My Approach to Counselling
You can get quite anxious when you first decide to come for counselling. You wonder what counselling is like, what the counsellor is like, is he some kind of expert, will he judge you, and if counselling really works.
It is part of my work to allay these fears, to reassure you, and answer any questions you have. Counselling certainly works. I spent several years dealing with my own issues, and counselling changed me, and brought me peace and calmness. Having dealt with my own baggage, my job now is to accompany you on your road of change, to challenge you sometimes, but always to support you, and to try and be in your shoes where I hope to understand how life looks from within your world. I also place great emphasis on confidentiality which is the bedrock of counselling, and helps to make you feel safe.
At the first session I will explain to you that whatever is said in the room stays in the room, and I will also explain the few exceptions there are to confidentiality. To further enhance confidentiality, my counselling room in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, is a separate building from my house, and my phone is invariably used for counselling work. Each counselling session lasts for an hour, and normally there is one session per week.
As I get to know you, I try to work out a counselling framework to suit you. Counselling is about making sense of your life, and it can only be successful when feelings, thoughts, behaviours and creativity are fully explored. To leave any of these out will mean that counselling is incomplete. But the most fundamental agent of change is my relationship with you. This relationship is based on empathic understanding and is the most healing aspect of counselling. It permeates everything we will do, as you set out on the exciting road of change. I am an empathic person, and I aim never to judge you. I am aware of my own faults and failings, and can never judge another. My counselling room will be your safe haven, where you will devote an hour for yourself, perhaps in an otherwise busy world.
I should also say that I will not direct you or lead you where you do not want to go, but I will make suggestions, and you will decide if you wish to accept or reject these suggestions. I want to make counselling safe for you in all respects, and you will always decide what you want to do. If, at some stage of the counselling process, you become unsure of what to talk about in a session, I will certainly help you pick an issue. But you will always have the power to decide.
I use talking, art therapy, inner child work and developmental theory in my counselling. You will always decide which method or combination of methods you wish to use. Some people prefer to talk, some to use art therapy or child work, and some prefer a combination of these. Some find developmental theory useful where you examine the various stages of your lifespan and see how you fared in meeting the challenges of each stage. You will know what suits you. And you will know when to finish counselling. I believe that in a safe setting each person knows what is best for himself or herself.
I am a professional accredited counsellor. I am accredited by the Irish Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapy, (IACP), the leading umbrella accrediting organisation in Ireland. The Association imposes stringent conditions for accreditation, and counsellors must receive meaningful inservice training each year. For example, in 2009 I did an intensive 12 day training course with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on counselling people who have been sexually abused. Documentation of annual training must be supplied to the Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapy to ensure re-accreditation. This must be accompanied by a confidential report on the counsellor by my supervisor. The Association also imposes strict rules for the supervision of counsellors to ensure maximum protection for you. I attend supervision every two weeks. My supervisor, in turn, must avail of constant supervision, and so on down the line. As an accredited counsellor I can offer counselling to trainee counsellors.
I do not counsel people who have a drug or alcohol addiction, but I prepare them to attend an appropriately trained addiction counsellor.
I am interested in all types of human distress, and I like to accompany bereaved people on their sad and often lonely journey. I have no fears of sitting with suicidal people, being with them in their dark and apparently hopeless world, and listening for any glimpses of hope that they may show. I frequently deal with people who have been abused, perhaps physically, emotionally, verbally, financially or sexually. I have written a great number of articles on abuse in the Tipp Tatler, and I am able to immediately see such abuse in many stories of distressed people, who may not even be aware that they are being abused. I hope to publish a book on abuse in the next year or so.
My own experiences and research also enable me to see the great curse of core shame, which so lowers self-esteem and makes the person feel not good enough. At the moment I am preparing a series of articles on depression for The Tipp Tatler, and I am also intensely interested in childhood issues, believing that many of our woes, personal and relationship-wise, stem from childhood.