Mental health charity Mind’s recent campaign, Time to Talk, demonstrates that mental health is a neglected part of a huge number of people’s lives, not least those who have been through a traumatic incident or have a mental illness.
Many homeless people experience trauma in their lives, the impact of which, whether long or short term, can be a factor in their homelessness. A traumatic experience or unstable background may be one of the many factors that meant they lost their home, and could be preventing them from beginning their lives again.
As such, some form of counselling or therapy for residents is a vital part of the services offered by supported housing projects. The idea of needing ‘therapy’, however, can be an intimidating and even embarrassing subject for some, whatever their personal circumstances are. Others found that, even when they wanted help, it was
very difficult to get.
To this end, an open invitation was extended to the homeless residents of the Old Tea Warehouse in High Wycombe to spend an afternoon asking questions about psychotherapy to a trainee therapist. It gave them a no-strings-attached opportunity to see if it could be of benefit to them during their stay at the scheme.
Several residents attended the afternoon to find out more about psychotherapy and whether it could be helpful to them. Many were already engaged in drug, alcohol and mental health programmes.
It became clear that one-to-one therapy time wasn’t provided in these sessions, and there was a definite need to have the chance to explore their issues. One had asked for therapy and counselling while being seen by mental health services, and had been told that there was a long waiting list.
Another resident wanted to begin therapy as he felt it would add understanding to his volunteering role in the addiction programme he was taking part in. Another resident wanted to explore his past and bereavement issues.
They were shown that psychotherapy wouldn’t conflict with any of these services, but could provide an integrative and holistic element to them. Engaging in psychotherapy is a chance for residents to talk through problems from the past, and in the present, which are important to them.
It is their time and space to express whatever they choose, in a confidential setting, without judgement. The insight and understanding of themselves they would gain could positively influence their future life choices.
As a result of the afternoon, four residents decided they wanted to start psychotherapy. Staff hope to arrange weekly sessions at the Old Tea Warehouse, with a first-come first-served waiting list set up for residents wanting the service.
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