You might find that you try to change yourself to fit in with other people. Or perhaps you feel stereo-typed or labelled and find it hard to break free from other people’s expectations, whether positive or negative.

Getting to know yourself and being okay with that is important. It creates confidence and self-respect and helps your ability to form meaningful relationships. It might also give you a sense of belonging, and understanding of where you fit in to the larger community. 



We all need food and shelter but things like love, hugs, taking an interest in someone and a safe and stimulating environment are all vitally important to our development too. Neglect is a failure to provide the most basic of care to young people, which leaves them vulnerable and can have a serious effect on physical and emotional health and development. It may be that your parents (or guardian) are affected by mental health problems, or use drugs and alcohol which means that they are unable to look after you properly.

More information & advice


SAS Survivors









Self Harm

Self-harm means different things to different people. It may be a way of punishing yourself, or else of numbing painful feelings. Other times it might be a way trying to show yourself or others how bad you feel on the inside by creating something visible. Self-harming can include things like:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Punching walls or banging parts of your body against hard surfaces
  • Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
  • Swallowing toxic substances
  • Pushing sharp objects under your skin
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, taking risks eg. walking home at night on unlit roads, having unsafe sex or getting into fights in order to get hurt are some other ways that people can harm themselves.

Self harm is a way of coping with unbearable feelings. It is not attention seeking, nor is it a failed suicide attempt, although people who self harm are more likely to go on to commit suicide. People who self harm tend to be very secretive about it. They may feel ashamed, or worried about being judged or labelled. If you have started to hurt yourself as a way of coping, it is important that you seek help from someone you trust.

Through counselling or therapy you will be supported to look at what issues might lie behind the self-harm, and what situations act as triggers. The reasons that people begin to hurt themselves vary a lot: there is no one quick solution for a complex problem. Your counsellor or therapist will work with you to find out what will help the most.

Further information on self-harm

Young Minds
National Self Harm Network
First Signs



Your sexual identity will shape the relationships that you go on to have, your choice of partner and the kind of sex that you prefer. Although many people are aware of their sexuality in childhood, it’s when you hit adolescence that it becomes more of a focus. Generally speaking sexuality falls into three different types, although it’s important to recognise that we are human beings and so don’t always fit neatly into a particular category! People may identify in a number of other ways besides these.

  • Gay: Men or women (lesbians) who are attracted to members of the same sex
  • Bisexual: Men or women who are attracted to members of either sex
  • Heterosexual: Men or women who are attracted to members of the opposite sex

Maybe you are unsure about your sexuality and would find it helpful to have a safe space to question and explore who you are. Or perhaps you have known from an early age that you felt different from the majority of your friends. It’s not unusual for young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to struggle with their sexuality, and counselling or therapy can help you to learn to accept yourself. This can feel difficult in a world that is predominantly heterosexual. You might worry about other people’s reactions, or perhaps you are struggling to find a comfortable fit between your cultural or religious beliefs and your sexual identity.
Counselling and therapy can also help you come to terms with other people’s sexuality eg. if a family member or close friend has come out.

Gender Dysphoria (Transgender)

Gender dysphoria simply describes someone who feels that they were born the wrong sex. If you identify in this way you may feel that there is something wrong with your body, and wish to opt for sexual re-assignment surgery. Although gender is different from sexuality, many LGB organisations add a T to show that they also offer support to the transgender population. For more detailed information on transgender:

Further information & advice on sexuality

Here are some other organisations that can provide specialist information:
Lesbian & Gay Foundation
Pace Health
Metro Centre
IMAAN - support for Muslim LGBT people and their families

Or, if you have been the victim of homophobia or hate crime get in touch with Galop.



Sometimes changes in our lives can make life seem difficult to manage. Things like moving home, school life, exams, looking for work or even nice things like choosing a college course, can all make us feel stressed.

When we are stressed we everyday tasks can seem like huge things that need a lot of energy or thinking about in order to get them done.

Stress can also be like:

  • Feeling ‘butterflies’ in your tummy
  • Having thoughts that are confused
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having difficulty getting to sleep
  • Waking early and not being able to get back to sleep again
  • Sleeping for longer than usual periods
  • Loss of interest in your usual activities and / or friends

Letting go of your stress is important because you can begin to feel more anxious as times goes on and some of your friendships might begin to suffer. In counselling or therapy you are supported to understand what things make you feel stressed and how to possible manage yourself differently. We also help you to develop relaxation skills, so you can use them wherever you are whenever you feel stress coming.

Sometimes, through your counselling or therapy you can begin to understand if there are patterns in your life that cause you stress. Being able to recognise the patterns may mean that you then have more choices as to how respond to the pressures of your life at home, at school or in friendships.



There are different types of violence that can cause us to feel unhappy or actually cause you physical harm.

Violence can be:

  • Domestic: someone in your family home or by someone you are in a relationship with.
  • Sexual: someone know or unknown to you who betrays your trust sexually.
  • Physical: someone hurts you physically.
  • Emotional: someone uses ‘mind-games’ to manipulate you and get what they want.
  • Verbal: someone uses words to put you down and intimidate you.

In some instances violence can be people older or younger than you. The age of the person being violent towards you is no excuse for their behaviour. It is not your fault for the way they behave.

By speaking to us at Off Centre we will be able to support you in finding help. Counselling and therapy can be useful in helping you to develop strategies for dealing with how you are feeling. Speak to us and we will listen and support you finding a way through.

If you tell us that or someone you know is at risk of harm then we have a duty to protect and we will aim to talk with you about this. It might mean that we have to tell another agency, so that you or the person you have told us about can be properly protected.




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