Counselling is a relatively recent arrival to Ireland. While marriage counselling services were established in the 1960s, the one-to-one counselling with which we are familiar today began to flourish in the past 25 years.

This, it seems to me, coincided with a falling-off in the sense of community and belonging, perhaps due to the economic upturn which ended less than six years ago. Counselling reflects the society in which it is set, and the danger exists that we begin to treat the person more as an isolated individual in the counselling room, and less as a social being who has a basic need to involve himself or herself in a satisfying way in the activities and concerns of other people.

The IICP goes against this trend. The principles of Dr William Glasser’s Choice Theory are fundamental to its philosophy and the cultivation of the sense of belonging is fundamental to Choice Theory.

New times and different cultures produced changing needs. IICP (and the Village Counselling Service) have already begun the second phase, IICP continues to provide training in a range of therapies through certificate,
diploma and degree programmes.

Literature about organisations shows that the second stage is crucial. The excitement, challenge and difficulty of the founding years have passed. Phase two requires particular skills so as to ensure a clear and transparent organisational structure where responsibility with accountability supports the purpose – to serve clients. Useful questions for any organisation are: What takes the energy? Who takes the time? How do we know that we are achieving the founding vision?

Moreover, the Village Counselling Service relies on the voluntary efforts of students and graduates who make a huge difference to the wellbeing of people who could otherwise not afford counselling.

Nobody takes a profit out of the VCS which is supported by the HSE and the Family Support Agency and which is truly a community service.

For these reasons I am proud of my association with the IICP and the VCS and I hope they will be used as a template for other communities in the future.

Padraig is a Module Lecturer at IICP Education and Training and is member of the board of management of the Village Counselling Service with clinical responsibility for the governance of the service. Padraig provides workshops nationwide on the practice of mindfulness in daily livingand has just completed his new book ‘Mindfulness on the Go’ which is due for publication shortly.