Home' LOTL : July 2004 Contents Well, this July, the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service
launches one. "A number of our female clients
specifically ask to speak to a female counsellor. Our new
Lesbian Counselling Line is designed to provide a space where
we can guarantee that women callers will be able to speak to
women counsellors. We also have a lot of callers from rural
areas, isolated from the gay and lesbian community, and this is
their first opportunity to speak to another lesbian," says Tracey
Leupen, co-president of the GLCS.
The new line is available to any woman questioning her
sexuality or women within the gay and related communities
who prefer to speak to another woman about issues related to
life and sexuality.
"Callers can be quite distressed at the beginning of a call,
and it is a great feeling to hear the difference in a caller that was
upset at the beginning of the call, but motivated and feeling a
lot better by the end.
"A good counsellor needs to be a good listener, have good
problem solving skills, be understanding and non-
judgemental," says Tracey. So who might be listening if you
call the line? Ordinary women, some of whom have used the
Andrea has been a volunteer telephone counsellor with the
GLCS for 18 months, and is also a psychologist. She was
attracted to the organisation because it provided "an
opportunity to give back some of the support I have received
from various people within the gay and lesbian community,
particularly when I was coming out. It has also assisted with my
professional life as I have gained considerable counselling
experience with gay, lesbian and transgender clients."
While the work is challenging, "at the end of every shift I
always feel exhilarated because I know I have made a difference
in someone's life," says Andrea. "Even if that's just lending an
ear to someone who is experiencing loneliness and isolation.
Just listening to someone can bring about powerful changes."
Rochelle is counsellor, mentor and member of the Lesbian
Counselling Line sub-committee. "It's very much a 'chick
thing' to discuss our issues over the phone. By calling the
Lesbian Counselling Line, a sympathetic woman with
good listening skills and an extensive referral database is going
to answer your call. It's a friendly and supportive way of
offering referrals and information. It's also an easy way to
keep up to date with upcoming women's events and
happening lesbian nightspots."
But Rochelle emphasises the serious side of anonymous
chat, which can span everything from safe sex to drug
addiction. "We have a drug and alcohol culture as a large part
of our community. I'm hearing more and more about people
not being able to recover, about their ineffectiveness and about
relationship issues that arise out of excessive use."
The GLCS also has a group to assist lesbians with coming
out. Caroline attended the group herself when she was coming
out and went back when a long term relationship ended. "At
both times, the group was supportive and helped me to form
new friendships." Caroline now facilitates a group once a month.
"Women might arrive at the group feeling confused or
troubled or curious. Many will, over time, make constructive
changes in their lives, sometimes by facing down enormous
obstacles. It is a privilege to be able to see this because it
demonstrates how brave and strong everyday people can be.
The telephone lines and coming out groups are staffed
entirely by volunteers and the GLCS is always keen to recruit
more counsellors. For further information regarding training
contact Tim Errington on (02) 8594 9500 or email Tracey
Leupen on email@example.com
LIVING OUT LOUD
PHOTO BELINDA ROLLAND
YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE, BUT
YOUR BEST FRIEND HAS HEARD IT ALL BEFORE.
AND YOUR EX-GIRLFRIEND WON'T PICK UP
THE PHONE. IF ONLY THERE WERE SUCH A
THING AS A LESBIAN COUNSELLING LINE.
The Lesbian Counselling Line launches on Monday July 5 and is
staffed every Monday 6.30--9.30pm. Call (02) 8594 9595 or
1800 14 4527 (regional NSW). The Women's Coming Out Group
is held on the second and fourth Thursday of the month 7pm--9pm.
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