Getting to know you: a series for the Newsletter introducing member associations and looking in more depth at their history and activities

IABCP Irish Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
Representative Fionnula McLiam writes……

The Irish Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (IABCP) is a transnational organisation – we are the only member association which spans two jurisdictions, two nations.

We have been since our original inception (the Behavioural Engineers of Ireland, in 1979) an all-Ireland body. We pre-dated the Troubles, we existed right through the Troubles, and we continue existing now.
In some ways it is strange that the present is actually our hour of difficulty. We now have more members than ever (400), but most of them are in Northern Ireland which is, of course, part of the UK. The health services in the two states are very different, and the demand for CBT is much higher than ever before. How that demand is et (or to be more realistic, partly met) is very different in the two parts of Ireland.

Northern Ireland has a population of 1.8million. It is the smallest of the four countries of the United Kingdom, with only 2.9% of the entire population of the UK, and uses the £ sterling as its currency. It holds just over a quarter of the population of the island of Ireland. It is small in size, only 14,000km2.

The Republic of Ireland has a population of about 4.6 million, and uses the Euro. Since the economic crash, we have an unemployment rate of 11%, high emigration, and high taxation. At 70,000km2, we have a large area to cover.
The two jurisdictions, the two states, have different health systems. Northern Ireland has the NHS, a publicly funded service which aims to provide health care from the cradle to the grave. The Republic has a complicated system of both a publicly funded health service funded through taxation, and private health care which can be both for-profit or not-for-profit and is funded by optional and voluntary health insurance contributions.

Despite the complications and difficulties of encompassing two countries, we have always worked together well. Our main aim is to provide accreditation of therapists and continuous professional development to members.
Our members are generally mental health professionals: psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, and also include cardiac nurses and dieticians.

We aim to provide 2 workshops a year for our members, and while they are mainly in Dublin or Belfast, we try to get to Galway and Cork and other centres too. Recent workshops have been on Problematic Alcohol Drinking (Frank Ryan), the Method of Levels (Warren Mansell) and we will shortly be hosting a workshop on Disgust by David Veale. There is generally an attendance of around 70-80 participants at workshops.

We have had a special initiative of Caring for the Carers, which emphasised self-care among therapists, and recognises the difficulty inherent in therapists asking for help for their own mental health problems, especially in a small community.