Background & Education

Formerly a lecturer in philosophy and psychology, with over twenty-five years experience, in University College Dublin, Trinity College, and the Dublin Business School, Dr Stephen J. Costello was educated at St. Gerard’s School, Castleknock College, and University College Dublin, where he read Philosophy and Spanish Language and Literature, gaining BA, MA, and PhD degrees in Philosophy, before training as a psychoanalyst, graduating with a Diploma in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at the Irish Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (now an MSc in St. James’ Hospital), and later with a Diploma in Logotherapy and Existential Analysis from the International Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis in Vienna. He also spent a short period of time at the Honourable Society of King’s Inns. He was a student counsellor and member of the sub-finance committee of the Association of College Societies while at university. Dr Costello’s doctorate was on psychoanalysis and hermeneutics, in which he specialized in the thought of Paul Ricoeur, the famous French philosopher, whom he met on several occasions. Dr Viktor Frankl’s grandson said about Dr Costello that he gives ‘the authentic interpretation of my grandfather’s thought’, and he has been described by fellow philosopher Prof Richard Kearney as ‘one of the most important and prolific philosophers working in Ireland today’.

Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland

Dr Stephen J. Costello is the Founder and Director of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland ( Indeed, he was the first person to introduce the work of Viktor Frankl into Ireland and now his Institute offers online training programmes in Logotherapy & Existential Analysis – both a Certificate and Diploma, which are internationally accredited.

Clinical Experience

Dr Costello was a member of the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland, attached to the School of Psychotherapy in St. Vincent’s Hospital. He is a Diplomate in Logotherapy and sits on the international faculty of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy in the United States. He was awarded a Diploma in Logotherapy and Existential Analysis from the International Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, Vienna, of which he is a member.  He has published widely in leading international journals and has been in private practice as a clinician and supervisor for over 20 years. He met Eleonore (‘Elly’) Frankl – Frankl’s second wife – in Vienna on his numerous visits there as well as other members of the Frankl family, together with former friends and colleagues of Viktor Frankl. In 2014, while in Vienna, Dr Costello attended Dr Elisabeth Lukas’ (who has been described as the greatest living disciple of Viktor Frankl) lectures, and in 2016 he sat in on her last ever master-class in logotherapy.


Dr Costello was awarded numerous gold medals for debating while at UCD, including the prestigious Law Society Gold Medal as well as the Commerce and Economics Society Gold Medal for the best debater. He won the Magilligan Shield Trophy (Bank of Ireland), and was semi-finalist in The Irish Times debating championship. He holds a black belt in Aikido and an equivalent in Wing Tsun Kung Fu. He was honoured with a Civic Engagement Award from Trinity College Dublin (School of Nursing and Midwifery) for a paper on Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy.

Keynote Speaker

Dr Costello has addressed two parliaments: the Stormont Parliament in Northern Ireland (on human rights), and the European Parliament in Brussels (on meaning and mental health). He organized the first ever conference on logotherapy and suicide in Dublin, chaired by Gay Mitchell, MEP, and was the keynote speaker on depression both at a meeting of the Irish Council of Psychotherapy and at St. Patrick’s University Hospital. He has delivered three papers to the International Congress on Logotherapy in Vienna and presented papers both nationally (United Arts Club, Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Physicians, Mater Dei, the European Parliament buildings), and internationally (Vienna Medical Society, London Borough of Hounslow, Dallas in the US, Lafoten in Norway). He has given over fifty keynote addresses.


Dr Costello is available for workshops and seminars. Below are some of the subjects on which he has spoken over the years:

  • Leisure and Labour
  • The Science of Success
  • Tragic Optimism
  • The Secret of Seeing
  • Conscience: The Still, Small Voice
  • The Meaning of Love
  • Hope as a Virtue
  • Psychology of Religion
  • Fear-Factor
  • Resilience & Emotional Intelligence
  • The Attitude of Gratitude
  • Sources of Creativity
  • Decision-Making
  • The Power of Stories
  • The Importance of Humour
  • Human Rights
  • Sense  & Suicide
  • Meaning & Mental Health
  • The Art of Change
  • Dark Night: Desire & Depression
  • Finding Meaning, Forgetting Happiness
  • The Meaning of Work
  • Philosophy as Therapy
  • Symbolism, Ritual & Myth
  • Stoic Mindfulness
  • Boredom & Burnout
  • Strategies for Stress
  • Answer to Anxiety
  • The Choice of Addiction
  • The Archaeology of Anger

Published Books

Dr Costello has published over 25 scholarly articles, as well as a booklet (Basil Hume: Builder of Community), produced two CD’s, columns for newspapers such as The Irish Times and the Sunday Independent and is the author of 10 books:

  • The Irish Soul: In Dialogue (national bestseller)
  • The Pale Criminal: Psychoanalytic Perspectives
  • 18 Reasons Why Mothers Hate Their Babies: A Philosophy of Childhood
  • Hermeneutics and the Psychoanalysis of Religion
  • The Ethics of Happiness: An Existential Analysis
  • What is Friendship?: Conversations with the Great Philosophers
  • Philosophy and the Flow of Presence: Desire, Drama, and the Divine Ground of Being
  • The Truth about Lying: With Some Differences Between Men and Women
  • The Philosophy Clinic: Practical Wisdom at Work
  • Credo: Faith and Philosophy in Contemporary Ireland (Edited)
  • The Search for Spirituality: Seven Paths within the Catholic Tradition. (Edited)


Dr Costello has contributed many articles to The Sunday Independent, is a frequent broadcaster on Irish radio, and has been interviewed on the following radio shows: Joe Duffy, John Murray, Marian Finucane, Sean Moncrieff, Karen Coleman (‘The Wide Angle’), Richard Curran (‘The Business’), as well as by Joe Humphreys in his newspaper column in The Irish Times. Dr. Costello has made a video/podcast: ‘Finding Meaning, Forgetting Happiness’, and a CD, ‘A Philosopher’s Search for Meaning’, produced by the Jesuits.

Unthinkable: Is thought the best medicine?

An interview with Dr Costello by Joe Humphreys of the Irish Times

Why new technology is draining meaning from your job

An interview with Dr Costello by Joe Humphreys of the Irish Times

The meaning of work

Network Magazine article by Dr Stephen J. Costello


Network Magazine article by Dr Stephen J. Costello

Corporate Clients

Dr Costello’s most recent corporate clients, who have consulted with him to conduct his ‘Meaning at Work’ seminars, include: Red Bull (workshop in Lofoten, off the coast of Norway, to senior Nordic managers); UK social workers (London Borough of Hounslow); the Bank of Ireland (8 workshops given as part of ‘Be At Your Best’ programme in Galway, Carlow, Kilkenny, and Dublin to hundreds of bank employees); SAP Ireland (to their employees in both Dublin and Galway), and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants.