Psychological & Counselling

Service Overview

The Ely Centre deliver talking therapies to clients from across Northern Ireland through a sessional counselling team.

If you are in distress and need to speak to someone urgently, you can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 028 90664422. You can reach the Domestic Violence Helpline on  0808 802 1414

Our service aim is to Deliver quality care incorporating internationally validated appropriate psychometrics, at risk protocols and procedures.

Our service goal is to Implement a Victim informed and centred systemic approach by considering each person’s needs and goals in a holistic manner utilising  qualified staff /volunteers and programmes

The Ely Centre Head of Clinical Services is Dr Arthur O'Malley

Dr O’Malley, is a well published Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and EMDR Consultant who has worked in a variety of clinical settings from Hospitals to outpatient settings across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. With over 30 years of experience in clinical assessment in all age groups and in a variety of clinical settings including Accident and Emergency, large General Hospitals , Paediatric wards, Adult and child and adolescent mental health services.

Since returning home he has been providing therapeutic support to victims and survivors of the troubles and veterans of the HM Forces. With over 12 years’ experience of practicing EMDR supervision Dr O’ Malley has been supervising a wide range of health professionals who were seeking supervision for their clinical practice. Over the last few years Dr O’Malley has been employed by a range of mental health Trusts in the NHS to provide clinical supervision for their clinical employees.


At The Ely Centre , all counselling is free of charge and in accordance with ethical standards (eg. BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling & Psychotherapy).

The BACP ethical standards can be viewed by downloading the following link BACP Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions

When you refer to this service you may be unsure what to expect. The information below answers the most frequently asked questions. It is important to read it all before registering for counselling with us. We hope that you will find it helpful.In Brief, Counselling is about enabling you to explore your feelings and relationships more effectively. It gives you a chance to really look at issues in some depth, and gain a more confident perspective.

Mental Health and the “Troubles”.

In Northern Ireland one in six people experience problems with their mental health, at any one time. This is not surprising, given the nature of life, and the many difficulties, losses and changes that occur.

In addition to the many difficult experiences of human beings across the world, the people of Northern Ireland have had to deal with the consequences of terrorism, the intense violence, injustice and sectarian hatred. In order to fully understand the emotional and psychological wellbeing of all of us who live in Northern Ireland we must really reflect upon the nature of our society that has often been described as the most violent in Western Europe.

Since the advent of the most recent “Troubles” in 1969, over 3,600 people have died, and tens of thousands have suffered physical, psychological, and emotional injury as a result of terrorism and paramilitary activity.

The different ways the troubles have impacted individuals and our communities are broad, varied and complex. So many people have experienced direct violent, and literally explosive trauma, whether that be someone who has been physically injured, has witnessed an event, lost a family member in a traumatic way, or have been involved in rescuing and caring for others (both professionals and civilians). Due to this Northern Ireland has the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in the world.

Many in our community have been impacted by the troubles one way or another, whether through the loss of a loved one, loss of an aspect of oneself, sectarian hatred, anger and rage, a sense of injustice, in addition to a constant sense of not being safe in one’s home or community.

Therapy! Is It for Me?

Evidence illustrates the effectiveness of professional, counselling and psychology services in helping the people and communities of Northern Ireland; helping people process some of their experiences and work towards a more grounded sense of psychological well- being.

Over the last decade the limitations of the past services provided to those who have suffered due to the troubles has been recognised. Funding has been provided to develop professional, evidence based accredited, accessible and confidential psychology and counselling services combined with a complementary therapeutic approach to release physical tension and promote a more relaxed frame of mind.

Considering seeing a counsellor can be very daunting. It can be very difficult to know what to expect, and be unsure as to how it might feel talking to a professional about difficult things you may have experienced recently, or indeed often in the past.

For so many years in Northern Ireland many people have been exposed to much psychological distress and trauma. As human beings we try and process this trauma as best as possible with the skills we have. A common way of coping with such difficulties is to distance ourselves from our emotional pain. This is a very natural react to any threat.

The repeated exposure to conflictual and unstable experiences in Northern Ireland have in many of us resulted in “hard states of mind” in order to manage our persecutory and negative feelings. Many people have understandably carried around such negative feelings for many years.

The prospect of finding alternative ways of coping with their experiences through the process of sharing and reflecting on their life within a counselling/therapeutic relationship can be confusing and over whelming.

Whether you are considering attending  therapy for any difficulties you may be experiencing, or feel like talking to someone is not for you, or perhaps not the right time at the moment, it is important that you know that our service doors will always be open, should you want to come and talk about your experiences.

All members of the team understand how difficult it can be to come and talk about your problems and will always move forward at a pace you feel comfortable with.

When to Seek Help

The Ely Centre provides support for individuals experiencing a wide range of psychological problems, our sessional therapists are trained to intervene or provide support for a countless number of issues, far too many to list in any comprehensive way.

While counselling might be helpful in numerous situations, there are some conditions in which we would strongly encourage you to seek counselling services, such as:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Life Adjustment / Loss/ Bereavement
  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Trauma
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obesity / Compulsive Overeating
  • Relationship Difficulties
  • Interpersonal Problems
  • Diversity related issues - Gender / Sexuality /Culture / Race / Religion

It is important to know that although the service is being developed to specifically meet the needs of individuals in Northern Ireland affected in any way by the troubles, it does not necessarily have to be a particular “troubles” issue you may want to address.

Although you may have been affected by the troubles this does not mean that this is the only thing that therapy is there for. It may be that you want to come and talk about something that is or appears separate in some way from your experience of the troubles, such as, relationship difficulties, any losses whether that is health, physical or psychological, of those we love or of something we have hoped and dreamt of.

Furthermore, it is important that you do not feel that somehow your experiences are less or “not as serious” as other peoples and therefore feel like you for one reason or another you should not access or indeed need help with your psychological wellbeing.

Who can benefit from counselling?

Just about anyone can benefit. No problem is too big or small. Listed below are just a few examples of some common concerns which bring individuals to the Ely Centre:

  • Symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Troubles related Trauma and Suffering
  • Life adjustment issues such as Unemployment / Retirement.
  • Interpersonal difficulties, including, family problems, relationship concerns, problems with assertiveness, and other issues
  • Bereavement and grief related to the loss of a loved one (such as relationship breakups, deaths, parental divorce, or other major losses)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Questions/confusion about identity, self-image, sexuality, gender, or religious concerns
  • Concerns about body image, food, eating, or weight, as well as treatment for eating disorders
  • Experience with sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, abuse, or other trauma
  • Thoughts of suicide, death, or hurting others
  • Behaviours that can be harmful to you, like drug or alcohol abuse.

Psychological Therapies Provided

The Ely Centre provide a variety of different psychological treatments often the therapist will integrate various treatments to meet your individual/ family needs. There are many ways of working or 'modalities' in counselling and psychotherapy. Therapists may be trained in one approach or use techniques from different methods if they think these would help a client.

Behavioural therapy

Behavioural therapies are based on the belief that your unwanted or unhealthy behaviours are a learned response to your past experiences. They focus on current problems and aim to help you learn new, more positive behaviours without having to analyse the past.

Behavioural therapy often works well for compulsive and obsessive behaviours, fears, phobias and addictions.

Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)

CAT looks at your past experiences and relationships to understand why you think, feel and act as you do. It relies on forming a trusting relationship with your therapist, who will help you make sense of your situation and find new, healthier ways to cope with your problems. CAT is a time-limited therapy, typically lasting around 16 weeks.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT aims to help you change the way you think (cognitive) and what you do (behaviour). Rather than looking at past causes, it focuses on current problems and practical solutions to help you feel better now.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy' refers to a range of psychotherapeutic techniques (talking therapies) designed to help people change how they think (cognitive), and how they act (behaviour), and to help them make sense of problems by systematically breaking them down into a more manageable form.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, and clinical depression, and for the neurological myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or chronic fatigue syndrome).

The way we think about situations affects the way we feel and behave. If we view a situation negatively, we may experience negative emotions and feelings which lead us to behave in an unhelpful way. Your therapist will help you identify and challenge any negative thinking so you can deal with situations better and behave in a more positive way

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that your previous experiences can damage your perception of yourself, which can affect your attitudes, emotions and your ability to deal with certain situations. It can help you to identify, question and change poor mental images of yourself, so guiding you away from negative responses and behaviour. It can help pessimistic or depressed people to view things from a more optimistic perspective.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR was developed to resolve symptoms resulting from disturbing and traumatic life experiences. It is particularly used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

EMDR is thought to imitate the psychological state that we enter when in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Studies show that when in REM sleep we are able to make new associations between things very rapidly. EMDR is designed to tap into this high-speed processing mode that we all have, helping the brain to process the unresolved memories and make them less distressing.

(EMDR) Therapy is A structured therapy that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy (Shapiro, 2001) was initially developed in 1987 for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model (Shapiro 2007). EMDR is an individual therapy typically delivered one to two times per week for a total of 6-12 sessions, although some people benefit from fewer sessions. Sessions can be conducted on consecutive days.

Unlike other treatments that focus on directly altering the emotions, thoughts and responses resulting from traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy focuses directly on the memory, and is intended to change the way that the memory is stored in the brain, thus reducing and eliminating the problematic symptoms.

During EMDR therapy, clinical observations suggest that an accelerated learning process is stimulated by EMDR’s standardized procedures, which incorporate the use of eye movements and other forms of rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation (e.g., tones or taps). While clients briefly focus on the trauma memory and simultaneously experience bilateral stimulation (BLS), the vividness and emotion of the memory are reduced.

The treatment is conditionally recommended for the treatment of PTSD.

Humanistic therapy

This approach focuses on the individual as a whole. It encourages people to think about their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. The emphasis is on self-development and achieving your highest potential rather than on problematic behaviour. Gestalt therapy, person-centred therapy, transactional analysis and transpersonal therapy are all humanistic approaches.

Person-centred therapy

Person or client-centred therapy is based on the view that everyone has the capacity and desire for personal growth and change, given the right conditions. Rather than being seen as the expert and directing the therapy, the counsellor offers unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence to help you come to terms with any negative feelings and to change and develop in your own way.


Psychological trauma is something which can occur when an individual undergoes some sort of severely distressing or disturbing experience (whether it is an accident, the sudden loss of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse, etc) that they are unable to process in a healthy manner.

Reactions to psychological trauma can vary and may include (but are not limited to): unpredictable emotions and/or mood swings, lack of affect, flashbacks, headaches, nausea, etc

If not treated or addressed, psychological trauma of this kind can lead to a variety of further complications, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and self-harm.

Living life top the full

Free online courses covering low mood, stress and resiliency. Work out why you feel as you do, how to tackle problems, build confidence, get going again, feel happier, stay calm, tackle upsetting thinking and more. Our courses are free for individuals using them in their own lives.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

NICE guideline [NG116]Published date: December 2018


Sessions last for up to 50 minutes. Your counsellor will discuss with you how often and when you will meet depending on the problem you are encountering. It is important to arrive on time as your counsellor will be working to an appointment system, sessions that start late will still need to finish on time.

Counselling is limited to a maximum of 8 sessions per year however there are exceptional circumstances.

The Process

Your first meeting is called a Clinical Assessment and this meeting is used to establish.

What your concerns are, if counselling is able to help with them, if you would be better supported by another service; if you are able to commit to counselling.

If at the end of this meeting you and the therapist agree that this is the best form of support for you, and you are able to commit to counselling, you will be allocated a practitioner to commence working with. Your allocated counsellor may not be the same one who conducted your initial assessment.

Occasionally due to service demand there can be a delay between your initial assessment meeting and your first ongoing counselling session, however this will always be kept to a minimum.

Your counsellor will listen carefully to the difficulties you are experiencing. Your counsellor is a professional qualified and experienced practitioner, and the work you do together will be about helping you to find the right solutions for you, rather than telling you what to do.

Holistic Approach

Counselling  services link effectively with additional wellness services to allow people the benefit of dual participation, whilst facilitating relief from distress and recovery.

Our holistic approach also allows you to benefit from other Ely Centre services including Welfare and Benefits Advice, Befriending Outreach, Carers Support, Peer Group Support, Personal Development Courses, Respite Opportunities and Legacy Programmes.


Strict confidentiality is always maintained. No personal information either verbal or written will be disclosed to anyone without your consent, unless you or someone else is in danger. Some non-personal information will be shared within the centre for administration purposes.

Therapists are required to have a supervisor who monitors the quality of their work. The process of supervision is conducted in a way that ensures your confidentiality.

Refer To Our Service

If you would like to refer to this service please drop into the centre, give us a call, or fill in the service referral form which should only take a few minutes.

Ely Centre Counselling and Assessment Rooms.