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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Public Education in Ireland and the USA-Highlights

This Ireland trip has been full of information and fun! In less than a week I have learned more about the education system of the motivation of students within it than I could have ever anticipated! Today, Tuesday, May 20, we got to meet with Dr. Eugene Wall at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. He is known for his vast research with the ways that various places use assessment in their school systems. Meeting and talking to Dr. Wall was perhaps the most significant portion of the trip for me in terms of my own personal research.  He opened my eyes to the differences in sources of motivation, accountability, and methods of testing.

Motivation & Accountability:
In the United States, schools are held accountable for the student’s performance according to the Bush Administration.
In Ireland, pupils are held accountable for their own performance. There is no connection between under performance and blame of teachers.
Most schools in Ireland test at all grades but in Ireland, the state doesn’t publish or analyze the information like we do in the United States.

Standardized tests are used in different ways and are not as “threatening” as they are in the states.
Standardized testing/ test accountability is not an issue of reforms in Ireland.
Irish higher education is fueled by performance and competition rather than wealth.
All of these things were fascinating to me and will help me shape my final paper! I am excited to research more of these issues and I can truly say that Dr. Wall sparked my interest in many of them, it was awesome to have the opportunity to meet him!

-Peyton Ramser

Higher Education in Ireland

Our trip to Ireland so far has been fantastic!  I have learned so many things that I know will have a huge impact on my studies in Higher Education Administration.

For example, on Tuesdsay, May 20, we had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Eugene Wall, the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.  Dr. Wall is very knowledgeable not only about Ireland's academic system, but also about international education.  He was able to help us understand a number of key differences between higher education in American and in Ireland.  A few that stood out the most to me were:
  •  There are three sectors of Higher Education in Ireland:  Universities, Institutes of Technology, and a small private sector.
    • In Ireland, though, public education is considered superior to private education!
  • There are only 7 universities in the entire country of Ireland, while there are countless universities in America.
  • All universities are publicly funded based on the number of students enrolled.
  • Students pay one flat fee per year, and it is the same regardless of what they are studying.  You pay the same for education or medical!
    • If you are low-income, your fee is waived, and you get to go to college for free!
    • Financial means are not a factor, as college acceptance is completely based on merit!
Dr. Eugene Wall was eager to answer our questions, and I really enjoyed talking with him about education in Ireland!

-Chelsea McKendree

The Blue Box project

Today, we visited the Blue Box project of Limerick, and its work with art therapy. Throughout the week, we had learned about the few options for children with mental health needs in Ireland and that one of the reasons parents don’t seek mental health services for children is the potential for placement in facilities similar to detention centers. We also learned that children in crèche schools (low-income schools) can receive services from counselors who ask teachers to recommend individuals for counseling. 
This is what The Blue Box does for 20 crèche schools in the area. The speakers for this visit Bernadette Kenny and Austin Creaven use Dance/Movement, Art, and Play therapy in individual sessions. The child initiates sessions by choosing materials they are drawn to (art supplies, toys, instruments, etc.). Austin explained that being ‘in the moment’ with children helps them express their conscious and unconscious thoughts/feelings. Bernadette added that the therapeutic relationship, communication, and self-esteem are strengthened in the process of therapy and the end product (ex. a painting) is less important. As an Art Therapy student, I am happy to see that we share these beliefs. It was inspiring to see that this small company is growing and contributing to better mental health care for children in Ireland. Bernadette stated that parents embrace their services because they want the best for their children. However, there are still stigmas attached to ‘therapy’, so the words ‘art’ and ‘play’ help them. She explained that children have traditionally been held to high standards and can often feel like failures. This is one issue that The Blue Box is confronting on a daily basis in order to aid in healthy adjustment. 
As I was leaving, I looked at their bulletin board, which featured pamphlets for LGBT, abuse, and grief related services for teens. Overall, this visit to The Blue Box was encouraging because I could see that there are professionals making steps towards a larger network of care for children in Ireland. 

-Kristin Wunderlin

At the Blue Box project:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday, 5/19/2014

     First, I want to say that Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I have been able to visit. There is beautiful architect  everywhere, with interesting history behind it. On Monday, May 19, 2014, we were able to talk with interesting individuals from Mary Immaculate College. Dr. O'Connell and Dr. O'Sullivan gave an extremely insightful lecture on Ireland's educational system. It allowed me to understand the differences between their system and the United State's system. Dr.Swift and Father Wall provided us with a holistic view on Irish history that helped us begin to understand the background of the Irish people. After visiting the college, we went to a wonderful social services center in Limerick. They spoke of all the excellent services they are providing for the people of Limerick. There ideas and dedication was inspiring.
     Every moment I have been in Ireland has been wonderful and interesting. When we are not learning from professionals, we are learning about the culture through experiences and interactions. I would not have been able to have such a wonderful experience if it wasn't for the opportunities provided by the University of Louisville.

     -Tera Rumbaugh

Limerick Social Service Council – May 19th, 2014

In the United States, mental health professions, and Counseling Psychology in particular, are often leaders in multicultural competence, awareness, and advocacy. Much of our education is focused on achieving this competence and infusing it into our professional identities. Thus, I was curious to see how those in the mental health professions in Ireland approached multicultural issues, and whether the differences in their population or culture may play into their approach.
At the Limerick Social Service Council today, we had the pleasure of learning much about Ireland’s mental healthcare system, the public’s view toward mental health, and more. I took the opportunity to ask a few questions about the mental healthcare providers’ training in multicultural issues, and was intrigued by what I heard. Until very recently, there had been very little focus on understanding of diversity issues, as most of Ireland was traditionally English-speaking, middle class, white Catholics. With a recent immigration blast, many providers have begun learning more about the cultures joining their population (e.g., Polish, Lithuanian, Russian), but there were still no specific training or requirements on multicultural competence in their training programs. I had suspected that having a more homogenous population in Ireland would mean different views on diversity than those we have in the U.S., but I had not realized how much emphasis Americans place on ‘minority status’ in diversity conversations until I realized that the majority population was the oppressed group in Ireland.
Various lecturers throughout our week began to talk more about this phenomenon. Unlike in the U.S., it was not the dominant group oppressing others – white people did not have the privilege in this country. The Irish people as a whole felt oppressed by the British, and the Catholics by the Protestants. Thus, the majority of the country felt oppressed, which made it difficult for them to rectify this oppression and their need to notice and become educated on other, smaller oppressed populations. Thus, the history of the country has made the mental health profession’s focus on diversity and multicultural competence to have a different definition, focus, and sense of urgency than in the United States, and it will likely continue to evolve in different directions.   I am very grateful for my experience at Limerick Social Service Council and with other mental health professionals on this trip. These lectures and discussions with people in a similar profession but different context helped open my eyes to larger and more diverse perspectives in my field, which I believe will continue to help me grow as a well-rounded therapist in the future.

-Rosamond Smith.

At the Limerick Social Services Center

            Today, Monday, May 19,  we visited Limerick Social Services Council. The establishment is the oldest of its kind starting in 1967. They provided a wide ride of services from counselling, family advocacy, crèche (daycare), elderly services, parent support program, preschool, family welfare conference, and groups. LSSC combined their services to draw people in and make it less intimidating with a title of just counseling.  Counseling and therapy is a relatively new phenomenon in Ireland. Of course with generic counselling the service is only offered to residents that are 18 and older. As we have come to find in our time in Ireland there is far and few between services offered to the younger generations. Though, they are willing to work with 16 year olds if they have been referred by a social worker.
            One thing that stuck with me during the meeting with this agency is that they provide conference rooms for groups like AA to come and use their space rent free. This agency is more about helping the people then making the money. All the services they provide are also free as well but welcome donations to keep the operation going. Eighty-five percent of the funds come from the state.  Grants though have been reduced because of the recent economic crises. In order to work at this agency you would need a master’s degree to work here. There is twenty-five counsellors/psychotherapists, 13 employees (one of which was a Social Worker), two master students from the University of Limerick and 8 volunteers. Unlike here in the States there is no national licensing requirement. LSSC also has four other outreach centers that they work with. It was interesting to learn that this is the only agency of its kind that offer support to community. I think what the agency is doing and the services that they provide they are doing great things to make a change in their city

-Amy Godoy

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Work starts. King John's Castle, the Cliffs of Moher

   Everybody was eager to immediately interact with people in Limerick (Luimneach, in Irish). Our first stop was the King John's Castle, and then a quick tour of the city centre.  Luckily, rain stopped by the time we got to the Castle. It is an impressive place that had a significant role in the history of the region and of the country. Lots of rooms to go to, lots of steps. We enjoyed it very much. 

   On Sunday, after a nice hot breakfast cooked by Christine and Darren, we started our day with talks about our classes.  After that we were ready to go to the famous Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's national attractions.  We shared this trip with three students from University of St. Thomas in Texas--led by Isabel Torras. The cliffs reputation is unquestionable.  Hundreds of tourists braving the persistent rain and sunny patches.

After that, lunch and a brief visit to Bunratty Castle (more steps to climb).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Arriving in Ireland-Dublin, Limerick

We had a good flight from Atlanta, and students and faculty appeared eager to start our journey in this wonderful country.  First Dublin, where we rode our bus connection to Heuston train station, and then our train ride to Limerick Junction and Limerick.  Although we saw little of the city, Dublin is one appealing European city.

Our train ride to Limerick was uneventful, and everybody tried hard to take a nap and recover the sleep hours lost in the trip.  Everyone was fine when we arrived to Colbert station in Limerick and when we finally got together at Courtbrack, the Mary Immaculate College (MI) accommodations where Holly Cowman, the efficient MI International Relations Director, and John, the manager, gave us a warm welcome.  After a brief orientation from John, we were ready to visit the city's most known places.

Enjoy the funny-looking pictures.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ireland, here we come!

We are excited about this new International Learning activity.  We will be going to Ireland and will work with the Mary Immaculate College, the University of Limerick, the Cork Institute of Technology, as well as other institutions.  Stay tuned-more fun to come!

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland