One Day Workshop with Dr. Karl Tomm 31st March 2014

Interpersonal Patterns of Interaction that influence Mental Health

One Day Workshop


Dr. Karl Tomm

Date: Monday, 31st March 2014

Time: 9.00a.m. – 5.00p.m.
(Registration from 8.30a.m.)

Venue: Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8.

The systemic approach in family, couple, and individual psychotherapy gives priority to understanding the context of human behaviour, thoughts, feelings, and experience. It focuses on identifying and clarifying patterns of interaction between clients and significant others which contribute to specific experiences and behaviours.

Several years ago, Karl and his colleagues developed a model of systemic assessment that distinguishes between unhealthy (Pathologizing) Interaction Patterns, restorative (Healing) Interaction Patterns, and Wellness Interaction Patterns, Transforming Interpersonal Patterns and unhelpful (Deteriorating) Interpersonal Patterns. Recently he and his colleagues have refined this “Interaction Pattern scope” framework, and have extended it to include Sociocultural Interpersonal Patterns as well. A new book on this approach will be published in 2014.

Compared to a traditional psychiatric assessment, a systemic approach to assessment is much less pathologizing. Since a Pathologizing Interaction Patterns exists in the interpersonal space between persons, labelling or “diagnosing” the Pattern has fewer stigmatizing effects on the people involved than diagnosing an individual with a mental disorder. Systemic assessment also provides guidance for therapeutic interventions.

Dr. Karl Tomm has been the director of the Family Therapy Program in Calgary for more than 35 years. He has developed an international reputation not only as a family therapist, major innovator, theoretician, and trainer of family therapists but also as a leader in facilitating dialogues among many of the world’s family therapists. He started his career applying the problem solving approach to family therapy, developed by Nathan Epstein. In the 1980s, Karl championed the work of the Milan Group. More recently, Karl has promoted the work of Michael White and David Epston in narrative therapy.

Dr. Tomm has previously visited Ireland and the FTAI is delighted to welcome him back.

For application form, please click on link below:

Karl Tomm 1-day Workshop Flyer and Application Form

The Fifth Province Systemic Cafe

The Fifth Province
Systemic Cafe
Venue: The Sandymount Hotel, Dublin 4.
Date: Tuesday 11th February 2014
Time: 7.00pm – 9.00pm
Topic: The Fifth Province

The Fifth Province Model was developed in the early 1980s by Dr. Imelda McCarthy, Phil Kearney and Dr. Nollaig Byrne. The notion of the ‘Fifth Province’ is derived from Irish mythology, where the word for Province is ‘coiced’ or ‘cuige’ which also means ‘fifth’, a space where anything is possible. Working in Ireland in the 1980s, the Fifth Province group applied this idea to their work with Irish Families to facilitate both client and therapists to move with one another co-creatively.

At the Systemic Café, Nollaig Byrne, Imelda McCarthy and Phil Kearney will be interviewed by Marie Keenan. This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear more about the model which has had a major influence on systemic theory and practice both in Ireland and internationally.

A FREE GLASS OF WINE, BEER OR BALLYGOWAN AWAITS YOU! Continuing Professional Development (CPD) = 2 hours CPD certificates will be issued by the Family Therapy Assoc. of Ireland (FTAI). See you @ the Systemic Café
The Fifth Province Systemic Cafe 11th February 2014

We need to start talking about sexual dysfunction in an open way
Wednesday 29 Jan, 2014
We need to start talking about sexual dysfunction in an open way
It’s almost impossible to bring up the subject of premature ejaculation without provoking a cringe or a giggle, but it’s no joke for the one in five men (of all ages) who suffer from this common dysfunction, writes Trish Murphy.

IT IS PRETTY much impossible to bring up the subject of premature ejaculation (PE) in conversation without provoking a cringe or a giggle, or both. We’ve all heard the one about the man suffering from PE – he’s ok now but it was touch and go for a while.

However, PE is no joke for the one in five men who suffer from this common male sexual dysfunction. PE affects more men than erectile dysfunction (ED) yet it has traditionally received far less attention than ED, perhaps because of a historical lack of understanding. It also affects men of all ages, despite sometimes being associated with young men. Last week saw something of a first in Irish society – the launch of the new Take Control campaign to highlight the condition and encourage men to talk about it.

Before thinking about solutions, it’s worth considering the issue in a wider societal context. There is no doubt that ‘good’ sex is commonly and misleadingly represented by the mainstream media and porn as requiring lengthy periods of penetrative sex. This leads to rather skewed societal definitions of sexual pleasure and glosses over the fact that many men will last a matter of minutes between penetration and orgasm.

Pornography creates a lot of problems.

That being said, in my practice as a psychotherapist, my work involves therapy for sexual and intimacy difficulties and over the past ten years both myself and my colleagues have seen a growing number of young people – sometimes even teenagers – presenting with sexual dysfunction.

Pornography addiction has been a significant factor. We are seeing complex developmental sexual responses in people of all ages, with ensuing complicated effects on relationships. Orgasms release oxytocin, the attachment hormone and unlike print pornography, the interactive qualities of internet porn and its multi-sensory connections give the user a more intense experience and immediate sense of personal connection, thus leading to addiction. People can end up having relationships with their laptop, smartphone or tablet and find it difficult to respond physically and emotionally to a real person.

So if sexual dysfunctions in general are on the increase and if PE is the most common sexual dysfunction, it stands to reason that there is a greater need than ever for openness and accurate information. Here goes.

Share your sexual worries with your partner

Triggers for PE include feeling anxious about ‘performance’, lack of confidence which can arise from not having had sex for a while, being with a new partner or in a novel sexual experience. Some of these are situation specific and can resolve themselves in a relatively short time. A good rule of thumb is that if the male partner regularly ejaculates before or within a short time of starting sexual intercourse and before he would like to, then PE may be the root cause.

If a man thinks he has a problem, above all he should try sharing his sexual worries with his partner. Practicing mindfulness and meditation may also help him feel less anxious. There are also numerous physical self-help techniques which may help (see for more information).

If none of the above prove effective and if the situation is creating frustration for either partner within the relationship or consistently eating away at a man’s confidence, speaking to a GP or healthcare professional is the best next step. Disclosing our most private selves to another human being is never easy but it is the most responsible next step to address anything that undermines sexual intimacy, which is fundamental to overall well being.

The job of intimacy is not to focus on your own inadequacies

Self esteem plays a huge part in our sexuality. If you do not like yourself, it is difficult to expect others to find you attractive. The job of intimacy is not to focus on your own inadequacies but to immerse yourself in the other person’s body using all your senses – this allows you to get your attention off yourself and enjoy the experience.

People have an idea that they need to ‘fix’ themselves before they can be in relationships but my experience is that being in relationship is such a healthy thing to do that it forms part of the whole self development task. When we love, we are more open, more human and compassionate with others and with ourselves.

As adults, we need to start talking about sexual dysfunction in a responsible way. If you believe that you’re affected by the issue, take the initiative. If you’re in a relationship already, raise it with your partner. Inform yourself properly, talk about it and if you need help, seek it out. You’ll be happier for it and your relationships will improve.

Trish Murphy is a psychotherapist specialising in couples counseling and sexual intimacy therapy. She is also Chair of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland. For more information on PE, see

Adopt an Open Approach to Historic Secret

Irish American Child Legacy needs State Help to Unravel, says Valerie O’Brien
Published in The Sunday Times, 17th Nov 2013 p 17.

History and story-telling is something that we, as Irish people,think we are good at but many realise now there are some stories that get told more readily than others. In the wake of the recent Ryan, Murphy and McAleese reports, many previously untold stories have come forth.

Stephen Frear’s film“Philomena” shines a light on another aspect of Irish life in need of urgent attention. It has brought the story of the clandestine adoption of Irish children by US families to the fore. These stories have been both ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ here in Ireland. Mike Milotte’s book ‘Banished Babies’ suggests that at least 2,400 children were adopted in the period from early 1940’s to early 1970’s. These children are now adults predominantly in their 50’s and 60’s and their mothers are elderly. We know that many have been searching for their Irish families and likewise many Irish families have been searching for their lost children.

The stories of the adoptions are invariably linked with unplanned pregnancies and the very limited options open to young womenin Ireland at the time. Unplanned pregnancy can still be a major shock but, historically, it was greeted as a great trauma with very limited and stark options open to the single woman who found herself pregnant. If marriage was not a possibility or wanted, the ‘situation’ necessitated a solution that would deal with the sin, shame and secrecy associated with her ‘condition’. The fathers were kept largely invisible by a society who saw a role for a father only if marriage was an option.

It was as a result of these circumstances that banishment to the ‘Mother and Baby Homes’, run by different religious orders came into being. The most well-known ‘Homes’ were located in places such as Bessborough in Cork, Castlepollard in Westmeath, Stamullen in Meath, St Patricks in Dublin and “Sean Ross” abbey in Roscreawhich features in Philomena Lee’s true story.

For some women, these homes may have offered a lifeline but for others, as depicted in the film, experiences were characterised by trauma, humiliation, fear and slavery. The pain of the birth of their children was seen as God’s punishment for their sin and was rarely acknowledged by the family who put them into these institutions or the communities in which they had lived and become pregnant. The method of separation of young mothers from their children – so movingly portrayed in this film – remains a shocking reminder of how awful the reality was and why it remains a life-long pain that many mothers and children endure in isolation.

There were, no doubt, some good outcomes for children placed with families in the USA,but the manner in which these adoptions occurred raise many questions. There are still many unknowns including the actual number of children sent and the age range of the children. We do know that many mothers minded their children into toddlerhood and beyond, but there is evidence that many American adoptive families were not told that the child being given to them had been cared for in this way by its mother. The story of a poor orphan fitted more easily with a problem that needed to ‘go away.’ Also, the extent to which mothers were told that their children were being sent to USA is far from clear and the issue of how consents were given and understood are a central concern. This aspect has a resonance with recent stories about Irish adoption from countries such as Vietnam and Mexico. The fact that Ireland finally joined the Hague Convention in 2010 is a welcome step forward but does not necessarily eliminate the darker suspicions about inter-country adoption. It is for this reason that we, as a society, have to link our past history with present practices and in the process be open to the lessons that need to be learned.

The time has surely come to open up the Irish American adoption stories. Knowing who you are is a basic human right. It is essential that all legal impediments are removed and the adopted person’s difficult task of searching for their origins is facilitated actively. The people involved do not have time on their side and both the State and religious organisations have a part to play in resolving the very real difficulties faced in theadoption search.

So, where do we start? We know that the religious orders created a record for each Irish child sent abroad. The children travelled on Irish passportsin their original birth names issued by the relevant Irish authorities. The children were subsequently adopted in the USA following their arrival. Their adopted families usually had access to documentation containing the original names.

The adopted people who are fortunate enough to have access to the documentation giving their original name are generally able to access information and resources both in Ireland and in the USA. The many adoptees who do not know their original name have experienced particular challenges in dealing with institutions, a position compounded if they were adopted in one of the USA states which continues to seal adoptionrecords. There is also a cohort of people whose real names were misrepresented on official documents and unravelling the truth of their cases is particularly hard.

Likewise, the obstacles facing mothers like Philomena Lee and their families who wish to search for siblings, cousins and nieces or nephewsare also immense. Who can they turn to when denied access to information, what are they entitled to ask for and who in this state’s institutionsholds the responsibility to help with search and reunion?

There are many Philomena Lees and adopted children and, to do the right thing as a society, we need to prioritise and address this. There are complexities involved, but search and reunion is a topic that needs urgent and decisive action and resolution. A number of government departments and religious organisations are involved and an urgent co-ordinated approach, involving all interested parties, is required. As the year of the ‘gathering’ draws to an end, we need to ensure that all the people involved in the Irish American adoptions are assisted in getting to the point of their own ‘Gathering.’ We should thank story writer Martin Sixsmith, who first investigated Philomena’s story and wrote the book that the film is based upon; actress Judi Dench, who played Philomena; and Frears for reminding us of what needs to be done.

Note at end: Valerie OBrien is a lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science in University College Dublin. She has been involved in researching intercountry adoption since 2010, along with Joyce Maguire Pavao, Boston.

Monica Whyte becomes Chairperson of the National Family Therapy Organisation section of EFTA

Irish presence in Istanbul a success!
October 2013

In Istanbul, at the recent European Family Therapy Association conference – our representative, Monica Whyte was not only voted onto the board of EFTA but she was also voted Chairperson of her Chamber the NFTO section of EFTA. We are extremely proud of Monica and are not surprised at her selection, as she has been extremely hardworking, popular and insightful.

At the conference, Monica worked from 7am to 8pm every day and on one occasion, together with Phil Kearney, she persevered until 12 midnight to ensure that EFTA elected a board. Valerie O’Brien very ably conducted the election in a transparent and professional manner. Phil Kearney continues to put in a huge amount of work on the Board as the Training Institute representative and Marie Keenan and Valerie O Brien are our NFTO representatives.

The conference in Istanbul was a tremendous success with the host country providing an excellent venue and fabulous organisation. There was a large Irish contingent participating at the conference and below are a sample of what was on offer:

. ‘Family Therapy in the face of New Emerging Conditions’ – Nora Bateson in conversation with Imelda McCarthy

. ‘Porn- Raising the issues and focusing on young people’ – Trish Murphy

. ‘Quality in Family Therapy Training: Integrating Theory and Practice’ – Aileen Tierney & Aine O Reilly

. ‘Systemic Therapy for Child focused problems’ – Alan Carr

. ‘Maintaining a space for understanding systemic psychotherapy for people labelled with an intellectual disability and the systems that support them; – Grania Clarke

. ‘Recent research on Major Models of Systemic Therapy in an Irish Context’ – Alan Carr

. ‘The Fifth Provence and Kinship care: Enhancing Understanding of Network Relationships’ – Valerie O’Brien

. ‘Allegation of Child Abuse in Post-divorce Couple Process: Conflict Management and Harm Reduction’ – Jim Sheehan

. ‘The power of Genograms: A Life Cycle Perspective on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’ – Monica McGoldrick & Nollaig Byrne

. ‘ Recognising Prior Learning in Psychotherapy Training: How Can we Determine Equivalence of Learning?’ – Aine O’Reilly

. ‘Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church- Broader Systemic Interventions’ – Marie Keenan

. ‘Relating to Different Approaches in Four Domains of Systemic Practice’ – Corry de Jongh

. ‘No more empty Nests: Emerging Responses to Challenging Economic Times’ – Monica Whyte

. ‘Quality Assurance and Family Therapy Training: Straitjacket or the Necessary Next Step?’ Phil Kearney & Aine O’Reilly

Adolescents and Substance Use: The handbook for professionals working with young people

We are delighted to announce details of a book entitled Adolescents and Substance Use, which has been co-written by Ann Campbell, Vice-Chair FTAI. This book will be launched on the 9th December 2013.
The unique link to the book on the publisher’s website is:

Adolescents and Substance Use: The handbook for professionals working with young people
By: Philip James, Caitríona Kearns, Ann Campbell, Bobby Smyth
This highly practical manual presents an ideal introduction to adolescent substance use. It offers invaluable guidance for all professionals involved with adolescents including social workers, health and social care professionals, youth workers, family support workers, teachers, counsellors, mental health teams, A&E staff, police and probation officers. The approach these practitioners take in dealing with the problem has considerable influence over outcomes.
It succinctly covers a wealth of information on key matters such as counselling, treatment options, motives for substance abuse, sexual and mental health, policy development, ethical and legal considerations, and the important role of the family.
Adolescents and Substance Use provides a user-friendly foundation for effective, evidence-based practice.


Working Systemically with Sex and Sexual Relationships

One Day Workshop
Desa Markovic

Date: Saturday, 30th November 2013

Time: 9.30a.m. – 4.30p.m.
(Registration from 9.00am)

Venue: Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8.

Brief summary of the workshop: The aim of this workshop is to offer theoretical and practical ideas for systemic therapists to approach sexual issues in their clinical work. The workshop will address the importance of the rationale for opening up conversations about sex in therapy and propose ideas about bridging the thinking and practice between systemic and sex therapy.

Desa will reflect on examples from her psychotherapy practice with individuals and couples and show video recorded material where she integrates her psychosexual expertise within a wider framework of working systemically.

She will also offer her perspective on deconstructing social and cultural mythology and silence around the topic of sex and introduce a Model for Systemic Sex Therapy that she has developed through her years of working with clients presenting a wide range of sexual issues.

Presenter: Desa Markovic has over 20 years of systemic practice as therapist, supervisor and trainer. She is also a psychosexual therapist and has written, taught and practiced clinically in the context of integrating systemic and psychosexual therapy. Desa was Assistant Director of the Institute of Family Therapy between 2000 and 2004 and for two years prior to that, Senior Practice Consultant with Relate.
She is currently Programme Director for Psychotherapy and Counselling Programme at Regent’s University London.

For further details and booking form, please click on link below.

Desa Markovic 1-day workshop 30th November 2013

Challenges and opoortunities in Working with Children in Care: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

Challenges and Opportunities in Working with Children in Care:
Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Venue: Dublin City University
Monday 21st October, 2013
One-day symposium: Reflections from research and clinical practice. Fee €30
Prof. Michael Tarren-Sweeney, Clinical Psychologist, Epidemiologist and Child Developmental Theorist.; Associate Professor of Child and Family Psychology at Canterbury University, New Zealand
Dr. Caroline McKenna, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Family Therapist and Associate Medical Director, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London
Prof. Helen Buckley, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Social Policy; Course Coordinator, Postgraduate Diploma in Child Protection and Welfare, Trinity College Dublin. Senior Research Fellow , Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin
Dr. Liam Shine, Senior Clinical Psychologist, South Lee and West Cork CAMHS, Brothers of Charity, Cork
Dr. Rosaleen McElvaney, Clinical Psychologist , Lecturer in Psychotherapy, Dublin City University
Bookings: Tel 01 7008778

Tuesday 22nd October, 2013, Fee €50
One-day Training workshop: The Assessment Child Checklist (ACC, Tarren-Sweeney, 2013), facilitated by Prof Tarren-Sweeney. Fee €50 (Maximum capacity: 50 participants)
Information on Assessment Checklist for Children –

6 CPD points per day have been awarded by the FTAI

Improving Psychotherapy Outcomes by Integrating Common Factors into Treatment Protocols: An Evidence Based Perspective. One day workshop with Professor Bruce Wampold PhD

Mater Family Therapy Training Programme

Professor Bruce Wampold PhD
Professor in Counselling Psychology in University of Wisconsin

One-day Workshop
Improving Psychotherapy Outcomes by Integrating Common Factors into Treatment Protocols: An Evidence Based Perspective

on Saturday, 9th November 2013
Time: 9.30am-4.30pm

Venue: Dublin City University
Room HG23 Lecture Theatre
School of Nursing and Human Sciences
DCU Dublin 9 (Entrance off Collins Ave)

Bruce Wampold is a world renowned researcher in the field of Psychotherapy Research and is author of “The Great Psychotherapy Debate: Models, Methods and Findings “. This book produces a convincing argument for the Common Factors position, namely that many different approaches to Psychotherapy achieve almost equal results regardless of technique and model, but because of a common core of therapeutic processes. This workshop will have relevance to a wide range of Clinicians, Researchers and Psychotherapists.
It is a great privilege to have Bruce present his work and ideas in Dublin for the first time.

Cost: €90 (includes light lunch) Bookings to be made in advance with Ciara Reddy at: (01) 803 2349. Cheques made payable to: Family Therapy Training Programme and posted to Family Therapy Training Programme, Mater CAMHS, Metropolitan House, James Joyce Street, Dublin 1. Limited places available.

Application Slip

Name: _________________ Address: ______________________________

Tel: ______________ (H) _______________(w) Email: ________________

6 CPD points have been awarded for this workshop by the FTAI

A Day for Therapists and Teachers of Mindfulness with Professor Paul Gilbert

A Day for Therapists and Teachers of Mindfulness with:

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

An Introduction to Compassion Focused Therapy

WHERE …. Avila Retreat Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
WHEN …… Thursday 31st October
TIME ……. 10am -4.30
Cost……… €75.00 (not including lunch)

This workshop will introduce people to the basic model of compassion focused therapy (CFT). CFT began with the problem of people saying they could understand the logic of cognitive therapy but even with changing their thoughts struggled to feel different. CFT is an evolution based model of psychopathology and is focused on the emotional systems that give rise to the feelings of reassurance and affect change. These are primarily affiliative-based systems. Participants will learn about the link between affiliative emotion, cognitive and behavioural change, and how shame and self-criticism blocks this emotion system.

The first part of the workshop will cover the basic concepts with PowerPoint presentations and video displays. The second part of the workshop will provide some experiential opportunities to practice some of the imagery, behavioural and meditation exercises

By the end of the workshop participants will have
• an overview of the evolutionary model that underpins CFT
• insight into the three types of affect regulation system
• an understanding of the role of attachment mechanisms in affect change
• an understanding of the complexities and conflicts within the threat system processing.
• insight into the CFT model of compassion which is based on two different psychologies:1 capacities for engagement with suffering and 2. abilities to alleviate it
• some experience of core CFT exercises that will include
• soothing breathing rhythm and body focusing
• development of the concept of compassionate self
• development of compassionate imagery
• using the compassionate self to engage threat system processing

Bookings: Helen Byrne, 9 Montpelier Gardens, Dublin 7.
Or contact:
Cheques / P.O. / Bankers drafts made out to Helen Byrne

5 CPD points awarded for this workshop by the Family Therapy Association of Ireland