On finishing school, I completed a BA in Applied Social Studies. After a number of years working with young people out of home I returned to college to undertake a Master’s in Education (Aggression Studies) at Trinity College. This Master’s, set up by Professor Mona O’Moore of the Anti-Bullying Centre, Trinity College was specifically designed to equip individuals with the skills to act as a consultant to schools to help them counter bullying behaviour. It was based on whole-school/community principles, and informed by best national and international practice. My thesis was later published in the book ‘Bullying in Irish Education’, edited by Professor O’Moore & Paul Stevens.
In 2010 I began volunteering at the Anti-Bullying Centre and after a short while I took on the role of research assistant and school workshop co-ordinator. As school workshop co-ordinator I travelled around the country giving talks to parents, teachers and children about bullying. This work allowed me to put theory into practice and I saw first-hand the importance of teaching children assertiveness skills. In 2011 I undertook and completed an IACP recognised 3 year Diploma in Counselling. I felt counselling would augment my skills with children and allow me to work in a more therapeutic way with them.
In October 2014, after nearly 20 years working with young people I set up Wellbeing Matters to provide a unique, all-encompassing service which marries two distinct but inter-related issues: bullying and mental health. While education and awareness raising are essential aspects of any anti-bullying work, I feel we must pay equal attention to addressing the effects of bullying and other adverse experiences on the person. Personal development and counselling prioritise the emotional wellbeing of the individual so they feel empowered and supported to let go of these experiences and move on.
I continue to work with schools and youth organisations to create bully-free environments, regularly giving talks to parents/carers and professionals on how to support and protect children from bullying. This is complemented by the personal development workshops I run for teenagers on an individual or group basis. I also work as a counsellor for adults working through a number of issues.