I graduated from UCD in 1993 with a BA Honours Psychology. In 1995 I was awarded a first class honours degree in Forensic Psychology from the University of Liverpool. Following that I joined Scotland Yard in London and set up a unit that specialises in the behavioural analysis of violent crime against women and children.
Between 1999 and 2010 I specialised in child protection in conflict areas. I lived in conflict areas of Asia and Africa working on issues affecting children, including recruitment as child soldiers, sexual exploitation and the psychological impact of war on children. I was Save the Children UK’s advisor for child protection in conflict and represented the agency in conflict affected countries and at an advocacy level in Geneva and New York. Other related posts were in The War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland and The World Organisation Against Torture.
Between 2011 and 2015 I undertook professional training to qualify as a play therapist and Theraplay practitioner. In addition, I undertook additional training in the Anna Freud Centre in London in two techniques for assessing attachment in children (Story Stems Assessment Profiling and the Child Attachment Interview). Throughout my training process I worked in various services in Dublin and Wicklow, including the HSE Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service for North Dublin, One Family (an NGO specialising in providing support to separated parents) and primary schools in North Dublin and Wicklow.