Follow-Up Interview with the owner of Counselling Pafos
Mr. Brendan McGrath
Therapy is such a confidential situation, so not everyone gets to hear about the great work that is done behind closed doors. That’s why we featured Counsellor and Psychotherapist Mr. Brendan McGrath back in 2019 when he had recently moved and established a therapy practice in Cyprus. The Covid 19 Pandemic hit the world shortly afterwards, so we caught up with Brendan to see what he's been up to, we are delighted to share this with you on our website www.cyprusalive.com.
1. How did the COVID-19 Pandemic impact Counselling Pafos?
I had to adapt to the new situation quickly and comprehensively. Despite the pandemic or maybe because of it, I’ve had to be adaptable in terms of how clients are able to access therapy, whilst recognising the impact the pandemic had on individuals resources both psychologically and financially. As my practice was new, I had to hit the ground running. I was keen to respond to the emotional & mental health needs of our communities. As government decrees changed on a weekly basis, it was important to keep an open dialogue with the Ministry of Health. I was fortunate to have established a relationship with Dr. Tasos from the Coral Bay and Harbour Medical Centres in Paphos just prior to the pandemic and we were able to work in partnership to provide a number of free seminars for the public on Mental Health Issues. I was also able to offer free counselling clinics for those struggling with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems and grief.
2. Did the pandemic impact your practice as a therapist in any way?
I never thought that I would be comfortable delivering therapy online. But what really surprised me is I realised that not only can you build relationships with people with openness and honesty; but it can open up avenues for therapy to people that would normally only access an in-person service. Online counselling is now an integral part of the service we offer at Counselling Pafos.
As you know from my first interview with Cyprus Alive, I had lots of plans for establishing Counselling Pafos; however, the pandemic brought to mind the great quote from the poem by Robert Burns: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.
3. How has your practice developed since you started?
It’s developed in several ways, allowing me to focus on particular areas of practice that better meet the needs of the diverse communities in Cyprus and beyond.
I now offer in-person counselling by appointment and clinical supervision to fellow counsellors, therapists and those in the caring professions. Our online counselling has increased exponentially, enabling clients from across Cyprus and abroad to access a range of therapies. I’ve also been able to establish partnerships with local schools, establishing confidential referral pathways and enabling me to work collaboratively with other professionals offering specialist children and family therapy.
A key development are our professional training and seminars, focussing on a range of areas, for example, our free seminars on Addictions, Grief, Depression and Anxiety; training for businesses on reducing stress, and a question/answer workshop for Cyprus Samaritans volunteers.
One other development of note for the future, is our recent Mental Health Survey (online) to help establish the level of need in the wider community. Having accepted final submissions in December, I am currently analysing the results and hope to make my findings available within the next 2 months.
4. What services do you offer?
At Counselling Pafos, we provide a range of therapies and onward referrals where appropriate, we are able to provide a free initial assessment for young people & parents; Counselling Pafos accepts referrals from schools, if age appropriate and have established relationships with local therapists specialising in youth counselling and family therapy; and refer as appropriate. We offer a free initial assessment/consultation and all of our services are delivered in-person or online.
Additional services include clinical supervision for practising therapists, counselling/psychotherapy students and training services.
For a full list of the types of therapy offered and further details of our services see:
5. As a therapist, how do you manage to be emotionally available to your clients?
I am aware of how important it is to take care of my own physical and mental health; that old cliche springs to mind; “healer, heal thyself”. If I’m not psychologically in the right space, then it would make it more difficult to be there in a highly focused way for my clients. As part of my own commitment to myself, I keep myself in reasonably good shape physically and receive clinical supervision on a regular basis. In addition to this, I am involved in an online network of men, allowing me to participate in self development groups.
6. On the other end of the spectrum, your work seems incredibly rewarding and gratifying. What’s it like to help people and make a difference in their lives?
The work I do, at times, can be very challenging and sometimes harrowing, when listening to clients' experiences. However, when someone changes their life and achieves personal goals, and you’re instrumental in these efforts, it’s an incredible privilege. I learn from each of my clients – and that’s an opportunity I value.
7. If someone walks up to you on the street and asks you for some advice on mental health, and you have about 1 minute to spare, what would you say?
If you find yourself in a position where you can’t take care of yourself, let somebody else do it for you. Don’t keep your feelings to yourself and find someone who is willing to listen and be there for you. Even if you are really resistant to getting or asking for help, just ask yourself: “Can I really bear to continue feeling this way”? If the answer is no; reach out for help.
8. Where are you located?
Counselling Pafos operates from the Harbour Medical Centre in Paphos for In-Person sessions by appointment, in addition to online counselling. Referrals from professional organisations such as schools, are able to request appointments at their premises or in-person at the Harbour Medical Centre (Paphos Harbour).
9. Do you have any future plans for your practice?
In the main I intend to develop our face to face work in addition to expanding on-line therapy. A key plan is to expand our networks and engage in more collaborative working with professionals within the mental health field, creating more resources to make psychological services more accessible for the wider community.
10. Any other comments?
Whatever is incomplete from our childhood will show up in our current relationships. Psychotherapy offers the opportunity to do what is needed as opposed to the dreaded, painful and repeated. Thanks for talking to me again.