by Louise Doyle
A NATIONAL charity which offers counselling services to women suffering from post-natal depression and other maternal-related issues has opened its doors in Letterkenny.
Founded in 2011 by Dublin therapist, Irene Lowry, Nurture has 27 counsellors nationwide, providing a range of services including one-to-one counselling and telephone support.
Having recognised there was a gap in such services for women in Donegal, Ms Lowry was keen to bring the counselling service to the county.
The not for profit organisation, which has a ‘no wait list’ policy, offers affordable and immediate support.
As well as its High Road base in Letterkenny, Nurture is also offering counselling services in Donegal Town and Kilclooney.
Former Ardara woman, Debbie Kremer, is a counsellor for the area. An experienced counsellor, Mrs Kremer believes fervently in the well-being and support of women, in particular around maternal loss through miscarriage or a traumatic birth, when a child is born with particular needs.
The mum-of-two has had devastating first hand experience of both.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Mrs Kremer said: “My training in counselling starting 20 years ago. My background is in accounting and administration. I have always worked in healthcare and when I decided I wanted to change my career, I looked at training opportunities at that time. I was living in Dublin and completed a Certificate in Counselling and then carried on with my job, before going into the area of holistic health.
“More and more women were coming to reflexology and massage, but mostly to talk. I found myself listening and that call of my previous counselling training kept coming back to me. There was something in me that really wanted to pursue that.
“I had my own experience of miscarriage and I remember just leaving the hospital and there being no support going home. Services were simply not available. I have had my own experience of traumatised birth and going through my own journey of that. I had support from a public health nurse, but it wasn’t in her remit to be a counsellor. On top of my miscarriage, I later had to adjust to parenting a child from a traumatic birth, who has special needs.
“There was little support for my mental health and my well-being so that I could be the best I could be for my family and for my child.”
Mrs Kremer said she believes a stigma still exists around seeking counselling, although the tide is changing, slowly, she said.
She urged any women in need of help to get in contact with Nurture.
“Without a doubt, I believe there is still a stigma. I think removing the stigma has been slow, but we are getting there.
“There is more openness around talking therapy, but we are not quite there yet. We are in a place where we are becoming more involved and we realise there is a need.
“There are particular times in our lives when we need something that isn’t always available in a peer friendly or family setting. Sometimes you need someone impartial and independent – someone who doesn’t have an emotional attachment, which perhaps there is in a family or friendship. What goes on between two people impacts both of them and opinions get formed, so when we step out of that situation it provides a bit of clarity and impartiality.
“Counselling is completely based on trust and it offers a safe and confidential place, and someone needs to be feel safe in order to talk about their vulnerabilities.”
“The main point of contact for many women will be their Public Health Nurse, their GP and, in some instances, their practice nurse. So what Nurture is trying to do is ensure that all healthcare professionals are aware of our service. We want women to know there is help out there and that they don’t need to struggle on their own.
“I know myself from talking with clients here that they have been waiting to see someone for quite a while, and that has not helped them. It has been discouraging and disillusioning, and has left them with a sense of diminish.
“Where Nurture comes in is that it bridges the gap.
“Some people may not be strong enough in themselves to make the assertion to attend counselling. But we are looking for GP’s and public health nurses to know we are here too and to signpost women our way, if appropriate. However, there are times that without a shadow of a doubt that a woman will need another type of intervention.”
Mrs Kremer also pointed out that women in need of counselling but not in a positive financial place, should still get in touch with Nurture.
“For a lot of people, financial side is considered. Financial capability should never be a deciding factor in someone seeking out help.”
For more information see www.nurturecharity.org or see Nurture on Facebook, telephone 018430930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 10:04 am January 27, 2017