IAC Member Associations & Organizations
Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)
Interested in your association becoming an IAC member? Find more information here.
Additional Counselling Associations & Organizations
Association for Agency-based Counselling & Psychotherapy in Ireland (AACPI)
Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI)
Association of Professional Counsellors & Psychotherapists in Ireland (APCP)
Addiction Counsellors of Ireland
Cork Counselling Services
Universities & Training Institutes
IAC Education Institute Members
Interested in your education institute becoming an IAC member? Find more information here.
Additional Education Institutes
Trinity College Dublin
- Programme Types: Master of Science in Addiction Recovery
Dublin Business School
- Programme Types: Bachelor of Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices & Centres
IAC Member Centres/Group Practices
Interested in your centre/group practice becoming an IAC member? Find more information here.
Background & Context
In Ireland, people’s thinking and behavior were strongly influenced by the Catholic faith until the 1960s (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012). This may explain why counselling was hardly heard of until the 1970s and 1980s (cf. ibid.). This is because the church, among other things, rejected any intervention in family life and thus counselling services, as they are known today, did not experience opportunities for development and evolution at that time (cf. ibid.). In the 1960s, counselling (psychiatric) services in Ireland were highly stigmatized and often took place in poor conditions and in severely overcrowded hospitals (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012). After the influence of the church has declined, modern counselling has always evolved and experienced rapid growth (cf. ibid.). The 1980s and 1990s marked the time when counselling became established as a distinct profession in Ireland and was no longer confined to specific fields or institutional control. The establishment of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) also took place at this time, in 1981 to be exact.
It is important to note that in Ireland there is a distinction between counselling and psychotherapy and psychology (see O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012). For example, psychologists, unlike counselors, are allowed to bill some of their services through the statutory health insurance scheme (cf. ibid.). In Ireland, on the other hand, there is usually no distinction made between counselling and psychotherapy, as the same body that accredits counselors is also responsible for the accreditation of many psychotherapists (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition
Counsellors and psychotherapists are not designated as such in the Social Care Professionals Act of 2005 (cf. Government of Ireland 2019). This means that the professional title is not yet legally protected in Ireland (cf. ibid.). There is no official license for counsellors*, but there are certification bodies that try to offer qualified training. The training programs are quite diverse. Efforts are being made to standardize training and develop licensing requirements. The two largest accrediting bodies are Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) and Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psycho- therapy (IAHIP). Further, counselling services are generally paid for by clients without reimbursement from health insurance companies. Although the government pays for counselling for some special groups (e.g., people infected with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products), counselling is usually private and the cost must be borne entirely by the client (see O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
Counselor training in Ireland can be quite varied and represents a mix of private and public, academic and non-academic, and accredited and non-accredited training institutions (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012). Thus, training to become a counselor is not necessarily linked to studying at a university.
In Ireland, counselling is practiced in a variety of different settings. These include:
- School and university counselling (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
- Counselling in private practices (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
- Marriage counselling (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
- Vocational counselling (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
- Addiction counselling (cf. O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012).
Person-centered, humanistic, or cognitive-behavioral approaches are used in most counselling settings.
Challenges & Trends
Nowadays, the majority of the Irish population is very positive about the counselling profession and more and more people dare to start therapy (see O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012). But there are also a few problems. For example, in most cases, health insurance does not cover payments for counselling sessions, which makes access to counselling much more difficult and problematic for people with low incomes. This aspect also poses a difficulty for counsellors, as they cannot afford to work full-time in private practice and therefore often only pursue their counselling activities on a part-time basis. A change in the consulting cost situation in the near future is rather unlikely. There is no evidence that the government agenda includes direct provision of counselling services to those who cannot afford private counselors* (see O’Morain/McAuliffe/Conroy/Johnson/Michel 2012). In order for the profession to be legally regulated, a number of issues also need to be clarified, such as the number of professions to be regulated, as there is disagreement among professional associations as to whether it should be one or two professions. Furthermore, it needs to be clarified which title exactly should be protected and what the qualification requirements are for existing practitioners and for future counselors (cf. Government of Ireland 2019).
However, there is now an indication that an official accreditation body for counselors will indeed be established in the near future (cf. Flynn 2019). A registration committee, which has been appointed by the Minister of Health and which consists of 13 members, is already working on this (cf. ibid.). The main task of this registration committee is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct, education, training and competence of counselors and psychotherapists, as well as advising the minister on the professional titles to be protected. In any case, this is another important step towards legal regulation in relation to counselling and psychotherapy (see Flynn 2019).
In summary, then, the counselling profession in Ireland is undergoing relatively rapid development, despite licensing restrictions and cost barriers.
Additional Information & References
For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are recommended to read the following journal & website articles: