Systemic Cafe – Tuesday 27th March 2012: Beyond Stress: Therapists Chilling Out

Systemic Cafe March 2012

Welcome to  Systemic Cafe where FTAI  members, colleagues & friends met to socialise, share ideas, observe, or participate in a short discussion, have a drink & relax we are ready to roll again. It is free. It was our desire to come together in a more casual atmosphere of friendship and therapeutic curiosity that made the Systemic Cafe so enjoyable. This time we have a great new venue with a cosy fire, comfortable seats and warm ambiance (a fine, private section of the original Bar at the Berkley Court). 


Venue:         THE D-4 BERKLEY HOTEL

                      Lansdowne Road,  Ballsbridge,  Dublin 4.

                       (3 mins.from Lansdowne Rd. DART,   15 mins walk from Grafton St.)

     Date:              Tuesday 27th March 2012

    Time:                7.00 – 9.00pm

    Topic:              ‘Beyond Stress; Therapists chilling out’

“Beyond Stress: therapists chilling out”.  Avoiding burnout, our collective experiences that only we know. Lets share our communal tips, insights, secrets to coping with the subtle, and not so subtle pressures of our work. There’s definitely a light side to many of our stories and experiences. Lets share the experiences that make life fun!


Michelle Magill’s background is founded in art ( NCAD). For many years she taught students at secondary school level from her own ceramic studio, she was also a teacher in Parnell secondary school.For many years she taught life drawing classes and sculpture classes to blind and visually impaired.She first became involved in alternative medicine in 1989. She studied massage, body talk, polarity therapy, reiki, tuina massage, acupuncture, gestalt therapy, Chinese herbalism and Pilates teacher training. She opened MELT in Temple Bar in 1996, and she currently employs 12 therapists mostly in massage and acupuncture. Most of her treatments involve fertility treatments and backpain.

Marie Keenan is a Researcher and Lecturer at the School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin and a member of the Advisory Board of the UCD Institute of Criminology. She was Chairperson of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland 2010-2012 and an Accredited Psychotherapist who has worked for over twenty years with survivors and perpetrators of sexual crime and their families in community and forensic settings. Her most recent publication Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power and Organizational Culture was published by Oxford University Press in October 2011.

Dermot Coonan is a counselling psychologist with experience in working with teens and adults in community and 3rd level settings. For the past 6 years, Dermot has been working at the Student Counselling Service in Trinity College, gaining experience in online, face-to-face and group work. Dermot describes himself as a client centred therapist that tries to be integrative. He aims to facilitate clients to explore external social and internal personal factors and to identify strengths, values and supports to accept uncertainty and face their challenges. For 5 years, Dermot raced between 2 half-time jobs and his young family. Over this period he feels he learned a lot about stress.



For those coming directly from work, The D4 BERKLEY has a ‘Bar Food’ menu (at your own expense!). The discussion starts at 7pm.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) = 2 hours. CPD certificates will be issued by the Family Therapy Assoc. of Ireland (FTAI).      See you @ the Systemic Cafe.


Vincent Browne writes about Marie Keenan’s book: Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power and Organisational Culture.

Theology of priesthood behind sex abuse crisis

VINCENT BROWNE – Irish Times 21st March 2012

CLERICAL SEXUAL abuse is inevitable given the meaning system that is taught by the Catholic Church and to which many priests adhere.

Contradictions in that system lead to failure, increase shame and a way of living that encourages deviant behaviour.

This is the thesis of a revealing book on sexual abuse within the church by an Irish academic and therapist who interviewed, at length, nine priests and brothers convicted of child abuse, who counselled several other clerical abusers and who undertook extensive research on the issue for her book Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power and Organisational Culture. The author is Marie Keenan of the school of applied social science at UCD.

It is evident that the apostolic visitors – Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto and Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York – didn’t read the book or speak to Keenan while in Ireland.

Their report, published in summary form yesterday, might have been very different had they done so.

The culture inculcated in Catholic clergy is that they are separate from other human beings because of their special “calling” from God, because of their sole capacity to administer the sacraments, to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, because of their power to forgive sin and administer the last rites.

From the moment of their ordination they are apart, apart in the minds of other convinced Catholics and apart in their own minds. And they are also celibate, because of that “calling”. Abjuring intimate sexual relations, sublimating their sexual urges and widely admired in the communities they inhabit on account of that sublimation.

Keenan says this theology of sacrifice eclipses all human considerations. She says her argument is not that clerical celibacy is the problem but a Catholic externally-imposed sexual ethic and a theology of priesthood that “problematises” the body and erotic sexual desire and emphasises chastity and purity, over a relational ethic (how as human beings we should treat each other).

She says this theology of sexuality contributes to self-hatred, shame and a sense of personal failure on the part of some priests.

This tension is often exacerbated by a sense of powerlessness on the part of many priests within a hierarchical, authoritarian church, subject to the authority of bishops or heads of religious orders, often allowing them with little sense of being in control of their own lives. And this is further added to by loneliness.

Some priests cope with this by easing off on the celibacy bit. Some ease off the celibacy bit with guilt, some with a sense of doing their best with their human frailties.

According to Keenan it is often the priests who aspire to priestly perfection and are hugely conflicted with the demands of such perfection that resort to child sexual abuse, usually, she says, not opportunistically, but consciously and deliberately over time. And this seems to be confirmed by other research.

Moreover, in many ways, the release of the confessional – the opportunity to dispel guilt in a secret ritual – compounds the problem. The “external” imposition (by the church) of the priestly ethic, rather than the cultivation of an internal ethic, also contributes to the propensity to abuse; for the construction of an internal ethic involves reflection on the impact of one’s conduct on the lives of others and that seems to have been missing in the make-up of many of the clerical abusers.

There is nothing at all of this in the report of the bachelor apostolic visitors, instead a recommendation that the culture of the seminary be intensified in the lives of aspirants for the priesthood. No acknowledgment is made of the tension inherent in the celibacy thing and the hypocrisies and traumas to which it gives rise.

In general there seems to be little interest in why this clerical abuse has occurred and what it is within the Catholic culture that has engendered it. The dismissive explanation that it is all due to the “flawed” personalities of the abusers ignores the cultural and formative factors that at least contributed to the phenomenon.

There is a further point which is also not addressed at all by the Catholic Church and it has to do with society’s treatment of the clerical perpetrators after they have served their sentences. They are rendered effectively homeless by a public rage directed at them, engendered largely by the media.

Our system of justice ordains that people who commit even the most heinous of crimes are brought before the courts, convicted, publicly shamed and then imprisoned, after which, that’s it. And yet, often in denial of their human rights, they remain hounded for the remainder of their days. Moreover, very often those who do the most vigorous hounding are those who speak most loudly that bit from what is known as “the Lord’s Prayer”: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”


Scott Wooley Two Day Workshop

Scott Wooley will present this two day Workshop entitled  ‘Using Emotionally Focused Therapy when working with couples’ on  7th/8th October 2011 at the Westin Hotel in Dublin city centre.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a leading, revolutionary, empirically supported approach for treating couples.

Day 1 of this workshop lays out the theory and techniques of EFT and helps participants learn to de-escalate difficult couples and engage withdrawn partners.

Day 2 builds on the first day and focuses on softening pursuers, creating lasting secure bonds between partners, using 7 empirically derived steps to heal the devastating impact attachment injuries, and treating trauma in the context of couples therapy.

Video of therapy and supportive research is used throughout the two days to illustrate how EFT is used to help couples heal and develop long-term healthy bonds.

This two day Workshop will be held on Friday 7th & Saturday 8th October 2011 at the Westin Hotel (at College Green), Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2.

Workshops are from 10am – 4pm, with registration from 9.30am.

Download Registration Form

Regional Sub-committee

For some time the FTAI executive committee has been considering the needs of  members who work and live in various regions throughout the country. We hope these needs can be met more effectively via the work of the Regional committee which aims to build links with members and keep members more connected and informed.

Responses to a questionnaire sent to all members this year highlighted, perhaps not surprisingly, that family therapists value connecting with others and with groups that support their practice.

Often the only constraints to this are time and location.

Following this years AGM the committee expanded to include new members which is a very exciting development and there is great enthusiasm for the work of this group. Future ideas include moving the committee meetings around to different parts of the country to facilitate members and build links. Indeed building links and enhancing communication seems to be a central theme at this stage.

Other ideas included the use of the FTAI website as a central point for discussions and communication and the use of emails to keep members connected.

We welcome any new members who have an interest in being a part of this committee and we are open to any feedback members may have.