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The health sector in Barcelona has many English speaking therapists that offer anything from acupuncture and massage to psychological services and psychotherapy.
SCROLL DOWN for a selection of practicioners operating in Barcelona and surrounding areas.

Article: Counselling and Support Groups

Barcelona is renowned for being an exciting and vibrant city, with a large population of young people, and a nightlife and activities agenda to match.  Its Mediterranean climate and perpetual presence of tourists on holiday only adds to the general mood of gaiety, especially in the city centre.  However, for a lot of foreigners who have moved out here there are also some more difficult moments, when nostalgia for friends and family back home hits hard, or when the challenges of living in a different country seem overwhelming.

Some of the most usual grievances can include feeling the pressure to live up to a 24-hour party lifestyle, and maintaining a social life that is hard on the body as well as the wallet.  Work related issues can include difficulties in finding a job, especially for non-Spanish speakers, and then living with the day to day reality of a job that you probably wouldn't be doing if you were back in your home country. Most short to medium term expats would agree that living in Barcelona is a lifestyle choice rather than a career choice, and when the lifestyle falls short of expectations things start to get more difficult.

People travel for many different reasons, with a desire for new experiences and personal development generally placed at the top of the list.  However, according to psychiatrist Peter Zelaskowsi, some people leave their home country to resolve difficulties they've had only to find that after a short while abroad these problems have become worse.

Aside from the issues surrounding adaptation to living in another culture, the linguistic difficulty of being faced with not one but two completely different languages here is not to be underestimated.  Those who feel that the quality of their lives could be improved by overcoming psychological obstacles might already be considering finding out about counselling and support groups here in Barcelona.  The first step is to understand how the mental health and support system works here.  We spoke with psychotherapist Peter Zelakowski, who explains. 
"Here in Spain, the mental health system is more geared towards psychiatry; there is less of a culture of psychotherapy."  The difference between psychology and psychiatry is that whilst the former is the science that deals with mental processes and behaviour (how people think, interact, and react), psyciatry deals with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Those who speak a reasonable level of Spanish could start by discussing the issues that are troubling them with their doctor.   However, it is generally quite difficult to get a referral to a public practicioner unless one is in need of quite serious psychiatric help. Another option would be to contact a private English speaking psychologist or therapist. 

Counselling:
The organisation NEST, or Network of English Speaking Therapists is a group of practitioners with different specialisations in the areas of education, mental health, and mental and spiritual development.  Some of its 10+ members also work in Catalan, Spanish, French, and German.
Barcelona NEST member Connie Capdevila Brophy, a qualified Clinical Psychologist, and couple's and family therapist firmly acknowledges that it is perfectly normal to be affected by the significant changes caused by moving abroad.   "Moving to a new community may be one of the most stress-producing experiences a person or family faces.”  For children, moves are even more difficult if accompanied by other significant changes , such as a death, divorce, loss of family income, or need to change schools. The older the child, the more difficulties due to change of peer group."  This would also apply to those whose move  coincided with other difficult circumstances. 

Connie goes on to explain that everyone experiences the culture shock in different ways; it involves change, not necessarily negative. It's normal to feel a degree of disorientation, as adjusting to a new culture takes time. Some people may adjust to living in Barcelona but may never integrate into the host culture. Useful advice for helping one adjust is to be open to the differences, and to learn about the new culture and language.  Some of the warning signs that a person might benefit from discussing their situation include that after the initial excitement, they might start experiencing emotional or physical signs such as withdrawl, boredom, sleeping excessively or suffering from insomnia, drinking excessively, beginning to stereotype the host culture or people, and to idealize their own culture. Be aware of warning signs that last a few months, including changes in appetite, social withdrawal, a drop in grades (in the case of children,) irritability, sleep disturbances or other dramatic changes in behaviour or mood.

As well as personal counselling, there are support groups here which are held in English and which can be a useful first step towards resolving problems such as addictions.

Alcoholics Anonymous:
They have 10 meetings in English every week in Barcelona, and according to one member, every group follows the code of being autonomous to the extent that it doesn't affect the AA as a whole.  The programme is the same the world over, and is based on a commitment to the 12 steps to recovery and attendance of regular meetings. A sponsor helps one work through these steps. Meeting locations are in Pl. del Pi, Barceloneta, Pl. Espanya and Lesseps.  Meeting times, precise locations, and more info are available at www.aabarcelona.org, or by calling the English info-line 616 684 338.  All meetings are open, and if you are concerned about yourself or anyone else give them a ring.

Narcotics Anonymous:
This is a support group for users and ex-users.  They have two meetings in English every week, on Mondays and Wednesdays 12pm -1.15pm, at C/ Cardenal Casaña 16 (Metro: Liceu). Also San Pere Mes Alt, 65 (Top floor) (alternate meeting place for Mon. & Wed.) Sat. 12-1.15pm
English info: Tel. 638 888 296
Spanish central office (Spanish speaking) Tel. 902 180 640
www.na-barcelona-eng.org 

This small community offers support for those who share the experience of addiction, and who can speak with others who have been exactly where they are. Although they are not in contact with the medical authorities and cannot provide referrals, the group always tries to do what it can for those who seek help.  According to one member, however, it is extremely difficult for someone to get a complete detox treatment here unless they speak some Spanish or Catalan. Each district in Barcelona has its own centre for helping people with a drugs problem, and the best way to find one's nearest centre is by calling the information line 934120412.  Many of the people who work there speak some English.

NEST: www.barcelonanest.com.
Connie Capdevila Brophy: Tel 93 217 9841
Peter Zelasowski: www.groupworks.info,
Tel 93 675 9276


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