In this edition of ‘Spotlight On…’, we meet Eileen Noonan, the ESTD contact for Ireland.
Ireland is one of the largest islands in Europe and causes great confusion for many visitors who wonder where it sits within the Great Britain / United kingdom definition (we will let you work it out…). Ireland itself has been split into two main territories, with the Republic of Ireland (in the south) under complete independence from British government and Northern Ireland. The Republic was essentially formed in 1921, but not until 1949 was it declared to be a legal state in its own right, and known generally as ‘Ireland’.
Dublin is the capital city of Ireland, and a focal point for many visitors to the country. Given the vast scale of emigration from Ireland to America in the 19th Century, many visitors return from the USA to look into their ancestry (half of all immigration to America in 1850 was from Ireland). Dublin is also home to world-renowned Guinness Storehouse, one of the countries top attractions (I can personally vouch for Dublin Guinness tasting better than anywhere else…).
As with all of our European contributors, the geography and scenery of Ireland is well worth a visit – it is not known as ‘The Emerald Isle’ for nothing.
The English believe Stonehenge is one of the great ancient religious sites, yet in Ireland there is the Newgrange Passage Tomb, thought of as an ancient temple, and predating both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid in Giza.
Eileen tells us a little about the healthcare system in Ireland:
There is a two tier system in the Irish health services. Everyone is entitled to health care in the public system but there are long queues for many conditions. In the public mental health services there is limited access to psychological treatments. Many people access therapy from community based counselling services, charities or privately. For many years there has been specialised services for addiction and in more recent years for adults survivors of child abuse/ neglect. These services are part funded by the state. Because I work for an NGO I have limited experience of the mental health services so my experience may not be a fair reflection of the Irish Mental Health Service. In my experience of working with clients who are attending the state psychiatric services the treatment they are offered is medication. There is no specific in-patient or out-patient treatment for people with dissociative disorders.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, the work that you do and how long you have been in this specialty?
After working for 12 years in the computer industry I trained as a psychotherapist in my 30s. I have been working as a psychotherapist in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre since 2002. My primary training is in humanistic and integrative psychotherapy. The clients I work with are adults who have been raped/ sexually assaulted or adults who have been sexually abused as children. About half of the clients I work with have PTSD, others have complex PTSD, with a small number presenting with DID.
How are you supported in your work? (e.g. training, supervision etc)
The centre is 30 years in existence and has a reasonable model for supporting staff given the lack of funds. Therapists work 24 hours a week. The centre provides 1 hour supervision every 2 weeks, a team meeting every week and there is additional supervision available when the work is challenging. The centre provides roughly 4 days in-house training during the year. Therapists have to pay for external training themselves. Having a team of co-workers involved in similar work is also very supportive. I also have consultations with a supervisor in the UK for my work with clients who have a dissociative disorder.
How did you get into this type of work?
By chance really, a job came up and I got it. However I was always been interested in long-term work with adults and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre allow this way of working.
Are you involved in doing research, and if so, what are you working on now?
How is the concept of dissociation viewed in your country?
Until the last five years within my circle I had heard nothing about dissociation. It was only when I had a client who in retrospect I recognise had DID that I started to read and study about dissociation. In the last number of years I have made contact with other professionals who are also interested in the concept of dissociation.
What is it like being an ESTD contact member?
Ireland has 4 million people and ESTD has 5 members so I am trying to raise awareness of dissociation whenever I can. I am in contact with a number of people via email and the plan is to form a group which meets at least yearly.
How do you keep in touch with other ESTD members?
Mainly via email and meeting at the ESTD conference. We are planning to have an annual meetings starting in 2013.
What are your thoughts about using social networking, such as Facebook or
Twitter, to connect with other ESTD members?
At the moment I don’t use either because of privacy. However when we meet as a group I will discuss if we want to communicate via Facebook/ Twitter.
When you are not working, how do you spend your time?
I like to spend time with friends and family. To manage my stress levels I jog, do yoga and meditate. I love to read, go to the cinema and music. I take regular holidays with at least one week a year retreat.
If were to visit your country for a conference, what would you recommend that I should do to experience your culture?
Ireland is a beautiful country with lots of beautiful and unspoilt places to visit. I would suggest visiting the west coast which has a good mixture of beautiful places and pretty towns to visit. Irish people are very sociable and love to talk so doing some cultural or literary tours would give you a chance to engage with locals. Going to see a play or to pub with Irish music is also an enjoyable way to spend an evening.
Thank you so much Eileen!
If you would like to know more about work in trauma and dissociation in Ireland, please contact us at ESTD or Eileen via the e-mail on the Ireland part of our website. We would love to hear more from you, so do get in touch!
All the best,
Chair, ESTD Website Committee