Systemic Café: Working Systemically within Hierarchies 25th January 2016


 Date:              25th January 2016

 Time:             7.00pm – 9.00pm

Venue:            The Schoolhouse Hotel, 2-8, Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Topic:            Working Systemically within Hierarchies

Given the hierarchical nature of our current educational system, the Café will focus on using a Systemic approach to engage with challenging and distressed young people in schools.


David Carter:   Principal, St. Paul’s School, Finglas

Peter Caffrey: Family Therapist, St. Paul’s School, Finglas

Marian Deaton: Senior Social Worker & Family Therapist, HSE Dublin North City & County CAMHS.

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


Date for your Diary Systemic Cafe 25th January 2016



Working with Couples: Philosophies, Formats and Processes. Workshop with Prof. Jim Sheehan

This event is co-sponsored by the Family Therapy Association of Ireland and University College Dublin (Family Therapy Training Programme, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital)


Working with Couples:

Philosophies, Formats and Processes


One Day Workshop


Prof. Jim Sheehan

Thursday 12th November 2015

10.00a.m – 4.00.p.m

Registration: 9.30a.m


Morrison Hotel, Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1


Places limited – please book early


5 CPD points apply

 JIM SHEEHAN is a Social Worker and Family Therapist. He was Director of Family

Therapy Training with the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital for many years

and is still engaged in teaching there. His primary teaching responsibilities are now in

the Diakonhjemmet University College, Oslo, where he has been part-time

Professor of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice since 2005. Jim has an extensive

Dublin-based private practice in Couple and Family Therapy and has provided

workshops for professionals on couple-related themes in several European countries

over the last decade. He has recently completed the co-editing of a book on Personal

and Professional Development in Counselling and Psychotherapy with some other

European colleagues and this work is due to be published by Routledge in January 2016.

Click on link below for further details:

Jim Sheehan Workshop 12th November 2015


Systemic Cafe 28th September 2015 – Integrating Crossdressing: A toolkit

Date:              28th September 2015


Time:             7.00pm – 9.00pm


Venue:           The Schoolhouse Hotel,  2-8, Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.


Topic:            Integrating Crossdressing: A toolkit



Gloria Jameson:  Happily married for 25 years, Gloria Jameson is a lifelong crossdresser and has been out in the Dublin scene for nearly two decades.  Gloria recently founded an information website about transvestism in Ireland


Dermod Moore: Psychotherapist, Trainer, and current chair of IAHIP, Dermod lectures in psychosexual psychotherapy, and is experienced in writing about, and working with, sexual and gender difference.


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

Systemic Cafe 28th September 2015 Integrating Crossdressing



Pathways and Outcomes: A study of 335 referrals to the Family Welfare Conference (FWC) service in Dublin

Pathways and Outcomes: A study of 335 referrals to the Family Welfare Conference (FWC) service in Dublin.

 Dr Valerie O’Brien UCD with Hannaleena Ahonen FWC Service Leader in TUSLA, Dublin, has completed a study of the Family Welfare Conference service. The purpose of the study is threefold. Firstly, it aims to provide, through a file audit, a profile of the cases referred to the to the FWC service in the years 2011- 2013 in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow. Secondly, it aims to capture outcomes arising in cases referred to the service and thirdly, it is intended that these findings can help in planning future FWC service provision.


The work builds on the work of another FTAI member, Catrina  Scanlan who was instrumental in pointing to the need for the research now published when she managed the service ​.

Family welfare conferencing is a methodology that is based on enhancing  partnership between professionals and families. It fits with many of the values that systemic therapists holds dear and to that end,  therapists should be aware that it is a service and method that has much to offer .

To view study, please see link below.


How self-confidence can nurture your mental health


Irish Times: 1st September 2015

Anne McCormack

Young people need to be supported to learn how to validate themselves so they do not depend on feedback

The numbers of young people presenting to hospital emergency departments because they have self-harmed or are at risk of self-harming has increased again this year. This creates huge concern for parents, and it creates a need to figure out ways to better mind their children’s mental health.

Young people are spending a lot of time on social media; it is how they connect with the world and with each other. But as they begin a new school year, managing their online presence is just one more element with which young people have to deal.

As well as being fun, it can be a source of much anxiety. This is because the social media world has become one of the main mechanisms through which young people work out their identity, ie who they are and what they are worth. They depend on feedback from peers online to answer questions such as “Am I popular?”, “Am I liked?” and, therefore, “Am I of worth?”. But social media feedback is too narrow a filter for anyone to work out their worth. Even the most confident adults would feel their self-esteem falter if they were depending so much on positive feedback for validation.

Young people need to be supported to learn how to validate themselves more, so that they are not as dependent on feedback. To do this, we must focus on confidence.

Making the unconscious conscious

Young people begin to face the psychological task known as identity formation around the same time that they begin to use social media. They grapple with questions such as “What is my identity?” and “Am I a person of worth?” but the questions are in the unconscious part of their minds. How these questions are answered throughout adolescence is affected by what happens them online. It is better for young people to know about this psychological task.

Social media posts as ‘performance’ Social media sites can be used as a place to perform. People post the best of what they wish others to see, and the social media site becomes a stage. Young people can be helped by thinking of social media in this way. What others post is often performance, whether that is selfies of stars or selfies of their classmates.

On social media, people make public what they want others to see and wait for the reaction of the “audience”. If the audience reacts well, it makes the performer feel good but it does not make the person who performed any better or worse than anyone else. How an audience reacts is outside the performer’s control. But they can control how they interpret the reaction. Young people can take more ownership of how they interpret people’s reactions to them on social media. The first step in doing this is to tune into their confidence source.

Taking the time to tune into the source of confidence involves making space in the mind for reflection. It is hard for young people to reflect while they are on social media as so much information is coming their way. Parents can encourage this reflection by asking questions not just about how the young person’s day was, or how school went, but by including questions about social media.

Questions such as these can help: “How did you get on with your friends online?” “Did anything happen on social media today that made you feel good or bad about yourself?” “What reaction did your posts get?” “How did you feel about that?”

Everyone gets confidence in different ways, but because young people are trying to work out their identity, they are particularly tuned into feedback from others, especially peers online. This results in a lot of their confidence being sourced externally.

External versus internal confidence sources

There are two main confidence sources. One is external and involves feedback from others. To have only an external source of confidence is not good, as external sources are outside a person’s control. An internal source of confidence is something each young person can develop and nurture for themselves. They can gain control of it, using their mind to soothe, support and encourage themselves, regardless of the feedback.

How to develop an internal confidence source

Once a young person knows the difference between an internal and external confidence source, they can tune in more accurately to where they are getting confidence. They can pay attention to their internal thoughts about themselves, noticing whether these thoughts are, in the main, supportive or critical of the self. If their internal thoughts tend to be self-critical, they can choose to challenge these thoughts. The more effort they make, the easier it will get.

Sometimes young people are very self-critical without even being aware that they are. Being too focused on the number of “likes” they get or don’t get on social media can perpetuate this negativity. And as the new school year begins, young people who nurture self-confidence will nurture their mental health.

Anne McCormack is a family therapist accredited to FTAI and ICP.

How to find out what a client wants in therapy? Narrative and Collaborative practices when working with client preferences.


 A 2 day workshop with Geir Lundby and Rolf Sundet.

Date: 22rd and 23rd October 2015

Venue: Clayton Silver Springs, Cork.

Cost: €150 or €75 per day.

This workshop is aimed at experienced Psychologists, Therapists, Social workers, Family Therapists or anyone who works therapeutically with individuals or families. CPD points are available for each day.

Day 1. Geir Lundby will present on his way of working and his use of narrative practices as developed by Michael White. At set interval’s in during the day Rolf Sundet will invite Geir into discussion about his practice and facilitate an exploration of the ideas that influence his practice.

Day 2. Rolf Sundet will present on his way of applying collaborative practices and Geir will invite Rolf into discussion and exploration of the ideas that influence his practice.

Geir Lundby is a highly-regarded Norwegian social worker and family therapist who was first introduced to Michael White’s work through Karl Tomm, in 1988. In 1989 he met Michael White and since then, he has been practicing narrative therapy with children, Adolessents and their families in out patient clinics in and around Oslo. Geir teaches narrative therapy extensively in Norway and internationally. He has translated Michael White’s books into Norweigan and though he writes mainly in Norweigan he has had a number of papers published in English including a recent article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy. This is an exciting opportunity to hear from a highly skilled practioner and trainer.

Rolf Sundet Ph.d. is a Clinical Psychologist at the Ambulant Family Section, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Hospital of Buskerud and Associate Professor at the University of Buskerud and Vestfold. He is also a freelance supervisor and consultant. As writer in English he has published articles on outcome monitoring and the use of service user feedback, and co-authored “Self in Relationship. Perspectives on family therapy from developmental psychology” (Karnac) and he contributes to “Systems and Psychoanalysis. Contemporary integrations in family therapy” (Karnac). In addition he has published in Scandinavian journals and anthologies. His Ph.d is on the use of client feedback as a monitoring and conversational tool in family therapy practice.

To book at place or for further information please contact Keith Oulton, 4 Main Street, Innishannon, County Cork. Ph.087 1213163 or e mail oulton Payment by cheque or bank draft Payable to “Narrative Training.”

Sundet, R. (2009). Therapeutic collaboration and formalized feedback: Using perspectives from Vygotsky and Bakhtin to shed light on practices in a family therapy unit. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 15(1), 81-95

Sundet, R. (2011). Collaboration: Family and therapists’ perspectives of helpful therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37(2), 236-249.

Sundet, R. (2012). Therapist perspectives on the use of feedback on process and outcome: Patient-focused research in practice. Canadian Psychology, 53(2), 122-130

Sundet, R. (2012). Postmodern-oriented practices and patient-focused research: possibilities and hazards. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy. 33, (4), pp 299 – 308

Sundet, R. (2014). Patient-focused research supported practices in an intensive family therapy unit. Journal of Family Therapy, 36(2), 195-216


5 3/4 CPD points awarded by the FTAI for each day

Remember – Leaving Cert results do not determine the future


Not all students will get desired results but there are ways to lessen the feelings of failure

Anne McCormack  Irish Times – Tuesday 11th August 2015

Planning ahead and thinking about ways to cope with possible disappointment may be useful for results day.

Disappointment is an inevitable part of life. Everyone feels it at some point and it can be a difficult feeling for any person to bear. But disappointment has value, as all emotions do. Disappointment is of great value, as it bears witness to hope.

Many young people have high hopes on Leaving Cert results day. These hopes often relate to receiving enough points to access the third-level course of their choice. And some might feel disappointment.

While the prospect of planning for the possibility of disappointment may seem pessimistic, it is worth giving the possibility some thought.

It gives you the chance to become prepared psychologically, in case disappointment on Leaving Cert results day enters the frame.

Here are some ways to think about and deal with disappointment. By taking the time to reflect on these ideas, young people will be more prepared to handle this difficult emotion, and the disappointment will then be less likely to overwhelm.


Tuning in to thoughts as well as feelings

Disappointment can be intense. It can seem as if the event, the Leaving Cert results, is directly causing this unwanted feeling: I got this result, therefore I feel disappointment. It is important to know that it is the thoughts about the event, rather than just the event itself, that causes the feeling to arise. Therefore, I got this result and am now thinking this, is the cause of the feeling. By tuning into and by challenging these thoughts, young people can gain strength and influence over their emotional self and feel better.


Plan who to talk to for support

It can be useful for young people to think ahead and make a plan about who they will talk to if they are feeling disappointed.

If a young person’s peer group are all receiving results on the same day, it could be that a trusted friend may be largely unavailable to offer emotional support that particular day, if required. Someone at home, perhaps a parent, could be in a better position to really listen to how the young person is feeling.

For a parent to offer this support is useful. Then, by listening to the expression of disappointment, parents can check in with the young person about what they are thinking about. This provides an opportunity to steer their thinking away from negative thoughts which could damage their self-esteem.


Take a wider, longer-term view

There is always more than one way to get from A to B but on results day, it is hard to remember this as many young people have route A, their preferred first choice, very much in mind. No matter what career a young person has set their heart on, there is always the possibility of pursuing that goal, no matter what the exam results are.

It is important for parents to remind young people of this, ahead of results day as well as on the day itself, if they are feeling disappointed. It is also good to remind young people not to put pressure on themselves to figure out an alternative route straight away.

Taking a few days to process the emotions they are feeling is enough for the young person to deal with.


Celebrate effort more than results

There is a lot of emphasis placed on the points system and the number of points received. This can create the impression that results matter more than effort, but that is not necessarily the case.

In many areas of life, whether it is within relationships, within a workplace context or pursuing a life goal, effort matters a very great deal indeed.

Young people on results day may believe that results matter more than effort. But holding this belief does not make it a fact. It is vital for young people to be reminded of the validity and importance of effort. It is vital also that they be encouraged to celebrate effort, rather than just results.

Celebrating efforts made throughout the exam period and throughout the school life has much merit. Parents can take a lead by placing focus on and congratulating effort.


IQ versus EQ

The Leaving Cert does not take account of many an individual’s worthy qualities. Points are not awarded for kindness, a person’s level of honesty or a person’s social skills and yet these qualities matter a very great deal.

Research from Harvard Business School showed that emotional intelligence was twice as important as intellectual intelligence and technical skill when it came to determining who would be successful in life. In order for a person to become emotionally intelligent, a person must be able to experience empathy.

In order to experience empathy, a person must first be able to tune into and feel their own emotions deeply. There is an opportunity with disappointment to do just this; to feel deeply, to bear difficult emotion. And that can be a significant aspect of success.

Results day is significant, but it does not determine how the future will be. Young people may need to be reminded of that.


Anne Mc Cormack is a family therapist accredited to FTAI & ICP.


Holiday Harmony: a guide for parents and teenagers

Holiday harmony: a guide for parents and teenagers
Try to coordinate your and your teen’s expectations to make this a relaxing, stress-free summer
Anne McCormack

Irish Times Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 01:00
Few parents relish the long break from school that stretches ahead for their teenagers. Summer jobs are practically nonexistent these days, and unless they are particularly motivated themselves, parents might feel that all their teenagers wish for is time to be idle and free.
Some parents feel the secondary school summer break is too long. A three-month break from a solid routine and an environment that is conducive to learning adds up to a lot more days than many parents would choose for their offspring to be idle.
Yet the vast majority of adolescents relish the idea of this long period of rest from school, viewing it as a time to unwind and shift gear, away from the pressure of academic work.

Tension can build within families over this extended summer break. Teenagers can become bored and demanding; parents can become frustrated and impatient.
There are two main reasons for this rise in stress and tension during the summer. One is that family members have expectations of each other that are not being met, or even expressed. Secondly, they are not communicating about their hopes for the summer and how to achieve harmony in the home in time, if at all.
The impact of this rise in tension and stress for a family unit can have a bad effect on all family relationships, not just the parent-teenager one. The couple relationship within the family can become strained as the overall atmosphere becomes more tense. Then the level of intimacy felt by parents towards each other can become lost in an environment of continuous argument and disagreement.
But it is possible to plan the summer mindfully, by having a sense of where you wish to go and how you wish to get there, maintaining awareness of each moment as it comes.

Taking action in time
It is possible for parents to avoid conflict during the summer by sitting down and making a plan about how to create the context for harmonious family life over the coming weeks.
They can take charge of creating the context for harmonious living and can do so in a way that does not result in teenagers feeling as if they are being “controlled”.
The first step involves reflecting on what you expect from each person in the family over the summer, and what you expect from yourself.
It is important, if there are two parents in the family, that these hopes and expectations are shared with the other parent first, as any differences in opinion about what a teenager is and is not allowed to do can be aired and agreed upon before the conversation with the teenager begins.

One of the most important things for parents to work out early in the summer are their expectations of the teenager. It is best to be specific, as this is part of what will help when it comes to talking clearly with the teenager about it.
If a parent expects their teenager will be more helpful and more involved in household chores, given that they have more free time, it is important to be specific in relation to what exactly is expected. For example, would making dinner for the family once a week meet your expectation, or would more be expected? Would you like them to help out in the garden or do some cleaning?
Most parents reasonably expect some increase in the amount of effort teenagers make within the household over the summer. Some teenagers may expect this to translate into more money in their pocket at the end of each week. Teenagers are on their way towards adulthood, so the increased level of responsibility for chores can help prepare them for life.
Making a list, thinking it through and then asking the other parent to go through it also allows space for clear communication to happen between the couple. This will prevent tension between them later on if expectations are not being met by the teenager.
If both parents are clear of the other’s expectations, they are more likely to back each other up.
It is good for parents to consider their expectations about time spent on social media or engaged with technology; time spent with friends and away from the house compared with the amount of time spent with family; expectations around curfews, financial support, lifts to and from places, and so on. When a parent has a clear idea about each of these areas, it is a good time then, to introduce the topic to the teenager.

The context of communicating with teenagers
Going through the teenage years can be difficult. There are many changes happening for teenagers and intense feelings such as infatuation, frustration and anger can be hard for teenagers to deal with.
Teenagers are often self-conscious and can seem to adults to be somewhat self-absorbed. This can reflect their often-felt worry and preoccupation with what others think of them. As this is something that matters greatly to a lot of teenagers, being around peers becomes a very important aspect of teenage life.
Peer contact – either face-to-face or online – serves as a way for the teenager to get direct or indirect feedback about themselves.
It is within peer groups that teenagers really get to work out their identity: under the surface, in their unconscious mind, this a major question teenagers deal with on an ongoing basis. Who am I? What does the world think of me? What will I think of myself? These questions are psychologically where teenagers are at, even though they are largely unaware of that fact themselves. This explains the preoccupation with peer contact.
Every teenager is different and it is very important that any discussion about expectations includes some question about how much contact a teenager wishes to have with their peers.
It is important for parents to recognise how important this contact can be for teenagers and not to be dismissive of their desire to see their friends a lot.
It is also, however, good that some balance is struck and that teenagers are encouraged not to become reliant on feedback from peers to work out how they view themselves. Some time with family is good for teenagers as this will be character forming, as well as good for overall family life.

Starting the conversation
Beginning the conversation with a teenager about their hopes and expectations for the summer can be tricky. Parents do not wish to be seen as nagging, and many parents fear that bringing up a conversation about expectations of each other will be viewed in a negative light.
Viewing the conversation as an opportunity to look together at how the teenager and the rest of the family can have an enjoyable summer is a good way to introduce the topic.
It is important to let the teenager know ahead of time that this is something you wish to chat to them about, perhaps mentioning it very briefly and then scheduling a time to talk and relax together over the coming days.
When parents sit down and begin the conversation, it is good for the parent to try to take on a listening position. That way, it is more likely that the teenager will feel heard and will, in turn, then be more ready to hear the parent.
To ask the teenager what they wish their summer to be like and what they are looking forward to, is a good positive way to begin. Teenagers may not have thought it through but by prompting them, it is possible to elicit a sense of how they wish the summer to be.
It is important to be specific with them about the people they wish to have contact with over the summer, how much of it is in person and how much of it is online.
Inquire gently, as this then provides an opportunity for parents to get a sense of how much their social life is online and therefore not “real” social contact. Social contact that is face to face is better for teenagers than too much social contact online. This conversation allows a space for the parent to articulate this view.

Communicating about the communication
It is useful if only part of the initial discussion involves expressing expectations and negotiating around chores and curfews. Another part of this initial discussion should be about how communication will happen as the summer goes along, as expectations and wishes can change.
It is important for the parent to emphasise and acknowledge that even if an initial plan has been agreed, there may be times during the summer when the parent expects more from the teenager or the teenager wants more from the parent. Both parties should have the opportunity to renegotiate the terms of any agreed plan and there should be a way to check in and review how things are going with each other.
Building in this period of time to review or revisit the agreement is part of what will keep the atmosphere good through the summer.
A particular time each week, either out of the house going for a walk together or in the house with no distractions around, is worth scheduling. This built-in checking-in time will act as a buffer against tensions rising.

Enthusiasm and unplugging
Parents are often stressed and busy, and it can be hard for them to imagine being in teenagers’ shoes. But it is important for parents to try, and to tune into their memories of their own school summer holidays. That way, parents will connect more easily with how their teenager might be feeling and may end up wishing they too had a long break from work and routine.
The lack of structure at summer brings so much opportunity for teenagers; to experience life in a different way, to take time to get out into nature, to be in the world at a different pace to how they are the rest of the year. But with the rise in the amount of time teenagers are spending on social media and on technology, they are missing many opportunities the natural world has to offer them.
Parents have a role to play in encouraging teenagers to unplug and get outdoors into nature. Parents, by becoming enthusiastic about unplugging themselves, set the example for the teenager. Again, a specific expectation can be expressed in relation to this plan to unplug.
Parents can take control now of creating the context for harmonious family life this summer. Beginning the conversation with a sense of enthusiasm and positivity means parents are much more likely to succeed. Working hard all year, parents deserve a relaxing time through summer just as much as any teenager does.
Express expectations: it is only through shaping the conversation that parents get to shape the family’s world.

Anne McCormack is a family therapist accredited to FTAI and ICP

A week in my…Family Therapy Practice – KAREN LEONARD

A week in my . . . family therapy practice:  KAREN LEONARD

‘There’s a lot of expectations on families and parents to get things right’ KAREN Leonard Karen Leonard, family therapist: “There’s a lot of pressure on teenagers in terms of social media, the points system, their image and their sexuality.” Photograph: Brian Farrell

Irish Times Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 01:00 Colette Sheridan

I lecture full-time at Athlone Institute of Technology, educating future careworkers to work with families, young people and service users such as people with disabilities. And there’s a focus on educating people to work in the early-years sector.

I also have a private practice as a family therapist in Elphin, Co Roscommon, where I live. And I work in the Boyle Family Life Centre.

I do one night a week in my private practice, Crannóg Family Therapy, and I work Friday evenings in Boyle. I have to keep it to that. I talk to a lot to families and clients about boundaries. I have to have a very clear boundary around my down time. I don’t work at weekends.

I’m very disciplined and I suppose I’m an organised person by nature. I have to keep everything clear and planned out so I have an electronic diary and two phones; one is only for work.

Best of both worlds A few years ago, I was thinking that I’d go more into the clinical and practical work but then I thought that really, I have the best of both worlds. Client work can be very draining. I know therapists who do five or six sessions per day, listening to 30 or 40 cases every week. I see six families a week. Altogether, I work a 47-hour week.

The two jobs really help each other. Recently, I was doing up some notes for next year’s class and I found the research I was doing for that was keeping me up to date for my work with clients.

Also, while working with clients, I get ideas and scenarios from them that I can discuss in class but obviously I don’t breach confidentiality.

When I get feedback from the students at the end of the year, what they really like are the real-life examples I talk about. I give them scenarios and dilemmas that we tease out. It brings the theory more into focus for them. The course, in applied social studies in social care, is very much geared towards practice. When the students graduate, they need to be able to do their job.

Unlike training courses where everybody wants to be there, when you’re lecturing students, they may have other things on their minds.  The challenge is to make the work applicable and to make the environment conducive to discussion.

Family therapy For my family therapy work, I get referrals from GPs and I sometimes work with psychiatrists. If, for example, a person is at risk of suicide, I’d need a psychiatric assessment.

Sometimes a young person with, for example, an eating disorder, might need to go to hospital for in-patient treatment so I’d have a good working relationship with psychiatrists, doctors and social workers – and sometimes teachers, too.

Young people can show problems at school in terms of non-attendance, or they can be very anxious. My job is to tease out where the anxiety is coming from. I would also bring in the parents because it’s not always just the young person who needs help. There’s a lot of expectations on families and parents to get things right. With the recession, a lot of families have been under stress with maybe one partner having to be away from home for work in England or farther afield. There’s a lot of pressure on teenagers in terms of social media, the points system, their image and their sexuality.

Rapport with adolescents Working with adolescents is not an area that everybody likes because they’re seen as challenging. But I tend to have a good rapport with them.

If you start by talking to them about what they’re interested in rather than broaching the problem straight away, it usually helps. And I sometimes talk to them one-to-one. My main area of work is with teenagers and their families. Most people who come to me want to get on well with their families. So usually, they’re quite motivated to make changes and that in itself makes the work easier.

Compared with other models of therapy, family therapy is rewarding in that you tend to see results quite quickly. My work is usually about trying to change communication patterns or dynamics within the family. After six to 10 weeks, I would see a big difference in a family.

One of the challenges in my private practice is that I would be likely to carry stuff home from there rather than from my work in Boyle, where I have a line manager to talk to if I need to. But when I’m seeing people on my own, I have to work things out myself or go to see my supervisor.

Supervision is ongoing. It happens when you’re engaging with the course and continues after you have qualified. I trained at UCD and at the Mater Hospital. When I was doing my masters in family therapy, it involved group therapy and clinical supervision.

Once I qualified, I registered as a family therapist which means I have to see my own clinical supervisor. I have peer supervision with other therapists in Boyle. We do that every two weeks. It’s necessary for continuing professional development. It’s an opportunity to reflect on cases.

I’d like to think I know myself very well, flaws and all. I suppose I can be a bit hard on myself sometimes. I probably need to be a bit kinder to myself.

Busy Schdule Monday to Friday is very busy. My husband, Graeme Moore, is at home most of the time. He’s a social care worker and works two nights a week with the Brothers of Charity.

When I talk to my students about how gender roles are changing, I realise that Graeme is doing the more traditional maternal role. We have an eight-year-old daughter, Daisy. Graeme does the school lifts and supervises homework. I have to travel for an hour to get to Athlone, so that adds more time onto my working day.

For my lecturing work, there’s a lot of administration. On the family therapy side, there are case notes to be kept, writing letters, sometimes writing court reports, as well making phone calls to organise appointments. I try to do that in the evening. I don’t mind that side of the work. It fits in with my personality. Writing up case notes puts a bit of closure on the day.

Karen Leonard has an essay on parenting adolescents in Learning on the Job: Parenting in Modern Ireland, which is published by Oak Tree Press

Systemic Cafe on Statutory Registration 25th May 2015



   Date:              25th May 2015

   Time:             7.00pm – 9.00pm

   Venue:           Hampton Hotel (formerly Sachs Hotel)

                           19-29, Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, D.4

Topic:            How Statutory Registration might impact on membership of FTAI and the practice of members  employed within statutory sector, especially in circumstances where they are not employed as Family Therapists


Denis Murray and Valerie O’Brien will speak to this topic, and open discussion to the floor.


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

Date for your Diary Systemic Cafe 25th May 2015