New counselling service will open in Tullamore in October


ONE of the founders of Accessible Counselling Tullamore (ACT) says the service will open its doors during October.

James O'Connor, the well known Tullamore businessman who runs, along with ACT co-founder Lisa Guing, says the service's mission is to support people in the community in maintaining positive mental health by providing “effective and accessible” counselling and psychotherapy services.

“ACT also seeks to proactively work towards resolving issues that cause a decline of the mental wellbeing of people within our community through support and education programmes,” said Mr O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor has been working on the development of his idea for a counselling service for more than 18 months and over the past 16 months the ACT board has been working on governance, policies and procedures and all legal and regulatory requirements.

ACT says its application for registration with the Charities Regulator is at an advanced stage.

“This has been a laborious and time consuming process but one that is essential to the success and longevity of the organisation,” said Mr O'Connor.

The clinical director of ACT is Seamus Sheedy, the Tullamore-based psychotherapist who is a leading member of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP).

Its co-ordinator is Dympna Summerville, who has experience in the education sector through her work as a maths teacher for many years and later as co-ordinator of the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS). Dympna is also a qualified counsellor and has studied for a B.Sc in counselling and psychotherapy.

She will manage the day to day operation of the centre and a team of qualified counsellors and psychotherapists who are “dedicated to providing accessible counselling to all”, said Mr O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor has been campaigning on positive mental health and along with Ms Guing set up Tullamore Goes Green, which runs the green ribbon initiative locally.

The green ribbon campaign aims to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and challenge discrimination.

Mr O'Connor said ACT will offer a safe and confidential environment where clients will be encouraged and supported while working through their difficulties.

He said he hopes the service “will be a lifeline to the people in the community who are at their most vulnerable”.

“We have an experienced and dedicated board of trustees with the necessary skills and commitment required to oversee the running of the organisation.”

ACT will provide one-to-one counselling sessions and appointments can be made by telephone.

Each client will be offered six sessions initially and the counsellor will then assess if more sessions are required.

There will be a contribution required for the sessions which will be agreed with the client at the assessment stage. Contribution will be based on the client’s needs rather than their ability to pay so a person in distress will be seen regardless.

The centre will initially open on a 9am to 5pm basis and will be located in Unit 4, Millennium House, Main St, Tullamore.

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