Art Psychotherapist Patrick Byrne has set up a new group for men in Ballincollig.

Therapeutic art group for men to start in Ballincollig

Geraldine Fitzgerald

“There are oodles of groups for women,” said Art Psychotherapist Patrick Byrne, “but there are very few places where men can open up about their own feelings. I think we’re a bit left behind, and men don’t ever get the chance to chat about how they feel, or what’s bothering them, in a safe space. I’d like to change that.”

Irish men tend to be notoriously reticent about opening up and many steer clear of anything that involves discussing their emotions.

Patrick noticed that in his private practice as an art psychotherapist that men do actually relax and talk about their thoughts and feelings in the right environment, so he came up with a novel idea to create a group solely for the lads.

It's a new concept, providing a safe therapeutic space for men over 18 in the Cork region to come together, doodle away with some art and chat, facilitated by a psychotherapist. You don’t have to be able to draw at all; it’s just a great way to relax and open up. Everyone from every background is welcome.

At age 60, Patrick is trained to a Master’s Level in Art Psychotherapy and has been around the block a few times himself.

“The way I see it, if you have a car, you look after it – you take it for an NCT to have a poke around and a bit of a check-up under the bonnet,” he explained. “It’s the same with yourself- it’s a good idea to check on yourself and make sure everything is in good working order; and fix anything that’s bothering you.”

Masculinity these days is loaded with expectations, and men deserve an opportunity to ensure their head space is good. Men are often expected remain stoic – but when do they get to unwind and get help with stuff that’s weighing them down? Patrick feels a group where men can confidentially be candid is long overdue.

“We’re definitely disenfranchised when it comes to talking about our feelings – it used to be seen as a bit weak, or else emotions were expressed in anger. We know better now, and this is a chance to start the conversation for men and find out how other men feel about the same things.”

Patrick will talk to each person interested in the group before the start date and is switched on about ensuring everyone knows they can enjoy anonymity and confidentiality.

Anything said in the group stays in the group, and it’s a great opportunity to explore family issues; male identity; and relationships with yourself and others.

“Groups start on Tuesday 21 May, from 6.30pm to 8pm; will run for six consecutive weeks and will be held in the Ballincollig Family Centre, who have been great about supporting the idea and providing both space and materials for it”, said Patrick.

“Just call them at 021-4876295 to let them know you’re interested, and I’ll be in touch.”