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.


How is your therapist doing?

Many clients (and people in general) become curious about the therapists they are talking to especially as the therapeutic relationship builds.  Indeed sometimes a client may bump into their therapist outside the therapy room, out shopping, with their family etc.

All sorts of questions seem to emerge – has my therapist children?  what issues have they experienced themselves?  What brought them to this vocation? How much money are they making from this?

While in many modalities  limited self disclosure does occur within the therapeutic relationship the process is obviously not focused on the therapist.

This article explores the issue from the perspective of a practitioner in private practice in Ireland and highlights issues many therapists will relate to.  Might have some answers for those curious too!


Parenting – child development & learning about success & failure

The below article from therapist & author Stella O’Malley explores the topic of achievement in children,  and the interaction of their resilience, mental health & exam pressure.

An interesting point is made on fostering a “growth” as opposed to a “fixed” mindset in young people – based on the work of Sanford professor of psychology Carol Dweck.

Talk Therapy Dublin meets clients presenting in their late teens and 20’s struggling with the results of this experience, often with significant depression, anxiety & substance abuse issues.

We also have regular experience of adult clients struggling to do right by their children but this very struggle being the source of issues. One common example is an over the top extra curricular activity schedule from a young age leaving little time for exploratory play, trial & error and indeed family time.  Another common theme is how “failure” is presented & handled within a family.

  • Is it an opportunity to learn & for support?
  •  Should it be avoided at all costs??
  • If a child shows an interest in music, should they immediately be enrolled in formal lessons multiple times a week?
  • What is like for working parents to have to bring children to multiple extra curricular events every week/weekend.
  • Is there much family time after parents work, school, homework & activities?


Occupational Therapy & Mental Health

What does an Occupational Therapist (OT) do?

An  Occupational Therapy intervention can be invaluable to a person’s well-being but the reality is not enough people in Ireland know what OT’s do or what OT services are available to them, specifically in terms of Mental Health.

What is Mental Health OT?

Mental Health OT can offer support if your mental health interferes with your ability to do the activities necessary for living your life.

For  example

  • If social anxiety prevents you from meeting friends, forming relationships or going to work.
  • If depression stops you from getting to your exercise class or your GP appointment.
  • If issues around your physical health are putting a strain on your mental health

A Mental Health OT can  intervene to assess what difficulties a client is having with their routine and support them to manage the mental health challenges  while living a meaningful life.

OT’s work holistically alongside a person with the perspective that the person, occupation and environment are all interlinked. OT’s will address each of these areas with you to ensure that all the barriers to living a meaningful life are being worked on.

How is OT different from seeing a Counsellor or a psychologist?

  1. An OT can meet you wherever you need  to meet  e.g. at work, at home, at the local café, in the library and so on. By engaging in occupational therapy in a real life scenario you have the opportunity to actively work on your goals in a safe way. Your goals will drive where and when the meetings happen.
  2. For example, let’s imagine that your goal is to be able to meet a friend for a coffee. Currently your experience of social anxiety prevents you from doing so. Your OT may meet you at home over several sessions to help you to learn about anxiety (what are your triggers, warning signs, management strategies, relaxation approaches etc) so that you can eventually work towards leaving your home and meeting your OT for walk, then maybe outside the coffee shop, then inside, and eventually supporting you to meet that friend in the local coffee shop.
  3. Like a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist, a Mental Health  OT can help you to engage in “talk therapy” however this isn’t the main focus of the sessions. Counselling & Psychotherapy are an incredibly valuable process for lots of people, but not for everyone. OT’s work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals so that a person’s entire needs are being met.

Talk Therapy Dublin have linked in with Anchor Therapy to provide a Mental Health OT option for certain clients.

Mental Health OT’s work as part of the Community Mental Health teams in the HSE and in some NGO’s around Ireland. To learn more about OT in Ireland go to www.aoti.ie.


Economic Boom & Bust – The “business cycle” and mental health

Over the past seven years my community based work as a therapist and in advocacy roles has put me face to face with the harsh effects of economic recession.

I have worked with many individuals & families experiencing first hand the effects of sudden homelessness,  unexpected unemployment and serious accommodation issues to name but a few.

These experiences have repeatedly brought home to me how economic recession and the “boom bust” nature of the business cycle has serious implications for the nations mental health.

As we experience a new part of this cycle,  it is worth pausing to think about whether our current approach to areas like health, housing and employment has evolved at all in light of recent experiences.

This becomes more urgent when considering impending changes to global corporate tax policy, Brexit and our growing/ageing population are all likely to figure in the next phase of this cycle.

This article highlights results of research led by Trinity College Dublin (based on the Growing Up in Ireland study)  and puts some data and context behind the discussion.