Monday, July 13, 2009

Survivors of abuse still waiting for counselling

Independent.ie
Survivors of abuse still waiting for counselling
By Eimear Ni Bhraonain
Monday July 13 2009

NINETY survivors of institutional abuse are on a waiting list to access counselling services across the country.

The surge in calls to the National Counselling Service (NCS) since the Ryan report was published means that institutional abuse victims are waiting up to four weeks to get an initial appointment.

NCS is a free counselling and psychotherapy service to adults who have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood.

Priority is promised to survivors of institutional abuse but many have to wait four weeks for their first appointment with a counsellor.

It has also emerged that only eight out of the 10 positions for directors of counselling in each of the former health board areas are filled. A statement from the Health Service Executive (HSE) said that two HSE staff were acting as directors in the Dublin and mid-Leinster area.

Cutbacks and the HSE recruitment embargoes have affected NCS in recent years. However, NCS said they were negotiating "for increased resources in staff and finance" to meet the current additional pressure on services.

"In the week following the release of the Ryan report, the NCS received the same number of referrals that was received during the final quarter of 2008," it said.

During one week alone, NCS received 183 referrals which represents a monthly average of referrals during 2008. The majority of these people had not accessed the counselling service in the past nine years.

John Kelly, of Survivors of Child Abuse, said that the waiting times were likely to get much longer for counselling services.

"If there's 90 survivors of institutional abuse still on a waiting list, we can only imagine what it will be like when the next report comes out about the Dublin archdiocese," he said.

- Eimear Ni Bhraonain

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