Counselling, of course, is expensive and you may not be able to afford private counselling, but you can avail of free mental health counselling services under the aegis of the HSE, which will also help you deal with any mental health problems as well. Addiction counselling services are provided through the HSE’s network of 32 local health offices. You can contact these addiction services through the link ‘Local Health Office’ on the HSE website. Alcoholics Anonymous are a good source of support for alcohol addiction.
Unfortunately, state mental health services, while comprehensive, have long waiting lists. Psychiatrists are extremely busy, and may not be able to see you sufficiently often, and more psychologists are badly needed. Cutbacks during the recession also make it more difficult for the state body to put fully staffed operating structures into place. Private counselling offers a more regular, albeit expensive alternative, and offers a way to deal specifically with your abusive behaviour. If you can afford private counselling, inform yourself about the different types of counsellors available, before you make a decision. Your doctor will give you a list of local counsellors in your area, and you can talk to some of these on the phone before making up your mind about which one you would like to attend. Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde, details counselling theories in his blog Essential Research Findings in counselling and Psychotherapy. The Facts are Friendly. Donal Dutton specifically mentions counselling theories that are especially relevant to abusive personality types. You could also contact any of the umbrella accrediting groups, such as the IACP (Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), for information about counsellors in your area. The IACP has a very good website.
As a person with abusive tendencies, you will find counselling challenging, but the counsellor will gradually form a good relationship with you, and this allows him to make strong challenges without your becoming intimidated. Because abusive people distrust others, it is likely that you will not trust him, even if you have voluntarily come for counselling. You may use your persuasiveness, logic, and charm, and want the counsellor to take you at face value. You may find yourself trying to manipulate the counsellor, and minimise or even deny the abuse, or present yourself as the victim. This is dishonest. It will not gain you anything. It is a waste of money. Trying to shed abusive tendencies requires courage, information and honesty. You must be willing to be vulnerable in revealing shameful aspects of your behaviour. It will be difficult for you to give up control, and to be vulnerable and honest in the presence of a stranger! This, however, is how change is effected.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press
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