Brent Skerten

Counsellor

“It has been inspiring to be a part of the progress against both homophobia and HIV.”

I have Master degrees in both the Arts and in Counselling from the University of Canterbury and am a member of the NZ Association of Counsellors. I work for the NZAF four days a week.

I came out as a gay man in the 70’s, when it was still illegal in New Zealand, and along with many of my generation agitated for social and legal change. During those years I was a high school teacher of English, History and Drama, ran the school library, and travelled extensively. In 1984 I became a volunteer with the AIDS Support Network, New Zealand’s initial response to the HIV epidemic. I witnessed many friends die of AIDS. But others have steadfastly survived and memories of that time still fuel my work today. It has been inspiring to be a part of the progress against both homophobia and HIV.

I acknowledge that many people live lives of quiet courage. I aim to help clients identify and reinforce their often unnoticed successes and sources of strength and support, and then to develop further strategies to clarify and reach their goals. Sometimes this involves working with individuals, at other times with partners or family members together.

Crucial in this is providing a sanctuary of non-judgemental confidentiality and trust in which clients feel empowered to confront their own worst failings and fears and unconscious patterns, and then explore options and utilize their self-corrective capacity.

Behavioural change can be difficult but brain research is helping us to better understand the mind-body connection, how attitudes and habits form and can be altered to deliver us to what we would prefer. It is challenging but also inspirational work for both client and counsellor working safely together.

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