Graduation speech by Jennie Quinn, Learner’s Representative

Good afternoon everybody

My name is Jennie.

When Christine asked me to speak here today my first thoughts were fear, dread and I was full of anxiety,  – public speaking would not be in my normal comfort zone so please bear with me if I falter.

Several sentences were running through my head what will I say, will it make sense, what will people think of what I say and ultimately what will they think of me.

 I realised these were familiar thoughts,  thoughts that I had on the first day of starting this course, on my first check in in front of the group,  and on the day of meeting my first client.  They all had a common theme, a fear of being seen or putting myself out there to be seen.

However, on this day I am extremely proud  and honoured to be seen with all my fellow learners in the presence of tutors and  staff at ICPPD and all our family and friends,  to celebrate this day .  To celebrate the day, we officially become qualified psychotherapists and graduates of ICPPD.

When I think over the three years spent on this course there is always a smile on my face and deep sense of achievement, gratitude, and amazement. 

As I remind myself that on that first day,  I had no way of knowing where this journey was going to lead me or where it would end up  in fact I still do not know where it will end up and I am hoping it will never end at all.  There are so many memories, so many discussions,  not too many disagreements and an equal share of tears and laughter.

In every module we studied there was some new way of thinking,  some new theories that offered an explanation as to why we behave and operate in the world the way we do .  Whether it be due to our family, our early childhood experience, our current relationships, our lack of purpose or meaning in life,  they all gave us an insight and understanding of ourselves.

With each year and each module  would come a deeper reflection on who we truly are,  moving us towards that goal of being our most authentic self.

I would like  to share with you some of the key learnings from these modules which I believe will help me as I transition from student to graduate  to practitioner.  Hopefully, you will share some of these too:

  • The importance of qualities such as honesty, acceptance, congruence understanding, empathy and spontaneity
  • That there is a place for everybody in this world and everybody deserves to be here
  • That everybody has a right to be heard
  • We are not all equal and some people will always suffer just a little bit more than others but that does not make them unworthy of respect and love
  • We all struggle and are challenged in life albeit that these struggles and challenges may not be the same
  • We are all different and unique and thank god for that or the world would be such a boring place
  • We never know what it is like to walk in somebody else shoes the best we can do is walk alongside them
  • That we are only experts in our own life and cannot expect to be in somebody else’s
  • The greatest gift we can give to ourselves is honesty and to accept who we truly are , to accept the light and the shadow.
  • To have the courage to just be, to stand tall and to take our rightful place in this world
  • That there is good in everybody it just might take a closer look to see it in some people
  • The strength of the human spirit to endure huge loss and emerge stronger
  • And the capacity for change that lies within each of us

These are a few of my own very personal learnings and they might resonate with some of you

  • That the body never lies and if we are willing to listen it can be our best teacher
  • The value of using “and” instead of “but”
  • A healthy curiosity and a sense of humour goes along way
  • To compare myself to who I was yesterday not to who someone else is today
  • And that I do not have problems that need fixing, I just have areas for improvement or things the slightly challenge me


It would seem a bit surreal not to mention the current world we live in and how our lives have changed over the last year in coping with Covid 19. 

As we sit here in a virtual graduation which is so hugely different a celebration as to what we would have envisaged a year ago , I have decided rather than lament what cannot be and to focus on what is and what has been.

We witnessed how it is possible for us all to adapt, to change, to learn new ways. 

In effect we lived and saw some of the theories we had studied come to life both in ourselves and our wider community.

We learnt new skills in seeing clients via phone and internet, online counselling as students who’ve have thought it.

In our wider communities we saw huge acts of kindness and camaraderie as we faced this common enemy.

We saw people become more in tune and involved with nature  and the outdoors, which has brought huge benefits in mental health.  This has also afforded us as therapist an opportunity to look at new ways  to engage with clients opening the discussion and  possibilities around outdoor therapy.

While some people are and will suffer greatly due to the pandemic my hope is that from this qualification, we all receive here today we can go on to be part of the team and profession that helps these people back to their former glory.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank some people

Staff at ICPPD

To all the staff and admin and accounts at ICPPD thank you for the amazing job you do in looking after us all and being the frontline workers,  putting up with us, most of the time without any PPE.

Tutors at ICPPD

My heartfelt thanks to you all.

 I have learnt so much from each one of you.  You encouraged us, you challenged us, you accepted us and above all you modelled all qualities and attributes expressed in the various theories and showed us how to be with another person.  I will be eternally grateful.

Christine and Tom

To Christine and Tom on this the 10th Anniversary year of the college a huge thanks for creating this amazing space to study and learn.  I will always be extremely grateful to yourselves, the college and tutors for the resilience and persistence you showed in making sure we were able to finish our third year when the Covid restrictions were in place.  You modelled a different way to be, to be all about the solution rather than the problem.

Our Families and Friends

To all our families and friends who had been on this journey with us, thank you for all the love and support along the way without you it would have been impossible.

My group

To my group both Athlone and Galway it takes sheer guts and determination to complete a course like this.  I salute you all in our achievement here today.  It has been a privilege to share this journey with you all. Thank you for sharing the joy, the sadness, the tears, and the laughter over the last three years.  I would also like to mention members of our groups that are not graduating today to wish them well in their continued studies.  I look forward to when we can all  meet in person again and re live some fond memories of our three years in ICPPD.

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