Relationship breakdown, Divorce & Mental Health

The upcoming referendum has made discussion of relationship breakdowns, separation & divorce very topical.

This article from clinical psychologist Dr. Maureen Gaffney gives an insightful look at the topic in particular highlighting the mental & physical health costs to couples.

She highlights early intervention as key, as early as prior to marriage. Many clients I have worked with have described situations where relationship counselling & mediation were left until far too late and thus were ineffective or in some case made things even worse.

If repair & healing is what the couple want to work toward together, helping them gain understanding on relationship issues & patterns of negativity as well as learning new less destructive ways to communicate are some of the things that can be explored in therapy. Support can also be very useful for those going through the stress & turmoil of a difficult separation & divorce if a decision the end things is made.

The risks of delays & difficulties accessing counselling services in Ireland

While mental health is certainly very much part of the national conversation these days it is disturbing to hear regularly how many aspects of our mental health service remain many years behind.

A clear illustration of this in a recent Irish Times article describes a situation where over 6000 individuals are awaiting counselling services through the HSE with over 1200 waiting 3 months or more. There seems to be particularly disturbing backlogs in the West of Ireland & North Dublin. Many of these individuals could be extremely vulnerable and may not have the resources to access private or alternative services.

Recently in my own practice I became aware of an individual who recently made a serious attempt to complete suicide but through complete chance was prevented.

This vulnerable person ended up being referred by a GP to the A&E department of a major hospital where they ended up walking out due to pure frustration waiting. They were to be contacted by phone as a follow up to this visit which apparently, unbelievably, has still not occurred weeks on. This individual & his network were not aware of the alternative free supports available even those provided by well known organizations such as Pieta house.

Luckily in this instance friends and family have rallied around and got the information & support required shoring up this deficit but for such a high risk individual’s life to be left to chance is extremely disturbing and seems to highlight the vestiges of an archaic, disconnected system with regards to identifying appropriate care for vulnerable people and their mental health.

Accessing Counselling Services in Ireland – the three main options for clients

A variety of people including those working in community & health settings regularly ask me about how to access counselling supports in Ireland, often confused about options outside private practitioners. This brief article explains the three main options available to clients seeking access to talking therapies in Ireland.

Talk Therapy Dublin is happy to provide free information & advice for anyone curious or confused with respect the accessing the right services or supports.

My Options – challenges for the new Irish Abortion Support & Information service

It became legal for women to seek abortion services since termination of pregnancy became legal for the first time in Ireland on January 1st 2019 but challenges are very much present for the new system.

It is understood that less than 170 GPs signed up to provide abortion services in time for the January 1 launch date, which represents about 5pc of the country’s total GP population of approximately 3,500. Four counties apparently have no GPs signed up at all. This situation does cause confusion for vulnerable people and there have been instances where the new My Options service has been hijacked with bogus websites using the brand to direct women to services which may try to influence their decision, offering perks such as free ultrasounds.

The My Options service is staffed by neutral, specially trained HSE counsellors and if people are looking at information online, look for the HSE logo. The correct freephone number is 1800 828 010.

Some of the signs the HSE encouraged people to look out for when determining if a source is reputable include:

·          they may require you to wait a long time between appointments

·          they may only meet you in public places such as hotels or car parks

·          there are delays in giving you pregnancy test results – these should be given immediately

·          their leaflets or information do not give information about all your options or uses language that is very negative or frightening

·          they may show inappropriate images, videos or DVDs as part of a counselling session, which are designed to influence a woman’s decision.

MyOptions was established by the HSE to act as the main referral path for women seeking a termination, providing non-directive and non-judgmental advice.  

Why do people become counsellors/psychotherapists?

This is a question I am often asked by people in general.   As can be seen from the below IACP video the reasons that bring people to train as a therapist are varied and tend to come on the back of previous work & life experiences.

Of course there are also those who work in the counselling/psychotherapy profession directly from training as psychologists having undergraduate and doctorate level training that can take nearly a decade.

Also see a second video below where IACP accredited therapists explain what they feel are the best things about the work of being a therapist.