Counselling services at Ealing Abbey

  • Fr James Leachman OSB

Judaism has served the needs of believers for millennia by offering prayer and healing within the community of believers.

Judaism's daughter, the Church, has continued to offer this service of prayer in the sacraments of eucharist, anointing and reconciliation and the rites of Christian Burial. These religious services can uncover and heal our spiritual and physical wounds and needs. The monks of Ealing Abbey are proud that, since its foundation from Downside Abbey in 1897, it has continued this service of healing and counselling, notwithstanding recent shocking events.

Yet Judaism and the Church have no monopoly on healing and counselling. Judaism's child, Sigmund Freud, published his revolutionary, Interpretation of Dreams: The Complete and Definitive Text in 1899, and developed his theory of psychoanalysis in post-religious Jewish Vienna. A little later the Church's child, Carl Jung, who grew up in a Lutheran context, followed with his own school of analytical psychology, developed from his work in Zurich. These and other disciplines of psychology have supplemented the healing and counselling work of the Jewish and Christian communities. Yet, however important the disciplines of psychoanalysis, analytical psychology and others may be, we must recognise that religion is an elder to the disciplines of psychology.

In 1994 Ealing Abbey branched out and, inspired by Fr Vincent Cooper OSB, expanded our service of caring and healing to embrace psychotherapeutic methods. We established the Ealing Abbey Counselling Service at 1 Montpelier Avenue. It remains one of the activities of the Trust of St Benedict's and is a registered charity that offers confidential, professional help and a range of skills to meet the needs of clients, without discrimination. It is a non-confessional service; the counsellors and clients come from a range of backgrounds, cultures and belief systems.

The Service has developed from a small beginning of seven founder members into one of the largest voluntary sector counselling and psychotherapy providers in London.

There are now 85 practitioners, mostly volunteer counsellors, psychotherapists and counselling psychologists who are at an advanced training stage. There is a team of qualified and experienced supervisors who provide monthly clinical supervision to counsellors in groups of three or four; and a team of assessors who carry out a comprehensive face to face assessment for all service users wishing to access counselling/ psychotherapy at EACS. See: www.eacs.org.uk/

Since 2015 Ealing Abbey has also hosted the NAOS Institute, an independent consultancy, psychotherapy and training service at 3 Montpelier Avenue. NAOS is a not-for-profit organisation that works across different disciplines, offers a service that is supplementary to EACS and is dedicated to the personal and professional development of pioneers and change agents.

NAOS offers:

Training: a variety of high impact courses ranging from one-day introductory programmes to longer-term nationally accredited vocational trainings. All courses are intended for personal and professional growth and leadership development. In particular, NAOS focuses on trauma and supporting couples.

Therapy and Supervision: NAOS offers support to individuals and couples through counselling, therapy, supervision, psychosexual and couples therapy and mental health assessments.

Organisations and Communities: NAOS focuses on the development of commercial and non-profit organisations and communities. In particular NAOS works to support youth agencies, BME organisations, refugees and religious organisations on safeguarding issues.

For more information on NAOS call: 07827 923134

More recently, Ealing Abbey established a small initiative called: "London Spring" in the Benedictine Institute, 74 Castlebar Road. Differing from and supplementing EACS and NAOS, London Spring is led by students and practitioners of Processwork, a development of Jungian psychotherapy that makes essential contributions to psychotherapy, including working with life challenges, world issues, personal creativity and working with altered and extreme states associated with mental health difficulties.

London Spring offers:

Subsidised low-cost counselling,

Open facilitated conversations on contemporary hot topics such as "Brexit: Coming Together or Falling Apart" and "Religious and Political Extremism", and, in collaboration with Benedictine Institute, Training courses, such as "Healing History" and occasional conferences and colloquia.

Read more about London Spring here: https://londonspring.org

Counselling and psychotherapy are popular humanistic ways to gently open up and heal personal and group disturbances and traumas. One of the colleges of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) is the Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy College (HIPC). Its perspective relies upon "the importance of the relationship between the therapist and client to enable mind, body, feeling, soul and spirit to come together as a whole."

We have sought out different pathways for healing the wounds of the soul. All are needed if we are to answer the multitude of needs.

Perhaps here, in this wealth of offerings; religions, spirituality and humanity, we can come together into a healing harmony.




Tags: Ealing Abbey, Fr James Leachman, Counselling

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