Anyone can experience emotional, relationship, behavioural and mental health problems that can severely disrupt their functioning – including children and adolescents. When a child or young person is having such difficulties it can be hard for the whole family. If left unaddressed, these problems can escalate and become more severe with adulthood so early intervention is vital. Many children and adolescents find talking to somebody outside of the family helpful in dealing with these difficulties. Parents can also feel overwhelmed by the challenge of supporting their child at these times, and often benefit from support in thinking about these issues with a psychologist.
I am a clinical psychologist who specialises in providing individually tailored therapeutic interventions to children, adolescents and their families. I have been working in the field of Clinical Psychology for over ten years, with the majority of this time spent working within the UK National Health Service. After completing my doctoral training I spent a number of years working for a Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in London, but recently returned to live and work in Ireland where I hope to continue to provide accessible community-based psychological support to local children and families.
I place a high level of importance on the therapeutic relationship and provide a space which allows parents and young people to feel comfortable enough to explore their difficulties in a safe, supportive, confidential and trusting environment. I work as an integrative clinician, which means that I tailor my therapeutic approach to the needs of the families I am working with. Reflective of my broad training and experience I draw influence from a number of schools, including cognitive-behavioural techniques (CBT), person-centred counselling, narrative therapy, systemic and family therapy, mindfulness approaches, solution-focused therapy, positive psychology ideas and psychodynamic interpretations. I also use a range of tools (e.g. questionnaires, workbooks, drawing, modelling, toys) in my work with children and young people. Depending on the family situation and presenting difficulties, I can offer individual sessions to children, adolescents and/or parents, as well as family interventions.
Common themes in my work with parents include exploring difficult parent-child relationships, parental disagreement about parenting, improving parental confidence in understanding children’s behaviour and promoting positive parenting through helping parents to set appropriate limits and to develop effective behaviour management strategies for a wide range of issues (e.g. sleep problems, tantrums, fussy eating, aggressive behaviour, toilet-training, relationships with siblings and peers).
In my work with children and adolescents I provide space to think about issues such as difficult feelings (e.g. fear, unhappiness, depression, anger, anxiety), family changes (e.g. parental separation, bereavement, new baby), difficult relationships with family, friends or teachers, coping with life transitions and stresses (e.g. new school, exams, moving home) and school difficulties (bullying, school refusal, truancy).
I also have extensive experience of running workshops and groups for parents. I am trained to provide a number of evidence-based parenting groups (from babies to teenagers), in addition to antenatal groups, and hope to offer this kind of support to local parents in the coming months.
Dr Katherine O’Hanlon B.A. (Hons), M.Sc., D.Clin.Psychol.