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Counselling Post Quake in Canterbury

14 May 2012 New Zealand Association of Counsellors

Counselling Post Quake in Canterbury

The stress and exhaustion affecting people living in Canterbury is now being caused by bureaucratic battles rather than aftershocks, according to NZAC Canterbury branch committee member Bob Manthei.

He says while the number of people seeking counselling isn’t getting any larger, the problems people need help with have changed.

“Counsellors in Canterbury are now helping people stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare with no end in sight. They feel powerless as official decisions about their homes keep getting put back. The effect is quite stressful,” said Dr Manthei.

He says immediately after the chaos of the February earthquake counsellors from other areas were brought in to help. But he says now it’s mostly local counsellors helping local people.

“They are willing to help, they need the work and they know the circumstances well that people are having to cope with.” said Dr Manthei .

He says the number of aftershocks has settled down in the last few months. In the last month there have only been two or three quakes over 4.0. Dr Manthei says people in the area are very attuned to the earth and every time there is a shake or a shudder the adrenalin starts pumping as they wait to see if it’s another big quake or not.

However he says the fear of another big quake is now being overlaid with the fights and arguments facing people who are being squeezed between EQC and insurance companies.

“People are getting very stressed dealing with EQC and the insurance companies and the exorbitant rents they are having to pay if they’re forced from their homes. It’s a day to day agony for many just trying to organise their lives.”

Dr Manthei says many people are coming to the end of their tether as they try to find out if their homes can be fixed or not, or where they can move to.

However, on a more positive note, Dr Manthei says there are signs of hope. He says a sense of moving forward is just beginning as traffic builds up in the city again and multiple pop-up shops appear and a few new buildings get underway.


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