Tucked away in an old HDB block, Counselling and Care Centre (CCC)’s unassuming exterior belies its inviting interior, recently renovated with new paintings, curtains, and chairs. Many clients have found that they “feel so at home inside and peaceful and could sit here for hours and feel refreshed.”
Unbeknownst to some, the oldest counselling centre in Singapore, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, started out as a pilot project at Fort Canning Road in September 1966.
First known as the Churches’ Counselling Service, its first Director and Principal Counsellor was the late Rev Gunnar J. Teilmann (above middle), an American Methodist missionary pastor who was instrumental in founding Samaritans of Singapore, a suicide prevention hotline.
Under the auspices of Wesley Methodist Church in collaboration with St. Andrew’s Cathedral, it was renamed Counselling and Care Centre in 1975 in line with changes in the social environment and shifts in the social service landscape. However, its mission as a God-given ministry to serve the wider community with compassion, upholding standards of practice, respect and professionalism, remains unchanged.
CCC’s mission is to ensure that counselling is available for everyone, regardless of income, ethnicity or religion. Over the past 49 years, CCC has helped 58,000 people in dealing with relational and psychological issues through specialised counselling and family therapy provided at our Centre. These relational difficulties include those experienced in marriages and families, with their spouses, children and extended families. Each year, we provide counselling to about 1,300 clients. This includes new clients and clients who return for follow-up sessions.
Prior professional experience in the field, teamwork, and mutual support and learning have been key factors in ensuring quality service for clients. With the ethos of being hospitable and welcoming to all who step into the Centre, CCC is dedicated to creating a safe space to sit with clients to hear their struggles, touching them with compassion and understanding to bring forth their inner resources for growth and healing.
Our psychotherapists use systemic thinking as their overarching theoretical framework. This involves seeing how seemingly isolated, independent events may connect and contribute to a bigger picture as a whole, and influence patterns of interaction in a circular fashion, contributing to difficulties and feeling “stuck”. With clients’ consent, our psychotherapists may invite and involve their family and significant people in their lives in the counselling sessions.
Taking the view that individuals’ problems are part of being human and that the counselling service is a journeying process with clients, they can make appointments without needing any professional recommendation, by registering through the website or through a phone call to the Centre. Counselling sessions are charged based on their incomes.
Training and Consultancy
CCC also focuses on developing the counselling profession through training and consultation for practising professionals such as social workers and counsellors from social service or mental health agencies. Over the years, CCC has trained more than 2,500 social service professionals in counselling practice.
Practitioners’ clinical competency is enhanced by increasing their awareness of the theoretical basis, ideas and personal experiences that influence their clinical practice. Thus, they hone their skills in observations, listening and responding to their clientele in a way that allows growth and healing.
CCC’s training programmes aim to develop social service practitioners’ clinical skills, and are designed and conducted to make the learning applicable and adaptable to the participants’ context of practice. Systemic in orientation, CCC views training as an interactive two-way process whereby trainers and participants teach and learn through mutual interaction.
CCC offers the Employee Assistance Programme, a contracted service for organisations which provide counselling as part of the organisation’s employee welfare programme. Professional, confidential counselling is provided to employees for personal or relational difficulties that may affect their physical health, work performance and mental and psychological wellbeing.
Another area of CCC’s contribution to the field is its publications, as it believes in sharing the clinician’s way of practice – grounded by sound theoretical knowledge – through the written word.
In 2016, CCC will mark its 50th anniversary of God’s faithfulness in provision of funding and dedicated staff and management members.
One of them was the late Mr Anthony Yeo, who served CCC for 37 years till his passing in 2009. He was CCC’s first Asian Director, trainer, mentor, supervisor and consultant, and was hailed as Singapore’s Father of counselling.
Mr Yeo modelled a life of service and compassion, and CCC’s training wing was recently renovated and dedicated in his memory. A quote painted on a wall tells of how he saw his work: “My vocation is a ministry of grace and compassion”. This is the legacy he has left for CCC to continue for years to come, God willing.
Photos courtesy of Counselling and Care Centre
Methodist Message seeks to raise awareness of the spectrum of needs, healthcare and social welfare services that are provided in Singapore by various Christian faith-based organisations. In this issue, we feature Counselling and Care Centre.
CCC’s newly renovated training and counselling wing
Christine Lim is Principal Therapist at Counselling and Care Centre.