What is Psychodynamic counselling?
Psychodynamic counselling, and psychotherapy looks not only at problems in the present but, crucially, at the roots of these problems in the past. Careful understanding of the relationship between the client and the counsellor helps to identify how emotional patterns from early in a person’s life may repeat themselves in later life in a damaging way. Coming to understand this enables change to take place. Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy (from which psychodynamic counselling is derived) are based on more than one hundred years of intensive clinical practice and research, in which developments in understanding how to work most effectively have traditionally been based on the close scrutiny of individual cases. More recently, however, quantitative empirical methods have also been used to provide evidence of the effectiveness of this kind of treatment.
Maya Centre Code of Ethics
The Maya Centre is registered with the BACP, and all of our counsellors abide by the BACP ethical framework. Please click to find out more about the BACP ethical framework:www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework/
History of the Maya Centre
The Islington Women’s Counselling Centre (IWCC), now the Maya Centre, was founded by Brid Greally, the first Clinical Director, and others in the early 1980s, with core funding from Islington Council which paid the Clinical Director’s and Office Manager’s salaries and provided rent-free accommodation in the Eastgate Building.
The original group saw itself as coming from a feminist perspective and called themselves Islington Women and Mental Health. They were part of the larger anti-psychiatry movement which was active at the time, which felt that men as well as feminism had not taken women’s mental health seriously.
The group wrote papers and spoke at conferences pertaining to the various changes which were happening in the mental health field: the closure of the large psychiatric hospitals and the passing of the Community Care Act, reorganization within the NHS and the changes made to the Mental Health Act. The approach was two-pronged: a political critique of the psychiatric system and plans to provide alternative forms of intervention, among them counselling.
Initially a help-line was set up which gradually developed into face-to-face counselling. The priority then became how to provide psychoanalytic counselling to women who were most disadvantaged?
This created division: that counselling was only for middle-class women; that it was only for the worried well; while some feminists felt that working with unconscious conflicts tended to blame women, and why wasn’t something being done about social conditions such as poverty and domestic violence?
The evolution into IWCC developed a philosophy and policy of bringing free counselling to the local estates through an outreach programme and an engagement with psychotherapy to rethink questions of gender, race and sexuality.
By the early 90s, the Centre had charitable status and some funding from reputable charities, but remained small and comparatively unknown. Three to four professionally-trained psychodynamic counsellors were employed part-time; each had a specialism: one in counselling for Irish women, one in counselling for Black women, and one for women in violent situations.
For a brief period in the mid-90s, there was also a counsellor for refugee women. 'Introduction to Counselling' courses and day-schools for local women, especially women from the ethnic minorities, were run in conjunction with Birkbeck College, University of London, for several years. This arrangement provided accreditation, enabling women from underprivileged backgrounds to have entry into professional training courses. A referral service was also provided free for women who did not fit into the criteria (see below).
By the late 1990s, the Centre was developing in more complex ways in response to the needs of women and the changing social and mental health scene as well as the expectations of funders, so we re-organised to have a Director with specific funding and organizational responsibilities, rather than a Clinical Director, and we expanded our work with new agencies, such as the Department of Health for the Mothering Project. In 2001, after much discussion, we changed our name to the Maya Centre to indicate our broad-based, unbiased service for women.
The aims of the Centre were and continue to be to provide free, high-quality psychodynamic counselling to women on low incomes in the North London community. To be eligible, women have to be living (existing) on minimum, poverty-line incomes – currently £10,000 if single, £15,000 if a parent; not to have completed higher education; nor to have benefited from any previous psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy.
So far as we know, we were and are the only body providing such a free, professional service in London for women only in a safe environment. (Our sister organisation is the Women’s Therapy Centre in nearby Manor Gardens, which provides only a small proportion of its therapeutic services at low cost to local women).
It is these beliefs and ideals which have united staff and trustees over the last 24 years as we have worked and struggled together to keep the Centre open, better-grounded financially in a changing, more business-orientated word, and in our openness to new initiatives.