Pastoral Counselling

On this page you will find information relating to various forms of counseling services. Select a service below to jump to that section. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Pastoral Counselling
Relationship Counselling
Depression and Low Mood
Stress and Anxiety

Pastoral Counselling
Pastoral Counselling & psychotherapy uses well researched psychological and clinical practices as well as spiritual resources for healing and growth.

In Ireland today there is an increased emphasis on therapy and also an increased interest in spirituality. Combining these two areas in a person’s life in helpful and healing ways is what pastoral counsellors do.

Pastoral counselling moves beyond the typical “illness model” by providing psychologically sound therapy that recognises a clients spiritual dimension.

Members of the NAPCP adhere to rigorous standards of excellence, including education and clinical training, professional certification and accreditation. As a result of this extensive study, pastoral counsellors are among the most educated of mental health professionals.

Beyond education and training, continuous accreditation is also key in ensuring excellence in pastoral counselling. Candidates seeking accreditation by NAPCP are thoroughly tested and evaluated to assure that NAPCP certifies only the most competent individuals who not only have the required education and clinical training but who possess the highest personal standards.

An American survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C., to explore attitudes toward the role of spiritual values and beliefs in the treatment of mental and emotional problems reported “that an overwhelming number of people [69 percent] recognize the close link between spirituality, faith values, and mental health, and would prefer to seek assistance from a mental health professional who recognizes and can integrate spiritual values into the course of treatment.”
Choosing a counsellor who’s right for you

COUNSELLING is a very personal relationship. So it works best if you find a therapist you feel really comfortable with. Here are some issues you might want to consider when you’re choosing a counsellor.

Practical Issues

  • How quickly can the counsellor see me?
  • How flexible will they be if I need to change the time of my appointment?
  • How much will a counselling session cost?
  • Can they offer me ways of continuing to build my skills and confidence once my counselling is finished?

How Competent is the Counsellor?

  • Does the counsellor have the knowledge, skills and experience to work with the sort of issues I have?
  • If I have issues involving other people, is the counsellor able to work with a wider group of people?
  • Does the counsellor have a professional development plan that shows their skills and knowledge that are up to date?
  • Will they recognise the strengths and resources I already have and help me build on these rather than acting as the “expert”?

How Safe Will I Be?

  • Is the counsellor supervised by another professional to ensure they practice safely?
  • Is there someone I can go to within the counsellor’s organisation or professional association if I have a problem with them?
  • Does the counsellor meet my needs in terms of their gender, culture, understanding of sexuality, etc?

Relationship Counselling
Provides couples or individuals with a safe space to explore difficulties and resolve issues.

Counselling helps to:

  • Understand how family values, religion, country of origin and philosophy of life affect the relationship.
  • Reflect on how the past operates in the present.
  • Explore how arguments and rows seem to escalate in the same way each time.

Couples learn how to:

  • Listen to and understand more about each other.
  • Communicate in an easier and more constructive way.
  • Resolve conflicts without hurting each other.
  • Negotiate difficult decisions.
  • Recover the love, respect and fun that has previously been enjoyed.

Common issues:

  • Communication
  • Conflict
  • Parenting & Children
  • Different sexual needs
  • Money problems
  • Separation & Divorce

Helps clients come to term with a major loss in their life. Everybody reacts differently when someone close to them dies, and the recovery and healing process will take time.

This period can’t be rushed and varies from individual to individual as each person will have separate ways of dealing with the situation. However, some stages of grief are commonly experienced and it can be helpful to understand that intense emotions and changes in mood are normal.

Feeling numb or stunned is often how individuals first react when they find out a loved one has passed away. It may take some people a long time to grasp what has happened and initial thoughts such as ‘I can’t believe it’ and ‘If only’ are things people often go over and over in their mind. The feeling of numbness is usually replaced with a deep feeling of longing for that person, and anger and guilt are common related emotions. Feeling agitated and finding it hard to concentrate or sleep, and experiencing intense sadness or depression are also emotions felt during the grieving process. These stages of grief often overlap and will vary as the process is a very personal one.

Sometimes it may be hard for the bereaved person to allow themselves to grieve properly, however this can prolong the pain. Refusing to accept the loss, mixed feelings towards the deceased, low self-esteem, regret, lack of support and difficulties in expressing feelings can all make grieving more difficult. Therefore it’s important for individuals to deal with their feelings once they’re ready, but it’s important they are gentle with themselves and don’t expect too much from themselves at first.

While the bereaved person is feeling intense emotions it may be hard for them to understand how they are ever going to enjoy life again. Life may feel empty without that person and a period of adjustment to life without them will occur. However, as time passes, the emotional pain eases and the sufferer will feel a little bit better with every new day. It is important to realize that the feelings of loss may never completely disappear, but gradually life will become more bearable and even enjoyable once again.


  • Shock or numbness
  • Denial (disbelief that a loved one has passed away)
  • Guilt about actions taken or not taken prior to the death
  • Feelings of anger and depression
  • Agitation
  • Experiencing hallucinations, hearing the voice of the deceased or seeing images of them
  • Sadness and tearfulness
  • Disturbed sleep and appetite

Depression and Low Mood
Our mood naturally varies over time and from day to day and everyone gets down sometimes. We may say that we are ‘down’, ‘fed up’, or ‘feeling under the weather’; we may get disheartened about something that happens or when things don’t go the way we would have liked.

Although people often say ‘I’m depressed’ to mean these things, this would not usually be what is called clinical depression and is simply part of the normal ups and downs of life. Some people naturally experience frequent mood changes, while others have a relatively stable equilibrium.

Put simply, the distinction between feeling ‘down’ and being depressed is one of both degree and duration; i.e. low mood becomes problematic when it is frequent, persistent and begins to affect our work, relationships, social activities and self-esteem. Depression includes a persistent low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in life – it also commonly involves:

  • Negative thoughts and beliefs
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Loss of interest and enthusiasm for life
  • Feeling irritable, short tempered or tearful
  • Suicidal thoughts

Often depression is a response to events or circumstances that are felt to be deeply troublesome or distressing, or which seem to threaten our personal identity. Usually these circumstances seem too hard or even impossible to change. There can be a sense of powerlessness, hopelessness and an all-pervasive gloom.

However, sometimes people seem to get depressed for no obvious reason. In these cases, it may be that something that hurt deeply some time ago (even years ago) begins to surface now. Although this is perplexing and just as distressing, this process is not uncommon. Sometimes, though, the onset of depression seems to be caused by nothing in particular and can be the result of chemical or hormonal changes affecting our body.

It is understandable to feel down for a while after something upsetting has happened, like the end of a relationship or feeling disappointed that you have not done as well as you would have liked. Usually this disappointment passes with time, and people find that they can come to terms with what has happened and start to look forward to the future in a more positive way. However, if the low mood is frequent or persists, or seems so severe that it affects your ability to function normally, it is time to seek out some help.

Stress and Anxiety
In the modern busy world people often feel that they cannot cope with the demands and expectations being placed upon them, at such times it is normal for us to feel anxious, stressed or worried. The root cause of these feelings is often the assumption that we do not have the abilities or strengths to cope with the demands of life.

Anxiety is the normal emotional and physiological response to feeling threatened or overwhelmed. People differ as to how vulnerable they feel in different situations: this can be influenced by past experiences as well as by the beliefs and attitudes they hold about these situations.

The experience of anxiety can range from mild uneasiness and worry to severe panic. At a reasonable level, short bursts of anxiety can motivate us and enhance our performance, but if anxiety becomes too severe or chronic, however, it can become debilitating.

A counselor can work with clients to identify external triggers and internal thoughts which may be at the root of stress and anxiety. Clients can also learn different techniques to regain control and enjoyment of their life.

Counselling is helps clients think about, address and resolving issues which are causing difficulty in their lives. It can involve identifying options and choosing between them, learning new skills to cope better with problems, gaining greater understanding of what is occurring, or being supported while recovering from some significant life event.

Counselling is a collaborative process that involves the development of a unique, confidential helping relationship. The counsellor acts as a facilitator in helping clients to understand feelings, behaviours, relationships with others, situations, choices and decisions. Further, the counsellor offers a safe, confidential and non-judgmental context in which clients can:

  • Gain clarity and perspective on the issue
  • Receive the support they need to resolve issues and make decisions
  • Deal with negative feelings and emotions
  • Explore personal resources and develop new skills

Counsellors also provide support in the form of information, advice and referral to a range of services.

Psychotherapy is a process of exploring clients unconscious motivations formed during early life experiences. The client is encouraged to reflect on matters uppermost in his/her mind during regular 50 minute sessions.

Feelings, thoughts, wishes, memories and dreams can be explored within the relationship between therapist and client, and individuals can be helped to understand unconscious processes which affect their everyday thought and behaviour. In this way Psychotherapy may gradually bring about a greater degree of self understanding and enable the individual to find more appropriate ways of being, and of coping with difficulties.

Psychotherapy may be helpful for those who suspect that difficulties affecting the quality of their lives are emotional or psychological in origin. Most people experience emotional problems at some stage of life which are often resolved without outside help. However, sometimes they persist, perhaps because current issues have stirred up feelings from the past of which the person is not consciously aware. Emotional problems may be experienced in a variety of ways:

  • Feelings of anxiety and an inability to cope or concentrate
  • Feelings of emptiness, sadness or depression
  • Lack of confidence or feelings of underachievement
  • Excessive shyness
  • Difficulty in making or sustaining relationships, or repeatedly becoming involved in unsatisfying or destructive relationships
  • Sexual problems
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Difficulty in coming to terms with losses such as bereavement, divorce, or loss of a job
  • Physical symptoms
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessional behaviour
  • Phobias
  • Panic attacks

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