Emer Casey

B.Soc. Sci (Hons)

Systemic Psychotherapist & Registered Family Therapist.

Early Career and Training

Emer studied at University College Dublin where she obtained a Bachelor of Social Science.  She then went on to complete  a Higher Diploma in Social Science in University College Cork qualifying as a social worker. Emer then went on to complete a three year clinical training in family therapy in the Clanwilliam Institute in Dublin after which she registered as a Registered Family Therapist in 2006. Emer began her career working as a social worker with Tusla.  Here she supported families whose children were at risk, as well as with foster families and children in care.  She has also worked with the Brothers of Charity on a multi-disciplinary team serving children with a learning disability attending mainstream education.  Here Emer was exposed to the value of multiple perspectives when working with families with a child with a learning disability.  The experience helped her to gain insight into the challenges involved for families when trying to access appropriate services for their children. She worked closely with the family in order to assist them to advocate strongly for their child in a system that often marginalised them.  She gained experience in working with children with mild and moderate learning difficulties as well as children with autism.

Emer then  worked in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Galway as a social worker.  All her work here involved  supporting families who had a child/adolescent  with a serious mental health challenge.  Emer worked closely with the family therapists in the service often working jointly and collaboratively with another therapist. She spent most of her time working in the residential unit where children/adolescents were hospitalised due to an acute mental health crisis.  Emer worked primarily with the families of the child/young person helping them to navigate the system in order to ensure that their child got the best level of care possible.   She supported them through the crisis helping them to deal with the challenges involved.  She  gained experience in helping families to move through the shock of the admission so that they could reconnect with their resources and expertise as quickly as possible.  These experiences helped Emer to become aware of the importance of paying attention to the family’s own resources and strengths in order to help them access these resources when navigating through the serious crisis. She learned about the importance of establishing therapeutic engagement quickly in a crisis situation.

For the past 13 years Emer has been working as a student counsellor in National University of Ireland Galway.   This work has involved working with a wide cohort of students dealing with difficulties ranging from milder difficulties such as transition issues to more serious mental health challenges.  As part of her role Emer works closely with the doctors and psychiatrists in the University as well as with  the disability services.  In addition Emer also gives workshops to groups of students on topics such as procrastination, listening skills and collaboration.  Her work in the University has helped her to gain a wide range of experience in dealing with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation/intent.  She has developed and honed her therapeutic curiosity aiming to keep the focus at all times on the resources of the student and using therapeutic questions to help open up possibilities for them.  She is able to recognise quickly and take action when the student needs to be referred to another service for additional support. Emer has continued to develop her ability to engage the person she is working with in the therapeutic process. She has a deep understanding of the value of a strong therapeutic alliance and the need to establish this quickly and effectively.

Continuing Professional Development

Emer has been committed to continuing professional development throughout her career.  Every year she attends a 3 day long workshop on narrative therapy.  Last year she attended a 5 day summer school in Dialogical Therapy in the Czech Republic. This time was spent immersing herself in the theory and practice of this approach.  Dialogical Therapy is a way of working that emphasises the need to pay really close attention to all aspects of the therapeutic conversation.  The therapist in this type of therapy is acutely aware of the expertise of the person they are seeing and seeks at all times to help the person to reconnect with resources that have become invisible or submerged.  The therapist closely attends to both the spoken work and the language of the body that they witness during the session.  Dialogical therapy also encourages the therapist to pay close attention to their own bodily responses during the therapeutic conversation which are seen as a very useful additional source of information. One of the facilitators during the summer school  was Professor Jaako Seikula from Finland who is renowned for starting a type of therapy called Open Dialogue.  This approach aims to work with people in an acute mental health crisis as soon as possible in order to prevent the difficulties becoming chronic.  The Open Dialogue approach  requires the person  to be seen within 48 hours of the onset of the crisis.  The person is seen in the presence of their family or support system by a team of professionals.   There are no “behind closed doors” meetings by the professionals involved.  All meetings and discussions take place in the presence of the person in crisis and their family/supporters. Much research has been done on this approach and the results are very positive.  It has been found that people who have been able to access the Open Dialogue approach are less likely to be hospitalised.  In addition there has been a significant reduction in the use of long term medication amongst the participants.

Approach to therapy

Emer is completely committed to working collaboratively with people seeking therapy.  She believes that the person seeking therapy is the expert and she views her role as collaborating with the person to help them to connect with new possibilities and resources.  Her approach is rooted in therapeutic curiosity which informs her questions at all times. These questions are chosen to help the person reflect on their situation in ways that help them to become unstuck and moving forward again.  Emer’s work is guided by systems theory which informs her thinking at all times.  This approach frames the problem as part of a much wider context including family, extended family, society and culture.  It is a way of working that aspires to always avoid pathologising the person.  Instead it seeks  to identify hidden and submerged resources that the individual and family can access in the journey towards healing.   She also uses ideas from narrative therapy helping individuals and families to move from a problem saturated story to a story that opens up possibilities for change.

Memberships

Emer has been a member of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland since 2006.  She is also a member of Irish Council for Pyschotherapy since that time.

Appointments and Hours of Work

Emer works every Monday from 4pm to 9pm.