About Dundalk Counselling Centre
Dundalk Counselling Centre was established in January 1982 initially in response to the distress caused by rampant unemployment at the time. Much of this was due to a large influx of refugees from Northern Ireland following the introduction of internment there. People were housed by the local authority but were without any prospects of work and in receipt of minimal social welfare. They were also without support of family and friends who remained in the North. Money lenders moved in to service the financial pressures on people resulting in more stress and worry due to the impossible interest rates demanded. Many people developed depression and anxiety and some were suicidal. This was the background to the development of a counselling service for the area.
Initially the Centre worked out of two rooms in St. Brigid’s School in Ard Easmuinn.
It was founded by Dr. Jim O’Donoghue who lived in the area at that time. He recruited suitable people for training in counselling and psychotherapy. The training was delivered by professional psychologists and lecturers from Dublin Universities and Dr. Brion Sweeney was the consultant psychiatrist. The service was delivered free of charge and was financed by means of fundraising and generous donations from businesses in the town. The Board of Directors was made up of members of Dundalk Rotary and Lions Clubs, bankers and public representatives.
As demand for the service grew, the Centre moved to Kincora House on the Carrick Road where a professional training course took in prospective therapists from a wide area for a four -year training programme. Dr. Eamonn Ryan became the Consultant Psychiatrist to the Centre at this time.
The reputation of the Centre as a centre of excellence grew during this period and the search began for a larger, more suitable premises.
At this time Lions Clubs International Congress was to take place in the Far East and submissions for funding for worthy projects worldwide would be submitted for consideration. Thanks to Frank McQuaid and Dundalk Lions, our application was forwarded to the national Lions and subsequently to International Lions for approval.
Our bid for funding was successful and with the Centre’s own fundraising and the funds from Lions, a large premises on Seatown Place was purchased in trust for the community.
In 1990 the Centre became incorporated and became a company limited by guarantee.
It applied for and was granted charitable status. There is Constitution and Articles of Association in place. The Centre also holds up-to-date tax clearance certificates.
Jim O’Donoghue went on to found counselling centres in Dublin, Edenderry and Mayo and Harry McBride took over as Director.
It was soon realised that the Centre couldn’t continue any longer as a totally free service manned by volunteer therapists, and a fee for counselling was introduced. To this day, this fee is operated on a sliding scale depending on a client’s ability to pay. Some people cannot afford to pay anything and that is understood. Nobody is turned away on financial grounds. Funding was secured to pay therapists on a payment per session basis and this was augmented by client fees and payment by therapists for rooms rented for therapy with their private clients.
The new building was officially opened by President Mary Robinson in 1992.
Shortly after this in 1993 Colm O’Doherty became the Director, followed in 1996 by Patrick Deery, in 2000 Annette MacArtain became manager followed in turn by Lillie Dullaghan, Geradine Matthews and in 2014 Elizabeth McGuckin took up the position of Centre Manager.
Under the direction of Pat Deery a building dedicated for use in therapy for Adolescents and Young Adults between the ages of 13 and 20 was constructed behind the main Centre. Funding was secured from HSE to assist in this area and Sheila O’Neill was appointed co-ordinator of the Youth Service at the time.
In conjunction with the HSE, Annette MacArtain set up a training programme in Family Therapy Systems and HSE staff attended this training as did Annette herself. A dedicated Family Therapy unit was fitted out and staffed.
Our main source of funding is from Tusla, Child and Family Agency (formerly the Family Support Agency).
Other funding comes from the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime, and local fundraising by ourselves.
The current Manager is Elizabeth McGuckin along with the Administration Staff; Barbara McCabe, Bernadette Whyte and Alice McGuinness. Our dedicated Board of Directors oversee the Governance of the Centre and provide expertise in many areas such as Legal, Financial, HR, Social Work and Community Supports.