Introducing Valleys Steps

Overview

Introduction

About us and our courses

Below you’ll find answers to a range of commonly asked questions. If there’s anything further that you’d like to ask, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Who are Valleys Steps?

Valleys Steps is a charitable organisation working in partnership with Cwm Taf UHB to deliver psycho-educational courses across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil.

The courses are designed to provide people with the tools to understand more about themselves and learn ways to boost well-being.

What are the courses?

Valleys Steps run 2 courses: Stress Control and Mindfulness for Everyday.

Each course runs once a week for 6 weeks and lasts about 1 ½ hours with a short break.

Courses are free of charge and open access to the public. People don’t need to book a place or be referred, they can just turn up – and even bring someone with them if they like.

What will the sessions be like?

The sessions are informal, people can come and go as they please. The courses are psycho-educational and are not a form of group therapy. No one has to speak. There is no discussion of personal problems as the focus is on teaching people ways of boosting well-being.

This approach also aims to reinforce the message that ultimately it is down to the individual to change their way of being, once they know how, as nobody else can do it for them.

The room is set up lecture-style, in rows, and there is no group interaction at any stage.

What details do you take from people?

Since outcome data is required for funding purposes. Participants are asked to anonymously complete brief questionnaires at the first and last sessions. In order to be able to compare any one individual’s before and after responses they are invited to write their postcode and the last three digits of their telephone number.

Who can attend?

Anyone over 16, although 14 and 15 year olds can attend if accompanied by an adult. Anyone wanting to learn more about boosting wellbeing. Anyone wanting to understand and find ways of managing Stress or mild to moderate Anxiety or Depression. Anyone under pressure in day-to-day life e.g experiencing long term health problems, financial difficulties, family problems, work issues etc. The courses are not designed for people with serious mental health problems.

What is Stress Control?

Stress Control is a course that teaches skills that can be used to help manage stress.

It is based on a therapy called CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and can be useful for people who want to learn more about issues such as low mood, anxiety, low self-confidence and other stress-related problems. 

INFORMATION FOR POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS


Each session covers a different element of stress control:  

  • Session 1 – Information about Stress : You will find out what stress is and what it is not, the main signs, the vicious circles that keep it alive and how Stress Control works.
  • Session 2 – Controlling your body: We get down to tackling stress in this session. You will learn how your body signs feed stress. We look at why we get stressed and how the body reacts to it. You will learn three skills – breathing retraining, exercise and progressive relaxation and look at caffeine
  • Session 3 – Controlling your thoughts: You will learn how your thinking feeds stress. We will teach you ways to ‘think your way out of stress’
  • Session 4 – Controlling your actions: This session looks at how the way we act feeds stress. You’ll learn ways to face your fears and a skill called ‘Problem Solving’.
  • Session 5 – Controlling your panic: Panicky feelings are part and parcel of stress. This session teaches you ways to control them. We will teach you about using your breathing to calm your body and, hence, your mind.
  • Session 6 – Controlling your sleep, Wellbeing and Controlling your future: Poor sleep is often a result of stress.  So, in this session, we will look at skills to help you get a good night’s sleep. Wellbeing starts the final set of skills as we look at ways of staying on top of stress.   

Stress Control was developed by Jim White, a psychologist from Glasgow. CBT has a strong evidence base for people experiencing mild- moderate depression and anxiety as does Stress Control itself. The course is used all over the country.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice that is thousands of years old. It has been introduced into healthcare over the past thirty years. Mindfulness is a way of being that can be developed. Mindfulness training enables us to develop our natural capacity for awareness and to notice without judging more of the thoughts, feelings and sensations that make up our lives day by day. This can help us relate differently to our experience and improve anxiety, depression and many other emotional and physical health concerns. It can increase our wellbeing through deepening our appreciation of our lives.

What is the basis of Valleys Steps Mindfulness course?

Our course is based on ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT is made up of 6 components of which 3 are aspects of Mindfulness. The course teaches these mindfulness skills which can be used in everyday life. It can be helpful for managing stress, for combating low mood and dealing with anxieties. It can also help boost general well-being. The course was developed by Consultant Clinical Psychologist Sue Breton from a smaller scale course used by Cwm Taf University Health Board since 2004. Sue is now the Chair of Valleys Steps board of trustees.

What happens in the classes?

The class is split into 2 parts. During the first hour there is usually a very short (about 2 minutes) meditation, then the presenter will talk about that week’s lesson, tell a little story. We discuss the different components of mindfulness and how we can develop these. We also practice ways of developing this formally via short meditations and also informally through bringing mindfulness to everyday tasks. During the last part there will be a longer meditation exercise. Participants remain seated throughout. Nobody is judged as to how well they are doing. Everyone learns at their own pace. Each session builds on the last so it is most effective when all 6 sessions are attended. Frequent attendance is also advisable for developing a full understanding of what Mindfulness is and how it can be helpful. The management of difficult emotions and thoughts is considered in the last two sessions.

Which course to do?

It’s not really about what the issue is, generally speaking it’s down to an individual’s personality and the way they like to go about things.

Those who like to know what’s what and to follow clear-cut rules then Stress Control is probably a good first choice.

Mindfulness, on the other hand is for the more adventurous, those who don’t need to know the purpose of each step as they go but trust that it will turn out fine in the end.

INFORMATION FOR POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS

  • They are 6 week courses and ideally you need to come to all of the sessions to get the best out of it
  • You don’t need to book a place or be referred
  • You don’t need to talk
  • You can bring others with you
  • Its informal, so you can leave the room at any time etc.
  • No names/addresses etc are be taken

More information

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