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Charity Hospital Steps Up with Free Counselling

The Canterbury Charity Hospital will open its doors from this week to provide free counselling sessions for locals in need of support following Friday’s devastating terrorist attack.

Charity Hospital co-founder Professor Phil Bagshaw says Friday’s catastrophic tragedy may sadly “re-trigger” negative and difficult emotions for some residents in the local Christchurch community, many of whom are still dealing with - or have worked hard to recover from - the emotional toll of the earthquakes eight years ago.

“For some, Friday’s events may cause negative feelings from the past to re-surface or perhaps result in others feeling anxiety and stress who may have coped admirably eight years ago” says Professor Bagshaw. “These feelings are both common and normal”.

“Sticking to normal routines and activities and reaching out to friends and family for support may be enough for most people to get by” he says. “But for others, negative feelings can build and feel overwhelming, resulting in anxiety, dislocation, distress and sleep disruption. We saw this eight years ago after the quakes which is why we stepped up then to offer free professional counselling support. We found then that that the earlier support was delivered, the more effective it was in helping people deal with their anxieties. We recognise that that same support is again needed now”.

Canterbury Charity Hospital staff have reached out to members of the counselling community over the weekend. Thirty professionally-trained counsellors and psychologists have already stepped forward and generously volunteered their services to help those in need. Free counselling will be on offer at the Canterbury Charity Hospital in Harewood Road from this week. Patients can call the hospital directly to book an appointment. There will be no need for a doctor’s referral. *

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“This response from the professional counselling community is absolutely magnificent and mirrors their outstanding response eight years ago when we put out a similar call for help” says Professor Bagshaw.

Fifty-six counsellors and psychologists gave generously of their time from late February 2011 onwards, assisting more than 3587 Cantabrians in need over a period of six months. The service was up and running just three days after the February 22nd quake. Counsellors flew in from the North island to assist, with some coming from as far afield as Australia and the United states. This level of community response and support resulted in the Canterbury Charity Hospital receiving a special award from the New Zealand Psychological Society in 2012.

The Charity Hospital says it already has sufficient volunteer counselling support in place to cope with acute demand. However, it says it may need to seek more professional volunteer assistance in the weeks and months to come.

*Patients seeking free counselling from the Canterbury Charity Hospital can request an appointment by either phone, text or email.

Canterbury Charity Hospital 03 360 2266 (week-days) 020 4098 0750 (out of hours) or email

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