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New counselling service launched in Lower Swansea Valley

Cwmtawe Cluster Lead, Dr Iestyn Davies

A group of GP surgeries in the Lower Swansea Valley is now offering a remote counselling and psychotherapy service for adults experiencing emotional distress and mental health challenges alongside its programme for youngsters.

The service, being brought in by the Cwmtawe Cluster (Cwmtawe Medical Group, Strawberry Place Surgery and Llansamlet Surgery), is timely with an increase in demand for such a service being widely attributed to the effects of the Covid pandemic.

It is being delivered by REACH, a Swansea-based counselling service, and will for the most part see sessions carried out via telephone or video calls over the internet.

REACH Counsellors are trained to deal with a range of situations, helping people cope with such issues as anxiety, depression and bereavement, relationship difficulties, sexual and racial issues, child abuse and trauma, or personal problem solving.

The Cwmtawe Cluster first employed REACH to deliver counselling sessions for children and young and now has expanded the project to cater for adults having witnessed a need for such a service.

REACH Project Manager and Counsellor, Katie Ruddy, said: “We are continuing to support patients through the pandemic online or via telephone. For most patients, this medium of therapy is very effective and we are able to support a large number of referrals.

“However, for some of our younger clients, due to the nature of their difficulties and personal histories, working remotely is not safe or as effective. When this is the case, we are supporting the parents and family as best we can until we can safely resume face to face working.”

Patients can access the service through their GP or by contacting REACH directly.

Katie said: “We are working hard to reduce waiting list times and aim to see everyone within 4 weeks. Sometimes a patient is seen sooner. The demand for counselling has increased a lot this year but we are all working hard to continue to best meet the needs of the cluster and their patients.”

Cwmtawe Cluster Lead, Dr Iestyn Davies, said: “When we were researching services which would improve the lives of those living in our cluster, it became obvious that there was scope to improve counselling provision for children and young people.

“Thanks to transformation, our partnership with REACH is a making a genuine difference to the children and young people, who sadly need support, and their families, and what’s more it’s available to them on their own doorstep.

“What has become increasingly clear to us, however, is that there is a growing need to support adults with mental health issues, and we are delighted to announce that we are in a position to expand REACH’s mandate to meet this demand.”