free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits
I have been working as a Person-Centred Counsellor/Psychotherapist in private practice in Islington for 18 years. Prior to that, I was working in statutory Mental Health Services in Camden and Hackney – psychiatric day-centres, and later a mental health hostel – where I was in contact with the extremes of distress and torment that can arise in people as a result of their life experiences. It was very clear from that work that people from marginalised groups – marginalised from mainstream heirarchical, consumerist, competitive society by their poverty, their gender, their ethnicity, their sexuality, their ability/disability status – were so much more susceptible to becoming clients/patients in a system, that despite the many dedicated and caring people working within it, continues so often to perpetuate their disempowered status.
I have been conscious from an early age of the damaging impact of the misuse and abuse of power on an individual’s sense of wholeness and capacity to live a satisfying life. This led me to explore alternative views of mental health and well-being as described by R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz, and other explorers of the psyche and consciousness. At the same time I was being exposed to Marxist theory and the power and necessity of rebellion and protest in all its various forms.
The accumulation of many different life experiences and learning led me, in my late 30’s, to train as a Person-Centred Counsellor. I was attracted to this theory and way of working because of its attention to each individual as the expert on themselves, with the therapist’s presence, unconditional positive regard and empathy being the healing factors.
I worked for many years as a volunteer counsellor/psychotherapist at the Stress Project in Holloway, a holistic Mental Heath Project, where local people can access various therapies at low cost. Later in my career I worked as a paid supervisor, supervising groups of volunteer therapists at the same project.
I see therapy as having the potential to undermine and dissolve some of the damaging effects of the accepted norms and the conditions of worth of mainstream society, and therefore an activity that has political implications. It feels really important to me that I am aware of what power I hold and how I use that power and I bring this awareness to each encounter with a client. I mostly work long-term with individuals, though am also available for shorter term work.
I am delighted to be part of this free psychotherapy network through which I can be accessible to people who could not approach me in the usual way, through lack of money.