Report on Irish Council for Psychotherapy Conference

at Dublin Writers’ Museum, 18 Parnell Square Dublin 1 on Saturday 15 February 1997.

By Alan A Mooney

The conference had two very important functions. The first was to give members of ICP the opportunity to express their views about the standards of training that will be required in developing a European Certificate of Psychotherapy (see Inside Out issue 27, Win ’96). The second purpose was to launch A ‘Guide to Psychotherapy in Ireland’. This is the first ever formal directory of psychotherapists in Ireland. Eithne Fitzgerald TD graciously undertook to launch the publication. It is published by Columba Press and available in bookshops, the cover price is IR£4-99. It is a useful book because it gives a brief outline about each of the five styles of psychotherapy and lists alphabetically and by county the names of all fully accredited psychotherapists in the country.

The document: Developing a European Certificate of Psychotherapy (ECP) was the core of the day. Ger Murphy as chair of ICP outlined the background to this document and indicated that the broad European thinking about the ECP was at an advanced stage and would likely be brought to a vote  in July this year.

Members present were asked to divide into groups, and these groups were representative of the five sections, to discuss the various issues that might be of concern and later to report back at a plenum.

There was a great deal of consistency in the reports from each group. People from all sections wanted clarification on questions about the meaning of Equivalence in the various place it occurs in the document. People were also concerned that the word scientific as used in the document should not be hijacked and interpreted in a narrow paradigmatic way. Most groups asked for more detail about the ancestor clause that will be in place to allow currently trained psychotherapists to ensure they meet the European Standard. During the course of the meeting it had been mentioned that there was discussion at European level about an upper age limit to commence training as a psychotherapist. There was a very definite and clear disagreement among the members present to this suggestion. Some groups, however, came to the plenum with the request that there be a lower entry age limit to training as a psychotherapist. This would ensure that training as a psychotherapist could not be simply completed as a graduate programme without any actual experience of the world of work and living. Most agreed that psychotherapy was a second profession to which one came usually after a number of years in another kind of work, nursing, teaching, social work, religious life, etc.. A minimum entry age might be 27 years at commencement of psychotherapy training. It was suggested that ongoing working groups to look at three areas of concern would be set up with a view to informing ICP representatives at European level. A request for volunteers from among members present was made and the request remains open to any members of ICP who are interested in exploring and clarifying the areas of: 1/ the meaning of the word ‘scientific’ as used in the document mentioned above. 2/ what will be the requirements of an ‘Grandparenting Clause’ for psychotherapists already trained and practising? 3/ concerns the question of a ‘mental health’ placement or its equivalent during training. Anyone interested in these working groups can contact ICP at 17 Dame Court, Dublin 2.