Series on Training

The initials ACCEPT stand for “Association for 
Community Counselling Education and Psychological
 Training”. ACCEPT/Newpark Counselling Training
 Centre, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co.Dublin.

The Director of ACCEPT, Malachy Kinnerney, spoke to Mary Montaut about
 his understanding of Counselling and its applications to every day life.

One of the tasks of our training is to get people and professionals to integrate their
 counselling skills in a way that helps them to work effectively. People in counselling 
training, whether they be nurses, teachers, personnel managers, workers in the 
voluntary organisations and so on, come on our courses with a view to doing their 
work in a more effective personal and professional way. I do not believe that
 counselling and psychotherapy should be restricted to academics and graduates in 
medicine, psychology and social science to the exclusion of people with qualifications 
in teaching and nursing. There is a need for professionals, but there is a difference
 between being a professional and doing one’s work in counselling in a professional
 way. Very often counselling and psychotherapy are games of power and privilege, to 
the advantage of the powered and privileged and to the detriment of those most in 
need of caring. The concept of counselling (and “having the ear of”) is as old as 
history itself. It would be an enormous restriction on counsellors if they had the 
academic restrictive criteria set out for psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and

There is a sense of inferiority and panic in the rush towards accreditation and vali
dation on the part of counsellors and psychotherapists. The work of counselling and
 psychotherapy ought not to be about elitism, but availability, access and equality in the 
community. Counselling thrived within the education and nursing professions and it
 seems a pity that both professions with their respective qualifications are now excluded
 from any post-graduate courses in counselling and psychotherapy in Ireland. ACCEPT
 is a training organisation for persons and professionals from every “walk and wake” of 
life. We do not have a selection procedure, we have a self-selection procedure and process. We advertise publicly and send out the information along with an application form,
 a condition and acceptance of the courses available. People self-select. If they are 
unhappy they elect out. We believe in the concept of inclusion as opposed to exclusion.
 An enormous amount of time, energy and money is spent in selecting people for courses
 when persons can select themselves. At the most extreme, a psychotic might apply to do 
the course, but he/she would either come to terms with the reality of the course or feel 
excluded by it and and simply not turn up. What is a selection process really about?

The central cornerstone of our training is that if a person seeks to be a counsellor 
they are saying, “I want to help and have them tell me their story.” We believe that to
 be an effective helper or counsellor, they must have experienced telling their story them
selves, i.e. we think it is immoral, unjust and “downright lousy” to expect another person 
to tell their story to somebody who has not already done the same. Effective counsellors
 make effective clients, and effective, open clients in counselling training make effective,
 open counsellors. That is a cornerstone philosophy and psychology in our training and 
it dates back as far as Socrates. He who wishes to know must question. In an Irish context,
”No-one wishes to buy a pig in a poke.” The dignity of every human being is such that 
we believe that counsellors ought to experiment with their humanity in their training,
 so that when they meet a person they are most skilled, equipped and motivated to respect
 that person/client. Throughout our counselling courses, behaviourist, feminist, psychoanalytic and psychodynamic approaches are included; that is to say, our diploma is both
 eclectic and experiential, as distinct from most other courses where the approach is didactic, academic and abstruse. There is a very clear structure of three modules. In each,
 autobiography as a subjective discipline is the only written requirement. The course is
 dynamic in that it develops the skills with training as the trainees move forward in their 
understanding of life and of counselling.

This is a training as distinct from a therapy programme. In any event, I believe that 
most so called psychotherapeutic training programmes are in reality training for “career 
professions” and/or “caring professions”. Our courses are training programmes, despite
 the fact that therapeutic value may derive directly or indirectly as a result of the working 
through of material arising from the course. Our groups are training groups, not therapy 
groups. The primary method of training is through a mixture of experience, behaviour
 and traditional didactic presentation.

Originally ACCEPT was intended to train everybody in everything from A-Z, i.e. 
from Assertiveness to Zen. The demand for training in Counselling was overwhelming.
 The public want it. It is extraordinary to know that currently in Ireland, access to post-
graduate qualifications in counselling and psychotherapy debars those with education 
and nursing qualifications. These are the people who are involved in caring and counselling all of their working lives. What a shame to debar them from “psychotherapeutic”
 courses! Medics, academics and psychologists rule OK!

I believe that the de-mystification and de-mythologising of counselling, psychology,
 psychotherapy and psychiatry is a cornerstone of our philosophy in training. I do not 
believe that I must bow down before them as new religions in an age of disbelief. It would
 be and IDol of despair.