I gained my BA Degree in English and Philosophy from University College Cork in 1976.
After graduation I spent 18 months working in a L'Arche Community in France. I was drawn to this international community by its attitude of respect towards each individual, Resident and Assistant alike, no matter their intellectual or physical ability.
On my return to Ireland I took a Post Graduate Diploma in Montessori Teaching in Dublin. I was attracted by its educational philosophy of allowing the child work at his or her own developmental pace. I worked as a Montessori Directress with children with a profound intellectual challenge in an Institution in Cork for one year. The following year I worked with privileged children in a private Montessori School on Long Island, New York State.
On my return to Ireland I spent the next 12 years working with intellectually challenged adults in Residential Care in Bray, County Wicklow.
Parallel to this I began my own path of personal exploration with psychoanalysis in New York. On my return to Ireland I looked for support with the psychological and spiritual questions that were challenging me and discovered Psychosynthesis. Having completed its Foundation Year I began my first Psychotherapeutic Training with the Institute of Psychosynthesis, Eckhart House in Dublin, under its Director, Mícheál O'Regan.
After a number of years of part-time Practice I began to feel the need for more grounding in psychological theory. I was drawn to Psychoanalysis because of its depth and breath of human understanding. I gained my M.Sc. in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from the Department of Mental Health, Trinity College, Dublin. I was now qualified to work with both Children and Adolescents, as well as Adults.
Feeling the need to ponder the shape of my future I took a Sabbatical. During this period I travelled for four months in the East (India, Thailand and Nepal.) Weighing up all my experience I realised that I wanted to work Full-Time as a Psychotherapist with both Adults and Adolescents.
On my return to Ireland in 1990 I opened my first, full-time, Private Practice in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in Dublin.
In 1998 I was finally free from teaching commitments in Dublin to full-fill my long-held dream of moving to the West of Ireland. I eventually settled on the island of Aughinish (linked to the mainland by a causeway, built by the British Army, in 18th century), just outside Kinvara, County Galway at the edge of The Burren of County Clare. The combination of living by the sea, in close proximity to the limestone landscape of the soft, grey, feminine hills continues to nourish my spirit and creativity.
It is here that I now have my Private Practice in both Individual Psychotherapy and Clinical Supervision.
With the approach of mid-life, and its attendant challenges, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the BodySoul work of Marion Woodman, Canadian Jungian Analyst. BodySoul Work is based on the Analytic Psychology of Carl Gustav Jung, as developed by Marion Woodman together with Dance Educator, Mary Hamilton and Voice Coach, Ann Skinner. BodySoul holds that Psyche and Soma are inseparable and must be explored together in the service of bringing to consciousness both the positive feminine in our bodies and the positive masculine in our creative pursuits so that we may lead fulfilling lives. In this work our body's symptoms are listened to and where we are stuck in our lives is observed. In particular great attention is paid to our unfolding dreams. Space is provided for what is in our unconscious to emerge through movement, voice-work, painting, journalling, mask-making and other means of 'Active Imagination'. This embodied creativity helps to open new neural pathways, allowing us to heal old wounds and to discover our previously un-lived potential in a vital and empowering way. Over a period of seven years I completed The Leadership Training of BodySoul with the Marion Woodman Foundation. Both my work and living have been deeply influenced by my BodySoul experience. The voice-work of Ann Skinner was of fundamental importance to me, as it was with her that I began to find the true tones and depth of my own voice.
On moving to Kinvara and The Burren I discovered The Lismorahaun Singers, a very special community choir, which I joined in 2002. In doing so I met its gifted and inspiring Founding Conductor, and Voice Teacher, Archie Simpson. I became his student when I was 50 and attended regular lessons for ten years. With him I developed my singing voice and worked on a solo CD. As you can read my approach to work and life is eclectic. I am intrigued and stimulated by the current findings in Neuroscience and Neurobiology as they apply to Psychotherapy. I am captivated by the innovative research in relation to Trauma and The Body in particular. These findings are creating a new era in my profession and it is very exciting to be at it's cutting edge. That edge where we can take nothing for granted yet where we may all be enlivened anew! As a result of the impulse of my intrigue I have completed a three year, post-graduate, training in Somatic Experience (SE) run, in the North of Ireland, by Somatic Experiencing Ireland, (ISE - Website: irelandse.org). SE, founded by Peter Levine, (Website: healingtrauma.com) works with trauma in the body where it is held in the Nervous System. SE works by releasing the 'held' trauma from the Nervous System in a gentle, incremental way at the individual's own pace, thus avoiding any further overwhelm or 're-traumatisation' in the process. I experience SE akin to, and at the depths of, a 'mother tongue', reinvigorating my work from its very roots up. Each day now a delight of curiosity. A wonderful thing to be able to say after more than thirty years of Private Practice!
I see my work as that of a Sherpa. The Sherpa knows which paths may be travelled and which are either unsafe or reserved for the Gods alone. The Sherpa carries our bags if we can not, especially on our initial climbs. He knows where it is safe to build a fire for both warmth and nourishment. He knows where it is safe to rest, even where to sleep, which might bring dreams. He keeps vigil for seen and unseen dangers. He knows when it is time to hand our bags back, containing the essential assets for the journey. Most importantly he knows when it is time for us to 'go it alone', our own wisdom and compass claimed.