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Jul 2016 by PCI College

New Course - MSc in Addiction Counselling & Psychotherapy

Programme Leader Eoin Stephens talks us through our MSc in Addiction Counselling & Psychotherapy. There is still a huge need for trained professionals in Ireland to help those who are struggling with addiction, and indeed the families who are affected. People work with addiction at many levels – key worker, support worker, social care, social work, nurse, GP, psychiatrist, and of course Counsellor/Psychotherapist (there are of course many discussion about the difference between Counselling & Psychotherapy, if any, but in PCI College we believe in simply emphasising both).

From alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and a huge variety of other mood-altering chemicals, to various forms of gambling and sexual stimulation, addictive objects have a long history, and come in an increasing variety of forms.

In Ireland in 2013, for instance:
•    The Drugs Market was valued at €600 million
•    679 people died from drugs
•    It was estimated that there were over 20,000 opiate users, and that 6.8% of the adult population (aged 15–64) had tried cocaine at least once
(from http://www.citywide.ie/thedrugscrisis)

Alcohol, in particular, has of course always held a problematic role in Irish life and culture.
According to a Health Research Board publication in 2016: ...over half the population drink in a harmful manner, making harmful drinking more the norm than the exception.
(from http://alcoholireland.ie/download/reports/alcohol_health/Overview-Series-10_Alcohol_in_Ireland_consumption-harm-cost-and-policy....pdf)

From a therapeutic, addiction has always been a controversial subject - even trying to define it has given rise to a lot of discussion and argument over the years. The American Society of Addiction Medicine, for instance, has recently updated its definition of addiction, partly to make more room for behavioural addictions such as sex addiction. The following is their current Short Definition:

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.


Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioural control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

(From http://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction)

Other points made by the ASAM include:
 
1.    Addiction is a primary illness. It's not necessarily caused by mental health issues such as mood or personality disorders. This puts to rest the popular notion that addictive behaviors are always a form of "self-medication" to ease other disorders.
2.    Addiction reflects the same brain changes whether it arises in response to chemicals or behaviors.
3.    The new definition eradicates the old "addiction vs. compulsion" distinction, which was often used to deny the existence of behavioral addictions, including Internet porn addiction.
4.    Recovery from addiction is best achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support, and professional care provided by trained and certified professionals.

This last point is obviously a key one in relation to PCI College’s rationale in establishing a MSc in Addiction Counselling & Psychotherapy. There is still a huge need for trained professionals in Ireland to help those who are struggling with addiction, and indeed the families who are affected. People work with addiction at many levels – key worker, support worker, social care, social work, nurse, GP, psychiatrist, and of course Counsellor/Psychotherapist (there are of course many discussion about the difference between Counselling & Psychotherapy, if any, but in PCI College we believe in simply emphasising both). Addiction Counselling/Psychotherapy as a discipline has tended to be seen as somewhat separate from other areas of Counselling/Psychotherapy, in a way that, for instance, Bereavement Counselling/Psychotherapy or Sexual Abuse Counselling/Psychotherapy would not be. Indeed, in Ireland it has its own professional body, the Addiction Counsellors of Ireland (formerly the Irish Association for Alcohol & Addiction Counselling). Many people who work in the field train as Addiction Counsellors from scratch, rather than building on an existing qualification such as generic Counselling/Psychotherapy, psychology, social science etc. PCI College’s Postgraduate Certificate, on the other hand, is designed for professionals (Counsellors/Psychotherapists, doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, psychologists etc) who are considering working more in the field of addiction, or who are already working there and wish to solidify and enhance their qualifications.

Over the years since the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, many approaches have been tried in relation to helping those struggling with addiction, and just as the problem of addiction is always growing, so the field of Addiction Counselling/Psychotherapy is an ever-developing one.

The Medical model has always been part of the mix, and recent work in neuroscience has led to new biological perspectives on the causes and treatment of addictions. The Twelve Steps of AA have also had a major influence on development of therapeutic approaches to addiction, as has Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and, in more recent years, Motivational Interviewing.

 

All of these perspectives are incorporated into our programme, along with practical skills-training and hands-on client experience under supervision.


Eoin Stephens MA, MIACP, MACI

Programme Leader

 

Eoin Stephens, Programme Leader Postgraduate Certificate in Addiction Counselling & Psychotherapy

 

A leading Irish Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT) Trainer, Eoin has worked in the area of mental health and psychotherapy for more than 25 years. Eoin has a particular interest in the relationship between addictions and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and is a co-founder of Dual Diagnosis Ireland. He is one of Ireland’s leading providers of counselling and psychotherapy courses and is a former Vice-Chairperson of the IACP and the ACI.  He is also well known for his therapy, training and media work in the field of behavioural addictions, and is a director of the Centre for Addictive and Problematic Behaviours.

 

Click here to enrol on the MSc in Addiction Counselling & Psychotherapy

 

 

What our Students Say

"Feedback from participants of the Professional CBT training held in the Family Life Centre Boyle was extremely positive. It was experienced as valuable in equipping the students with the knowledge and skills of the CBT approach. It was carried out in an atmosphere most conducive to learning. Working with PCI College has proved to be a valuable partnership.”
Denise O’Dowd, Boyle Family Life Centre - Tailor-Made Training

What our Students Say

“My experience with PCI College has been a significantly positive journey to date.
Johanne Kenny - BSc (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy Student
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