Pathways to recovery

In December 2019 Silent Voices co-hosted a lecture with Aware entitled “Growing up with parental alcohol misuse: the impact on mental health and things that can help,” in which our co-founder Barbara Whelan and Dr Katie Baird, a counselling psychologist and the founder of the Irish Centre for Compassion Focused Therapy, discussed how psychotherapy, mindfulness and compassion focused therapy can be helpful for those who have grown up with parental alcohol misuse.

Listen back here: Psychotherapy/Counselling If you feel that you would benefit from psychotherapy or counselling you will find a list of professional counselling and support services in both the private and public sector in our resources section here. Mindfulness Based Interventions There are a number of Mindfulness Based Interventions which can be helpful for those who experience difficulties as a result of growing up with childhood adversity. The following are the main mindfulness programmes.
  1. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is an eight-week program which was developed by Jon Kabat Zinn in 1979 while he was working as a molecular scientist. Originally developed to help patients dealing with chronic pain it has since been shown to have lasting benefits for a wide range of participants and is particularly helpful for people dealing with stress and anxiety. The course gives a practical and experiential introduction to a range of mindfulness practices. Each MBSR class is two and half hours in length and includes a day’s retreat.
  1. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
MBCT was developed as an intervention to help people who suffer from recurring depression by Professor Williams, Teasdale and Segal. They developed and researched a programme that could be undertaken while relatively well, to help prevent sliding into relapse of depression. It is an adaptation of MBSR. Participants learn to recognise specific patterns of negative thinking that people with depression are vulnerable to, and over 8 weeks develop resilience and confidence in their ability to respond to them skillfully
  1. Mindfulness and Compassion
Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) are programmes which combine the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion, providing a powerful tool for emotional resilience. Mindfulness teaches us to be more aware of life as it unfolds from moment to moment, but these moments can bring us difficulty, pain or suffering, a challenge we all face at some time in our lives.  MBCL and MSC programmes offer practical guidance on cultivating a mindful, kind and compassionate relationship with our inner life. If you feel that you would benefit from a mindfulness programme, here is a link to the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland the professional body of teachers of MBSR and MBCT in Ireland There is a right time to begin mindfulness and if you are currently experiencing depression, high levels of anxiety or other difficulties in your life, it is best to wait until things have eased before you begin. Do ensure too, that any teacher you choose is aware that you grew up with parental alcohol misuse. You might also be interested in a lecture given by Dr Paul D’Alton,”Don’t Believe Everything You Think,” to Aware in September 2019. Listen back here: Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) Compassion Focused Therapy was developed for those who have difficulties with high levels of shame, self-blame and self-criticism. These are things that we commonly struggle with if we have grown up with parental alcohol misuse. CFT helps us to realise that much of what causes us to suffer is not our fault. At the same time, CFT helps us take responsibility, in a compassionate way, for what we can change. In CFT, you learn to understand your emotions and motivations and are supported in exploring the difficulties that you face in a caring way with the aim of developing a more compassionate relationship with yourself. Your therapist will work with you to harness your own innate strength, wisdom, courage, and commitment, to bring about the changes that you want to see in your life. If you feel that you would benefit from CFT here is a link to the Irish Centre for Compassion Focused Therapy The Compassionate Mind Foundation (UK) is an international charity which promotes an evolution and neuroscience informed approach to compassion which forms the basis of Compassion Focused Therapy and Compassionate Mind Training. Find out more here: