One Size Does Not Suit Allimages

Regardless of what type of diabetes you have, reaching out for emotional and psychological support can be vital. But psychological support is very person specific, meaning that each person may require a different approach, one size does not fit all. Not many people realise there are different types of psychological supports available, and they may end up accessing a support that can cause more damage than good.

Counselling in Ireland

In Ireland there is little or no counselling available to people, that is specific to diabetes. From my experience lists of counsellors that are available are quite out dated, and anecdotal evidence from people who have accessed certain services for psychological support tell of some very bad experiences. In the 15 years of my diabetes career I never met a trained counsellor who actually has diabetes. They maybe there, I’d love to know of them, so I could pass on details to my clients!!

Counselling is very much a passive therapy, looking more so at past issues. For a child with type 1 diabetes, this maybe of no use whatsoever, and may cause more harm than good. Counselling can be very useful, in fact vital for some people, but it completely depends on what sort of outcome is required.

Diabetes Coaching

For me, in any of my dealings with people with diabetes, the following is vital to provide any kind of psychological support to someone with diabetes:

  • Having someone who listensbig_friend-1
  • Not being rushed
  • No interruptions
  • Having space to deal with things
  • A safe place
  • You are not judged
  • You are acknowledged and respected as a person first, diabetes second
  • There are no wrongs or rights
  • Clarity
  • Questions Answered
  • Knowledge and resources available
  • An Open Mind
  • Transparency
  • Motivation
  • Understanding
  • Honesty
  • Trust

I use coaching techniques and methods that I have learnt and trained in over the years to help provide psychological support to children with type 1 diabetes, their family and adults with both type 1 & 2 diabetes. Coaching focuses very much on the present and moving forward, which for many people with diabetes is exactly the kind of support they need. People like action and to have a plan, they like to see results and outcomes, as it puts a value on the time they have invested in their diabetes. Coaching is a very useful approach in this situation. With counselling there usually are no plans set, and that can be very frustrating for many people with diabetes.

Grieving when you have Diabetes

Also from my own experience, psychological support must be tailored to whatever stage people find themselves in relation to how they feel about their diabetes. At diagnosis people enter into what is known as a grieving period, grieving for a loss of they perceive as health. For many people experience what is known as the 5 stages of grieving, which are anger, denial, depression, bargaining and acceptance. People may not experience them in sequence, and may enter into these stages even when they are well advanced in their diabetes management, something as simple as a change of insulin dose may trigger it.

Depending on what stage a person is in, if they are at all, or what type of psychological support is used, can be deeply effective or hugely damaging. It takes a very experienced health care professional who has worked in diabetes for a long time and has an interest/training in psychological supports to spot these stages and recommend the best approach.

A Blended Approach

At the Cork Health & Lifestyle Centre, Diabetes Insight has teamed up with a psychotherapy service which uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, an approach proven to be highly effective in providing psychological support for people with diabetes. Together with Diabetes Insight, it provides a very holistic approach to providing psychological support for people with diabetes, that is unique and first of its kind to Ireland. For further information on these services, please see contact details below.


Diabetes Insight is Ireland’s only private independent advisory service and education centre dedicated and specializing solely in Diabetes Self Management Education (DSME). Its aim is to make a difference in the lives of those living daily with diabetes by providing quality education, advice, support and resources in a clear, simple, practical easy to understand manner without fear of judgement or blame. We respect and see each person with diabetes as an individual, with individual needs, so all our services are tailored to your specific needs. 

All our services are designed and facilitated by Helena Farrell RGN, MSc Diabetes who has over 15 years experience working and studying in diabetes management. These services are unique, from cookery courses to one day courses and are not to be found in any other health service or provider within the Republic of Ireland. 

Contact us today to see how we can help you and make a difference to you living with diabetes by ringing Helena on (086) 1739287 &/or email With services starting from as little as 20 euros, there is something to cater for every budget and need.