Press Release – IAHIP Conference



Health and social care professionals should target mothers bereaved by suicide, as in their intense prolonged grief many have suicidal thoughts themselves, according to a study to be presented to a major psychotherapy conference in Dublin.

The Conference “Gathering of Psychotherapists…. 21 years on, will be held in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire on Friday, October 18.

It will be officially opened by Mr. Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos, children’s charity.

The Conference, which will consist of lectures, workshops and panel discussions, will mark the 21st birthday of the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy. (IAHIP)

One of the Conference objectives is to reach a vision of the value and values of psychotherapy.

The study on mothers bereaved by suicide will be presented by Joan Sugrue, who holds MSc in Bereavement Studies from the RCSI in association with The Irish Hospice Foundation.

She said:Purposive sampling was used to recruit seven biological mothers who had lost a child through suicide, five of whom were recruited through a local organisation called Console. One-to-one interviews were conducted with each participant (tape recorded with consent), transcribed and subjected to an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

“The results revealed that mothers experienced an intense, prolonged grief, with many psychological and physical symptoms. Several participants acknowledged strong suicidal thoughts and one mother had attempted suicide. The misuse of medication/alcohol was also identified, by some, women, as a coping strategy. Other findings related to the participants’ reasons for wanting to die in order to be with their child and the impact of guilt and blame on their belief system.

“The study findings suggest a need for health and social care professionals to target this vulnerable sub-group, as they are less likely than those bereaved by natural deaths to seek help. In view of their suicidal tendencies, this may also represent a significant form of suicide prevention. However, further research is needed in this area in order to establish which type/model of intervention leads to the most successful outcomes for mothers bereaved by suicide.”

Other papers to be presented at the conference will examine the value of singing for people with Alzheimer’s disease and the usefulness of art as a therapeutic tool to assist people who stutter (PWS) make sense of their lived experience.

Anne Colgan, Vice Chair of IAHIP and a singer and composer will tell the conference that when you sing you give all your cells a massage with the vibrations of your voice. She believes music heals the body and soul and forms a connection when words are unavailable impose led “In an unsafe world music can be a constant. In working with people with Alzheimer’s disease with voice and percussion, I found that over a period of weeks, they became more ‘present in the moment.’ As the weeks went on they were able to make further connection between ourselves and the other people in the group.

James McCormack, Dr. Martina Carroll, UCD and Mary O’Dwyer, HSE will discuss a research project where people who stuttered  reported art as providing a scaffold for deliberate self-reflection and an alternative language to bring into consciousness and make sense of experience previously inaccessible using spoken words.

IAHIP is the professional body in Ireland for humanistic and integrative psychotherapy

The 700 member strong professional body accredits individual psychotherapists and supervisors to a high standard and also sets standards for training and recognises training programmes in keeping with European standards.

 Full conference programme:




News | | Published: October 3, 2013