What is counselling?

A relationship with a trained other which enables the client to relate to themself with more ease – and therefore to others with more ease, and so on, in a virtuous circle.

Who has inspired you on your counselling journey?

In addition to my supervisees and clients, I am grateful to so many people, including: Byron Katie, who developed The Work; David Read Johnson, trauma specialist and developer of developmental transformations, a form of dramatherapy; Richard C Schwartz, the founder of internal family systems therapy; and supervisor trainers and writers, Robin and Joan Shohet. I have written about my psychotherapy heroes in an article published by sister organisation the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, ‘Dark and Light – What Our Psychotherapy Heroes Reveal About Ourselves and Our Profession’.1

What does spirituality mean to you?  

It means accepting the reality that I am a tiny creature in a vast and infinite universe in which everything is interconnected and full of universal Qi, which is both personal and transpersonal.

Most useful piece of advice for a student or newly qualified therapist

Doing you own inner healing work will be invaluable in so many ways.

Do you have a favourite quote?

I find it difficult to remember and choose quote bites. Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I rise’ has a huge impact on me each time I hear it.

I’m always gripped and moved by Andrea Gibson’s poetry reading on social media (You Better Be Lightning is their latest publication).2

Favourite counselling book?

Anything by Richard C Schwartz (for example, No Bad Parts), and by Irvin D Yalom (possibly Love’s Executioner).

Favourite podcast or website?

Podcasts don’t yet feature very noticeably in my life. However, I have been known to listen to (and even speak on) IFS Talks, which you can find on Spotify or Apple podcasts.

Favourite piece of music?

Seeing Leonard Cohen live with family in 2008 was magical, so something from that album: A Thousand Kisses Deep or Dance Me to the End of Love, perhaps.

I’ve also seen Michelle Shocked live many times and a favourite is Match Burns Twice from her album Mexican Standoff, featuring the amazing Richard Armstrong on trumpet.

Top tip for a successful supervision session

When giving supervision, it would be bringing curiosity and trusting the process, then playfulness when things get tricky.

When receiving it, trusting it’s OK to show up and that what or whomever shows up (for example, discomfort with showing up) is OK.

What is the most important issue facing the counselling world today?

The commercialisation of its training. I have parts that feel quite strongly that therapy training should not be treated as just another commodity and marketed in a way that preys on therapists’ insecurities, and parts desperate for yet another X, Y and Z to feel good enough.

And, linking to that, I would like those in the counselling world today to more fully, broadly and frequently, embrace saying ‘no’.


1 https://iacp.ie/files/UserFiles/IJCP/Article%20-%20Winter%2021%20-%20Dark%20and%20Light.pdf (accessed 11 May 2022).
2 https://andreagibson.org/ (accessed 11 May 2022).