Psychological help when away from home

As a person who has made mistakes in their past it can be difficult to move on. While we do have various support groups at home in the UK to assist these past offenders with getting on with their lives, making amends and becoming responsible and productive members of society, it can be very difficult for those that are required by their employers to move away even temporarily from the support structure that they may have become accustomed to. Some past offenders may also have difficulties with alcoholism or substance abuse and moving away from their local meetings and support groups can spell grave danger for them. At YNY we try to do our very best to provide as much support in rehabilitating past offenders as is possible for us. This includes weekly groups, helping candidates find employment and providing support and counselling where possible. As time passes some of the people we deal with find employment with companies that require them to work outside of Great Britain. It may be working construction in Dubai, or a maintenance contract in Greece or some even find themselves employed on the oil and diamond rigs off the coast of South Africa. Our counsellors often worry about these people with whom they’ve developed relationships with over the time spent in our rehabilitation programme. It’s not uncommon for counsellors to develop an attachment to their patient or patients as they become invested in their well being. One of our counsellors recently struggled with this after a client she had helped rehabilitate on reintegrate back into society over a period of two years, took on a job that took him to work in South Africa. The job was well paid, but required extended periods of time away from home, support and loved ones. I’ll refer to the client as John for the sake of ease. John was excited about the opportunity of going to work on an off shore rig near Cape Town in South Africa. The job paid five times what he was currently earning locally and it would mean he would be able to afford a great many things he wanted for his family. John had some concerns about leaving his support structure at YNY but felt he was ready and strong enough to make the move.

A little after a month of being on the rig, John started to struggle. He was missing his family and beginning to become severely depressed. John was also a recovering alcoholic and with the depression came the temptation to escape through returning to drinking. Fortunately Oil rigs are alcohol free zones so he was safe while on the rig still but was due for shore leave soon. John reached out to his counsellor here at YNY via email and expressed how he was feeling, how he was struggling and how for the first time in two years, the though of drinking alcohol seemed like a good decision. Margaret, John’s counsellor here at YNY urged him to remain calm and explained that what he was experiencing was quite normal for somebody in his position. After doing some research, Margaret was referred to Dr Maryke Woolf, a psychologist in Newlands Cape Town. After some correspondence via email and Skype, Margaret was able to fill Maryke in on John’s history and his current situation, setting an appointment for him to meet with her the day he went ashore. John was a little hesitant after hearing from Margaret that he was expected to meet with Dr Woolf only a few hours after returning to shore, however, trusting in his YNY counsellor’s experience, he agreed and went to the appointment that was scheduled.

John spent an hour in consultation with Maryke for his first appointment. When he arrived back at his quarters on the rig, he sent Margaret this email :

“Dear Margaret,

I just want to thank you so much for your help. Even away from home, you are still supporting me through my difficult times. I’ll be honest, if you had not made that appointment for me to meet with Dr Woolf the day I returned to shore, I would have been in a pub for certain. 100% guaranteed, I had already given up hope and made the decision to drink my worries away. Being alone and away from home, I was spending way too much time in my head and some of the nonsense I was telling myself was starting to make sense to me. Meeting with Dr Woolf was a critical point for me in my recovery progress. I was at a crossroads and without your assistance, I would have chosen the wrong path. I baffles me still just how quickly things can go south. Thank you for arranging the appointment and filling her in on my past and my history. When we met, she was completely up to date with my recovery progress and seemed to know me better than I know myself. Just spending time with a compassionate listener, someone who could listen and at times point out inconsistencies in my thinking, was enough. Dr Woolf was fantastic, she reassured me of my own ability to heal and overcome obstacles, not to get completely overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness. I left her psychologist practice in Newlands feeling upbeat and shocked at just how close I had come to resorting to drinking again. I’m not sure how you managed to find Dr Woolf, but she was perfect for me and I have made an appointment already to see her the very next day I return to shore.

Once again, thank you so much for everything you have done vor me.


John “

It’s stories like this that make our work here at YNY so rewarding. Knowing that even when those we have built up relationships with are away in a foreign land, we can still help the. For anyone who is in Cape Town and is looking for a psychologist in Newlands, Maryke Woolf would be a good choice based on the fantastic report given to us by John. We will continue to support those we believe in and are helping to rehabilitate themselves no matter where they are. xx