A History of the Irish Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies 

The AGM of the relaunched IABCP was held in the beautiful surroundings of Ballymascanlon House Hotel in Dundalk. The meeting was attended by around 35 members from Northern and Southern Ireland. Howard Lomas, whose involvement with some members of the retiring committee goes back a long way, kindly travelled along with his partner Sally from the Scottish Isles to act as returning officer. In this capacity Howard spoke about the new structure of the committee, which would consist of a Chair, Deputy Chair, a Treasurer and joint Secretaries along with a large number of committee members. 

Paddy Love was elected Chair with Michael Duffy as Deputy Chair. Brendan Armstrong was elected to the position of Treasurer. By prior agreement Roy Cheetham and Mairead Ryan were appointed joint Secretaries. The committee boasts 14 ordinary members: Maureen McGroary-Meeehan, Paul Quinn, Fionnula MacLiam, Deborah Mairs, Maria Kee, Stephen Herron, Marjorie McMurray, Gerry McErlane, Lea Connell, Damian Price, Jacqueline McKenna, Gerry McAleer, John McLaren and Paul Lyons. The committee is well served by a wide range of core professions. 

In his first duty as Chairman, Paddy Love thanked past committee members for their commitment and dedication over the years. In particular he referred to the sterling work undertaken by Terry Cromey, Charlie McHugh, Paul Quinn and Andy Giffney. He expressed the hope that the new committee would live up to their standards and perhaps bring with it a renewed vigour and vibrancy. Paddy referred to the immense knowledge, skills and varied experience that was available in the new committee and looked forward to working towards galvanising the relaunch of IABCP. 

In addition to giving the election results, Howard also spoke about the history of the ‘Irish Branch’ within the BABCP family. He recalled the emergence of various ad hoc Behaviour Modification Groups around the UK in the late sixties. A Behavioural Engineering Group in Ireland, which included James Quinn, Jerry Harbison, Harry McAllister, Joe Fernandez and Des Poole, organised an international meeting in 1972 at Whites Hotel in Wexford. This meeting was attended by Vic Meyer, Francis Lillie, and Derek Jehu and it was shortly after in November 1972 that BABP was itself established. 

That same year Maureen McGroary-Meehan trained as one of the first Irish Behaviour Therapists, and became the first Irish member of BABP. 

An Irish Branch was not formed until 1981 by BABP Irish members including Terry Cromey, Andy Giffney, Roger McAuley, Des Poole and Hugh Mc Fadden. Charlie McHugh joined the Branch the next year and became its representative with BABP. Des Poole from Belfast was elected BABP Chair in 1988/9, as well as Chair of the World Congress held in Edinburgh in 1988. In 1992 BABP became BABCP, which Terry Cromey chaired in 1997/1998. 

Around the time of the 1972 Wexford meeting, Hans Brengleman organised a similar meeting in Munich leading to the establishment of EABT in 1976 (EABCT since 1992).When the ‘Irish Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies’ became an independent group within the European body, Andy Giffney became the Irish representative, securing the venue for the 1998 European Congress which was hosted by the Irish Branch in Cork. 

The IABCP continued to function as a vibrant group holding successful spring and autumn workshops each year until problems arose in 2006 when the Charity Commission for England & Wales required clarification of the status of all Branches. There was a mistaken belief that the Republic of Ireland had to become independent because of money laundering regulations and currency differences. The unnecessary nature of this split only came to light early in 2010 when Andy and Terry approached Howard about the issue. Since then both groups have been working on the relaunch of an Irish Branch. In the interim, the CBT Nurses Forum in Northern Ireland approached BABCP with concerns regarding the lack of Branch activity. Following much negotiation, the wheels were set in motion for an AGM before the end of 2010. Immediately following the AGM the new committee had an informal meeting to establish an agenda for the first full meeting, which took place on 21 January 2011 in Dundalk. 

The IABCP has gone from strength to strength under the leadership of various Chairpersons, Mr Paddy Love from 2010-2016 handing over to Mr Stephen Herron who subsequently held the position from 2016-2019 and more recently the current Chair Dr Brian Fitzmaurice.  Under their leadership the IABCP has reinvigorated interest throughout its membership and has held successful conferences to support its membership, Spring conference in April 2013 and then the first Annual BABCP Conference in June 2016.  Both conferences were well received and in addition to these conferences the IABCP has continued to hold biannual workshops to support its membership.  In September 2021 the IABCP is holding the joint BABCP and European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapists (EABCT) conference at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.  The IABCP branch is a vibrant organisation committed to supporting its members throughout the Island of Ireland and the promotion of evidenced based psychological treatment.


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