Have you heard about Westlund Counselling?

Westlund Counselling - for LGBTIQ people and their allies

I hope you are keeping cool during this period of hot weather and taking the time to slow down and enjoy the daylight hours.

With the ongoing growth of service delivery you may be aware that we have created a new platform for counselling services called Westlund Counselling. The counselling that the Council currently provides is funded by the Territory Government for people living with, at risk of or impacted by HIV. However historically we have always provided services to anyone in the LGBTIQ community who needs us. With the increasing provision of services to the community and to maintain the sustainability of the counselling service we have created Westlund Counselling: safe, inclusive and compassionate counselling for LGBTIQ people and their allies.

Westlund Counselling operates with a fee for service model.  Fees for this service are negotiated according to individual circumstances, and priority is given to people on low incomes or with limited options. This ensures the service is affordable, and accessible to those who need it most. We are committed to ensure that a person’s ability to pay does not determine their access to counselling. The fee structure is assessed as $1 per $1000 of annual income, per session capped at $120. Fees are not eligible to be rebated by Medicare. People holding a health care card or pensioner’s benefit card receive services without fees.

The Westlund Counselling Team also understands the highs, lows and in-betweens of what it means to work as an LGBTIQ employee of the community services sector.  We recognise that a dedication to helping the community can come at a cost to an individual’s overall wellbeing.  This is why we offer Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to all community-focused employees to assist them with the complexities of being part of a community or peer-based organisation and dealing with trauma informed, often confronting and complex work.

Rodney Cole and Tom Skelton continue as our 2 primary counsellors, but have recently been joined by Jade Wren who is with us to complete her Masters in Counselling, after completing studies in mental health practice. Jade has a broad background in business and management prior to her later in life career change. Jade brings a wealth of lived experience to her integrative approach to person centred counselling, incorporating core elements of Gestalt, Schema, Dialectic Behaviour, and Interpersonal Therapies in her work.  Whilst she is comfortable working with most problems that clients bring to counselling, she has specific interests in working with clients who have challenges with their gender and sexuality; personality disorders; addiction; impulsive behaviours including alcohol and substance use, self-harm and thoughts of suicide; career issues, redundancy, work stress and retirement; and loss and grief.

Away from her professional work Jade has an interest in boats and enjoys sailing, photography, music and recently joined the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire.

To support our own workplace, and others who work in the counselling area with the LGBTIQ community the AIDS Action Council established one of the first LGBTQI mental health networks in Australia. The aim is to provide ongoing professional development to allied health professionals in Canberra, who have an interest in or work with the LGBTQI population. With over 45 members the network meets 4 times a year and so far has included presentations on HIV, grief and loss in the LGBTIQ community, understanding BDSM, kink and fetish practices.

As you can see there is a lot going on with more to come ….. So watch this space!

Marcus Bogie

Manager, Client Services & Peer Education

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