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Conference 2020  ≡ 


National Counselling & Psychotherapy Conference has been posponed due to the current COVID-19 restrictions until 2021


Encountering suicide & self-harm

Supporting professionals, building resilience


PCI College is proud to present the ninth National Counselling & Psychotherapy Conference which will be held in the Ballsbridge Hotel, 28th November 2020. This year’s conference is aimed at professionals who work with suicide and deliberate self-harm, exploring the latest interventions and research from leaders in the field and critically, looking at how best to support those in the caring professions for whom this important issue is an everyday encounter. As well as keynote speakers, there will be small group seminars that will be both participative and experiential.



6 CPD hours awarded for attendance.

Dr. Louise Doyle 

Associate Professor in Mental Health Nursing at Trinity College Dublin


Dr. Louise Doyle has just finished a study focusing on the experiences of people who present to the Emergency Department with self-harm or suicidal behaviour. Her research interests are in the area of mental health with a primary focus on suicide and self-harm. Using a range of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods designs, Louise’s research has had a meaningful impact on clinical practice and education and she has published in high-impact nursing and interdisciplinary journals, books and national and international conferences. She has been successful in securing research funding as PI or co-applicant from a range of funding bodies including the National Office of Suicide Prevention, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Past and current studies on which she has led and collaborated include an examination of self-harm and help-seeking in young people, healthcare providers’ responses to those who are suicidal, supporting mental health and suicide prevention within prison settings, risk assessment strategies in mental health nursing practice, and self-harm/suicide and mental health within the LGBTI population.


  • Peoples’ experiences accessing help for self-harm and suicidal behaviour in the emergency department: implications for practitioners.


Her talk for the PCI annual Conference will focus quite a bit on helpful and unhelp interventions that people experienced that would have utility for all professionals who work with people who self-harm or experience suicidal behaviour and she will also share some of her findings with us.





Professor Linda Gask

She is the author of The Other Side of Silence:

A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression.


Professor Linda Gask has retired from clinical practice after working a psychiatrist in the UK National Health Service in the North West of England and an academic at the University of Manchester. She is still affiliated to the Centre for Primary Care at the University of Manchester where she is now Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry. Her research and teaching interests are the management of common mental health problems and ways of working with primary care. She also helped to establish the STORM suicide prevention initiative and is a non-executive director of both STORM CIC and Six Degrees Social Enterprise in Salford (a step 2 Improving Access to Psychological Therapies provider). She has worked as an advisor to WHO and has been on the Board of the World Psychiatric Association. In 2016 she published a well-received memoir about her personal experience of depression- as a professional and patient. She was a 2017 recipient of the Royal College of Psychiatrists President’s Medal.


  • Suicide and self-harm- a personal and professional view


In this talk, Professor Linda Gask will draw on her own experience as a psychiatrist with training in and experience of psychotherapy, a teacher and a patient to consider how psychotherapists and counsellors address the questions of self-harm and suicide with clients and patients. Utilizing knowledge ranging from broader epidemiological data and what we know about the skills required to work with people at risk of self- harm, Professor Linda Gask will discuss:


· The key importance of engagement and the power of the therapeutic alliance.

· How to talk about suicide and self-harm

· Safety planning as a useful and important tool.

·The place of local networking, support systems and supervision in managing complex issues.





Prof. Dr. Paul Plener

Medical University of Vienna | MedUni Vienna 

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


Prof. Dr. Paul Plener, MHBA is full professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Medical University of Vienna and the head of Department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Vienna general hospital. His research focus is on Nonsuicidal Self-injury (NSSI), suicidality, self-harm and trauma in children and adolescents. He is the coordinator of the German clinical guidelines for NSSI and suicidality in adolescents and has published two books on this topic.



  • Psychotherapeutic approaches to self-harm in adolescence


Self-harm is common among adolescents and seems to be on a rise in recent years both in the community as well as in clinical populations. Self-harm can be present in the context of many mental health disorders and also has to be understood as a risk factor for later suicidality. Despite the high prevalence, therapeutical approaches to self-harm were scarcely available for a long time and have only been evaluated in greater detail in recent years. Today, there is a number of different evidence-based treatment approaches, that we're able to show a reduction in self-harm in adolescence. The talk will provide an overview of the latest evidence from psychotherapy trials and will provide short examples for the strategies used in different treatment approaches. Furthermore, the use of online strategies and apps to support psychotherapy in adolescents who self-harm will be discussed. 





Dr. Trisha Forbes

 Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast


Dr Trisha Forbes has been conducting research around the areas of suicide and mental health for around 10 years. Her background is mainly social psychology. She conducted a study in the North of Ireland exploring the phenomenon of youth suicide clusters, and how communities should respond in the aftermath of a death by suicide to try and prevent the potential for the knock-on effect of suicide contagion. Since then, Trisha completed her PhD, which explores young people’s perceptions of suicide in an area just outside West Belfast, where there is a particularly high rate of youth suicide. She has worked on a number of research projects, since the completion of her doctorate, focusing on various topics related to mental health and suicide, such as digital social prescribing for suicide bereavement support, the transition for CAMHS to Adult Mental Health Services, and mental health and well-being in the workplace.


  • Vicarious trauma while working in mental health and suicide prevention: personal reflections of a suicidology researcher


Trisha’s talk for the PCI annual conference will focus largely on vicarious trauma of those who work in the area of suicide prevention, research and suicidality detection. She will draw on her own experiences of mental health challenges while working in the field of suicide prevention and mental health research. She will also provide an overview of findings from her qualitative PhD inquiry, around young people’s perceptions of suicide





Marguerite Kiely


Director at Athena The Academy for Mental Health and Well-Being; Psychotherapist; Clinical Supervisor



Marguerite Kiely is Director of Athena The Academy For Mental Health and Well Being. Marguerite was Clinical Director and Head of Child and Adolescents in Pieta House the Centre for Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm, for the past 14 years.  


Being Head of the Child and Adolescent Department, Marguerite had responsibility for the development and implementation of staff training in Child Protection Policies across 15 centres in Ireland as well as training staff regarding risk assessment for suicidal risk. Marguerite was also instrumental in the development of the School Resilience Academy and having conducted research, devised and delivered the programme, and has contributed to the publication of Scientific Contribution Research Papers .Marguerite was part of the clinical team who researched and developed the clinical Model for Pieta house.
Marguerite has presented at conferences in Ireland, the UK and the USA. She has appeared on  TV, Radio and Newspapers discussing mental health and self-harm issues and is a strong advocate on Youth Mental Health. She has delivered workshops to both Corporate, Health and Mental Health Sectors, addressing Workplace Burnout and the importance of Employee Self-Care. Marguerite has also presented to parents and teachers in schools at both Primary and Secondary level nationally, providing guidance and support concerning Child and Adolescent issues and also to College Students.

Marguerite is also an author having penned the book 'Aaron's Legacy' charting the considerable emotional, physical and mental strain when a loved one was seriously ill in hospital, away from home, and how comfort and refuge was afforded her through the services of CLIC UK which was then replicated by her brother through the creation of An Bru Columbanus  in Cork a home away from home facility for families of terminally ill children.


  • Supporting professionals working with Children and adolescents engaging in self-harm and struggling with suicide ideation. 


This workshop is specifically designed to support professionals who work with both children and adolescents in crisis engaging in self-harm as a coping strategy, have made suicide attempts, or struggling with suicide ideation. The workshop will provide information to address the following: 


1.The risk assessment process when a young person presents with self-harm and suicide ideation.


2.The myths and facts of self-harm and suicide.


3.Key goals of therapy engaging with young people.


4.Therapeutic interventions.


5.How to manage parental anxiety.


6.Building resilience for therapists and importance of self-care.





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