Brynawel Rehab, Llanharan “The most outstanding feature of Brynawel are their staff.” Brynawel Rehab – My saving grace and my safe haven is located in the valleys of South Wales. Its serene, idyllic setting is perfect to escape and focus on recovery against substance misuse whether that be drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction or addictive behaviour. Brynawel is a Cognitive behaviour therapy (cbt), non 12 steps based treatment centre. They focus more on the behaviour than the substances. They have a broad array of programmes which I have elaborated on below: Programmes available are:
• The 4 Week Intensive therapy, which consists of 3 x 1 hour therapy sessions per day, either on a one to one basis or with maximum 2 other clients. This really puts you under the microscope and there is truly nowhere to hide. With the therapy sessions starting at around 9am finishing at around 4pm, this leaves the remainder of the day to engage with the other clients on different programmes. During the afternoon and evenings there are group therapy sessions of different varieties with all the clients in residence.
• The 16 week comprehensive residential programme. This is a group therapy based programme, usually between 8-12 clients + therapists. Two sessions per day with 2 x one to one sessions per week (sometimes more) and group sessions, again joining in with other clients on different programmes. This is an extremely beneficial programme that focuses on issues within and works through these issues over the 4 month period.
• The 6 Month ARBD (Alcohol related brain damage) programme. This is a unique programme that is only available at Brynawel. Clients with ARBD are given given extremely attentive care with high tech gadgets to support their needs. The results from this programme have even made it to the BBC. Last year they ran a documentary based on two clients who were ARBD residents at Bryawel.
All of the 3 treatment programmes are residential and Brynawel doesn’t offer outpatient services. Groups and Relapse prevention Every Tuesday there are two relapse prevention sessions which sees a combination of existing clients and ex-clients return and discuss challenges they are facing whilst talking about tools that they can use to assist them. I found that it is very beneficial to see ‘old timers’, who are living the sober life, return and talk about successes and failures. After 6pm there are group sessions which aren’t as intense as the therapy during the day. They are more relaxed groups and consist of things like: Art therapy – Using the mind to be creative or just use colours and paint to express emotions
• Mindfulness – This essentially is meditation that takes shape in many forms, using touch, sense, smell, taste, sound etc etc
• Music therapy – A simple task of listening to music, set by the clients, to reflect their mood for the day or week.
• Fortnightly days out: These are a blend of team building and communication days, things like raft building, rock climbing and adventure parks. Cost: Brynawel is South Wales’ only Welsh funded Rehab although it does take clients in privately. If funding was issued as it should be to the thousands that need it, then the place would be full 365 days of the year. Unfortunately politics dictate that money has to be spent by the government on things like speed cameras and car parks, rather than keeping people safe and clean from addiction. As far as the costs for private rehabs, they are as cheap as any other and have some good alternatives to make it more affordable. Accommodation: There are 3 buildings. One being a transitional building called Pen-Y-Parc. Clients are moved there when they come to the last 4 weeks of their 16 week programme. This is to give them more responsibility and normality, preparing them for when they leave. The Pen-Y-Parc building is on a farm. It has its own living room, kitchen and well essentially is a house within rehab. The animals that are kept there include ponies, chickens and ducks. There is also an allotment where fruit and veg are grown. The rooms and standard of the rooms are probably the best at the rehab. The remaining rooms in the other 2 buildings are more basic, each are single sleeping rooms, no sharing (which I was pleased about), all en suite bathrooms. The beds are probably the worst part of Brynawel as they are a little bit creaky. But truth be told, I had slept in some pretty horrific places prior to me arriving there (both times), so to me it was like staying at the Ritz Food:
There are 3 x Chefs that work at Brynawel and all are top class. The food is very good. The chefs are flexible and there is plenty of choice on offer. If you aren’t happy with the menu, they are happy to find you an alternative, as long as you give them plenty of notice. The menu is packed full of fruit, vegetables and some fantastic deserts. Not to mention – a great Sunday Dinner. The food was my favourite part. Chores: They are what they are…. Chores. Who loves cleaning and hoovering? Not many of us. All clients have house chores that are to be done from 7-8 in the morning they are things like hoovering the stairs, cleaning the kitchen or sweeping the floors. All fairly standard and a slight pain in the arse at that time of the morning, but it’s good to have some routine.
Poppy the Dog: I lied before: Poppy the Dog was my favourite part of Brynawel. She is their longest employee, having been there for years. She is half canine and half human. She sits in on group therapy sessions and is extremely in tune with human emotions. Often she will pick a vulnerable person who is having a bad day and cuddle up to them during group #Lush. I have never met anyone who has been through Brynawel and not fallen in love with Poppy. I cant wait to go back once a week to see her. Philosophy: Bryawel’s philosophy is simple, they believe if you can train your brain to become addicted to any substance you can train your brain to reverse that, and its less about the substance and more about the behaviours that led us to use. Aftercare: Brynawel’s aftercare that they offer are 6 one to one therapy sessions after leaving and the possibility of unlimited relapse prevention groups every Tuesday if you choose to utilise it. This is all great but I feel that more could be done to work with the local authorities and reintegrating people back into society. I felt isolated once I’d been discharged from the centre, and left a bit in limbo. My experience: I have done both the 16 week programme and 4 week intense programme, both completely different and both beneficial. I relapsed after leaving and doing the 16 week programme, this doesn’t mean that it didn’t work, it just means I wasn’t ready to give up. I also wasn’t completely honest, which is the most key thing.
Once I went through the 4 week programme and aired all my dirty laundry if you like, it put me in good stead. More importantly, that time, I was there for me. Is Brynawel the perfect rehab? I don’t think there is such a thing. I think success in this complex area is probably 15% the treatment centre and 85% you and you wanting it. I could have done 100 weeks any where the first time round and would have failed. But for me, the second time I really wanted to beat this addiction and Brynawel was my safe place. They made some wholesale changes to the programme earlier this year which has made it a much-improved rehab in my personal opinion and I am grateful that I am able to continue a relationship with them and that they still support me now. The most outstanding feature of Brynawel are their staff. When I returned, I walked back in with my tail between my legs as I was certain I would never go back there and said that on numerous occasions. Even though I was cocky and arrogant there was absolutely no judgement from the staff and that made me settle so quickly.