Dundalk Christian Counselling Centre

Annual Report 2009


Since 1994 the Centre has been providing a service to the community, as an outreach arm of concern into the community by Dundalk Baptist Church. The church became increasingly aware of needs in the area of personal counselling and particularly for Family and Marriage counselling through it’s normal contacts in the community. At the time the church had the benefit of having on staff Mr Jeff Whitfield MA a qualified Marriage and Family Therapist.

A training programme for counsellors was initiated, under Jeff’s direction, and a number of people were trained a part time counsellors. The Director of the Centre -who would provide the bulk of counselling after Jeff’s departure- trained under Dr Stephen Mac Cauley who is a psychiatrist specialising in providing counsellor training to churches who wish to provide a counselling service with an Evangelical Christian ethos.

The Centre has as it’s main target the Evangelical Christian Community who would be reluctant to use a service not compatible with their ethos.

It has been found however, that the service is used by members of the wider community regardless of background, and this is a scenario that the Centre welcomes. The service is provided free of charge although occasionally voluntary unsolicited contributions are received from clients.



When originally established it was recognised that the level of demand for services would be hard to anticipate. This has indeed been so. With a small client base covering a very wide geographic area, the Centre moves from periods of low activity to hectic activity. This places severe demands on the resources both human and financial!


The initial receipt of grant aid totalling IR£2,000.00 from the Department of Equality and Law Reform gave a valuable lifeline. Latterly the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs Family Support Agency have provided this auxiliary funding, € 10,000.00 in the current year . This covers app 29 % of the Centre’s costs which are over € 31,000 It enabled materials to be bought which otherwise might be beyond the reach of many of the clients It enabled valuable training to be given to counsellors thus ensuring that they are au fait with as many areas of their respective fields as is required. It enabled the provision of adequate office and ancillary services which other wise might be beyond the reach of small Counselling Centre. Grant Aid in the forthcoming year will help cover the extra costs involved in the provision of a child counselling service, bereavement counselling services as well as increased costs in secretarial, computer and other ancillary services. The Centre took steps in 2003 to develop a Web Site in conjunction with Dundalk Baptist Church. . On the site prospective clients can investigate the Centre and it’s services with both privacy and accuracy.


Travel Expenses ensure that the service is brought to those who would find difficulty coming to the Centre in Dundalk. An examination of the Travel Log would show that app 3,500 miles were covered in bringing the service to families, couples and individuals from North Meath through Louth into East Monaghan- as well as South Down and South Armagh. This is a decrease on last year. Yet the fact remains that it would be very difficult to bring the service to the community that is availing of it, apart from the counsellors being willing to get out and meet the clients in geographically scattered locations.


The Centre has from it’s inception trained a larger number of “lay counsellors” from local church groups in basic counselling skills. Some have gone on to further training in are such as bereavement counselling. This is in line with both the Christian ethos of the Centre as well as it’s professional approach to counselling, to seek to maximise the training quality of those working in the counselling field. The feedback from this is encouraging. Many problems are being encountered and dealt with at an informal level, while the lay counsellors a re skilled to recognise those who will need either more in depth counselling or even professional help.


The Centre aims to continue to provide in 2010 a service specifically for counselling children in marriage break up situations.

We were encouraged by the availability of a professional in the child care area who is available on on a voluntary, part time basis for child counselling.

The Centre now can provide a dedicated area specifically for child counselling. it is particularly important when counselling children to do so in an environment that is child friendly, using resources that help the child to communicate when seeking to address very hurtful and stress related issues.

To this end the Centre had decided to refurbish a special room , appropriately decorated and furnished to provide the necessary environment for child counselling. The estimated cost was € 5,000.00 This has been supplied by the church And completed last year



Substance abuse appears as both causal issue and in other cases as resultant issue in many cases that present for counselling. In Marriage problems it is often a key issue as a cause. In other cases sexual abuse for example many of the victims have gradually resorted to various forms of substance abuse- alcohol being by far the most common. In dealing with troubled teenagers in marriage break up situations alcohol and increasingly other substance abuses are evident.

To this end the Centre is increasing the profile of the services it produces in this area. The Director has been involved with helping teenagers in a rural area of the County where an opening to help with this issue has developed.



With Divorce being actually available in the jurisdiction from early 1997 it was anticipated that demand on the Centre’s resources in the area of marriage Counselling would increase. Since mediation, counselling etc. are required to prove every effort has been made to maintain the marriage it is anticipated that demands on the service may increase for this reason alone.


As in last year figures to date show no actual increase in demand but there is a real urgency among those seeking help. Many couples or one in the relationship actively considering separation/divorce. As stated there has however been no discernible increase in demand in this area as far as counselling is concerned. There probably will however be an increase as the cases are processed through. In particular it is anticipated the the demand for child counselling for this area will increase



There continues to be demand for counselling in the area of sexual abuse Both the victims and the perpetrators of sexual abuse (in the family context) have been counselled. While counsellors are trained in detecting signs of abuse and dealing with basic counselling in this area, it is often necessary to refer to specialised Counsellors.

It is the policy of the Centre to report all cases of sexual abuse to the local Health Board.


Mr Jeff Whitfield who had been involved in establishing the Centre has now returned to the USA to take up a new position with the SBC.

The training structures and contacts that Jeff established will continue to be used in the years ahead. In particular the Christian Counselling and Education Foundation – with which both Jeff and the Director trained – will be a source of ongoing training. The courses “How people change” & “Helping people change”, will be the core training module for the Centre.



The Web Site has generated some extra demand for services since it’s launch 2007.

Currently the Centre sponsors a programme on Dundalk FM http://www.dundalkfm.com/ -our local Community Radio Station. This gives further exposure to the Centre and it’s services to the Community. This project was just launched in January and we anticipate some increase in demand for services as a result.


The Centre was made aware of the “Peacemaker” conflict resolution programme. This Christian based programme, developed by Ken Sande, a lawyer and committed Christian, is designed to help individuals and groups face up to and resolve conflict using the biblical principles available. Both the Director and the Training Consultant have now trained in this method. This has enhanced the range of counselling now on offer – particularly the marriage and family area.

Stephen Murphy,


January 2010