Counselling · Psychotherapy · CBT · Mindfulness · Art Therapy · Compassion
Carbury, Co. Kildare · Tels: 0873977828 / 0862272917
If you want to know a little more about Antonia, check out her qualifications, experience, and a little about her personal history
Tel: 087 3977828
I am a fully accreditted member of both the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) and the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP), the two largest counselling and psychotherapy accrediting associations in Ireland. I am a registered member of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) and a member of the EMDR Association UK & Ireland. EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is an evidence-based therapy for the safe treatment of trauma and PTSD, and is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) and the WHO (World Health Organisation) for the treatment of these.
- Masters in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy from the University of Oxford.
- Fully certified in Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) under the instruction of Dr. Michael Patterson.
- BA (Hons.) in Integrative Counselling & Psychotherapy from IICP.
- 4 year Professional Diploma in Integrative Counselling & Psychotherapy in the Tivoli Institute.
- Post Graduate Dip. in Art Therapy
- Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)
- Additional training in Child and Adolescent Counselling, Reality Therapy and Motivational Interviewing, Understanding Psychosis, Couples Counselling, Dream Interpretation, Family Constellations, End of Life and Palliative emotional care, and energy healing.
- I have experience as a lecturer training counselling and psychotherapy students at undergraduate level, and as a presenter in community education programmes.
Who am I and my own personal journey
My name is Antonia, I am half Irish and half Spanish, in my mid 40s and, although I spent a lot of my childhood living in Mallorca (Spain), I have been living in Ireland for 20 years, and in Co. Kildare for nearly 10 years. I now live in a rural setting in Carbury, Co. Kildare with my husband Damien, who is also a therapist accredited with he IACP.
I was brought up between Spain and Ireland with one Irish parent and one Spanish parent. As with most people, there were a few struggles growing up and, in my teens in particular, I struggled with panic attacks, anxiety disorder and low self-esteem. At age 20, I moved to Ireland permanently, but the first time I ever considered therapy was while attending a talk led by a psychology professor during a year teaching in Mexico. Once I returned to Ireland, I decided to get help and start working on myself.
Through therapy and my education in psychotherapy, I learnt that I am responsible for my own happiness and also that it is not selfish to care for myself. These might seem like pretty obvious or simple things, but for me they weren't, and for many people I work with they are not either. There are many ways, often unconscious, in which we give away our power or agency, or view others as having more value than ourselves. In my case, I often felt like a victim, or stuck in situations/relationships that I could not end. Fear, duty and self-criticism guided my actions. I unfairly blamed other people or the situations I happened to be in for my suffering. I tried to fix other people rather than looking after myself. At times it was really hard to say no and I avoided confrontation, suppressing anger and other difficult feelings. I constantly compared myself to others, valued myself by my achievements only, and anxiety and panic attacks were never too far away... I know many people relate to this, even if their story or symptoms may be different.
It can be hugely empowering to finally realise, through therapy or other means, that it is within our power to change a lot of what happens to us or, if this is not possible, to at least change how we respond to life's difficulties. We can get stuck in a rut where we are constantly reacting to life in an unhealthy habitual way. Understanding how our past has shaped us can us helps us to water down the self-criticism and to view ourselves with more compassion (we don't think or behave unhealthily on purpose, or because we are stupid/bad people). It can freeing to realise that a lot of our thoughts and actions come from habit (like our own automatic pilot) and that we can change these with particular techniques or therapeutic exercises. Good therapy should help us understand how we learnt these negative patters, but also show us how to change them. Therapy was very helpful to me, it started me out on a process of change, and this motivated me to train in this field.
However, it is important to remember that neither therapy nor mindfulness are a panacea or cure-all for everything, and that was certainly not the case for me. Therapy was only one of the things that has helped me in the process of change, and I encourage the people that come to me to seek out help from as many sources as possible. Many factors influence wellbeing, and things like exercise, nutrition, having a support network, a sense of connection to community or nature, fulfilling one's purpose, psycho-education, medication when and if appropriate, etc. are vital for mental health.
My professional experience
I have over 13 years' experience in this field, working with adults, teenagers and couples. Prior to becoming a therapist, I was involved in education and I worked as a student counsellor with international teenage students. I also worked as a volunteer in outreach services with women involved in prostitution in Dublin. I set up Maynooth Counselling and Psychotherapy with my colleague Evanna Lyons in 2007. I don't work here anymore, but it is still a busy and successful practice. I worked in the Village Counselling Service for over a year, with children and young people struggling with a variety of issues, using play and art therapy. Today, I work with a huge variety or issues in my clinical practice, some diagnosed mental health disorders, others non-pathological issues such as bereavement, relationship issues, low self-esteem, etc. Currently, I am interested in the use of Mindfulness and Compassion for the treatment of mental health issues, such as depression, suicidality, anxiety, etc and use Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in my practice. I am also interested in the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) for the treatment of trauma and PTSD. I chose to train in these two modalities, as both are backed by evidence, and NICE and the World Health Organisation include them in their guidelines for treatment of certain mental health issues.
How do I work?
The way I work as a therapist is dependent on what you want to get from the sessions, so, if you decide to begin working with me, we will decide together what approach works best for you right now. I am trained in several styles: the 'Psychodynamic' approach aims to understand how your past and childhood experiences affect you today, and helps you make healthier choices. The 'Humanistic' approach is very collaborative and aims to help you find your own answers through a relationship of care, acceptance, honesty and trust with your therapist. The 'directive' approach, as the word suggests, is more solution-focused and short-term, and you will be agreeing on homework between sessions, so that you feel you are progressing. This approach does not concern itself too much with your past. Some of the directive therapies I have experience in include: Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Reality Therapy (also called Choice Theory), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERPT). Another approach that is very popular at the moment is 'mindfulness', and I also work with my clients in this way. Clients might choose to work with one particular therapeutic style, but often what is most useful is to use a combination of all these approaches with the one person, depending on what is needed in any given session, which can be described as a 'pluralistic' or 'eclectic' approach. I understand it can be confusing for the lay person to understand the therapeutic 'jargon', so please click on the 'Counselling & Psychotherapy' tab on the right for clear jargon-free explanations of what all the different types of therapy actually mean and involve. This might help you get an idea of what your preference would be.
An alternative option to therapy is to do an 8-week mindfulness MBCT programme, either in a group or individually. Please click on the tab on the right if you are interested in this.
I believe that the single most important quality I bring to my work is that I genuinely care for the people I work with. My clients matter to me a lot, and I am committed to assisting each and every one of them to meet their goals in therapy. This pushing me to continuously invest in my training. Having said that, I have found that I learn just as much from my clients as they learn from therapy, and I am constantly humbled to witness the resilience people find in themselves in times of suffering, and the growth that can come from that suffering.
Our wellbeing and self-care as therapists and human beings is essential in helping us in our work in a caring profession, and we cannot care for others in a sustainable way unless we also care for ourselves. Also, it would not be genuine to give clients advice that I am not trying to follow myself, so I believe it is wise for a therapist to try to practice what they preach and to take care of their bodies and minds. Having said that, I have learnt this needs to be done "with a light touch" (i.e.: not in a regimental way!). I try, to the best of my ability, to cultivate compassion and to live a healthy lifestyle that involves exercise, plenty of fresh air and time in nature, good food, no alcohol or drugs, a connection with others, mindfulness and plenty of enjoyment and time to rest! This, as with everyone, is not perfect but rather more of a work in progress, which requires a compassionate effort and a willingness to start over every time I deviate from the path.
My therapy practice is in a calm and rural setting, off the main roads. Hopefully, if you choose to come here for therapy or mindfulness, you feel the setting is private, caring and peaceful.