The Cottage Counselling Centre was started by St Faiths in 1996. It began with a couple of professional counsellors offering their services on a sliding scale ensuring anyone could receive the help they need. God has grown the Cottage to meet the ever increasing demand and now we have:
Our clients are Christians and non-Christians, adults and kids, married and separated couples. They are local people, some of whom come because we are Christian and they want us to help them with a problem that is challenging their faith, and some of whom just need services and know we will help them whether they can afford it or not. We have strong relationships with other local services, GPs and churches. They refer people because they know what we do and trust us to do it well. For those people we are an example of Christian people putting their loving and grace-filled faith into action.
|Stress management||Sexuality||Critical incident|
|Self Harm||Suicide||Child protection|
Our counsellors are professionally qualified and skilled in their work but more than that they are trained to integrate their faith with their practice. As Christian counsellors we are able to support Christian clients to grow in their likeness to Christ: when that growth is being blocked by psychological distress we can help them to understand where God fits in their suffering as they heal. For non Christian clients, it means ‘being’ Christ to them. Every client who comes to The Cottage knows we are a Christian service. Sometimes we are able to talk directly about how Jesus loves them but we can always love them as He has commanded us to, even as we facilitate their healing. It may well be the first time they have had a nurturing relationship with a Christian.
As demand has grown The Cottage has grown to meet the demand and we have needed more support for our face to face services: intake and assessment of new clients, coordination, administration and supervision. Volunteers already support all our accounting and administration and some of our counselling management. To be able to provide a professional service and support our counselling team, greater financial support is needed and our clients cannot afford to pay any more. We have stretched our resources so far that unless we receive an injection of funds we will have to close down a significant portion of our operations and provide a severely truncated ministry by the middle of this year. And this is including all the donated time, expertise and energy we will continue to use.
The situation has become dire.
John and Jodie
Young Christian Couple referred through word of mouth. John is a recent graduate of Moore College and he and his wife Jodie have two young children and are serving in a Sydney parish. John came to the Cottage first. He was trapped in addiction to internet pornography and wracked with guilt. As he began to understand what had led to his addiction and heal the wound it was attempting to soothe his urges began to ease and he was able to understand what triggered them and how to manage them. Then Jodie came to the Cottage. Of course their relationship had been affected by John’s addiction and while she supported him incredibly well she was hurt by its impact and when he began to heal she realized that she too needed help but for anxiety. It was a problem she had had on and off for a long time but it was triggered again by John’s behavior. John and Jodie continue to serve in ministry and their counseling has not only helped them to heal personally but to understand their parishioners, to build good relationships with them and to support them with grace and insight.
Tommy 6, and Kate 10, and their Mum Darcy
Local Non-Christian Family referred by a family support service on the beaches. Darcy rang because she was struggling to parent Tommy during his angry outbursts. He was getting rage attacks could not calm down and was violent to his sister and his Mum. As I spoke to Darcy I came to understand that she has had to leave her violent husband 9 months before during a crisis. He still saw the children on weekend and sometimes when Darcy had to work. Those visits were often cancelled by him at the last minute and when they were kept he was aggressive or neglectful with the children. Suddenly Tommy’s anger seemed to make sense. Tommy and Kate now come and see one of our counsellors to help them process what has happened and understand their Dad and the impact he has had on them and Darcy sees another counsellor to help her process her own experiences and to help her set appropriate boundaries with her ex-husband. Her ex-husband has been reported to Community Services.
Non-Christian 35yo woman in a lesbian relationship. Andrea has been coming to counselling at the Cottage for several years. Her growing up years were filled with violence and abuse. Her father was violent to her mother as well as to her and all her siblings. He made them go to Mass every Sunday and would hit them if they refused. In addition her father was in a cult where young children were ritually abused by men in robes some of who were priests. She was about 5 or 6 yrs old when this occurred. When Andrea first came to counseling it was to deal with anxiety and difficulties in being assertive in relationships but as the counsellor listened to her and cared for her she began to have nightmares and flashbacks of horrible memories. Much of her fear was to do with evil and being attacked. Over time she was able to relate that to the experiences she had as a child. This led her to ask the counsellor spiritual questions, knowing she was a Christian, and to asking her to prayer for her. She now has a Bible and asks Jesus to protect her and go with her when she is anxious. She has a completely new understanding of who Jesus is.
(Names and details changed for the purposes of confidentiality)