Little or no provision made for Psychotherapy: Irish Medical News

Published in the Irish Medical News: Magazine 18th June 2007

Julie-Anne Barnes

There is little or no provision of psychotherapy for public patients and we really need psychotherapeutic services provided by the HSE for those who cannot afford such services, according to Dr Brion Sweeney, Chairman of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy. Speaking at the Healing the Hurt event during the national conference of the Irish Council for Psycho­therapy in Dublin Castle recently, Dr. Sweeney said the provision of psychotherapy is largely limited to the private sector.

Dr Sweeney, a consultant psychiatrist, specialising in drug and alcohol abuse, said psychotherapy can be valuable in treating conditions ranging from anxiety disorders to substance misuse, depression, agoraphobia, or more severe mental health problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar depression. In addition, Mr Dan Neville, who is Chairman of the Irish Association of Suicidology, deplored the absence of psychotherapists in the Irish psychiatric service. He said the Irish College of Psychiatrists told an Oireachtas committee that 83 per cent of psychiatrists did not have a psychotherapist available to them. Â He said that there was an urgent need to establish multidisciplinary community psychiatric services, as first recommended 22 years ago in the Department of Health report Planning for the Future and again in the Vision for Change document published in 2006. He added that there was a need to develop other therapies such as family therapy and occupational therapy.