Your News: The Awareness Centre brings talking therapies to HMP Brixton Prison

Streatham Guardian: Brixton Prison Brixton Prison

The Awareness Centre in Clapham has been awarded a contract by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SlaM) to provide talking therapies to inmates in HMP Brixton Prison.

Brixton is a male Category C resettlement prison for people coming to the end of their sentences, or for those serving short sentences. It also has a drug recovery unit and a vulnerable prisoners’ wing.

From April 2014, a seven-strong team of therapists from The Awareness Centre (TAC) will become part of the healthcare team in HMP Brixton Prison, offering counselling support to prisoners at different stages of their prison life. This will range from helping new prisoners adjust to life inside – especially if it is their first sentence – to helping prisoners at the end of their sentence prepare to transition back into the community.

TAC counsellors will offer inmates counselling and psychological therapies for issues affecting their mental health, such as anxiety, depression, anger, bereavement or substance misuse. Our therapists will also help inmates work through difficult family or relationship issues, and come to terms with how their personal circumstances or home lives might have changed while they have been serving their sentence. Inmates will be able to self-refer for counselling by contacting the prison healthcare team. Counselling sessions will be available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

This new contract with HMP Brixton Prison extends and enhances the NHS counselling services that TAC already provides in partnership with SLaM, as part of an integrated IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Services) programme.

Michaela McCarthy, Managing Director of The Awareness Centre, said: “We believe that psychological services should be available for all. We already have 70 counsellors delivering short-term NHS services to patients registered with GP surgeries in Lambeth, helping to reduce waiting lists. We’re delighted to be able to extend our services to Brixton Prison. Inmates will be able to benefit from the kind of counselling support that will help them better able to cope with life on the inside, as well as when they’re released back into the community. “ The HMP Brixton Prison contract is the latest way that IAPT is making high-quality services accessible to all, to promote the mental health and wellbeing of the population as a whole.

The Awareness Centre was established by Michaela McCarthy in 2005, and is one of the leading providers of counselling and psychotherapy in London. As well as short-term therapy through the NHS, if offers a free counselling service as well as low cost counselling, multilingual and LGBT counselling, and private counselling and psychotherapy. It is also a private healthcare provider, and its Training Institute promotes professional excellence in counselling.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust provides the widest range of NHS mental health services in the UK. It also offers substance misuse services for people addicted to alcohol and drugs.

Based on information supplied by Michaela McCarthy.

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