Workshop Review: A Time of Reflection for Counsellors and Psychotherapists Facing Retirement

Facilitated by Colm O’Doherty at Stella Maris Retreat Centre, Howth,
Co. Dublin
14 February 2015
Reviewed by Breda Butler

In January 2014 I became aware of the thought of retirement looming somewhere in my unconscious. I pushed this thought aside as I couldn’t imagine my life without my work, of over three decades, as a psychotherapist and supervisor and many other aspects of the work related to this profession. However, like a seed planted, the thought continued to grow and bloom and I finally faced this new reality. I spent the year winding down slowly and gently with my clients and supervisees, very aware of the sense of sadness and loss I was experiencing. I reflected deeply on what was happening for me at an emotional and spiritual level and knew I wanted to mark the ending of this chapter of my life in a special way. I connected with Colm and after exploration of my needs this workshop emerged.Sixteen counsellors and psychotherapists gathered in a most wonderful setting on Howth summit. Here we overlooked the sea and on that particular day the sun danced on the water; a magnificent setting. Colm’s warm, friendly, open and relaxed presence created the environment for reflection and connection with each other. The gentle pace allowed an atmosphere of trust and openness to the Spirit and to each other to emerge. In this space it was wonderful to have the freedom to be with ourselves, experiencing no pressure and having nothing imposed on us.

The day allowed us the opportunity to reflect on and honour our work as psychotherapists. This led to exploring the impact of retiring and what it means to let go. The necessity of negotiating this challenge appropriately was very much in evidence to enable us to arrive at a place of peace, contentment and fulfilment in our retirement. Throughout the day the theme of letting go emerged, creating an acute awareness of our ultimate letting go.

Our ending ritual, created by Colm, was very powerful. As the setting was so spectacular we engaged in this part in the outdoors. In a gentle and moving way we were guided to say goodbye to our work-life as psychotherapists. We then moved forward to face outwards to the sea staying with the process of letting go of our work and facing into the unknown aptly symbolised by the vastness of the sea we looked out on.

The richness of this day and the specialness of sharing and connecting with the people there are highlighted in the feedback. Words jump out at me: profound, engaging, transcendent, grounding, enlightening, insightful and many more. There is great potential for further, deeper exploration in this area – perhaps even a weekend? Take heed Colm and many thanks for this very special experience.