MA (Hons) IAP, Dip. TEAA
Integrative Psychotherapist, BACP & HCPC registered
For me, relationship is at the heart of psychotherapy – a collaborative process between therapist and client, providing opportunities for self-reflection and insight in a safe, confidential and supportive space.
I specialise in treating complex trauma; having gained valuable experience in the past from working with women suffering from perinatal trauma, as well as with refugees and asylum-seekers, many of whom have had to endure war, torture, persecution and devastating loss.
I believe that experiences of deep distress and devastation can become catalysts for enormous personal development, an awakening of profound insight and authenticity. I feel privileged to support people in that transformational process.
“When I stand before you at the day’s end,
you shall see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing.”
– Rabindranath Tagore
My training as an integrative psychotherapist enables me to work across different therapeutic modalities with my clients at The Oxford Development Centre, ranging from Cognitive Behavioural, Psychodynamic and Gestalt-based to Somatic and Body-focussed, as well as, Experiential approaches. I tailor my work to each of my client’s specific needs, based on an initial assessment process. Although the majority of my work is with adults I do work across the ages, including with young people.
Making psychotherapy more accessible is an important motivation for me. Before joining the Oxford Development Centre, I worked therapeutically in the charitable, public and private sector, with people of all ages and backgrounds. Working for a maternal mental health charity, I ran psychotherapy services for teenage mums and mums with perinatal depression and anxiety. I have also been a psychotherapist in a women’s holistic health project, co-ordinated a young people’s counselling service and had my own private practice. I have worked in NHS inpatient forensic psychiatric units and an outpatient arts psychotherapies service.
As a member of the Complex Trauma Therapists’ Network, I have kept updated with developments in trauma-informed therapy such as the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM) and Systemic, Embodied and Experiential Reprocessing (the SEER Method). I find that working with body sensation and embodied mental imagery can be very effective in healing trauma.
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.”
Pursuing my passion for psycho-education and empowering people, I developed an emotional wellbeing syllabus for 16-24-year-olds, when working for a children’s charity, and devised a therapeutic programme for older adults living with dementia, when working as a therapist in residential care. I helped to devise national guidelines for art therapists working with dementia.
Sometimes it can be hard to find the words to express a deep or difficult feeling. Imagination and creativity can be helpful in facilitating expression and exploration. I trained in Integrative Arts Psychotherapy; a humanistic, psychodynamic, gestalt and transpersonal approach to psychotherapy which can utilise different arts modalities in addition to verbal and body-focussed therapy, as appropriate to each individual client. My background in complementary therapies and the arts and my own personal growth journey have given me a holistic and creative approach to transforming trauma and mental health problems into a pathway towards psychological growth and well-being.
Donaghy, Smith & McGuinness, 2017: ‘Supporting Young Mothers’, International Journal of Birth and Parent Education (Vol 4, Issue 3:17)
Smith, K. 2009: ‘Journeys of Transformation: The Role of Sacred Arts in Self-realisation and Spiritual Development’, Journal of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama (2009: Vol 60)