Sarah is a fully qualified counselling psychologist and is accredited with the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).
She completed a Masters in Irish Literature before deciding to pursue a Doctorate in counselling psychology with Trinity College, Dublin. Sarah completed her doctorate in 2013 and is proficient in several modalities including humanistic, cognitive-behavioural, emotion-focused and psychodynamic therapy. She has worked with clients across the lifespan and in a variety of settings over the past 7 years. These have included working within the Health Service Executive (HSE), corporate setting, prison setting and private practice. For the past 4 years, Sarah has worked in a forensic psychology setting providing assessments and therapy for clients who have offended. In particular, Sarah has worked with clients who have sexually offended or acted out in a sexually inappropriate manner.
Sarah believes in providing a safe space for the client where they are met with compassion and non-judgement. She feels that the client possesses the inner resources within themselves to move through difficult experiences, but may need support in facilitating this process through therapy. Sarah believes in meeting the client where they are and tailoring her therapeutic approach to the client’s needs.
Sarah is particularly passionate about issues relating to sex and body positivity, gender and cultural issues as well as self-development and awareness.
Sarah considers depression to be on a spectrum ranging from low mood to a clinical mood disorder and everything in between. While each person’s experience of depression is unique, typical symptoms experienced include sadness, guilt, shame, numbness, apathy and lethargy. She works with clients to help identify triggers for their low mood/depression and to build coping skills and resilience.
Similar to depression, anxiety is on a spectrum from mild anxiety to debilitating anxiety disorder. Often depression and anxiety co-occur as they can influence one another. Sarah has worked with individuals experiencing mild anxiety, phobias including agoraphobia, OCD (anxiety related), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), general anxiety, social anxiety and health related anxiety.
Trauma including childhood trauma
A simplified definition of trauma is a normal response to an abnormal situation. It is our mind’s and body’s way of responding to a deeply distressing event that overwhelms one’s ability to cope, causing feelings of helplessness, diminishing one’s sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. Trauma can be related to a single event such as a physical or sexual assault, a road traffic accident or a natural disaster or when a person is exposed to an ongoing stressor, such as in war or those who experience oppression in society as a minority. Developmental trauma refers to trauma that occurs in childhood and is as a result of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect. Sarah has worked in specialised trauma services in the past.
Sexuality and Gender
Sexuality and gender are two different concepts. Sexuality can include anything from a person’s sexual orientation (gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, queer, etc), preferences to their sexual habits and behaviours. Gender is separate from sexual orientation but similarly is along a spectrum. This can include cis female, cis male, trans male, trans female, non-binary and genderqueer. Although a person’s sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity may not be a source of distress, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, or any other orientation or gender identity may find that the social stigma of living as a minority is a source of stress or anxiety.
Bereavement and Loss
Loss is part of the human experience and is something we all go through at one point or another in our lives. Grief is a response to loss and bereavement is a type of grief involving a loved one. Grief encompasses a range of feelings including sadness, denial, anger, despair, isolation, alienation. While we predominantly associate grief with death, it can also refer to the loss of a relationship, loss of an old way of life, injury or illness, loss of job or home, sexual difficulties, abortion and many others.
Much like loss, relationships are very much at the heart of the human experience. Romantic relationships, friendships, familial relationships and work relationships. While they can provide us with great joy, they can also trigger us in painful ways and can be challenging to manage. Our ability to form emotional bonds and experience enjoyable relationships can often be impacted by our attachment styles.
Anger is an emotion that many of us struggle to express in a healthy manner. We either attempt to suppress it entirely or explode or erupt with rage causing damage to our own wellbeing and our relationships. Anger, like with any other emotion, needs to be expressed, in a way that is assertive and not abusive.
While Sarah identifies as a straight cis female who comes from a White Irish background, she endeavours to be aware of how issues such as race, religion, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, and/or disability can impact an individual’s life. Culture, or customs, beliefs, and products of various institutions or people at any particular time, can greatly influence how people interact and how we see one another - both positively and negatively. Minority groups experience oppression in the wider societal structure, as well as on an individual basis which can cause trauma responses and significant distress.