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 clinical psychologist.
I have been working in the field of Clinical Psychology for over fifteen years, and worked for many years 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 returned to live and work in Ireland in 2012. I have been based in the Novara Centre since 2013, where I provide individually tailored therapeutic interventions to children, adolescents and parents.
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), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), 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).
I also offer support to parents during the perinatal period (the time during pregnancy and up until the baby’s first birthday). While mood is often very up and down during pregnancy, for some women (and their partners) these emotions can feel overwhelming and difficult to manage. Antenatal depression and anxiety are relatively common yet they are often not recognised or appropriately treated by those caring for the expectant parents.Postnatal depression and anxiety, while more widely considered, are still often unrecognised and untreated which can have long term negative effects on parents and, also on their developing child. I offer a safe space in which to explore the feelings being experienced, and support in learning to better manage and overcome these difficult emotions. I can also help new parents with the transition to parenthood and the myriad of (often conflicting) feelings associated with this change. Both mothers and fathers can experience emotional difficulties in the perinatal period and may benefit from some support during this time.
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 covering newborn babies to teenagers (including The Incredible Years, The Parents Plus Programme and The Solihull Approach), in addition to antenatal groups, and have successfully run many of these both in the UK and here in Bray.
Dr Katherine O’Hanlon B.A. (Hons), M.Sc., D.Clin.Psychol.