Course Report -
 Trinity College, Dublin


Joe Gleeson

In a recent issue of Inside Out we asked people to write to us about 
their experience of training courses they had done. We believe it is 
important to bring this kind of information to your attention. You may 
be a practitioner yourself and would like to hear about the different
 courses and trainings available. You might be someone who is looking 
for a course and would ask graduates for their opinion if you had the
 opportunity. There is a whole range of courses going on around the 
country in all areas of counselling and psychotherapy. For those who 
have little knowledge of the world of counselling and psychotherapy it
 can be perplexing. We hope more and more recent graduates will take
 the opportunity to put their reflections on paper for the benefit of all.


Joe Gleeson is a graduate of the one year full-time professional 
Diploma training in counselling psychology at Trinity College. This
 course is open to sixteen honours psychology graduates annually.
 Course components cover personal development, supervised 
counselling, counselling theory and placements with practising 
counsellors and psychotherapists.

Joe has given us this brief personal reaction.


Far from being the baby in a family of seven, I somehow often acted the parent 
while growing up – my mother having died when I was eight. I attribute in part this 
latter influence to my concern with the person, relationships and society. A “Pippy 
Longstocking” of sorts. I always had the need to question, to explore, and to understand.

With a psychology degree, and having spread my wings for a time, my ambition 
was to be a psychologist. Persistent in the face of limited postgraduate training 
places (and after a number of disappointments), I accepted enthusiastically a place 
on the counselling psychology course in Trinity in October 1990. I was impressed 
by the opportunity to gain practical work experience, a broad theoretical framework 
and to integrate this with personal exploration.

The Nature of Diploma Course

As counselling psychology advocates a life-span developmental approach, it is
 fitting for me to conceive of my participation in this course as a formative phase in
 my professional development. As I consider the nature of the course it will become 
apparent that my personal development has been an integral part of this process.

Skilled Training


In the early stage of the course our group was presented with a basic counselling
 skills framework. Through the media of audio and video training and subsequent 
group feedback, we had the opportunity to develop our awareness of the counselling 
process. A strong emphasis was placed on assessment procedures, case management 
and on negotiating objectives within the therapeutic relationship.

Personal Development Work

Perhaps one of the most enriching experiences during the course was non-academic. I learned a great deal through the process of “getting to know” my fellow 
students, of extraordinarily varied life experiences. The willingness to share our stories, and struggles with ourselves, and the therapeutic role provided vital 
understanding and support.

Theoretical Component


The course took a broad theoretical perspective, integrating some of the main 
tenets of, for example, constructivist, cognitive/behavioural and analytic psychotherapy. The course was underpinned by the discipline of psychology as it 
interfaces with the clinical and therapy field. The regular participation in workshops
 integrated the theoretical and the experiential. Workshops concerned with, for example, bereavement, sexual abuse and working with adolescents, were useful and
 informative. Constructivist discussion was generated from the presentation by practitioners of issues as diverse as legal and ethical issues, gender issues, and
 countertransference. Clearly the participatory format was the particularly valuable 
feature of our course process.

Work Experience

My work experience involved mainly individual counselling with children and 
their parents. I have learned much about my own strengths and weaknesses from
 those whom I have counselled. As a result of constructive supervision of my casework I have gained greater understanding of the assessment and therapeutic process;
 while recognising some of my own blindspots. Working as part of a team, I became
 aware of the therapeutic value of counselling psychology as applied in the mental 
health setting.


In Retrospect – General Comments


From being involved in this course I have taken both inspiration and insight from 
the support of those I now know as friends and colleagues and from meeting and
 discussion with therapists of different orientations. I see a continuing need for effective communication between course staff and participants in appraising the
 development of this course.

Conclusion

I presently enjoy the challenge of combining counselling psychology practice
 with MSc. research and ongoing case supervision. A second year has now been incorporated into the Diploma year for the first time, offering an MSc. in Counselling 
Psychology. The future of this evolving profession lies in the hands of those prac
titioners who work towards the integration of counselling psychology into applied
 psychology settings.

For further information contact:

Course Director, Sheila Green or Course Co-ordinator, Nuala Rothery, Department of Psychology, 
24 Westland Row, Dublin 2.