Interview With Psychotherapist and Poet Gene Barry

How and/or why did you become a therapist?

Whilst living a traumatic childhood from a very young age, I began to people-watch as it enabled me to ‘categorise’ people for my own safety and wellbeing. In doing so, I discovered the difference between the ‘factual’ and the ‘actual’. Although fascinated by people’s habits, attitudes and behaviours, I originally studied electronics, computer technology, ergonomics and mathematics and worked in the computer industry.

I divorced in 1997 and sought assistance with my grief via psychotherapy. Eight months later, fascinated by the little known emotional and psychological engine that drives us, I began my five-year studies in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy and Counselling. It was compulsory to attend a psychotherapist for the 5-year duration of the course.

As an internationally renowned poet with three published books, I additionally work as an Art Therapist with both children and adults using poetry as my medium. I have worked in schools, libraries, hospitals, with active retirement groups and asylum seekers. I recently graduated as a Hypnotherapist and am certified by the NGH.

What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?

Being at one with a 12-year-old student or a retired 72-year-old I work for and witnessing the disposal of their torments, trauma and stress and the alleviation of their emotional and psychological pain. Coupled with this, their unique enlightening cathartic conveyor of calmness, confidence, empowerment, excitement, happiness, inner peace, personal growth, self-esteem, success and trust delivers joy deep into my bones. This enlightening work increases my knowledge and enhances my ability to work with new clients.

What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?

Firstly, I believe it to be of Paramount importance that each person/couple feels that I care for and want them to succeed. Because all clients and relationships are unique, I tailor a specific holistic and integrative approach best suited to empower the person/couple to achieve their own success. Because their words should be a match for their actions, I assist them in comprehending their underlying nature. My objective is to enlighten the person/couple to the effects their and other people’s actions, assertiveness, behaviours, beliefs, expectations, feelings, inactions, opinions, pressures, thoughts and words have. This knowledge, integrated with good listening and processing skills in turn enables them to have healthy happy relationships.

What are your favourite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?

Be aware of the emotion driving your and other people’s words. Place assumptions and premature conclusions in the trash. Knowing yourself will enable you to know the other person. We have both a conscious and an unconscious shopping list influencing our choice of partner. It is imperative for you to understand the influences of your unconscious shopping list. A happy, peaceful accepting relationship will be more easily achieved when you are accepting, happy and at peace with yourself.

What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?

What you are aware of you are in control of and what you are unaware of controls you. Psychotherapy is the road to self-examination, self-reflection and in turn psychological and emotional awareness. How we understand ourselves will determine how we relate to the world around us. You can educate/reprogram your subconscious to work for you in a positive empowering way via therapy.

What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?

Assuming. Being judgmental. Not having had sufficient therapy. Dealing with the ‘factual’ instead of the ‘actual’ and in turn misleading the patient. Accepting that at times the patient may be the expert. Asking the patient too frequently how the issue/topic makes them feel and as a result losing the true meaning of that question. Not keeping up to date by studying. Mislabelling the patient’s feelings. Not taking sufficient time out between patients. Failing to correctly note the level of their patient’s anxiety, anger, depression, trauma etc.

Remaining with a therapist they feel they cannot work with in a way that is best for them. Fear of self-discovery. Withholding crucial essential information that would enable the therapist. Not carrying out what was agreed in therapy. Assuming that the therapist is always correct. Not planning what they bring to therapy. Agreeing to an appointment time that will be tiring and difficult for them. Not realising that their therapist is actually working for them.


Gene Barry is an Irish Poet, Art Therapist Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist. He has been published widely both at home and internationally and his poems have been translated into Arabic, Irish, Hindi, Albanian and Italian.

Barry is founder of the Blackwater Poetry group and administers the world-famous Blackwater Poetry Group on Facebook. He is a publisher and editor with the publishing house Rebel Poetry. Barry is also founder and chairman of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival.

As an art therapist using the medium of poetry, Gene has worked in libraries, hospitals, primary and secondary schools, with Narcotics Anonymous, Youthreach, retired people’s groups, Alcoholic Anonymous, asylum seekers and with numerous poetry groups.

Gene has read in Australia, Holland, Kosovo, England, St Lucia, Scotland, France, Belgium and Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Miami, NY, Massachusetts. He has been the guest poet at numerous Irish poetry venues. In 2015 he was chosen to represent Ireland at the inaugural Rahovec International Poetry Festival in Kosovo. That same year Barry was the guest poet at the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Austin and Dallas Texas, Enid Oklahoma and Little Rock Arizona.

Barry’s chapbook Stones in their Shoes was published in 2008. In 2010 Gene was editor of the anthology Silent Voices, a collection of poems written by asylum seekers living in Ireland. He additionally edited the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of The Blue Max Review and Inclusion as part of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival. In 2013 his collection Unfinished Business was published by Doghouse Books, a collection that has been critically acclaimed. In 2014 he edited Irish poet Michael Corrigan’s debut collection Deep Fried Unicorn, and the anthology fathers and what must be said. In 2015 Barry edited The Day the Mirror Called and MH Clay’s book son of fred. His third collection Working Days was published by Authors Press in 2016.

Gene has had a number of short stories published and is presently editing his first novel.

You can learn more about Gene Barry at and

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