History

Raphael has been providing counselling and well-being services to the Jewish community since 1979.

 

Raphael has its roots in the Dympna Counselling Centre, run by Father Louis Marteau, assisted by Irene Bloomfield.  Together they created counselling training courses, on which Rabbis Daniel Smith, Howard Cooper and Harold Vallins were trained. Occasionally, a Jewish client would seek help and would be assigned to one of the Rabbis.

By the end of the 1970s, Rabbi Smith, with Irene Bloomfield, had set up a Jewish Counselling Centre and chaired the founding management committee.  He did the PR, advertising and fundraising, as well as liaison work with the Jewish community.

This became known as the Raphael Centre.  

The name Raphael derives from the ‘Angel of Healing’; the King David’s harp featured in our logo was, in Biblical times, associated with healing troubled souls.
 

Raphael is committed to working within the British Association for Counselling And Psychotherapy’s Ethical Framework for Counselling Practice, as well as complying with Data Protection Act requirements.

 

Raphael prides itself on its inclusiveness and welcome referrals from all sectors of the Jewish and wider communities.

 

In our Clients' Words

‘My counsellor is by far the best counsellor I have ever had.  In fact, she is in a completely different league.  She has a great mixture of warmth and professionalism and provided an extremely secure space where I could simply be myself.  Eternal gratitude!’

 

‘I have developed ways to manage my problems with which I had sought help’

 

‘I have never had counselling before and didn’t know what to expect.  The initial assessment was very helpful and supportive and then the sessions were excellent.  My counsellor was so lovely and so inclusive that I ended up talking about things I had never talked about before.  I started off feeling so anxious and unlike myself and have finished feeling back to my normal self.  I would absolutely recommend the service to anyone, and if all your counsellors are as good as mine, it is service that is second to none. Please pass on my thanks to everyone who makes this such an exceptional service.’

 

‘Fantastic service and one I would recommend to others.’

  

‘I have been very impressed with both the counsellor and the service.’

  

‘Very pleased and grateful for the help.  Excellent organisation and helpful service.  Counsellor was very professional and I felt comfortable talking to her.  Thank you very much.  This is an excellent charity and I hope more people get the opportunity to seek help if they need it.”

 

On Our 40th Anniversary

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There are always two important points I try to make whenever I talk about mental health. They sound as if they are opposites, or contradictory in some way, but I hold them both to be true. The first is to realise just how serious illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizoid affective disorder and other mental health conditions can be. They are more than just “a bit of a bad mood”, more than the ordinary day to day trials of life ... they can seriously threaten a person’s all round health. They can lead to people reaching for alcohol and drugs, anything, anything to numb or drown out the blackness inside. And that kind of “self-medication” as it’s called, can lead to ever downward spirals, alienating families, colleagues, employers ... Self-harm of this kind, and of other kinds including the ultimate, the taking of one’s own life, these are all real dangers. Tragedies like this are unfolding every day in families across the world, and the Jewish community of course, is not exempt. That is Truth One. But the other truth, just as important to be born in mind, is that it is absolutely possible to lead a contented, creative, loving, loved and wholly fulfilling life with a mental condition. Mental ill health does not define a person or limit them to a narrow, excluded or unexciting existence. We Jews often talk about our community, we laugh at how much we talk, debate, whirl our arms in argument and shrug our shoulders at tsuris ... at the sorrows and trials of life. Let’s use all those positive aspects of our natures to overcome the sense of shande of stigma, and not to be afraid to seek help when we need it for ourselves or for those we love and value. To ask for help is to pay someone a real compliment: it offers them the gift of trust. It’s so good to know that the Raphael Jewish Counselling Service is there for those who are looking for a trustworthy first port of call in the storms of their life. I am proud and pleased beyond words to be able add these few words of support for Raphael, named of course after the archangel who has a special concern for the mentally ill. May we all flourish under his wings!

Stephen Fry

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 It has taken all my adult working life for mental health issues really to come out into the open. Only now do we see celebrities talking about their struggles with their own mental health or that of their loved ones. 16 years ago, newspapers could write appalling headlines about Frank Bruno as he struggled with his demons. "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up" That headline was shouted down. Later editions showed greater sympathy. But now, they would not even dare write it. And now Bruno himself, and his family, can talk about mental ilI-health. He said in 2013: "Mental illness is a terrible thing to have to cope with but I've learnt it's a fight you can win if you live your life the right way." The nation listened. A huge social change has taken place. The stigma is lessening - but it has certainly not disappeared. And that is just as true in the Jewish community as elsewhere, and we need to do all we can to open out these issues, and to show real love and support to people who suffer mental ill-health or distress, and those close to them. And that's why a confidential, professional service such as Raphael offers is so necessary. We can continue to campaign. Stigma will gradually go, over many years. But all the while people need support and help, and we should all be enabling that support and help to happen.

Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE  

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