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Graduation Speech presented by Patricia Lally

The following is the graduation speech presented by Patricia Lally at the recent ICPPD Graduation Awards 2017 Ceremony in Athlone:

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, Staff of the college, families, and most especially my fellow graduates. The first thing I would like to say is thank you. Thank you to Christine for asking me to speak on behalf of my year; and for the attendant loss of sleep since Tuesday.

I have to tell you I am the least likely candidate to seek this honour as anyone who knows me will attest to. However, the fact that I have accepted is a testament to the journey I have undertaken over the last three years.  Three years ago, I would never have imagined that I would be talking to you here today, but we have all come a long way, and our lives today bear witness to our respective journeys.

Our group met in Ballybane in Galway City on an Autumn evening in October 2014. We came together with our individual life stories and challenges, and over the course of the next three years we dared to weave a new way, a way that integrates past and present and embraces the many aspects of our unfolding future.

My journey was precipitated by loss. After twenty years of being a carer, we lost our son to the care of others, and I was hoping to begin anew in light of this bittersweet freedom.  

Thus, began our journey towards becoming professional therapists, combining rigorous academic excellence with personal development.

If I was to commend the college on any one particular aspect over another, it is the marriage of the theoretical with the experiential. Our tutors were adept at bringing their experience from the field into the classroom, shedding light on the science of psychology.  This, together with the careful nurturing and fostering of the individual through personal development, created an environment where we learned the theory, skills and practice necessary to become counselling professionals

Freud once said we would rather die than change.

This is something I came to understand, and on occasion, I was on the verge of leaving. This was not because of an unwillingness to work but because at times change was so hard. The archaeological expedition into my emotional past was often painful and challenging.  This is where the college was outstanding, our tutors did not hide behind a professional façade, they were empathetic and spontaneous as they supported us through.  

We learned how to still our own minds, we learned to gently encounter the vast myriad of personal emotion, we learned to challenge our own thoughts and find the courage to be what we are;  our truer selves. This process is what ultimately supported all of us into the clinical setting, and continues to support my work as a now-practising psychotherapist.  

So, on behalf of myself and my fellow graduates I would like to thank all who have supported, loved and guided us on this journey.

I would like to especially thank our families, I know it wasn’t always easy. In particular, I would like to thank my own family, my husband Frank, for his steadfast love and support through the years, and my children, who are a continuous source of inspiration and joy.

And while all of us will walk out of here today with the same degree, we also leave with a solid sense of who we are. We are both fragmented and we are whole; we are individuals with the courage to come home to ourselves, be the best that we can be, and to paraphrase Winnicot – to dare believe that we are good enough.

A final thanks to our core tutors and supervisors, our therapists, and the many wonderful and inspiring people I have met along the way.

Thank you

Patricia Lally

10 November 2017

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