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The Service - Counselling Services

John Conolly, Lead Counsellor, Westminster Homeless Health Service,
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust.

Having studied organisational psychology as well as individual psychology and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, I have been especially interested in the interface between social/organisational processes of exclusion and individual processes of self-exclusion. Multiply excluded population groups require an enhanced service response which is based on an understanding of this interface.

In my counselling work, I endeavour to provide a ‘corrective’ emotional environment whereby, individuals, often living out histories of multiple abuse, can firstly begin to trust the ‘help’ which is on offer; their own ability to make use of that help, and gradually, understand and manage for themselves, that all important interface between their own self-exclusion processes and those of the organisation.

In that endeavour, ‘Drop ins’ are available for a preliminary ‘taster’ of what a counselling session may be like, followed by more structured counselling on an appointments basis if wanted. Once ‘stabilised’, more confident and trusting, people will be supported throughout the referral process to more specialist services if necessary. They will also be supported to manage the transition from homelessness into more settled circumstances.

It is recognized that the lived experience of homelessness and the voice of ex service users is invaluable in helping further develop appropriate and effective interventions. Thus a ‘drop in’ anger group for homeless people is co-facilitated with an ex-service user of over 20 years sleeping on the streets and in and out of various services.