tel: 042 9331803
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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.

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2014.

Counselling — admin @ 5:24 pm

Christmas and New Year Holiday arrangements 2014.

We’ll be open until Tuesday, December 23rd at 4pm. We’ll be closed from the 24th until January 2nd 2015. 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

Eastern Mindfulness: A Western Psychodynamic Perspective

Counselling — admin @ 10:29 am

The Irish Psycho-Analytical Association Presents
Dr. Michael DelMonte
Eastern Mindfulness:
A Western Psychodynamic Perspective
Dr. Michael DelMonte (Michelo to his friends) will conduct a lecture/workshop
into Mindfulness. The English word, Mindfulness is derived from the Hindu concept
and practice sati, widely defined as “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental
focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the
present moment”.
Michael was born in The Hague in The Netherlands. He completed his formal
education in Dublin with a BSc in Genetics and Psychology, as well as an MSc and a
PhD – all from Trinity College Dublin. He also has an MSc in Psychotherapy from
University College Dublin. He is now in private practice as a Psychotherapist, whilst
lecturing in Psychology and Psychotherapy at Trinity. Mindfulness has been a subject
of great interest to him for many years.
Date: Saturday, 18 October
Time: 11.00 am
Venue: The Royal Marine Hotel, Dunloaghaire
Entry: €20 (€15 for the unwaged)
For More Info Telephone: 01 4967288 087 6307233 or 087 2378302

Mindfulness and Psychotherapy – A therapist’s Perspective.

Counselling — admin @ 10:22 am

When mental health Minister Kathleen Lynch got stuck in a lift with the Minister for Health James Reilly, she assured the media she was not stressed during it as she was practicing her mindfulness. Was she in a state of profound calm or just trying to deny a mounting panic or discomfort?

And this is how mindfulness can be. It can be used and mis-used. Today it is a real buzz word and seen as the new answer to all ills. Vietnamese Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, warns against this kind of mis-use in his writings on ‘the better way to catch a snake’. If we grab a snake by the tail or the body, it will bite, but if we use a fork at its head it is safer. Similarly if we approach mindfulness the wrong way we can get bitten.

The original practice of mindfulness is based on the Buddha’s teaching in the ‘Sattipathana Sutta’, or ‘The Great Discourse on the Establishment of Mindfulness’. In a nutshell, it is a balanced and relaxed observation of the processes of our body, our sensations in our body, our feelings and thoughts.

The clever thing about mindfulness is stepping back from ourselves and seeing the process of ourselves unfold. Like watching a river flowing or clouds drifting across the sky you see your body just as it is, seeing our thoughts and feelings just as thoughts and feelings…’this is a thought, this is a feeling’…seeing them arising, staying for a while and then subsiding. Seeing their changing nature we don’t get caught in them and can let them go.

However, this includes seeing and staying with the unpleasant feelings, thoughts and sensations which is a little more difficult. But watching them in the same way as the pleasant aspects of ourselves is also mindfulness. An old teacher realised this when he said: ‘there is no reason to believe that when we discover the truth it will turn out to be interesting.’

So Kathleen Lynch was practicing mindfulness if she was able to observe her unpleasant feelings and thoughts as they are; or was she, like most of us would do, wrestle with the thoughts and feelings trying to push them away or getting caught up in them and following the drama.

The benefit of mindfulness is this stepping back from ourselves and attending to ourselves. In a way we are giving ourselves the space to see how we are and take care of that which is a good thing. It also allows us to calm down, this soothes us. We can get in touch with a peacefulness in us that is a real resource. This gives us perspective and space.

Mindfulness also has it limits. As a psychotherapist, I have seen clients who rely excessively on mindfulness. It can contribute to a lack of involvement in the world and feed an isolation in their lives that has its roots in their own past isolation. Psychotherapist Arnie Mindell describes it: ‘The secret desire for nirvana (enlightenment) is a shortcut to death itself as it cuts off individuation from a failure to interact with life’.

It can also be used to run away from our feelings. If we learned that our sexuality or our anger is ‘bad’ we can turn to such spiritual discipline to expunge these aspects of ourselves. This never works and the battle with ourselves can keep us very stuck in our lives.

But most importantly, mindfulness does not see the huge value in relationship and relationality – the value and profound contribution a second person can make to this practice of self observation. Our planet has two poles, north and south; batteries need two points to work. Similarly, we work best in twos. And this is why counselling and psychotherapy works best when there is two people. The importance of expressive speech and a listening, reflecting other is a hugely important and healing part of counselling that is not in mindfulness practice alone.

Also, ironically, in my experience, the use of mindfulness in a psychotherapy session can take a client to a real depth in themselves that they do not experience from their own individual mindfulness practice. For me, mindfulness in the therapeutic relationship has a real power that is life changing.

In summary, in the question of whether to use mindfulness or counselling, it might be both.

This is a guest blog by friend of Counselling Connections Thomas Larkin. Thomas is an integrative psychotherapist/counsellor, supervisor and trainer based in Dublin city centre.

Irish Psycho-Analytical Association Lecture.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 11:44 am

The Irish Psycho-Analytical Association Presents

Professor Karl Figlio

The Difference Between

Private and Public Mourning


Karl Figlio, Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex in Colchester, has been a friend of our Association for many years. Here he takes up the topic raised by Freud in his 1917 paper, Mourning and Melancholia, and re-examines it from the viewpoint of the twenty-first century, including his interest in the societal unconscious and in object-relations psychology. His overview is broad and sweeping.

This lecture will be of interest to anyone who deals with depression and/or mourning in the consulting-room. Since it throws light on the changes in unconscious structure due to mourning, and those resulting from depression, it will have an appeal for anyone who has lost a person, or a situation dear to them, and who must deal with this

Date: 17 May 2014

Time: 11 am

Venue: The Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire

Entry: € 20 (€ 15 for the unwaged)

Bereaved by Suicide Support Group.

Counselling — admin @ 3:27 pm

Bereaved by Suicide Support Group.

We are very pleased to announce that the Support Group for people bereaved by suicide will be starting up again next month. The Group will be facilitated by experienced counsellors. It is intended as a safe forum for people to come to talk about their loss with others who have had similar experience.

Venue:           Counselling Connections, 27 Seatown Place, Dundalk.

Date:               Thursday, Oct 3rd 2013 and every Thursday until Dec 5th 2013.

Time:              7.00pm to 9.00pm.

Cost:               €15 per evening.

It is an open group; anyone who has lost a loved one through suicide is free to attend.

For any further information feel free to get in touch with us here.

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