the free psychotherapy network

free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits

Chip Ponsford

I am a person-centred counsellor/therapist working in private practice in Kentish Town, north London, and i volunteer as a counsellor with 11 – 25 year old people at Off Centre in Hackney, east London. I have experience of volunteering as a ‘befriender’ at The Maytree ‘a sanctuary for the suicidal’ in community counselling centres at Islington Mind and Highbury Counselling Centre and as a key worker at Katherine Price Hughes House with men who had committed offences and were serving out their sentences in the community. I have been fortunate to work with a very broad range of people, all with unique experiences and concerns.

My own experience includes surviving and processing trauma which has given me a sense of just how deeply we are all connected.

I am very troubled by the inhumane way in which our society so easily causes psychological distress by disconnecting and dismissing people as well as punishing people for their misfortune (such as this new plan to cut family’s benefits if the children frequently miss school…).

Not only does our society do this but it then pathologises and disowns the suffering it causes. I believe this needs addressing at a socio-political level and I am involved with the London Occupy reflection group and ‘Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility’ (pcsr) which is about ‘Locating Psychotherapy and Counselling in a Socio-Political Context’ (http://pcsr-uk.ning.com)

I am troubled by the commodification of human kindness that can be seen in some aspects of private practice. I am also forced to work privately because I could not fit myself into a way of practicing in the NHS which I don’t believe respects the fullness of human experience.

I have always offered lower cost counselling and I hope that by being part of this network I can offer one-to-one help to those who otherwise could not afford it, because everyone deserves a safe environment in which to explore their experience.