Monday, May 26, 2014

At the University of Limerick

     Thursday, May 22.  Meeting with Dr. Patrick Ryan, head of the department of Psychology at the University of Limerick.  Excellent visit and presentation for the group in counseling and Dr. Leach.  We would later in the week meet Dr. Ryan in Dublin, during a surprising musical performance!
      After our meeting with Dr. Ryan, we continued our visit to campus and attended the end of the year student performances at the Irish World Academy, a real treat.

      --Darren Turner

University of Limerick campus.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Experience in Ireland

            The trip to Ireland I found enlightening in that before going on this trip I was unaware of any of the policies or procedures within the mental health field in Ireland. Nevertheless, talking with the Limerick Social Services Centre employees was extremely informative.
The LSSC staff giving the presentation to our group were warm, and inviting towards us, and were open to answering any of the questions we had for them on how they provide services to their community. This day was the most important for me because it was the day that was the most informative for me personally. That is not to say that the other days were not interesting to speak with or just as informative, yet this day helped answer most of the question I had prior to going on this trip to Ireland about the Ireland mental health system.
When it comes to mental health in Ireland I found that their system seems to be building up more and more every year. The need for the mental health system is also becoming more of a need due to enrollment of clients rising each year at the Social Services Centre in Limerick specifically but it can only be assumed that the rest of Ireland is in a similar position. For anybody considering on going to Ireland with the education department or another department I would highly suggest taking this opportunity because it was an experience I will never forget, and I can not wait to go back sometime in the future. Ireland is a beautiful country, rich in history, and a lot of the history that you could never experience by reading a book or watching a documentary.  

-Kara Kennedy

Ireland 2014

The international learning trip to Ireland was an absolutely amazing educational experience. Throughout the trip, everyone attempted to turn every experience into an educational one. From talking with shop owners and cab drivers to listening to various educators and psychologists, the entire trip was an endlessly fascinating learning adventure. The first weekend involved a great deal of sightseeing and learning about Irish history. The Cliffs of Moher were truly an incredible experience. Nobody never shied away from the difficult hikes, and we always made sure to take advantage of photographic opportunities.  Journeying through the Irish countryside by bus was fantastic, as it provided us with a view of the breathtaking Irish countryside and quaint towns along the way. It seemed like there were castles everywhere!

As we departed for Mary Immaculate College Monday morning, several of us were curious as to what our educational lectures would be like. Every day we met with various individuals at various sites, including Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Social Services Council, The Blue Box Art Therapy Project, University of Limerick and a local school. Meeting with these individuals was so much more than just a lecture, it was always an interesting, engaging, and energetic discussion experience. Everyone was incredibly knowledgeable and personable. We learned about a wide variety of topics including the education system, mental health systems, social services, child welfare, religion, economics, and politics. It was amazing being able to learn about Ireland from such a variety of knowledgeable individuals.

However, among the wide variety of really incredible experiences, I did have two favorite days. The first being the tour of the University of Limerick and discuss with Dr. Patrick Ryan, who is head of the psychology department. The University of Limerick has a fantastic campus with unique architecture. Dr. Ryan took us on the tour and spoke with us about various psychological services available to children and young adults in Ireland. The discussion was both fascinating and informative. During this discussion we learned that Ireland has only put into place laws against child abuse within the past few years. There are also limited mental health services available for youth, and alcoholism is on the rise. After our discussion, we were able to sit in on several music performances by graduating students who were performing their final pieces. The traditional music and singing was amazing, as well as a fantastic cultural experience.

My second favorite day involved a visit to a very small town called Kilcommon (Cill Chuimin, in Irish), in County Tipperary. Father Michael Wall, from Mary Immaculate College, who had led an amazing discussion about religion and politics in Ireland earlier in the week, led us on a tour of a prayer garden and then an excursion through the Irish countryside. Despite the fact that I am not personally a religious individual, the prayer garden was something to see. It’s unique design and flowing water throughout the garden from a local river was beautiful and serene. Father Michael then led a group of us on a two and a half hour pilgrimage through the Irish countryside. The Kilcommon loop retraces ancient paths used by individuals to celebrate mass and religious holidays, and dates back to medieval times. I cannot stress enough how amazing this hike was. It takes you through countryside, forests, up part of a mountain, and through amazing fields with beautiful flowers and babbling brooks. You will not ever get a chance to do or see anything so extraordinary as the Kilcommon loop. If you ever have the chance, take it! Father Micheal was also a fantastic guide (with a good sense of humor), as he was willing to engage in several discussions, answer questions, provide us with snacks, and even teach us some Irish phrases.

If anyone ever has a chance to be part of an amazing adventure and educational experience in Ireland, do it! Engage in discussions, kiss the Blarney Stone, walk the Kilcommon loop, and experience everything you can squeeze in. 

-Jessica Hatton
Irish breakfast at Corbett Court, halfway to Cork.

Physical education, and hurling

     During my trip to Ireland, I got to explore the aspects of physical education in Ireland through conversations with several well-known principals and professors in the country of Ireland. Physical education is very comparable to the United States, as they have the curriculum for it but they lack the implantation of it. Michael Cregan, the principal at Laurel Hill Secondary School, talked about how physical education is not a highly sought subject for students to take and that when students get into their senior cycle it is rarely taken.

      But recently, physical education is trying to be implemented into the leaving certification exams. Physical education in college is not a very well-known major, therefore primary and secondary schools have trouble finding adequate teachers to teach physical education. Health education is actually just picked up by teachers or other staff members at the school when they are available.

       Sports are a pretty big deal for Ireland primary and secondary students including the sport known as hurling or as camogie for girls. I got the chance to learn how to play the game of hurling by some of the members on the club team in Limerick. The game was a mix between baseball and field hockey using a wooden stick and baseball-size ball. As a big fan of sports, I had so much fun learning how to play and getting a chance to learn something I didn’t even knew existed until I came to Ireland! Another big excitement for me during this trip was going to the Ireland v. Turkey football (soccer) match. Unfortunately Ireland didn’t win, but everyone had a lot of fun being in the environment of all the avid soccer fans!

      I had a wonderful time in Ireland with a great group of people and learned so much about the education system in Ireland. Hopefully one day I will be able to return!

-Erin O’Grady

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Glenstal Abbey and Ireland’s Urban Cathedrals

            Our travels through Ireland’s three largest cities provided us with stunning vantage points of some of their magnificent cathedrals.  My research focus for the course, exploring the interaction between religious worldviews and psychotherapeutic training in Ireland, was reflected in the relationship of these historic buildings to their environments.  Often situated near the city centers, their soaring spires and finely wrought architectural details lent both historical gravitas and cultural vibrancy to these otherwise very modern settings.
            Ireland is experiencing a time of changing identity and many of those who spoke with us pointed out the explicit distancing from religion taking place in the country on a large, if mostly informal, scale.  Still, as I watched a large wedding party leaving Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and fan back into the many moods and districts of the city, I realized how central the church is to Ireland in terms of social structure and organization.  Whether forged in alliance with or in contrast to the cathedrals anchoring them, Ireland’s cities may be an apt parallel for the minds of many of its inhabitants – focusing both on and through the heart of a familiar construct.
            We were also fortunate enough to visit the beautiful Glenstal Abbey and be guided through the grounds and art collection by distinguished historian and Benedictine monk Dr. Colmán Ó Clabaigh.  The abbey is home to a celebrated terraced garden and one of Ireland’s finest secondary schools as well.

Please enjoy the photos.

-Darren Turner

The Norman gatehouse at Glenstal Abbey.

Glenstal Abbey, a Catholic Monastery.

Glenstal Abbey grounds.

The ancient West Door of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick.

Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.

Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, from our hotel window at daybreak.

The Bridge and Synod Hall of Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blue Room at the Cork Institute of Technology

While in Cork for the day today, our class was able to visit the Blue Room at the Cork Institute of Technology. Our group had three Art Therapy students including myself so we were really excited to visit the Institute’s Art Therapy department. In the United States, Art Therapy is still an up-and-coming field not too many people know about. This seemed to be the same situation in Ireland and with the country being much smaller than the U.S., we were surprised to find an Art Therapy degree being offered at the Institute.
            Jessica, a staff member in the department, spent a lot of time talking to us about the Art Therapy program while other staff members gave us insight about the international programs and other degrees the college has to offer. It was really exciting to hear about everything the Institute is doing to better the community and even the world. They are teaching their students about becoming “Global Citizens.” This term was described to us as someone who opens their mind to more than just what is going on in front of them. A Global Citizen cares about the issues going on around the world and wants to be a part of the world in a positive way.
            Talking about being a Global Citizen seemed to spark inspiration in all of us on the team. We had good discussions about ways we can bring our own skill sets and education backgrounds into something that will better not only our community, but the world. Also, it sparked a desire for us to learn more about what other people are doing in our field in other countries. I know for me specifically, I was really encouraged to hear how a student in the program is currently running an art studio for the homeless men and women in the city of Cork.
            Hearing Jessica talk about the Art Therapy program also had us thinking about the differences in education and Art Therapy in general between Ireland and the U.S. There were some differences we discovered between the structure of their Art Therapy sessions and the ones in the U.S.  In Cork, we also saw that they stress the importance of the therapist participating in his or her own art work in able to become more aware of the creative process. It was interesting to hear about their foundational perspectives and I am looking forward to incorporating some of what they teach in their program into my own way of doing Art Therapy.
            At the Cork Institute, the art department partners with a group of adult artists with mental health issues. These artists come and partner with the art students and create art together. It is a partnership and both groups experience a therapeutic element while making masterpieces together. The visiting artists were in the studio the day we visited and came to show us some of their work. After, we spent time with them creating group artwork. We covered a huge chalkboard canvas with designs we scribbled with chalk. The experience allowed us to become creative with one another, built relationships, and was a very therapeutic exercise.

            Personally, I loved visiting the Blue Room and walked away inspired from everything we heard about them doing in their community and with a national mindset. I know that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed our visit there because the discussions we had after were deep and nothing but positive and encouraging. I am excited to see what all of us will be doing to become better Global Citizens. We came up with a lot of ideas of what that could look like in our own fields and I am looking forward to how they all come about!     

-Karli Raftery