I am an advocate of online counselling, as it allows access to therapy for many who previously were excluded, due to issues such as disability, child care and other responsibilities, cost, and location. This last is far more relevant than people often think, as someone who lives in rural Northumberland I am well aware that it can be difficult to find a therapist with Gender, Sexuality and Relationship diversity competence and training.
However I also know that some people prefer face to face counselling, and have previously used rooms in my local library and community hub, the Spetchells Center. I especially liked the fact that it maintained the privacy of those coming to therapy. We often talk about confidentiality, and the importance of maintaining it but privacy is less often discussed. Someone may not wish to be seen visiting a counsellor, and wonderful as a brass plaque on a door may feel, it announces to the world exactly why people are seeing you. The local community hub was ideal, until this spring when the police station closed, and moved into the hub. This in itself would not have been a problem, but they also stationed a police officer at the entrance to the center, so they were the first person anyone coming in would see.
Working with marginalized people, especially GRSD people who may feel intimidated by the police I felt I had no option but to stop using the center. Since then I have been looking for spaces which would allow face to face therapy in a nurturing and peaceful environment. Bricks and mortar may make a building, but the atmosphere is hugely important too. There also had to be space for my art materials, stones, sand tray and other tools which can be incredibly useful when working with clients.
I am exceptionally pleased therefore that now I have two physical spaces to add to my online space. One is based in Stocksfield, in the Tyne Valley (where I took the owl picture featured above) and the other at Mea House in Newcastle Upon Tyne. The North East needs better resources and facilities for all its communities, and I hope in some small way to be adding to those available for GRSD people.
If you are interested in online or face to face counselling, or have any questions about either please do not hesitate to get in touch either by the contact form here or on firstname.lastname@example.org