Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
est.1981
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Carl Berkeley Memorial Award 2010

Eoin Stephens

Acceptance Speech

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to all the people who nominated me, and to the Carl
Berkeley Award Committee for choosing me as this year’s recipient. Obviously, all
these people feel I am deserving of this award, and I’d like to break the typical Irish
mould here and say that I think so too - we really need to own our deservingness more often.

As a recipient, I feel very proud and very moved to be in the same category as
Liam McCarthy, Vincent Humphries, and the other previous winners. I appreciate the
honour, the beautiful sculpture, and of course the book token – those who know me
well will believe me when I say I did it all for the book token!

As always with an award like this, the contributions which are being acknowledged today are really those of a large number of people with whom I have been fortunate enough to work in various initiatives and organisations. This is the part of the speech which I copied from the Oscars ceremony, and as they like to say, all of the following people really share in this award. I just want to add, not in the book token! 

The most important place to start is at home: my loving thanks to my wife Gerti - it would be impossible to say enough about the support she has always given me at every level, to say nothing of the patience she has shown.

The organisation I have been involved with the longest is, of course, the IACP itself. Over the years I have worked with a lot of people on various IACP committees, including a term as Leas-Cathaoirleach. Over the years I have worked with so many people, so for now I just want to especially thank the outstanding Cathaoirleachs with whom I have worked; Ursula O’Farrell, Edward Boyne, Patricia Kennedy, Claire Missen and Gillford D’Souza. And, of course, Carl Berkeley himself, with whom I had the privilege and pleasure to work when I first served on the Executive and on the Editorial Board in the early 90s.

I frequently advise newly-accredited IACP members 
to get involved in committee work if they can; I don’t pretend that it isn’t hard work, but it is a great way of becoming more connected with the profession. 

Probably my most unique contribution to the counselling and psychotherapy field in
Ireland is creating awareness in relation to the problem of Sexual Addiction through
the Centre for Sexual Addictions – I want to thank Patrick Ryan for helping to get it
started, Declan Fitzpatrick for helping to keep it going, and Jim Keating, Eilish
McGuinness, Anne Burke and Jean Notaro for making the first Irish conference on
Sexual Addiction a reality last November. 

A broader kind of influence on the development of the field can be gained through the education and training of counselling and psychotherapy students, an area I have loved ever since I was a counselling student myself; from a very early stage in my training I remember thinking “Yes, I really want to do this, and I also want to teach it someday”.

I am currently privileged to have quite far-reaching influence in this area as President of PCI College. I want to thank Liam McCarthy and Josephine Murphy for their vision in founding Personal Counselling Institute, and Martin Kitterick for  demonstrating his good judgment in bringing me on board at their suggestion. Liam, the first recipient of this award, passed away just 2 months ago, and it’s good to have the chance to acknowledge his huge contributions once again. I also want to thank Linda McGuire for bravely following in my footsteps, and especially Joanna Byrne, our Head of Operations and Development, for her consistent support, perseverance and resourcefulness over the past few years.

Hopefully my contributions to the field have only just begun (don’t worry, I’m not going to sing), and there are newer ventures which are keeping me inspired (and busy!) So thanks also go to my partner at CBT Solutions, Marina O’Donovan, and all my colleagues at Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Ireland – Laura Turley and James Kelly, along with Marina, Declan, Eilish and Jean once again. Wonderful people to work with, especially if you count laughing a lot as valid work! 

Declan and Jean feature once again in another new venture, CounsellorsOnline.ie; I’m always keen to be involved with projects which are leading edge and forwardthinking.

And thanks finally to Angela Moore and Carol Moore who founded along with me the charity Dual Diagnosis Ireland – two women who are fiercely determined to make changes; I’m glad they’re on my side!

Ours is not the easiest field to work in, or to try to develop. Survival with integrity over the long haul can be an achievement in itself, as in any area of life. But apart from simply hanging in there trying to help clients individually and in groups, teaching, supervising, and spending a remarkable, possibly regrettable, amount of time in meetings of various kinds, my main concern has been with the new, with fostering and creating change.

Like others, I deeply believe in the personal, caring side of our profession. I am
continually moved and motivated by the suffering of addiction, depression, anxiety,
relationship breakup and other life challenges, otherwise I would do something else
for a living. I also deeply believe in the need to professionalise our field, to raise
academic standards, to foster clear and critical thinking, to make our structures more
businesslike, to make best use of new technologies, and to integrate the field around
evidence-based principles and practices. I’d like to particularly emphasise here that
psychotherapy, like other therapeutic professions, needs to be based on sound
scientific, unifying principles, which can be given wide consensus not because of
personal preference, admiration of a founder, investment in training, or ideological
preference, but because they are more solidly grounded in coherent theory and
objective evidence than the competing alternatives.

We live in what could be called interesting times in Ireland and in our profession. Many painful issues that have been hidden are emerging from the shadows. Clients need the best possible service we can give them, now more than ever, and while we need to own the enormous good that we already do, our profession is only half developed at best. I look forward to witnessing, participating in, and hopefully influencing its ongoing growth and development in this country.

Once again, thanks to all who have worked with me and supported me over the years – I look forward to many more interesting years in our interesting field.

 

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