Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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Meet the Board: Michelle Coyne [14/04/21]

IACP Board of Directors' Member Michelle Coyne talks to us about her life and career

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

I became interested in Counselling as I was going through a difficult divorce. At the time my children were quite young. I needed to know how to support their emotional well-being along with my own. Divorce equates to a great loss as children are losing a whole family dynamic system in which they were familiar.

I had to learn to believe in myself, to know that I had the capacity of how to build a life outside of what was deemed appropriate (stay married) to inappropriate, that is Divorced. In 2012 I found myself back in college for a second time. I was following my heart's desire to know how to be better able to support people who had been in a similar situation to myself. By 2016 I had my Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

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

We should all follow our dreams, hopes and desires. One never gives up on a dream, no matter how long it takes. There was a desire for me to do more, and so I did. I received my MSc in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Skills in 2020. One has to stay the course. The road will get bumpy, with a few potholes, but these only make a person stronger and more determined to achieve their goal. As Marlow put it 'Self Actualisation'. When a person reaches this point, they have two choices: stay there and be content with their lot or reach a higher level of 'self Actualisation '. Me, for now, I'm content, for how long, what can I say except only watch this space. I know I am not done learning, I have lots to do!!!

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

As we evolve, we either learn from our mistakes or repeat them. It may take generations to make a change. Therefore there will always be a need for therapy. This is a profession that has stood the test of time. Back in 1879, Wilhelm Wundt, opened the first experimental lab in psychology in Leipzig, Germany. His book 'principles of Physiological Psychology, published in 1873, related to his investigation into immediate experiences of consciousness, which incorporated 'sensations', 'feelings, volitions and ideas'. Of course, we are more familiar Freud, and his understanding of the unconscious mind, what lies beneath, our hidden desires and motives. Freud believed it is the unconscious that continues to influence our behaviour, which we are apparently unaware of.

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

Everyone has experienced the impact of the pandemic and this real-life crisis outside of the two World Wars, the whole world, have shared experience. There has been lost on a massive scale, loss of o loved one, loss of opportunities to grieve, even to know how to grieve alone, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, confusion, confinement, panic. Services became non-existent, and some services are still not available to people. People have been trapped in a world with no doors. If we are to look at Freud's theory of the unconscious mind, then our desire to survive the pandemic has increased as we all learn to follow new rules, avoid each other and remain separated from one another, to learn a new way of being.

What key piece of learning has the Pandemic teach you?

More than ever, there is a need for human connection, there is a need for normality to return. During the pandemic, people have become more creative, learned new skills, while others seemed to become disorganised, and challenged. I have learned that in life we have moments, and no matter how fleeting these moments are, there is a need to savour them and embrace their joy, peace, happiness, and love they all bring. So laugh often, sit in a quiet moment, watch the sunrise/sunset. Embrace the moments, don't wait.
Have enough courage to start, and enough heart to finish _ Jessica N.S. Yourko.


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