Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Tel. 01 230 35 36

Aware relatives and friends education programme

Living with a loved one's depression, bipolar disorder

Aware has developed a new education programme specifically aimed at relatives of, or individuals who care about, someone who is experiencing depression or bipolar disorder. This bespoke programme was designed when it was identified that there didn’t appear to be a similar programme available in Ireland, and there was a paucity of information and education available for relatives/loved ones. A pilot of this new programme was delivered in Dublin & Cork during early 2016. The feedback from attendees was extremely encouraging and the programme was further developed to reflect the evaluation results. An additional phase of the updated programme was delivered in Dublin & Cork before the end of 2016.

This programme incorporates key skills based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and has been developed under the guidance of Aware’s clinical team.

The programme is designed for relatives of, or individuals who care about, someone who is experiencing depression or bipolar disorder. The aim is to provide a deeper understanding of the impact of depression or bipolar and crucially, to help relatives identify helpful options and actions that are available to them and to their loved one.

At the end of the training attendees will be able to;

*Identify the symptoms of depression & bi polar

*Distinguish coping mechanisms

*Demonstrate effective supportive communication skills

*Recognise the value of self care

*Design and implement a personal, individualised tailored support plan

*Describe Aware Support Services

A stimulating and participative learning environment generated in a workshop style programme, ideally delivered to a maximum of 25 attendees.

The content will help increase the attendees’ knowledge of stress, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder symptoms and generally increase their awareness of mental health. The workshop will also provide ideas on how to cope using a coping tool based on the principles of CBT. Questioning and listening skills will be explored to enhance effective communication.  The opportunity to identify the need for self-care will be discussed and an individual support Action Plan will be facilitated as a takeaway from the programme. Each session will encourage contribution and there will be a variety of practical exercises to consolidate learning throughout the programme. 

The duration of each session is 1 ½ hours and is designed to be delivered over a four week period (7.30pm – 9pm)


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Timeframe for statutory registration


Draft regulations to designate the professions of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and to establish a registration board will be ready for submission to the Houses of the Oireachtas for their approval during the present session, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has told the Dail.


The Minister recently concluded a public consultation on  his proposal to regulate counsellors generally under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.


On foot of the consultation process, He has decided to proceed with the designation of two distinct professions under the Act, that of counsellor and psychotherapist. Each will have its own register under one registration board. This decision has been communicated to the Health and Social Care Professionals Council, the relevant professional bodies and all the respondents to the public consultation process.


Subject to the approval of the Houses, the next step will be the appointment of the 13 members of the registration board, following the submission of suitable candidates for the Minister's consideration, by the Public Appointments Service. The aim is that the registration board will be in a position early in the New Year to begin the task of drafting the various bye-laws to allow it to establish its registers.



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