St Martins offers a counselling service for people who would like to make the most of their time with us by offering them a service that helps address things like debilitating anxiety, past trauma and bereavement. This gives people a chance to make a real difference to their lives, allowing them to move past and onwards from their more challenging experiences and provide them with the tools to develop and expand coping strategies that will prepare them for a more stable future.
Private counselling is beyond the means of many individuals, and they may also be put off by the fees charged by local low-cost counselling organisations.
Mark, one of the counsellors involved in the project said, “It is clear that there are some people, who have been seriously traumatised by past events. The opportunity for them to explore their thoughts and feelings at their pace, and without judgment, might be something they have never previously experienced.”
“They may have denied or distorted their experiences over the years in order for them to try and get on with their lives. In some cases destructive coping strategies may be their only option.”
Mark, and the other counsellors involved, offer sessions from Under 1 Roof, St Martins’ Learning and Development Centre on Westwick Street in Norwich. The sessions are funded by Central Government with monies distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund, with professional input from Norfolk and Waveney Mind.
Since the project started in September, 114 sessions have taken place, the majority face-to-face, and some on the telephone or zoom as required to comply with covid restrictions. The counselling programme is part of St Martin’s Wellbeing Project. Volunteer support is available to people either side of their counselling sessions to ensure that they have the chance to relax and chat to someone if they need to.
By consistently offering empathy and unconditional positive regard, trusting relationships are formed.
Mark said, “With this in place an individual is more able to feel safe in sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings, often never shared before to such an extent. The potential for greater awareness, more understanding and less confusion, leading towards a growth in self-esteem and the building of a more robust persona – these are outcomes which I hope to assist towards.”
Counselling is available to anybody who uses St Martins services, and people can be referred by their support worker. An initial assessment gauges whether counselling is the best pathway.
Sasha benefits from 1 to 1 counselling sessions, she said, “I absolutely love my counsellor. He doesn’t get into my head, he is person-centred and he listens.”