In 2021, the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) celebrated its 40th anniversary. For 40 years, the IACP has been promoting safe and effective counselling and psychotherapy in Ireland.
From auspicious beginnings, when the inaugural meeting was held in a basement in Dún Laoghaire in 1981, the IACP has become the most prominent and leading body of counsellors and psychotherapists in Ireland. We now have over 4,700 members, and our membership continues to grow. The years 2020/2021 were challenging; our organisation, no different to any other, was significantly affected by the pandemic and had to move its operations online. Like countless others, we had to rapidly adapt to this shifting paradigm, and we took advantage of the available technology.
To celebrate this momentous year, we hosted our 40th anniversary campaign. This consisted of a public awareness campaign and an online public event. The awareness-raising campaign aimed to promote our excellent Find a Therapist function on iacp.ie. This tool facilitates potential clients to connect with accredited IACP members. Our first online public event, Essential Conversations with IACP, was a resounding success. Essential Conversations featured host Blindboy Boatclub, and moderated discussions in featured panels on body positivity, parenting, sports and mental wellbeing, and inclusion and diversity. Each forum featured panellists such as Colman Noctor, Dublin football’s Shane Carthy, and Síle Seoige. The IACP and our PR company, Fuzion Communications, were nominated for Best Technology Innovation for this event at the recent Digital Media Awards 2021.
Continuing with our public awareness raising and lobbying work to increase accessibility to counselling and psychotherapy, we launched our Pre-Budget Submission (PBS). This is a vital tool for an organisation to communicate their wants to government ahead of the publication of the following year’s budget and we publish one yearly. This year, in keeping with our move to embrace technological advances, we also called on our members to engage via a digital advocacy platform where they could send emails directly to their Oireachtas representatives.
In our 40 years, we have witnessed the expansion and evolution of our profession and the increased discourse around mental health, particularly during this pandemic period. These are very positive developments and our requests to the government in our PBS are reflective of this trend. We are simply seeking parity of esteem with other health professionals. The implementation of our requests would have multiple benefits. Tax relief, if fully extended to counselling and psychotherapy, would not only make therapy more affordable, it would also further endorse the profession and solidify the view that good mental health is of the utmost importance to us all. Further details of our submission are available on our website.
From our modest beginnings in Dún Laoghaire 40 years ago, we have seen a remarkable change in public attitudes towards counselling and psychotherapy. We have been instrumental in changing these views. Inevitably, there is more work to be done, and persistent campaigning is one such means of achieving our goal. The firm belief that all people should have access to regulated, high quality and professional counselling and psychotherapy services continues to propel us forward. The IACP believes that counselling and psychotherapy must be an integral part of healthcare provision, and we will continue to lobby and advocate for the realisation of this vision.
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