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Herring House Trust - Herring House trust - Counselling Service

Helping to support people across Gt Yarmouth

Counselling Service

The counselling service at Herring House Trust is designed for individuals with complex needs who have experienced homelessness.

Practical Information

Herring House Trust offers a regular safe space with an experienced qualified counsellor.

Counselling is a talking therapy that offers you a supportive, confidential place to:

  • Talk about your problems
  • Explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Understand yourself better

Counselling can help you:

  • Make positive changes
  • Develop different ways of coping
  • Improve mental and emotional wellbeing

Sessions are usually once a week and fifty minutes.

Sessions are ‘client led’ where you choose what you want to talk about, not ‘problem led’.

Face to face individual therapy

You do not have to pay unlike private therapy

Overall number of sessions depends on the individual and situation, but it is not time limited like many NHS psychotherapy services

If you are interested, just speak to a member of staff and they can complete a referral. You will be contacted for an initial appointment when a space is available.

Discussions during one to one counselling are confidential. This will be explained further in your initial appointment. But basically means that information will not be shared unless you want it to be or there is a risk of harm to yourself or others.

Feedback from counselling clients

‘It helped to have someone to talk to in confidence, be listened to and not judged’

‘It has helped talking to someone who can help me understand why I feel the way I do and learn to deal with my past so that I can move forward’

‘I can get things off my chest that I cannot talk to other people about’

‘I have come a long way since I started counselling and feel better in myself at dealing with everyday life situations. I feel more confident and my mental health is the best it has ever been’

‘Counselling is helping me to address my problems and move forwards’

Theoretical Orientation of the Counselling Service

I have worked with people who have complex needs of mental health, substance dependencies and homelessness since 2001. I qualified as an Integrative Psychotherapeutic Counsellor in 2013 and wanted to be able to combine my therapeutic training with my experience of working with people with complex needs, who often encounter barriers to accessing therapeutic treatment. In 2015, Herring House Trust gave me the opportunity to establish a counselling service, which has been specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals with complex needs who have experienced homelessness.

Research has shown that there is a relationship between complex trauma, personality disorder and homelessness (Maguire et al., 2009). Gwen Adshead (2019) has written about the connection between insecure attachment styles and homelessness. According to Adshead, ‘home’ is often perceived as a place of security, so people who are homeless can be seen as being both physically and psychologically insecure. Adshead states, ‘Professionals working with the homeless can therefore expect to be working with people with personality disorders, whose attachment security of mind has been profoundly disorganised by chronic repeated trauma and unresolved fear and distress.’ (Adshead, 2019, p. xv)

Scanlon and Adlam (2006) propose that the development of a psychological skin, or home, is dependent on the presence of a secure relationship during infancy, where a child can learn that they are safely housed within their own skin and another’s mind, ‘The likely outcome of secure attachment during childhood is a mind with a ‘lived-in’ feel, which can be valued and looked after.’ (p. 11) The homeless can be described as being ‘psychologically unhoused’, or having a mind that is ‘unhoused’, as the inability to secure a physical home can mirror the absence of finding a psychological home in the mind of another during development (Adlam & Scanlon, 2006, p.10).

The clients in my caseload tend to describe childhoods lacking in physical and emotional safety, where themes of abuse, neglect, rejection, loss and separation are common. These individuals appear to have suffered significant trauma in their early facilitating environment, where there was no one available to ‘hold’ them physically or psychologically. They have had to disconnect from aspects of their experience in order to comply with the environment, resulting in a fragmented sense of self. As a result, the counselling service at Herring House Trust is underpinned by an understanding of complex trauma and attachment theory to meet the psychological needs of the client group.

The counselling service has benefitted from being based within the hostel and embedded within the organisation. Henry Rey (1994) referred to the Maudsley Hospital as ‘the brick mother’, due to the importance of the hospital as a place of safety for patients, which offered continuity and stability. The hostel could similarly be described as the brick mother or secure base for many homeless individuals, who return over the years at times of distress. Many clients, who experience the hostel as a secure base, have felt able to engage in counselling due to it being offered in a place that is familiar and supportive. Counselling can offer psychological containment in conjunction with the physical and practical containment provided by the hostel. The therapeutic role also provides support for the staff team, who can request consultations regarding clients’ mental health issues.


Adshead, G. (2019). ‘Foreword: In and out of the mind’. In G. Brown (Ed.) Psychoanalytic thinking on the unhoused (pp. xiii-xxi). Routledge

Maguire, N.J., Johnson, R., Vostanis, P., Keats, H., & Remington, R.E. (2009). Homelessness and complex trauma: a review of the literature. University of Southampton

Rey, H. (1994). Universals of psychoanalysis in the treatment of psychotic and borderline states. Free Association Books.

Scanlon, C., & Adlam, J. (2006). Housing ‘unhoused minds’: inter-personality disorder in the organisation?, Housing, Care and Support, 9 (3), 9–14

Read more about the effect that COVID-19 has had on homelessness from Jenny McCann

How you can help

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We provide nearly 20,000 meals per year at our Hostel. Our aim is to provide a home cooked, healthy meal each day with a good breakfast.

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Every day we support over 80 people who are homeless or who are on the road to recovery. Your help will give people a chance again.

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