Areas of expertise
Almost everyone will face relationship difficulties at some point in their lives, such as communication issues with colleagues at work, arguments with a partner, or challenges parenting children. If someone is struggling with a mental health difficulty, like anxiety or depression, this can also make it harder to communicate with one another. Although these difficulties are common, It’s crucial to identify and address the cause. Feeling misunderstood or like your relationships aren’t fulfilling can significantly impact your mental health and well-being.
My approach to treating relationship difficulties focuses on identifying patterns or themes that affect how people relate to one another. As we grow up, we learn to communicate with others in ways that meet our needs. However, not all the behaviours we learn remain helpful ways of communicating or effective for maintaining relationships.
I provide a safe and supportive space that allows you to gain insight and awareness into your own patterns, as well as those around you. I will help you to identify any problems and discuss strategies to create meaningful change. I draw on a wide range of psychotherapy approaches to create a tailored therapeutic treatment plan for your needs and circumstances. My goal is to help you build more fulfilling relationships that allow you to feel safe, supported, and understood.
Trauma can come in many forms, including one-time, highly distressing events or more ongoing, complicated experiences. Trauma can also be subtle, like the slow grind of stress in a difficult work environment. Regardless of the cause, it leaves us feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope. Sometimes, the impact of trauma may not be immediately obvious but can accumulate over time and lead to other mental health issues, such as depression. If you've experienced trauma, it's important to know that you're not alone in feeling this way and that it's not your fault. My goal is to help you understand the impact of trauma on your life and move forward in a positive way.
I have specialist training in psychotherapy approaches that help people cope with and overcome the effects of trauma. I’m an accredited EMDR practitioner, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. I’ve also trained in Narrative Exposure Therapy, which can be particularly beneficial for complex trauma. I will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs, helping you reduce the negative impact of trauma, find ways to heal, and build a healthy, fulfilling life.
As a Clinical Psychologist, one of the key tools I use is a psychological formulation, which might involve conducting a range of tests to identify patterns of behaviour and underlying causes of difficulties. These assessments may include cognitive tests to evaluate things like memory and concentration (neuropsychological assessment), or personality assessments to better understand how a person responds to different situations. The results of these assessments are used to create your personalised treatment plan and guide recovery in a way that’s tailored to your unique experiences and challenges.
My approach to treatment
It can be difficult to know where to find help when we’re suffering. Feeling unsure, reluctant, nervous or afraid about speaking to a psychologist is completely understandable. There is a large part of all of us that prefers to avoid difficult things. But there is another part of you that has come this far, and it’s the reason you’re reading these words, however small that part is. That’s the part we should try to listen to; that's the part that wants to help you move forward.
I believe that the most important thing is a shared understanding of your distress and how well you feel your therapist understands you. During the first consultation, the only thing that really matters is hearing about the difficulties you’re experiencing and how it’s affecting your life. I want to understand what's brought you here, what your goals are, and what you’re hoping to get out of treatment. I believe in prioritising people’s own perspectives and expertise in their life experiences because this allows us to create a plan for recovery together as a team.
After the end of the first session, we may not have an immediate solution to your distress. My clinical experience has taught me that people are much more complicated than that. But we will have a good idea of what’s brought you to seek help, what your current coping strategies are, and why that isn’t working anymore. You’ll also hopefully have a better understanding of how you’ve ended up feeling the way you have and an appreciation that it’s not your fault. Then you can start to feel better about yourself and make different choices. The more we know ourselves, the more choices we have.
Personalised treatment plans
My approach to treatment is integrative and personalised, meaning that I combine strategies from different psychotherapy approaches to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. The benefit of working with someone who is trained in a variety of approaches is that you are more likely to find the right fit for you rather than being tied to one type of therapy. For example, I’m trained in the following:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Narrative exposure therapy
- Dyadic developmental psychotherapy
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Systemic therapy
- Behaviour modification
- Interpersonal psychotherapy
I will work with you to determine the approach that is most likely to be effective for you. I will also provide psychological education (psychoeducation) on how to take care of yourself and understand how your emotions can affect your body. Physical activity and nature-based activities can also be a useful tool for processing difficult emotions. Incorporating these activities can help reinforce the progress made in therapy and provide additional coping mechanisms.
As a psychologist, I don’t prescribe medication. However, I believe in a holistic approach to mental health, and sometimes medication is helpful or necessary to manage symptoms. If you are currently taking medication or would like to explore medication options, I can work collaboratively with your psychiatrist or GP. This allows me to create a treatment plan that provides the best care and support for you at different stages of your recovery.
Education & Training
I’m a Consultant Clinical Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and an accredited EMDR practitioner registered with EMDR Europe. I have over 25 years of experience working in mental health and 15 years as a Clinical Psychologist. I’m also an Honorary Senior Lecturer, Clinical Supervisor and Research Supervisor at University College Cork, teaching about psychotherapy and complex trauma.
I’ve been working as a Senior Clinical Psychologist since 2010, across child, adolescent and adult clinical teams in the Health Service Executive since moving to Ireland. Before this, I worked as a Specialist and Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist for three years in the NHS. I’ve also consulted for the CEO of Children’s Rights Alliance and Seanad Éireann.
Regarding my education, I completed my clinical training in the UK. I hold a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Psychology and Crime from Coventry University (2016), a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of East Anglia (2007), an MSc in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wales (2003), and a BSc in Psychology from Middlesex University (2000).
Alongside my clinical work, I’m passionate about researching the positive mental health benefits of lifestyle medicine and nature-based activities. I’ve been running a surfing group for adults with complex mental health difficulties as part of an ongoing research project for over five years in collaboration with University College Cork. The surfing group is designed for people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties such as psychosis, suicidality, OCD, depression and anxiety. I’ve personally witnessed the transformational effect such activities can have on improving mental health.
I enjoy being in nature and the outdoors, and live on a small holding in West Cork. I surf and spend time in the sea as often as I can. I’m a keen homebrewer and beekeeper, but am yet to be particularly successful at either!