Working life:  Aisling Murphy, counselling psychologist, Co Louth

Aisling Murphy, Counselling Psychologist at Smarmore Castle Private Clinic. Picture Ciara Wilkinson.

8.15am

I examine the nursing overnight reports raising any concerns and then the patients’ daily diaries where they write about their experiences and feelings in treatment.

Smarmore is a residential treatment facility for men and women suffering from alcohol/chemical dependency and other co-occurring disorders.

9am

I lead the patients’ first activity — a mindfulness and relaxation session.

I then meet with the multidisciplinary team to discuss patients’ progress and review individual treatment plans. Admissions staff brief us on new arrivals. including plans for full medical examination, and, if necessary, initiation of detoxification therapy by a consultant psychiatrist.

9.45am

Group therapy — which I facilitate — enables the patient to open up about addiction and obtain the support of others in the group. They are familiarised with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous programme.

11.30am

Patients can attend yoga or work on written assignments. If I’m not seeing a patient one-to-one, I may be facilitating a family therapy session which is very valuable since the family can also be damaged emotionally.

12.30pm

Lunch — I go for homemade soup or hot meal now winter is here.

1.45pm

I help deliver a programme of workshops covering topics on the disease of addiction and topics relevant to recovery.

2.45pm

I spend time record keeping and adjusting treatment plans.

3.45pm

The other therapists and I hand the patients over to the personal trainer. Exercise is vitally important for recovery — especially the brain — and patients are supervised in the gym, play table tennis and attend aqua aerobics.

Following a 12-step trail the patients will often disclose personal problems which can help me gain insight and is therapeutically very valuable.

5pm

We all meet again as a team with our manager to highlight any concerns.

5.30pm

Completing paperwork and saying goodbye to patients marks the end of the day.


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