Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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Carl Berkeley Memorial Award 2012

Marina Sweeney

Acceptance Speech

I feel honoured and humbled in receiving the Carl Berkley Award. My awareness of the greatness of Carl Berkley and of his amazing contribution to the development of counselling in Ireland has led me to be overawed at the idea of even holding the symbolic trophy in my own hands.

Looking at my experiences over the past 20 years I would like to take this opportunity to honour the voluntary sector.

It was the voluntary sector which gave me the opportunity to develop the different projects which have now, in the presentation of this esteemed award, been recognised by IACP as being valuable work in the field of emotional health and well being.
Over the years I have seen tremendous joy and heartbreak with regard to the setting up and developing of counselling services within the voluntary sector.

I have encountered people from many different professions in the field of helping who have, despite having invested large sums of money and a great amount of time in their own training been prepared to give years of voluntary and unpaid time to the provision of emotional health care for those in their communities who could not otherwise access such care or treatment.

I have witnessed the struggle for funding to pay the basic overheads and to provide support and supervision for those volunteers who were giving of their time and energy to help those traumatised by the atrocities of conflict.

Notably during thirty years of the troubles in Northern Ireland it was the voluntary sector who delivered the highest number of counselling sessions in the province with 80% of counselling being carried out on a voluntary basis. These are the people that I would like to honour today.

For myself this has been a journey which has been blessed by collegial relationships which have served teach and nurture as well as to open up the opportunities which allowed me to develop my work and to promote counselling as a worthy profession where I could.

I would like to end by thanking the Northern Ireland Branch of IACP who nominated me for this award. Twelve years ago I attended an AGM in Belfast. The guest speaker for the day was that great woman of Irish counselling, Ursula O’Farrell. It was her speech on that day that inspired me to join the Northern Ireland Committee of IACP and it is through the respect, support, and encouragement of the members of this committee that I am here today.

I thank Dr Ann Long who proposed the nomination and who very cleverly elicited information on my profile from my daughter and then persuaded my 20 year old granddaughter Robyn to write my story. Between them they made a worthy team.

Last but certainly not least I thank my daughter Breidge and my granddaughters Robyn and Sara who are always there for me and who support me and encourage me in all areas of my work.

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