Thursday, 15 October 2015

Counselling at Oogachaga

I'd been thinking about popping by Oogachaga for a spot of counselling for the inner conflict I have between my faith and my sexuality for some time now. One day, on a whim, I decided to call them up to make an appointment.

I was told to email someone, which I did, and was then directed to fill up a form after which a date was then set and a bank transfer of $60 was made.

Feeling a little down yesterday (it's probably hormonal), I trudged my way to Chinatown after gulping down a flat white so that I would be properly awake for the session.

Located near the exit of Chinatown MRT, I found the office rather easily and was ushered into Ginger Room which was nicely furnished and warmly lit. I was 10 minutes early and as I waited for the counsellor, I prayed a bit.

R. came in, was nice and polite and asked me what I was here for. I started off saying that "my psychologist noted that she noticed 'a conflict between my sexual orientation and my religious beliefs' " and he picked it up from there.

He asked appropriate questions where I shared my story and then he picked up where I left off. We talked about other related things and one hour passed really fast.

I was very impressed at the end of it all.

I think my main takeaway was that I realised that my conflict was not so much between my faith and sexuality, but it's based more on my expectations of how people might reject me if I choose to embrace my sexuality and act on what I believe. Honestly, I think God's got no problems with what I've got in mind for my future. He's given the green light for many things. I just wonder if I hear wrongly. What I'm probably more concerned with is with the opinions of others. What a difficult chain to break. This all I realised after talking with R.

I felt much happier after an hour of talk therapy and really gained from it. He remarked that we'd covered a lot of ground even though we'd only met for the first time. I guess people usually take time to open up, especially if it's the first time they are articulating their fears for the very first time. I, on the other hand, have spoken about this countless times.

I'm not sure if I'll go back for a second session, maybe after I process this for a while. But it was really helpful so I might just do so. I wonder what else I'll learn about myself. Hmmm....

Anyway, if you're thinking of counselling, do check it out, I think what I was most impressed about was how R. didn't force a pro-gay approach down my throat but helped me find my own inner direction even though Oogachaga is gay-affirmative. He was very understanding and engaged me on my own terms when I talked about God and all. (I'd also previously indicated that I'd prefer to speak to a counsellor who's preferably Christian. They indicated that they did not ask for the religious beliefs of their counsellors and would not be able to do so, but assured me that all their counsellors would be understanding.)

If you're a student or are under financial constraints but would like to seek face-to-face counselling, do let them know when filling up the form or emailing them and they can make arrangements for you. If you're shy, they have email counselling, a hotline and Whatsapp counselling at the following numbers:

Hotline and Whatsapp Counselling
Hotline: 6226 2002 Whatsapp: 8592 0609 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7pm – 10pm, Saturdays from 2pm – 5pm.WOW (Women on Wednesdays)Hotline: 6226 6629Wednesdays: 7pm – 10pm.
These services provide an active listening ear for people who would like to share anonymously about issues troubling them, such as sexuality and relationship matters, as well as obtain advice and resources on safer sex and HIV/STI related issues. 
The hotline service was established in 2006, and the Whatsapp service followed in 2013. Calls and chats are handled by a team of specially trained LGBTQ and LGBTQ-affirming volunteers who will ensure the confidentiality of every call. The team is supported by experienced volunteers and staff, and everyone is expected to adhere to Oogachaga’s Code of Ethics for volunteers.
We apologise for these services being unavailable outside the publicised hours, and wish to highlight that the Whatsapp service is not able to accept SMS text messages.
Hope this is useful for you!

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