Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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Meet the Board: Jade Lawless

IACP Board of Directors' Treasurer Jade Lawless speaks to us about her career

What made you interested in a career in counselling/psychotherapy?

I have always been interested in people and their stories, in particular I was originally interested in criminal and forensic psychology and why people were motivated to engage in patterns of behaviour that, to most, were deemed unhealthy and unhelpful. To explore this further, I spent some time working in Broadmoor Hospital in the UK where I worked alongside some notorious psychiatric patients. I was very drawn to this field but the more I delved into the world of psychiatry and psychology, the more curiosity I had about the person behind a diagnosis.

I came to a point where I had a choice between further studies related to forensic psychology or counselling psychology and having decided to move with the latter, I soon found myself immersed in the world of counselling psychology and psychotherapy.

As soon as this door opened for me, I knew it was the right choice to have made and one that has led me to not only working therapeutically with clients and being privileged enough to be invited into the private world of the person behind the presenting issue but also to be involved in the training and development of trainee counsellors and psychotherapists through my work with PCI College.

What advice would you give to the new generation of IACP Members?

Through this work we are all gifted with being agents of change. We don’t make the changes for our clients but we do hold a supportive, safe, validating space for clients to create their own change if and when they feel they need to. The same can be said within the IACP itself. I never imagined that I could or would hold a place on the Board of the IACP, I was not aware of such a possibility when I started out in my career. However, over time I came to realise how important it is to have a voice, show support and represent your profession if you can. I also came to realise how inviting the IACP as an organisation is in encouraging all members to get involved. With that in mind, my advice would be to believe in yourself as an agent of change, as someone who can stand shoulder to shoulder with peers and to get involved where you can.

If you could give a younger you any piece of advice what would it be?

Similar to my previous answer, I would encourage confidence and to trust the process. I would remind myself that in order to overcome I must journey through and that there is great strength in being vulnerable. These are lessons that needed to be learned and that I still revisit.

What do you think the future looks for our profession?

It is such an interesting time to ask this question and had it been asked even 6 months ago the answer would likely have been different. It has become near impossible to reflect on anything without having the pandemic at the forefront of our minds.

The future of our profession looks busy; we will be supporting the trauma and aftermath of this pandemic for many years to come.

The future of this profession looks valued; we have been recognised as essential workers by our Government.

The future of this profession can overcome barriers; we have moved online! There is a new generation of online therapists, supervisors, trainers, trainees and graduates who have upskilled, embraced and mastered technological supports in order to continue to provide therapeutic services to those who seek it out.

The future of our profession is inclusive; we have seen the IACP lobbying for counsellors in schools, recognition by health insurance providers and acceptance by the HSE for IACP members. Our profession, with the support of IACP, will continue to break down barriers in the provision of psychotherapeutic support in Ireland.

What skills/attributes are essential for working in this profession?

The essential skills of the counsellor are known to all who will be reading this but for me, the one worth highlighting is a certain level of adaptability. This could be called open-mindedness, it could be called flexibility, therapeutically it could be seen as reframing. This, to me, is a really important part of the work as the nature of this work can be so unpredictable. Whether that be on a clinical level, in relation to what might come up in the counselling room, how you might be challenged to work through a client issue within supervision, what areas you need to upskill in for CPD development or on a practical level, how you negotiate room rental, organisational policies or even a global pandemic! An open mind to a changing landscape can mirror a solidness that is reassuring to our clients.

What key piece of learning has the Pandemic taught you?

Anything is possible!

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