SPA support group meetings
The SPA support group for London and the South-East first met in December 2011 and still meets several times a year. Members are now encouraged to organise meetings around the country to meet local need. The meetings are friendly, completely informal, and everyone gets the chance to share as much, or as little, as they feel comfortable with. Two or more members may just decide to meet up for coffee and a chat. This face to face contact with other members has proved to be extremely helpful, especially when you’re newly coping with this situation, so we do encourage new members to attend some kind of meeting, if they can. All SPA members are welcome to any of the meetings.
Those members who have lived through this situation and are putting their lives back together, can find that helping other people who have just started the journey is a valuable way of giving back. These contributions to the healing of others and the bonds that come from them can be one of the most rewarding parts of our experience. SPA members keep in regular contact online, but there’s no pressure to do this if you’d rather not.
Individual support and counselling
Many members have benefitted from individual counselling support. This is something we strongly advocate because our self confidence and esteem can be severely eroded through living with this difficult situation. These can be rebuilt but help is often needed to do this effectively. We do not aim to replace professional counselling and one of our recommendations is that members seek some professional support, if they have not already done so.
You may access nhs counselling by self referral or via your GP but this might involve a considerable waiting time. It is helpful to get support as soon as possible, so you might want to check if your employer (or your partner’s) operates an employee well-being scheme which covers you for counselling.
You might consider paying privately. To find a qualified counsellor or therapist please consult the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapists – BACP at http://www.bacp.co.uk – many offer a free initial conversation during which you can form a judgment as to whether they might suit you. It’s very important that you feel comfortable with your counsellor. If things don’t work out as you’d hoped, don’t be afraid to change to someone else.
You may feel the need for couples counselling- either to discuss in the presence of a third party all that has been going on in your relationship or to negotiate the separation process, discuss the care of your children etc. You can use the BACP link above to find a couples counsellor or you could try Relate – http://www.relate.org.uk
Your health –
We also advocate seeing your GP, both to discuss and manage any symptoms you are experiencing as a result of stress and anxiety and for necessary health checks for STDs and HIV. These sexual health checks can also be done discretely at your local GUM/Sexual Health clinic and some are available online by delivery to your home from pharmacies such as Lloyds, Superdrug and organisations like the Terrence Higgins Trust. It is vitally important to look after yourself and take good care of your well being at this time.