Parent Workshops

Childhood Cancer Ireland introduces a new workshop in 2023, aimed at parents / guardians of children, adolescents or young adults who have received a diagnosis of childhood cancer.

The aim of this workshop is to figure out what has been happening in our brains since we heard those dreaded words that confirmed our worst fears, and to provide some practical strategies that you can put in place to help you as an individual, a parent and a partner/friend.

As a parent and survivor-led organisation, we know that everything doesn’t just go back to normal when treatment ends. You may be feeling ‘stuck’ and unsure of what’s normal. Together, we will explore how those months and years of operating on high alert have impacted us in different ways and how we move forward.

We are delighted to be joined by Dr Mairead Brennan and Debbie Cullinane, both of whom have a wealth of knowledge and experience of working with adults and children impacted by childhood cancer.

Mairead is a Senior Clinical Psychologist with Cancer Care West, a cancer support centre in the west of Ireland, where she developed the child and family service.

Debbie is a qualified Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Play Therapist and former primary school teacher.

Image of a Christmas tree made out of gold ribbons. The base of the Christmas tree is the Childhood Cancer Ireland logo.


Remaining locations:  

Location  Date  Venue 
Athlone  30th Sep  Shamrock Lodge Hotel 
Mallow  21st Oct  Hibernian Hotel 

Workshops will take place from 9.30am to 4pm, with refreshments and lunch provided. We can also provide financial assistance with travel costs so please contact us about that.   


Click here to register to attend


What the day will look like

Time  Topic  Led by 
9.30 – 9.50  Arrive – tea/coffee   
10.00 – 11.15  Taking stock: what has happened and where do we go from here?  Mairead Brennan 
11.15 – 11.30  Coffee Break   
11.35 – 1.00  Parenting and family life  Debbie Cullinane 
1.00 – 2.00  Lunch   
2.00 – 3.00  Reflection on the morning, Q&A  Your Wellbeing: Taking care of you, including the science of self-care  Mairead & Debbie  Mairead Brennan
3.00 – 3.15  Coffee Break   
3.15 – 4.00  Self-Care Practice and Plan  Mairead Brennan 

Taking stock: what has happened and where do we go from here?

The experience of receiving a childhood diagnosis, treatment and recovery is unique to each person (parent, patient and family). It can often feel like a very lonely one and can affect our confidence in many ways. However, there are also many commonalities across families’ experiences and it is helpful to understand and share these, as we will do in our morning session. This can help to normalise how you feel and how it has impacted you and your family. Mairead will focus on looking at these known experiences and throughout the day we will look at strategies that are known to help. In doing so, we can learn how to move forward.

Parenting and family life

Parenting is hard and putting the pieces back together can take time, and that is okay. Debbie will discuss ‘good enough’ parenting, going easy on ourselves as parents and a focus on a return to connective parenting. All behaviour is communication and when we can reframe how we look at behaviour, it can help us to manage big feelings in a new way. Debbie will give information on the brain, limit setting, showing your child how to regulate their emotions, which can also help parents to regulate theirs, tiny moments of connection and engaging through play.

Your Wellbeing: Taking care of you

In the earlier stages of childhood cancer, parents are often in ‘doing’ mode; managing the family’s needs, such as medical appointments, other children’s needs, attending to financial commitments etc. We might be running on empty and with minds that are in a constant alert and vigilant state, which means that our stress response system is constantly switched on. Mairead will explain how our bodies can get stuck in this position well after treatment ends, sharing simple ways to retrain ourselves to soothe our nervous system and recharge our body and mind. Bios

Mairead Brennan

Dr Mairead Brennan, BA. MA. DPsychSc. is a Senior Clinical Psychologist with Cancer Care West, a cancer charity situated in the west of Ireland. She completed her clinical doctorate from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) in 2015. She has always had a special interest in Psycho-Oncology and has worked with Cancer Care West since her training. Since that time, Mairead has developed the child and family service to support parents and children affected by cancer and supports families across the west and northwest of the country. She works with families at all stages of the cancer journey, working directly with patients or family members or indirectly by supporting parents around their children’s emotional and behavioural needs.

Debbie Cullinane

Debbie Cullinane is a mother of 2. She is a qualified Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Play Therapist and Former primary school teacher. She facilitates a range of trainings nationwide for various centres and organisations. She is passionate about empowering parents and believes in good enough parenting. Debbie is Sensory & Development Partner with Smyths Toys.

What parents say

This programme is kindly supported by