Our April training session was taken by WGWG’s supervisor, Jane Henson. Jane was introduced by Bill Logan. He said that she is who we turn to if we have “a problem” to get advice. She carries the title of Supervisor in the role of Supervising Counsellor for the WGWG Helpline. We are all able to contact her for advice if we need it – especially to get help with a caller.
Jane is a professional Counsellor, living and working in her private practice in Pukerua Bay.
Her credentials include being a Life Member of the Counsellor’s Association of New Zealand. She was Deputy Chair of the World Counsellors Association. Her career as a Counsellor began in 1978 when she was appointed to pilot a new role in New Zealand of Guidance Teacher – half teacher and half Guidance Counsellor at Wellington High School. She already loved teaching and found it was her calling to counsel as well.
Jane is the mother of three adults and recently became grandmother of her 5th grandchild after initially “not believing in grandchildren”. Her eldest gay son in the UK is father of two little girls, daughters of two lesbian couples.
From the very beginning of her counseling work at Wellington High School, where there were a large percentage of adult students, Jane has been counseling gay men. In 1984, she joined the AIDS Support Network describing the time as “hard and heartbreaking”. She remained helping with the Network until the Awhina Centre was set up. Jane also worked as head of Counselling at Wellington Polytech (Massey Wellington) and then 3 years counselling at the Medical School.
In the mid 1990’s, she and her partner Martyn went to work for VSA in Tanzania in the middle of Africa, far away from her beloved sea. Martyn came down with malaria while there and the locals kept asking “is he dead yet?” There, Jane experienced a very different Swahili-speaking culture, well outside her comfort zone. But being the odd ones out and not belonging was a great learning experience.
Jane does not set any expectations for Helpliners. She is there to help “behind the scenes” and has confidence in our being able to work through things with our callers. She still admires what WGWG does in the community. Advice? “People share themselves with you – hold their confidentiality and trust carefully. Be non-judgmental and helpful. Deal with who it is that you are talking to at the time, not who they might be affecting.”
After being thanked by Ross on behalf of WGWG, Jane’s final words were “Keep on keeping on”.