ALTHOUGH many people head to France hoping to get away from the stresses and strains of life this sometimes does not happen.
Moving house, a new school for the kids and a completely different language are just some of the obstacles that can appear insurmountable.
But the Counselling in France website, which is run by Anne Poulton, provides a resource point for both worried people and counsellors alike.
“The site aims to put English speakers living in France in touch with English speaking counsellors and is the only service of its kind in France,” Anne said.
“The French authorities do not recognise the word 'counsellor' unless it's the person you see in the bank.
“So many expatriates find that once they settle in France, their options for counselling are extremely limited as doctors very often have no idea where to find a counsellor who speaks English.”
Anne set-up the non-profit organisation herself and runs the website with the help of her son, but she is a qualified professional counsellor herself who worked in education and the NHS.
The website is split into two different sections one for potential clients so they can find people to help them, information on what to expect from counselling and self-help exercises.
The other area is for counsellors and provides them with a message board, provision for the arrangement of supervision and contact with each other and also a section explaining how to join the site.
“We currently have 31 counsellors all over France and more are joining as the site gets known - the aim is to eventually have counsellors in every department,” said Anne.
“Clients can be sure of complete confidentiality when contacting the counsellor of their choice and for those who find that there is no one near them for face-to-face work, they can arrange telephone or online counselling.”
All the counsellors are trained (to Certificate level) or qualified (to Diploma level) and all agree to abide by the BACP Code of Ethics and Practice.
But Anne’s work does not stop at just this website as she is also developing a site aiming to give information and support to cancer sufferers and their families.
“There is a new section which has recently been started called Cancer Concerns Us as I realised many people had lost their support network by moving to France,” Anne said.
“Not only did you have to deal with illness and fear in a foreign language, your friends and family might be hundreds of miles away.
“Ultimately both sites have the same goal and that is to put expatriates who have an emotional need in touch with someone who can help in their own language.”
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