South West Counselling set to enhance online services

South West Counselling chief executive Karen Sommerville and service coordinator Bev Atkinson received funding from Lotterywest to enhance their online counselling services.
South West Counselling chief executive Karen Sommerville and service coordinator Bev Atkinson received funding from Lotterywest to enhance their online counselling services.

South West Counselling have received a $37,000 grant from the Lotterywest COVID-19 Relief Fund to enable the organisation to enhance their online counselling services.

Throughout the past few months the counselling service adapted how they worked to accommodate their existing clients, and to reach other people in the South West who needed support during the pandemic.

South West Counselling chief executive Karen Sommerville said even though they were now back providing face-to-face services in Busselton, Margaret River and Dunsborough they still had a number of clients who preferred engaging with them by phone or online.

"This includes FIFO workers, people in rural or remote areas, people who may be incapacitated and others who wished to maintain some anonymity," she said.

"It is essential they are provided an option.

"We are extremely grateful to Lotterywest for this grant as it will enable us to purchase equipment to modify our service delivery to include enhanced online counselling.

"One of the things some people like is anonymity and when you are working in small country towns people like to keep their anonymity at times and this is a way they can do that."

South West Counselling service coordinator Bev Atkinson said during the pandemic many clients chose not to re-book their appointments because they didn't want an online session.

When they reached out to those clients a month later they were open to meeting online.

"Overall people adapted quite well once people realised it wasn't going to be over quickly," she said.

"In domestic violence situations people were able to ring us from the car, and we have clients who returned to Perth so we were still able to connect with them."

When JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments reduce in September they expected that people in the community would find it more challenging.

"I have heard from services in town that support people who are disadvantaged that people are managing better at the moment," Ms Sommerville said.

"People have been able to retain some dignity and for me that highlights poverty is a major issue.

"We've had clients presenting with anxiety and relationship issues, while things have been manageable now I would expect the need will increase in the coming months.

"It's the unknown and whenever there is unknown it is challenging for people.

"The impact for people in the community has been massive and for people who walk through our doors for some there is a feeling of dread of what's to come."

This story South West Counselling set to enhance online services first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.