Emotional Respite: Disability Counselling Service

Sep 03, 2021

* This post is written by a guest blogger - it is not sponsored. *

Have you ever found it difficult to access effective counselling because of your disability or illness?

My name is Helen and I founded Emotional Respite: Disability Counselling Service in 2014 after identifying a gap in the market. I came to the conclusion that counselling was not accessible to all after researching the barriers people with disabilities or illness faced when trying to access psychological support.

Some of the barriers many people face include:

Counsellor knowledge of the clients’ frame of reference and world experience: This is something I felt was lacking in mainstream services as very little training is given around disability in my experience. They may lack knowledge on the social and medical models, of what ableism is and inspiration porn etc.

Support: If an individual needs support to get to their appointment is that support available? Needing support can exacerbate the loss of independence and may result in feeling like a burden. It can also take away an individuals’ privacy. Individuals may not be able to do anything independently. Offering online services is an inclusive resource promoting privacy and autonomy.

Fatigue: Many people with disabilities and illnesses have fatigue and this may be a big factor in committing to attend regular appointments. The stress of planning and relying on others to be able to attend appointments may also be a consideration. Online counselling can offer a flexible alternative on your terms.

Stigma: People may find it difficult to ask for the help they need for fear of stigma. Individuals may not want their families or friends to worry about them and may put on a brave face.

I have always been passionate about promoting psychological services for all and I wanted to build a service that represented the people who used it. We offer a flexible online service accessible from your home around your needs.

Emotional Respite counsellors all have lived experience of disability which gives them insight and awareness that other counsellors may lack. Currently, in our team, we have lived experience of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Scoliosis, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injury, Epilepsy and Endometriosis. We will continue to expand as it is my aim to have as much representation as possible. I've developed this service to give counsellors with disabilities or illnesses the opportunity to work flexibly around their own health whilst promoting and valuing their knowledge, skills and insight. I felt this service should encapsulate both sides.

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A blue banner with information on the writer of this blog, Helen Rutherford (BA Hons, MBACP Accred). Along with an image of Helen, smiling at the camera. She is wearing a black top and has long, bright pink hair. The text reads: Hi I'm Helen Rutherford (BA Hons, MBACP Accred), one of AYL's guest bloggers and the founder of Emotional Respite! To learn how your organisation could become the next featured guest, simply get in touch with the AYL team via the contact page above!

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