Interview with an Afternoon Programme participant:
“The way I look at it it’s a two way thing; it’s a pleasure to give you some feedback cos I’ve got so much out of here. I was saying to you that you’re dealing with very fragile people. It is probably very hard for people to come out here and trust someone, ‘cos if someone’s been addicted to something or whatever then they’ve probably been used to mixing in circles where maybe they didn’t trust other people. When I say about people being fragile I mean you’re dealing with people whose confidence has probably gone right down into the gutter, so it’s huge for someone to come out here and learn to trust and to actually to believe that someone is here to help you and there is no ulterior motive or you’re not going to be judged and that you don’t need to worry that if you let people in too much or it’ll be used against you in some way. You’re leaving yourself very vulnerable and that’s a big step to take when you be coming from that place.
My friend got me to come here. He said: “It’s a good place, look, just come out for a massage…” and if he had said to me come out for counselling I would have said no way, no-one’s climbing into my brain. My idea of a counsellor was what you’d see on the telly. I didn’t think you’d get any feedback, that they’d let you do all the talking and I thought somewhere along the line this person, right, with the glasses on the nose, nodding, I thought somewhere along the line they’d end up making me feel worse, guilty, pointing the finger at me, whatever way you want to put it. Cos I wasn’t feeling so good about myself, so I wasn’t prepared to come out and have someone reaffirm that I was a piece of shit, you know, the way I was feeling. And start telling where I was getting it wrong. You’d hear all sorts of things over the years with people going in to doctors and the like and they are saying: “you don’t want to be taking all those tablets” and making someone who is already fragile feel worse ‘cos of their judgmentalness, the professional being on an ego trip, doctors, counsellors, drugs workers, whatever, and putting their own personal issues on to the client. They are dealing with very fragile people, they could do a lot of damage.
My little world was bad enough but it was my little world and I didn’t need anyone digging their heels into me and making it feel worse.
So I came for the massage and then I got the acupuncture and I got to know Mary, you know, as a friend if you like or just an acquaintance, and she mentioned counselling a couple of times and well, I shied away straight off, I’d no intention…. But, sure, as I got to know her before I knew it she was counselling me without my realizing it. She made me feel safe, you know what I mean? And then I wanted counselling, cos I knew I needed it, or it would help me… whatever, like. And I haven’t looked back. I’ve been coming here over a year. 1-1 counselling started with me and Mary about 8 months ago. It’s the first time in years I’ve felt someone was actually listening to me. You can have so-called friends but who do you trust to tell your innermost secrets to? A counsellor is neutral.
I liked it the minute I came out here, the easy going atmosphere, and the craic, and Mary and Philip, and all we used to have such a laugh, I got sucked into this and I was lucky, I was blessed, you know what I mean? It was like just stumbling on a family of just such nice people and it happened so easy, you know?”