Childhood abuse service for adults

The childhood abuse or neglect service (CaPA) provides short, medium and long term counselling and psychotherapy for adults who have suffered abuse during their childhood.

CaPA offers trauma-informed counselling and therapy from NCS centres nationwide. The service was established in response to the recognition that a large number of adults had been abused as children whilst in care in State institutions in Ireland.

This followed the public apology by An Taoiseach in May 1999 and was part of a range of measures introduced to address the needs of those who had been abused as children in institutions. The remit of the service widened to include counselling for any adult abused in any setting.

Over the last 20 years, counselling has been provided to adults who have experienced abuse as children within their families, community and other settings. Since 2000 more than 40,000 people have been referred to the NCS for counselling in relation to experiences of childhood abuse.

Choosing to attend counselling in relation to childhood abuse experiences is a very significant step. It takes courage to face the past and to seek help about experiences which are painful and which some people perceive as shameful. The impact of past experiences can be addressed with counselling support.

People who have experienced childhood abuse may require support at different times over the course of their lives depending on the different developmental challenges they may encounter.

Clients may re-refer to the service at different stages in their life if needed.

What childhood abuse is

Childhood Abuse can be: physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect.

  •  physical - a child suffers because they are physically harmed by someone else or are roughly handled or punished harshly
  •  emotional - a child suffers because their need for approval, consistency and security are not met, for example, persistent criticism, being harshly punished
  •  sexual - a child is used by another person for his or her pleasure or sexual arousal
  •  neglect: a child suffers because they are deprived of food, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety as well as affection from adults and medical care.

Childhood Adversity

Children may also experience other forms of adversity (Adverse Childhood Experiences) which can impact on their development and welfare and which may be traumatic. 

These include a range of negative situations a child may face or witness while growing up. They include:

  •  parental separation or divorce
  •  living in a household in which domestic violence occurs
  •  living in a household with an alcoholic or substance-abusing parent/carer
  •  living with family members who suffer mental health disorders.

How to access CaPA

Self-referrals to CaPA are accepted. Once referred you will be offered an initial assessment appointment to assess if this is the most suitable service for you at this time.

If CaPA is the right service for you your name will be placed on a waiting list for counselling.

Written referrals are also accepted from health care and other professionals such as GPs, social Workers and mental health practitioners.

View all NCS contact details