Co-Founder Josephine Murphy on 30 years of PCI College

The genesis of PCI College was in 1990 when my colleague, Liam McCarthy, and I met. Initially, we began working together as conjoint counsellors with individuals and families. This was a new and unique way of working, which led us to facilitate groups in the community on a variety of themes and topics. Liam’s background was in education and mine was in nursing. During 1991, with continuous reflection and study, we co-founded Community Lifestyle Workshops which developed and became the Personal Counselling Institute and what is now PCI College.


On reflection, I can say that our inspiration for the project was shaped by our previous professional and personal experiences. Liam was an educator all his life. My interest emanated from working in both general and maternity nursing, healing massage and energy work. We both had illnesses that were life-changing experiences, which significantly influenced our belief in spiritual life. So, in designing and delivering the courses we were focused on integrating a body/mind/spirit approach and the concept of wholeness. Our passion was greatly supported by our study of adult education and the philosophy behind it. We were facilitators rather than experts. The focus was on experiential learning, learner’s needs, dialogue, feedback and self-discovery. We were, at the same time, cognisant of meeting the necessary academic requirements. The course content was always a response to the emerging needs of learners, society’s changing needs and the professional standards required.


So, it continued to be an everchanging school of learning.


The foundation for all of our training courses was genuine nurturing and compassion in delivering a quality professional service. All PCI staff were committed to these challenging demands. This ethos was often challenging as counsellor training moved increasingly in an academic direction. After much research and help from our colleagues, Professor Michael Carrol and Vivien Cassells, we commenced a collaboration with Middlesex University. After many hours of writing programmes, meetings and assessments we established a B.Sc. Honours Degree in Counselling & Psychotherapy, a Higher Diploma in Supervision and a Diploma in Suicide Studies.


Due to the increasing demand for these courses and Liam’s changing medical condition, we found it necessary to speak to other individuals who would have the energy, passion and expertise to continue our work. This new team was led by Martin Kitterick, Eoin Stephens and a team of tutors, consultants, administrators and many others. I now share with pride how PCI College has continued to develop and meet the ongoing needs of the profession, now providing 30 courses in six different locations in the certificate, undergraduate, postgraduate, accredited and validated courses on many different themes and topics. The college is committed to meet the ongoing demands of the counselling and psychotherapy profession and has never lost its energy and enthusiasm to adapt to the changing needs of the community.


Finally, it’s exciting to see that the College provides a Liam McCarthy Scholarship each year as a tribute to Liam’s passion for second chance education. This is a unique opportunity for a deserving person to complete a four-year B.Sc. Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy. This is a really generous gesture by the college and is a fitting tribute to Liam’s memory. It is also lovely to see Martin Kitterick’s passion come to life every year since his death in the provision of the Martin Kitterick award, which is granted for a thesis of outstanding academic quality. I do hope Liam and Martin are looking down on us from above, still sending us many words of wisdom.


Well done to everyone and all the beautiful people who inspired and contributed to the ongoing journey of PCI College. I am very grateful for such an exciting and sometimes fearful journey.


Josephine Murphy, Co-Founder, March 2021.

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