Services

Professional Counselling and Psychotherapy Services in Cork

Providing Expert Support Through Behavioural Therapy and Counselling

I provide one-to-one counselling to adults currently experiencing various difficulties in their lives. Specialised areas of work include anxiety, experience of chronic illness and challenges arising from a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I also work with a wide range of other issues including trauma, depression, relationships issues, communication and conflict, anger management, grief and loss, self-esteem issues and self-harm.

Anxiety, Stress, Phobias & Panic Attacks

Anxiety is the body’s response when a threat is perceived. It is a vitally important component of the ‘fight-flight-freeze’ system that serves to protect us from danger. However, it is an old survival adaptation, evolved millions of years ago, long before work deadlines, college exams, money problems and traffic jams. It only understands safe and unsafe and often mistakes normal life stressors for something more serious and life-threatening. This can lead to intense worry, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive behaviours, amongst other symptoms. Counselling and psychotherapy provides the opportunity to better understand what anxiety is – that the stress response occurs in the body, not in the mind, and if you relax the body then the mind will follow. From this calmer space, solutions can be identified for current triggers and stressors and ultimately the client can begin to get back to living a full and healthy life.

Trauma / PTSD

Trauma can take many forms – it might stem from negative childhood experiences or it might be an incident in adulthood such as the sudden loss of a loved one, a car accident, an assault. In each instance, the individual has no voice. They have no say in what happens next. Therapy is therefore the opportunity to find that voice again and to recognise that, though the trauma cannot be undone, it can be reframed. Counselling and psychotherapy can help the client to take back control of what has felt chaotic and threatening, to recognise how the trauma has become trapped inside the body, pushed down and denied in order to protect the client from the pain of remembering it. Once this is understood, the trauma begins to release its physical hold and the work of consciously processing what happened can be undertaken. The intrusive thinking, avoidance and hyper-vigilance that characterise the trauma response will then begin to fade and normal life can resume.

Depression

Depression can be a debilitating condition and depressive episodes can go on indefinitely for days, weeks and months, potentially involving feelings of worthlessness, decreased energy and difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in those things that were once pleasurable, disrupted appetite and sleep and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. The experienced symptoms and resulting impact will be unique to each person but often a kind of vicious cycle will develop wherein these physical, emotional and psychological challenges begin to feed into each other, leading to withdrawal from life and a growing sense of hopelessness. Counselling and psychotherapy provides space for a client to figure out the root cause of their depression and the ways in which the depressive cycle is being maintained. Proactive coping strategies and tools can then be devised and implemented. In this way, hope and control are regained and life begins to become more liveable again.

Relationship issues

The desire for connection is fundamental to the human experience. Such emotional intimacy involves vulnerability. For various reasons, many of which we had or have no control over, we may be fearful of opening up, of taking off armour that has kept us safe. Problematic relationships patterns or issues with emotional or sexual intimacy can result. Therapy allows for exploration of these issues in a safe space that is separate from the rest of the client’s life. Psychotherapy provides a unique opportunity for the client to understand how early attachment issues might have impacted relationships throughout their lives while counselling can be used to develop more positive, adaptive ways of relating to others in the here-and-now. Through this work, the client can shed patterns that no longer serve them and foster and nurture relationships that are healthy and in parallel with their need for happiness and growth.

Communication & conflict

We tend to adopt certain patterns in how we navigate conflict and communication. These patterns often stem from childhood because they were the best strategy at that time. However, they may no longer be fit for purpose and problems may arise where these approaches involve a reaction rather than a response, whether adopting an aggressive stance, running away from the issue or shutting down entirely and hoping the problem goes away. Counselling and psychotherapy helps the client to identify where their communication and conflict style developed from. It then seeks to equip them with the tools and strategies necessary to better manage these situations – to deactivate the fight / flight / freeze patterns that will always act as a barrier to clear, solution-focused communication. When we are calm in this way, we can know our needs and feel our feelings. Moreover, we can better empathise with the needs and feelings of others. This is the secret to effective communication and conflict management.

Anger management

Anger occurs on a spectrum that runs from acting it out in the form of outbursts and loss of control that can be damaging to our relationships with others to acting it in through self-attack and negative self-talk that can be damaging to our self-image and self-esteem. A healthy relationship with anger falls in the middle of this range, wherein we can recognise what it is that is making us feel this way and we can communicate this to others in a pro-active solution-focused way. When understood and expressed in this way, anger can be an empowering emotion through which we can achieve growth and maintain healthy, flexible boundaries. Counselling and psychotherapy provides the opportunity to understand where a client’s relationship with anger has developed from and how it manifests in their lives. From there, they can then develop the skills and techniques necessary to express it in a safe and constructive manner.

The experience of receiving a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) varies greatly from individual to individual. It may be liberating for some – explanation for facets of their personality that previously felt inexplicable. For others, it can feel more complicated – a signifier of being different or a challenge that they wish to overcome or minimise. The counsellor and psychotherapist provides a space to explore challenges specific to each client and recognises that a diagnosis of A.S. does not define the individual but may nonetheless bring certain considerations and challenges with it when negotiating obstacles that arise in life. Counselling and psychotherapy might also be considered by parents and caregivers of children who have received a diagnosis. It can be a vital support for ensuring that they do not experience burnout and other health-related issues resulting from the cumulative stress of fighting for support and intervention for their loved ones.

Serious Illness, Chronic Pain, Treatment & Recovery

Serious illness can bring with it many complicated and oftentimes overwhelming emotions. Individuals may be plunged into chaos as they attempt to gain some sense of control and understanding over what it is they are facing into. Therapy can provide the space to explore and address feelings of anger, hopelessness and sadness in order to integrate and accept this new reality and, when used in parallel with medical interventions, talk therapy has a proven track record in improving pain management. For some, the period of diagnosis and treatment will be something that they find less challenging to deal with than the recovery period. It may be only then that symptoms of trauma arise in the form of stress, anxiety or depression – the avoidance, intrusive thinking and hyper-vigilance that often result from traumatic, abnormal experiences. Again, the therapeutic space can be a safe place to unpack and understand what happened and how it impacted them and continues to do so now.

Bereavement, loss or grief

Bereavement is a term used to describe the loss of a loved one. Grieving refers to the reaction to any form of loss. Both may result in very painful emotions including fear, anger, denial and hopelessness. The ultimate goal of therapy is to help the client to come to accept the reality of the loss, to process the pain, to adjust to a world without their loved one and to find a way of integrating them – of cherishing their memory while moving forward in life. For some clients, the challenge will be to process the loss of their own life where a terminal diagnosis has been received. The counsellor and psychotherapist can help the dying individual to better manage mental health challenges, to maximise quality of life for their remaining time and the space to reflect on the meaning their life has held and the legacy they leave behind.

Self-esteem

Self-esteem refers to the way in which we perceive ourselves and the value we place upon that perception. Low self-esteem may be indicated by feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred, an inability to assert ourselves and a general feeling that we don’t deserve happiness in life. The individual with low self-esteem may tend toward making decisions that do not serve their best interests and reinforce the negative beliefs they hold about themselves. In this way, they may become trapped in various patterns of unhelpful thinking. Our self-esteem often arises from the conditions of worth that were either verbally or non-verbally placed upon us as children and that we either consciously or unconsciously try to live up to throughout our lives in order to feel validated and good enough. For others, low self-esteem may have resulted from difficult experiences in later life. Talk therapy provides clients with the space to explore and better understand these origins and thereby reframe thinking patterns that no longer serve us.

Self-harm & suicidal ideation

Individuals have a reason for self-harming – they may be seeking to escape anxiety or emotional pain, to punish themselves, to feel pleasure or a sense of control or, indeed, to feel anything at all. Initial feelings of relief are often followed by negative emotions such as shame, guilt, sadness and anger. Where this situation continues to escalate or begins to feel hopeless, suicidal ideation may occur. The role of the counsellor is to help the client to understand the positive function that the self-harming behaviour is serving. The therapist and client work together in order to figure out where the distress is arising from and then begin to formulate new strategies and tools for managing that distress – to replace self-harming with more adaptive coping strategies.

Personal development & coming to know yourself

Clients often come to counselling and psychotherapy because some element of their life has become problematic to the point where it is impacting their day-to-day functioning. Having completed this initial piece of work, they remain in therapy because the feeling of having met themselves through greater self-awareness is cathartic. Counsellors and psychotherapists are not just for emergencies. Talk therapy can be a place of self-exploration wherein the richness of life can be enhanced and old patterns and habits that are no longer useful can be shed. The autopilot into which we slip all too often can be stepped out of in favour of self-reflection and curiosity. We can begin to assume a fuller, more centered and grounded identity from which we can make decisions that nourish us.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination”

— Carl Rogers

Psychotherapy & Counselling Arrangements

Counselling Services Fees

I am happy to provide a free 15-minute initial consultation over the phone. Sessions thereafter cost €70.

Duration of Sessions

Sessions are either undertaken in person in my office in Ballintemple, Cork City, or online over Zoom and are 55 minutes in duration. Typically I would meet with a client weekly.

Cancellation

I kindly ask that clients provide a minimum of 24-hours notice should they need to reschedule or cancel an appointment. Otherwise the full fee for the session will be charged.

Confidentiality

Everything that you share with me will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with any third party unless under circumstances where you have directed me to do so. However, there are exceptions under which I am legal obliged to break this confidentiality. These include where:

  • there is a risk of serious harm or injury to the client or someone else.
  • a serious crime has been or may be committed.
  • child protection issues such as abuse or neglect arise, either current or historical.

Length of Time in Counselling

How long we work together will very much depend on what has brought you to therapy. Dealing with a well-defined, specific concern may be relatively quick, involving 6 – 10 sessions whereas deep-rooted issues such as historical trauma may require a gentler pace over a longer period. In our first session, we will agree a timeline for reviewing our work together to ensure that it is moving in the right direction and you are benefiting from it.