11 August 2011
Record increase in demand by couples for ACCORD’s marriage counselling services
“Married couples should invest as much time in their relationships, as they do in their home, their job or in their hobbies … Relationships cannot exist as static unions, they need to be nurtured and grown in love” – Bishop Christopher Jones, President of ACCORD
New figures released today by ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service, show an 8% increase in demand by couples for the agency’s marriage counselling service during 2010. Since 2008 there has been a 20% increase in the demand for marriage counselling in ACCORD centres throughout Ireland. ACCORD’S Annual Report 2010 was launched at a press conference today at 12.00pm in ACCORD Central Office, Columba Centre, Maynooth, by Bishop Christopher Jones, President; Ms Ruth Barror, National Director; and Mr Stephen Cummins, Director of Marriage Education.
ACCORD’s 800 professional counsellors and facilitators voluntarily provide services in the key relationship areas of marriage counselling and marriage education (ie preparation). ACCORD’s 60 centres are based in the North and South and its services are offered regardless of a person’s ability to pay. This is particularly important for families in these difficult economic times.
Trends since 2008 indicate a year-on-year increase in the demand by couples for marriage counselling, with 43,627 hours being provided by ACCORD counsellors in 2010. This is the highest figure on record. Communication difficulties between married couples continue to be the primary concern. There was an increase of 9% in the number of clients listing financial problems as a source of conflict in their relationships. While the total number listing the internet as a factor in marital difficulties is a small figure, ACCORD identifies internet misuse as the fastest growing area of concern in marriages, increasing by 20% in 2010 and by 125% since ACCORD began to compile statistics on internet misuse in marriages in 2007.
Since 2008 ACCORD has recorded a year-on-year decrease in the demand by couples for marriage preparation, with 16,317 hours being provided in 2010. This decrease reflects both a reduction in the numbers of couples getting married and, in addition, it is symptomatic of the growing numbers of alternative providers of marriage preparation courses.
Ahead of the launch of the ACCORD Annual Report 2010 Bishop Christopher Jones expressly encouraged couples to invest at least as much time in their relationships as they do on their jobs, homes and in their hobbies. Bishop Jones said, “It is a tragedy that many people invest so much of their trust and energy in material things, while at the same time taking their relationships for granted. Relationships cannot exist as static unions, they need to be nurtured and grown in love. The greatest joy in life will come from a couple’s relationship and of course the greatest pain and suffering comes from broken, betrayed, relationships.”
Ms Ruth Barror said, “Whilst the 43,000 hours provided by ACCORD counsellors in 2010 is our highest figure to date – and it clearly reflects a growth in the number of marriages facing challenges – this figure also reflects other, more positive factors that contribute to this increase:
– in general a greater recognition of the benefits of marriage / relationship counselling amongst couples;
– an increased awareness of the availability of professional counselling services in ACCORD Centres throughout the 32 counties;
– the availability of counselling in ACCORD regardless of a person’s ability to pay.”
Notes to Editors
- ACCORD is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference which provides a nationwide (60 centres North and South) service to couples preparing for or seeking a deeper commitment within the sacrament of marriage.
- ACCORD responds to the challenges facing Christian marriage today and affirms its value in an everchanging world. It empowers couples to explore and reflect on: the essential elements of their marriage; and the purpose and value of their choices within a committed relationship. See www.accord.ie
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: 00 353 (1) 5053017 and Stephen Cummins 00 353 (1) 5053109