tel: 042 9331803
mob: 086 0381073

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2017.

Counselling — admin @ 10:34 am

We’ll be open until Friday, December 22nd at 6pm. We’ll be back after the break on January 4th 2018.

We will be checking the voicemail during the days when we’re not here so if you like to leave a message we’ll ring you back to arrange an appointment. We don’t have an around the clock service for emergencies so check our links page for contact details for Aware and Samaritans.

It has been another year of extraordinary work here at Counselling Connections and we remain humbled and grateful at the confidence you place in us. We’d like to wish all our clients and friends a Happy and Peaceful Christmas. We’re looking forward to working with you in the New Year.

Fergal and Maggie. Counselling Connections.

tel. 042 9331803 mob. 086 0381073

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2016.

Counselling — admin @ 10:39 am

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2016.

We’ll be open until Friday, December 23rd at 6pm. We’ll be back after the break on January 3rd 2017.

We will be checking the voicemail during the days when we’re not here so if you like to leave a message we’ll ring you back to arrange an appointment. We don’t have an around the clock service for emergencies so check our links page for contact details for Aware and Samaritans.

It has been a year of extraordinary work here at Counselling Connections and we remain humbled and grateful at the confidence you place in us. We’d like to wish all our clients and friends a Happy and Peaceful Christmas. We’re looking forward to working with you in the New Year.

Fergal and Maggie. Counselling Connections.

tel. 042 9331803 mob. 086 0381073

Mindfulness in Psychoanalytic Practice.

Counselling — admin @ 9:51 am

The Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Clinical Series Spring 2016.

Mindfulness in Psychoanalytic Practice Led by Michael ( Michelo ) Del Monte.

Venue: The Teachers Club (Club na Muinteoiri), 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1.

Dates: Saturday: March 5th, April 16h and May 14th 2016 Time: 10.30 am – 1.00pm.

Cost : €120 (Trainees in clinical practice €90 ) for series Spaces limited – Early booking advised 7.5 CPD awarded by ICP Further information, contact: Ann Daly, tel. 01 – 2722105

Long before CBT began to embrace mindfulness, psychoanalysts were exploring Eastern philosophy and practices from a psychodynamic perspective. Freud’s instruction to both analysts and analysands regarding free association, the third hovering eye, etc. are very relevant here. These three experiential sessions will be of interest to those who wish to explore the interface between the Western psychoanalytic approach to insight and consciousness and the much older Eastern approach to mindfulness and levels of awareness . Thus, the three sessions shall be a combination of the theory, philosophy and practice of mindfulness. The theoretical aspect will be sandwiched between experiential practice. There will be ample time for discussion of the theoretical, philosophical and mindfulness practice, and its relevance to clinical and personal practice. The use of mindfulness in deep listening to the analysand will be explored in terms of transference and counter-transference, as will its role in the construction of well-being.

Michelo DelMonte is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist working in private practice in Monks town, Co. Dublin, following retirement from his post as Principal Clinical Psychologist in St. Edmundsbury Hospital, Lucan, Co. Dublin (part of St. Patrick’s Hospital). Having primary degrees in both Genetics and Psychology, his M.Sc and Ph.D. research in the Psychosomatic Unit of St. James’s Hospital Dublin focused on psycho-physiological aspects of meditation and mindfulness. Michelo’s subsequent research and writing on Eastern Practices and Western Psychology and Psychotherapy span many decades, He has contributed to publications in Europe, North America, Japan, China and Australia and has published close to a hundred articles on mindfulness from psychodynamic and existentialist perspectives.

The Psychology of a Hangover.

Addiction.,Depression,Psychotherapy — admin @ 12:00 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we have been turning our attention to one of the less favourable aspects of the holiday season. Regular readers will know that we love this time of year. We like to try to remain tuned in to the cycle of the seasons and the turn of the earth. We like the ancient celebration of the solstice and the promise of brighter days to come. We love the optimism and the gathering together for a family celebration. Another feature of all of this anticipation is expressed in a letting off of steam in a series of office and other parties. A build up of months of hard work is released in group celebrations up and down the country. These occasions often involve the consumption of alcohol; sometimes lots of it. So, as we witness groups of friends and colleagues dressed in seasonal jumpers and often hopping from one pub to another in the latest party craze we pause here to reflect on what comes next. Without wishing to be accused of being party poopers, we’d like to pause for a moment and give some thoughts on the psychology of a hangover.

The first thing to bear in mind about a hangover relates to the expectation and frustration that sometimes accompanies the drinking behaviour in the first instance. People say to us that if they have had a hard week or a tough time in work that they intend to blow off a bit of steam on a Friday night. The reasons for having a few drinks can be important and we’ll explain why a little later. Sometimes clients tell us of occasions where they know that the reason they have a few drinks is to make some emotional problem go away. This is very successful in the short term but it brings a number of built in challenges with it. In short, it doesn’t last longer than the alcohol. In the best traditions of a Greek or a Shakespearian tragedy, the seeds of the eventual fall, the hangover, are sown in the character of the build up and the pressure which we’re seeking to release in the first instance.

Sometimes these pressures are emotional and sometimes mundane. From one end of the week to the other we get to bed and get up and commute and rush about at what is, to our instinctual self, often regarded as the bidding of the other. We go to work because we have to. We have to pay rent and mortgages. We have bills to pay. We don’t have as much discretionary income left over as we’d like to. And in these latitudes the evenings gradually get darker to the point where we often go to work and come home again in the dark and it can seem like we’ll never see the light of day again. The idea then of a chance to party a little, to kick up our heels and even to misbehave a little is a very welcome one. Indeed, at some level we feel we deserve a party as a reward for all our effort. This can be experienced as a frustration and a sense of entitlement for an office party where the company look after us for being good little boys and girls; we get to be naughty for one night for being good all year long.

If you’re thinking that what you’ve read so far isn’t in our usually positive tone well you’re right. That’s because we think that some of these frustrations and anger are what is expressed in a night of drinking and these are what return then with a vengeance the morning after the night before.

So, you wake up in the morning after having a little too much to drink the night before. Sometimes this is mild enough and at other times it is much more debilitating and puts you out of action or bed bound for the best part of a day. One of the first things that people describe is the phenomenon often referred to as ‘the fear’. This seems to be a double edge sword. Firstly, it is simply a feeling of all over dread based on the physiological reaction to the levels of alcohol consumed and still in our system. Alcohol is a depressant. Secondly, as we wake and review the previous evening’s activity we are often consumed with a range of feelings based on what we can remember of what we have done the night before. Sometimes this process happens in waves over the course of the day. We might have said something indiscrete or just plain stupid. We might have just carried the fun a little too far and made a nuisance of ourselves. Or we might have committed some sexual indiscretion and wonder how we can undo any damage to relationships that we have caused. A number of referrals to our office come as a result of violence, sometimes involving police and courts which were a direct result of alcohol intake. We get belligerent when we’ve had too much to drink.

As we look over these things we face the fall in our estimate of our self and can spend some time in self reproach. We call this part of the process a spiritual hangover. Quite apart from any physical sickness which will quickly pass, this spiritual part of the hangover can be quite serious and oddly enough can be part of the process of frustration we described earlier which will build and lead to the next blow out. People often describe to us how this can become a cycle which can seem difficult to escape. So, drinking heavily can cause real spiritual or psychological harm which is not good for our mental health.

The reasons why we were tempted to have a few drinks in the first place return with a hangover with a renewed self destructive cheer. It is like all the problems we were trying to escape simply sat on the sidelines and witnessed our brief interlude into a party self and then expressed themselves again with a renewed vigour. And again, this is often then associated with severe self reproach. We are hurting our self when we do this. And we tend to do it over again.

The antidote to all of this is quite simple. When we say it to people they think it is quite radical and often a little extreme. The one sure way to avoid a hangover is not to drink. When we dream of a lovely, bubbly, cold beer on a weekend we rarely pause to check our expectations or experience. The drink does not deliver on the promise; it doesn’t give us what we hope it will. It is very temporary. We don’t stop to think of the whole process of hangover and recovery that we have gone through before. Sometimes this process is harmless enough but often it is not. It is often quite harmful to the self, to our mental health, to drink to excess and then to repeat it again. We can get stuck in the cycle of this and end up feeling miserable over and again. Quite apart from any physical health problems we can say for sure that it leads to mental health problems.

So, with apologies for the sobering tone in this, the party season we would simply urge you to look humbly at your own drinking. Mind your self and take good care of your mental health.

Counselling Connections.

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2015.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 10:26 am

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2015.

We’ll be open until Wednesday, December 23rd at 6pm. We’ll be closed from the 24th until January 4th 2016. We will be checking the voicemail during the days when we’re not here so if you like to leave a message we’ll ring you back to arrange an appointment. We don’t have an around the clock service for emergencies so check our links page for contact details for Aware and Samaritans.

We’d like to wish all our clients and friends a Happy and Peaceful Christmas. We’re looking forward to working with you in the New Year.

Fergal and Maggie. Counselling Connections.

tel. 042 9331803 mob. 086 0381073

My Brother: A poem about a boy with Autism, by his brother.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 10:18 am

My Brother


His room is his fortress,

A bare, barren floor.

One bed in the corner

And a key in the door.

The ritual of locking

Eases the stress.

Four pulls on the handle

No more, no less.

Washing is solace

from the grim everyday,

Cleaning his hands

Helps take the fear away.

Watching his clothes spin

At forty degrees

With bubbles and powder,

God knows what he sees.

The world makes no sense

In his strange little head

He washes and washes

Till his fingers turn red.

What will he do

when it’s all stripped away?

Will he think “carpe diem”

And then seize the day?

Or will he regress to a simpler stage,

With none of the problems that come with age?

If he stays as he is, what then?

Repeating things over and over again.

Should he be nudged, or should he be pushed?

Should we be patient, or should we be rushed?

Left to his own devices, I fear

his mind will become more clouded, not clear.

The others around him suffer as well

Perhaps, he makes life a living hell.

Anger and shouting can sometimes arise,

While he wipes the glistening tears from his eyes.

But despite all his foibles, despite all his flaws,

He still can be helped, and that is because

He is my brother and that allows me

To see past the cloud of emotional debris,

To the little boy floating in stasis within

This is his true self, the yang within yin.

With time and affection, this flower can grow

The thorns will be brushed aside and new life will flow

Stress, fear and loneliness will be things of the past

And he will be happy at last.

The Irish Psycho-Analytical Association Annual Lecture 2015.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 10:58 am

The Irish Psycho-Analytical Association Presents

Professor Liam Kennedy

Northern Ireland:

Who Was Responsible for The Troubles?

Prof. Kennedy is Professor of History at Queens University, Belfast. He has had an interest for many years in the psychological, or psycho-social, view of history. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, nationalists would have seen the disturbances as “Suppression of a legitimate aspiration to join the 26 counties and form a 32-county Island of Ireland under Dublin rule”; whilst many or most protestants would see them as “IRA violence, supported secretly from the South, opposed to British sovereignty over the North”. Liam lived through the many years of violence in Northern Ireland, and will have seen more deeply into the disturbances than most observers.

Date:          6 June 2015

Time:                   11.30 am

Venue:        The Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire

Entry:        €20 (€10 for the unwaged)

Adam Phillips in Belfast.

Counselling — admin @ 10:33 am

Northern Ireland Institute of Human Relations

is delighted to welcome
the highly acclaimed psychoanalyst,
child psychotherapist and writer
Adam Phillips
‘On Unforbidden Pleasures’
Wednesday 10th June 2015, 10am until 3pm
(with registration from 9:30am)
Malone House, Belfast.

Adam Phillips Flyer

Sabina Spielrein and the Holocaust.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 4:57 pm

This week in Counselling Connections we are remembering the Holocaust. As we write this post the World is remembering the 70th anniversary today of the freeing of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Our profession has strong links to the Jewish faith. The founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud was Jewish and he fled the Anschluss, the German annexation of Austria in 1938. His daughter, Anna had been interrogated by the Gestapo and held for twenty four hours. Her arrest and release was the event which finally convinced him to abandon his home and celebrated consulting room in Vienna. He secured safe passage to England, where he was welcomed and there he spent the last year of his life. Members of his family weren’t so fortunate and four of his five sisters were killed in concentration camps.

We want to remember in a particular way today a lesser known member of the psychoanalytic profession and the Jewish faith, Sabina Spielrein. Sabina, was born in 1885 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia into what is described as a well-to-do, cosmopolitan, Russian Jewish family. She had an avid interest in science from an early age. In 1904 she went to Zurich to study medicine. She suffered a breakdown there and was put under the care of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Over the next seven years she was first his patient and then his friend. They were described as ‘emotionally intimate’ and it seems likely that doctor and patient had a profound influence on each other. In 1911 she graduated with a dissertation on the subject of schizophrenia, one of the first published papers on the subject. She presented further papers to the Psychoanalytical association and it seems clear that she was a bright and original thinker on the subject. Much of her early work included descriptions of the struggles of the life and death instincts within the psyche. It seems likely that her work influenced both Jung and Freud.

Sabina married in 1912 and had a daughter, Renate, the following year. She returned to her native Russia in 1924 and in 1926 had a second daughter, Eva. After a period in Moscow she returned to her hometown and founded a psychoanalytic children’s nursery. Psychoanalysis was banned by Stalin but it seems likely that she continued to practice covertly. In 1941 the German army advanced on Rostov. Along with other members of the Jewish community Sabina was captured by the advancing army. On July 27th 1942, Sabina and her daughters Renate and Eva were shot and killed.

We remember them today as symbols of all those innocents killed. We remember Sabina as a brilliant and skilled analyst and wonder at her loss. We wonder how her contribution might have been remembered if she had lived. Her work did not receive the attention it might have and she is not a well known figure in the history of the psychoanalytic movement. We bring Sabina to your attention today as our modest contribution to remembering. Like many we feel it is important that the torch of remembrance is passed on and kept alive by this and by future generations. The horrors of the Holocaust and the unbearable human suffering it brought about are reminders of the dark forces within human kind. We cannot afford to forget the hate that men are capable of and how a death instinct can be directed at a race or religion.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

You can read more about Sabina in ‘Freud’s Women’ by Lisa Appignanesi and John Forrester or online at the Jewish Women’s archive:

Back to the Future.

Counselling — admin @ 12:54 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we’ve been at the movies. As regular readers will know, our weekly meetings here can take a turn and we can end up talking about all kinds of things. We allow ourselves this luxury as we find we can get in touch with all kinds of interesting things. In psychoanalysis it is called Free Association, allowing yourself to flow freely from one idea to the next without censoring what you say. Anyway, this week’s digressions lead us to talking about the movies. This year’s Oscar nominations are due to be announced this afternoon and we got to talking about what movies would rank in an awards ceremony for films which were judged to have relevance to therapy. And a clear front runner is the movie that became a series: Back to the Future.

The plot of Back to the Future involves the hero, Marty McFly being transported back in time to when his parents were not yet dating. The ability to return to the past means that significant events that happen will shape the future and involve a ‘new’ future which differs from the one from which Marty has just returned. If you follow. This concept is represented well in the movie plot and poses all kinds of dilemmas for the hero as he takes steps to ensure that his parents do begin to date and fall in love. In this way he ensures his own future existence. An additional point of interest for those of us in the field of psychotherapy involves Marty’s father standing up to a bully. In asserting himself with this bullying figure the father changes the future and when Marty returns to 1985 where the film begins there is a new relationship between his father and his former tormentor. In the amended version of history the father is confident and assertive.

All of these themes are played out in the drama of the film’s story line. In real life we cannot return to the past and change things so as to return to the present and enjoy a different reality. The film, it could be said, represents our wish to be able to achieve this impossible feat. In reality we often struggle in the present with the leftover effects of past events. These can be in the form of significant, traumatic events or more mundane frustrations at the path our lives have taken. Sometimes, it is said of therapy, that although we cannot change past events we can change how we view them. This is certainly true and it can take up a good deal of our therapeutic work.

Sometimes a therapy involves a kind of Back to the Future of sorts in that we look at our life’s narrative to date and consider the effects of decisions we made and options we took or didn’t take. The best we can do in terms of aiming to achieve the wish expressed in the film is to make now the time to make some sort of stand or take some sort of action to bring about a changed future. And this doesn’t have to involve punching a bully and knocking him unconscious. It more usually involves a sort of taking stock; making a decision and finding the determination to begin working on some sort of project. This project can be a college course, a change in diet or exercise or something more abstract involving a clearer vision of a future version of our own self that we would like to aim for.

Sometimes a therapy can involve reviewing the timeline and the narrative of our life to date. Often this means that our patterns become clearer, facilitating an awareness of what we have been trying to achieve in life. This applies as much to our love lives as it does to work; lieben und arbeiten as Freud put it, to love and to work. The punch that Marty’s father threw in the film represents a single dramatic event that changed his future self. Real life it is not quite as simple as that and it is not possible to achieve lasting change in one single act. It will take time and awareness and conscious work. This is what therapy involves and we are pleased to be able to facilitate our clients in this process as they review their own pasts and dream up and try to put onto action a future of their own choosing.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

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