Older Adult Psychology Groups

The Psychology Department in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) is passionate about increasing access to psychological therapy for older adults. 

Psychological therapy is a way of treating mental health difficulties. It aims to help the person understand the origins of their mental health difficulties and develop strategies to ease the pain that these difficulties can cause. 

There are a number of barriers to older adults accessing psychological therapy, including myths or misconceptions about our ability to change and to learn new ways of coping and relating to ourselves as we age. 

Our Psychology Department believes that no-one is too old to learn new ways of coping and lessening the pain that mental health difficulties can cause.  We believe that psychological therapy can be beneficial across the lifespan; this view is supported by research that has found that older adults respond better to psychological therapy than working-age adults.

We provide a range of group-based psychological therapy programmes, designed exclusively for older adult service users who are attending SPMHS on either an inpatient and day patient basis.  

You can find out more below about each of these programmes.

Compassion-Focused Therapy for Older Adults

Compassion-Focused Therapy for Older Adults

The Compassion-Focused Therapy for Older Adults (CFT-OA) programme is designed for older adult service users who experience high levels of shame and self-criticism which sustain their mental health difficulties.

The programme is aimed at service users who are motivated to work on their issues with other people within a group setting. Through this setting, service users learn both how to understand their difficulties and how to relate to themselves in different ways. They become enabled to better engage with their distress and to ease that distress by becoming more self-compassionate.

Service users in the CFT-OA programme learn about and practice exercises in compassionate imagery, address self-critical ways of thinking, and determine more compassionate behaviours which advance towards desired changes.

The group usually meets in person on one day a week across a period of five to six months.

Referrals to CFT-OA can be made by psychologists in our multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) here in SPMHS. Currently, places are only available to service users under the care of a consultant psychiatrist in SPMHS.

For more information, you can read the CFT-OA brochure here.



SAGE is a psychological therapy group for older adults who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health.

The group programme is adapted from psychological theories about how some coping styles can impact on mental health difficulties.

SAGE is tailored towards people who identify with a pattern of:

  • suppressing their emotions
  • maintaining a rigid set of standards and routines
  • keeping a distance in relationships and avoiding closeness.

The programme is run by a team of two psychologists and an assistant psychologist, with both in-person or remote access available. It is held across 18 group sessions, which take place for a half-day once a week, along with an individual therapy session which takes place midway through the programme. 

SAGE is open to older adult service users under the care of an MDT here in SPMHS. If you are attending SPMHS and are interested in taking part in the programme, please speak to your MDT; the psychologist on your team can meet with you to assess if the programme would be a good fit for you.

See the SAGE brochure here for more information.

Coping for Older Adults

Coping for Older Adults

The Coping for Older Adult Psychology (COAP) programme is a psychology group for older adult service users.

COAP aims to help group members to develop a psychological understanding of mental health.  During the programme, group members learn about the different factors that can influence mental health and reflect on their own experiences of mental health difficulties. Group members also have the opportunity to try different mindfulness and relaxation practices.

The programme runs for four weeks, during which four group sessions take place. 

Places in the COAP programme are available for service users under the care of a consultant psychiatrist in SPMHS, and are open to both inpatients and day patients. Referrals to COAP are accepted from psychologists working within MDTs here in SPMHS.

Mental health information and support

See frequently asked questions (FAQs) on mental health and our services.

01 249 3200 See our FAQs

Referral and Assessment Service

Contact us for queries regarding referrals to our services.

01 249 3635 See more from our referrals team