Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert

Senior Social Work Practitioner / Counsellor 

Qualifications:  BSSc (QUB) Dip. Social Work (Edinburgh) 
Diploma HE in Counselling from the University of Ulster
Member of the Irish Fertility Counsellors Association.

Experience:  I was employed as a Social Worker initially in a hospital setting and later in a Family and Child Care Team. On joining Family Routes I spent a number of years concentrating on Adoption and Post Adoption work.

Continuing in Family Routes I am now the lead for our Fertility Counselling Service and also Next Step.

More recently I have joined as a member of Family Routes Adoption Panel.  

What do you like to do in your free time?  I re-upholster old chairs, and thoroughly enjoy going for a walk while catching up on Podcasts.

All time favourite TV show? ER and The West Wing.

Barbara Williams

Barbara Williams

 Adoption Service Manager

Qualifications:   BA; Diploma in Social Studies; CQSW.

Experience:   40+ years experience in adoption.  I enjoy working with people and making families.

What do you like to do in your free time?  Walking – often with my dogs, gardening.

All time favourite TV show? Grace and Frankie.

Lynda Wilson CBE

Lynda Wilson CBE

Chief Executive

Lynda began her career as a social worker in 1971 with the Country Antrim Welfare in the Family & Child Care Team based in Lisburn.

In 1986, having been a Senior Social Work Team Leader in both Lisburn and South Belfast, she moved to Barnardo’s NI as a Project Leader to establish Northern Ireland’s first professional foster care service for ‘hard to place’ young people.

In 1987 she became Director of Barnardo’s Northern Ireland, a position she held until 2019.

Key milestones included becoming a founding member of Focus on Children, a member of the Washington Peace for Children delegation and addressing the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in 1996.

In 1997 Lynda was nominated as the Chair of the Victims Education Bursary by the Northern Ireland Office.

Lynda also acquired £7million inward investment for Barnardo’s NI from Atlantic Philanthropies to adapt, license and implement a number of evidence-based programmes to scale in the UK.

In 2006, Lynda was awarded the CBE for services to families and children in Northern Ireland.

Memberships have included the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership, the Atlantic Grantee Network (All Ireland) and various inter-departmental groupings.

What do you like to do in your free time? Nothing too adventurous, travel, reading, cooking and eating.

All time favourite TV show? This Is Us – of course about adoption and family history.

Keely Mosley

Keely Mosley

TESSA Therapist


I am registered/accredited with:
I am a registered and fully accredited member of BACP
Registered and certified Play Therapist with PTUK

Code of ethics observed:

Dip Counselling Supervision ( Level 5) Cert Child Parent Relationship Therapy (filial therapy) PGDip Practice Based Play Therapy (Level 7) PGCert Integrative Counselling ( Level 4) MA Pastoral Care and Counselling ( Level 7)

Special interest/experience
Filial therapy, Play therapy, Trauma and Attachment

Additional information
I have had the great privilege of offering filial therapy via the TESSA project since it began in 2016. I was delighted to have the opportunity to train in Child Parent Relationship Therapy under Sue Bratton all the way back in 2007 and have always found it to be the highlight of my therapy practice. I have over 28 years’ experience working with children and families in the helping professions, 20+ years supervised counselling/play therapy practice, 16+ years’ experience in filial therapy and 9+ years’ experience as a clinical supervisor.

I have worked in the voluntary sector for many years, first at the Oasis Counselling Service in Dublin as a play therapist/youth counsellor and Children’s Project Coordinator and then at New Life Counselling as a play therapist/youth counsellor and Assistant Community Team Leader with both the OKAY (Only Kids and Youth) and Family teams for 10 years. I have also run a small private practice called Shepherding Lambs Counselling and Training service since 2008 and have worked in a co-op of other private therapists in the community as well as in schools and for a number of agencies and health and social care trusts.

I have worked with individual children and young people as well as groups and schools using play therapy and counselling and also love training other therapists but the reason

I love filial therapy so much is that it combines psychoeducation and practical feedback sessions to teach parents how to do therapeutic play with their own children. It enhances attachment, helps repair developmental trauma, and builds resilience in children and parents. It is especially effective in helping to resolve trauma and attachment issues, even when they are pre-verbal memories that may not be conscious but still held in the body and emotions. And it is all based on parents conducting play sessions with their children for just 30 minutes a week!

The best bit is that because it involves having such a fun, positive experience together, it can significantly reduce the impact of any difficulties you might be experiencing as a family unit. I have used it not only as a therapist, but also as a foster and adoptive parent myself so I have seen the positive results first hand.

I work with:
Children and young people ages 2-18, parents, young adults, therapy students and supervisees

Lizzie Devlin

Lizzie Devlin

TESSA Therapist

Belfast/Greater Belfast County Antrim and Down.

I am registered/accredited with:
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
British Association for Art Therapist (BAAT), Member and approved by/registered with BAAT for Private Practice.

Code of ethics observed

MSc Art Psychotherapy with Merit (University of East London /Belfast Health and Social Care Trust) 2007-2010
Post Graduate Diploma in Arts Admin (UCD) 1992-1993
BA Honours in Fine Art (Painting, print-making/Art History (Leeds University) 1984-1988
BSL Stage 1, TEFL,Cert Com Dev 1988-1998
Ongoing CPD : Including Art Therapy and Treatment of Attachment Trauma, Level 2 Children Accelerated Trauma treatment and Intercultural Competency.

Special interest/experience
Art Therapy

Additional information
I am a HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) registered Art Psychotherapist experienced in working with children, young people and adults on a one to one and group basis.(MSc Art Psychotherapy, Centre for Psychotherapy Belfast and University of East London, 2011 ). I  have a background in Community Arts and my approach in Art Psychotherapy is Psychodynamic and Integrated.

Using art, play and creative expression is a natural language for children enabling them to communicate difficult and painful feelings.  Art Therapy can be particularly beneficial for children who have experienced early/developmental trauma and attachment difficulties. Art Therapy communicates when words simply cannot.

My experience of working with children includes: Looked After children, Adoption, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and children impacted by Meningitis.

Specialist areas of clinical practice include early developmental trauma, Troubles related psychological and trans-generational trauma and PTSD.

I work with children and their Care-givers/Parents individually and jointly and with groups in many different settings both in schools and in the community.

Specialist training in trauma and attachment includes:

ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Train the Trainer Course (ACES Level 1 and 2) with the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland.

Dyadic Art Therapy training with the British Association of Art Therapists , a joint art therapy approach involving children and their Caregivers/Parents which offers creative and playful activities, which can facilitate communication, discussion and benefit the relationship.

Children’s Accelerated Trauma Technique, Level 2, a child-centred technique for treating traumatic experiences and PTSD  developed in partnership with children and based on children’s rights principles.

CPCAB Level 6 Creative Supervision Across the Ages.

I see: Children, adults and groups

Sharon Coulter

Sharon Coulter

TESSA Therapist

Ballymena and 25 mile radius

I am accredited and regulated by the following bodies and adhere to their code of ethics:
Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC);
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) an independent UK-wide health regulator;
I am a member of the EMDR All-Ireland Association.
I am a member of the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth);

2020 – 2023 Training in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and the Flash Technique (FT) (an adjunct of EMDR)
2019 Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level 1
2007 MA Arts Psychotherapy (Specialising in Dramatherapy)
2001 MA Social Work
1995 BA (Hons) Humanities

Special interest
I am particularly interested in somatic psychotherapy (Somatic therapy operates on the premise that what happens to you in your life is stored not only in your mind but also in your body). My clinical experience, my training in EMDR, sensorimotor psychotherapy and creative methodologies embody my holistic approach when helping to improve the well-being of adults, children, young people and their parents/carers.
Both EMDR, Creative Arts and Dramatherapy are listed as interventions by Beacon House – Therapeutic Services & Trauma Team. They created the “Bottom Up” Approach to address neurodevelopmental trauma and it is underpinned by the Neuro Sequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), developed by Dr Bruce Perry.
The “Bottom Up” Approach is designed to recover and repair each part of a child’s brain in a specific, phased and effective order.

I am a therapeutic social worker, arts psychotherapist, arts facilitator and community artist. I have clinical experience in the assessment of forensic risk, mental health, parenting and child protection. I have particular expertise in the area of neuro-diversity; I provide therapeutic intervention to children on an individual and group basis and provide advice and support to parents.

As a therapeutic social worker, I have gained wide-ranging knowledge and skills from working in various statutory agencies and most recently as a child and adolescent mental health practitioner. I understand the treatment of medical and mental health diagnoses with medicine and have the experience of using behavioural and creative methodologies in conjunction with and without medicine to improve the well-being of children and adolescents. This knowledge and experience combined with my arts psychotherapy training, EMDR and FT training gives me a unique approach in my private practice.
I have worked in many diverse settings including the Education Authority NI, Youth Justice NI, NHS and a range of community non- statutory organisations.

In the Education Authority I have worked within the Happy Healthy Minds Project for Primary Schools since 2021, providing creative expressive workshops for groups of children and play based therapy for individual children.

Within the NHS I have gained extensive knowledge and skills from working as a senior practitioner in a multi-disciplinary Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) environment.

As an arts facilitator I work with groups of older people for Arts Care which is a regional arts, health and well-being organisation and charity based in NI. I provide arts facilitation for children and adults with learning disability as well as small groups of young people suffering from anxiety, with and without diagnoses of ADHD and ASD. I believe arts-based group processes, promote positivity and resilience.
I work under Creative Therapy NI.

Neil Foster

Neil Foster

TESSA Therapist


I am registered/accredited with:
HCPC, Registered member
NISCC, Registered member

Code of ethics observed
BACP Ethical Framework
NISCC Standards of Conduct & Practice

BA (hons) [Royal Conservatoire of Scotland]
MMT [City University, Nordoff Robbins, London]

Additional information
Neil Foster is an HCPC registered Music Therapist currently working with children, young people and adults in the County Down and Belfast area.

Having trained as a classical musician, Neil worked as a session musician, community musician and music educator for a number of years before training as a Music Therapist, gradating with a Masters in Music therapy (MMT) from the Nordoff-Robbins centre (London) in 2006.

Since then he has worked across a range of social care and educational settings as well as in private practice, publishing research on new music therapy approaches within the fields of trauma and life threatening illness, and pioneering new music therapy services for organisations such as Mencap, the National Autistic Society, Combat Stress and the Royal Marsden NHS Trust.

Neil moved back to Northern Ireland from London in 2015 and has since worked locally for Lifeline, Contact NI and Victim Support NI, offering crisis support through creative arts and music therapy for young people and their families, particularly those affected by domestic violence, early abuse and neglect. Through this work, Neil gained several years experience of supporting looked after and adopted children through complex family litigation, working closely with social services and the family court system.

Neil has supported adopted children and families with complex needs in a range of settings since qualifying in 2006. His main areas of specialism are trauma and additional learning needs, and he employs a creative, play based and child centred approach.

Contact information: please contact TESSA.

Selina Turkington

Selina Turkington

Holywood Exchange, East Belfast

I am registered/accredited with
BACP (Registered Accredited Member); Reg. Member of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).

Code of ethics observed
I abide by BACP code of ethics. I also abide by NISCC code of ethics as a Social Worker.

Diploma in Integrative Counselling (Person-centred & Psychodynamic); Diploma in CBT Skills & Theory; PG Diploma in Practitioner Skills for Eating Disorders.

Social Work Qualifications
BA (Hons) Social Work; Post-qualification Award in Social Work; Advanced Award in Social Work (Competencies 1, 3 & 5); An Introduction to Research Methods & Quality Assurance in the Health & Social Sciences

Post-adoption Face-to-Face Contact with Birth Parents: Prospective Adopters’ Views, Turkington, S & Taylor, BJ, Child Care in Practice Vol 15 Number 1 January 2009.

Special interest/experience
Integrative Counselling Practice, Attachment issues, Childhood trauma/abuse, Relationship difficulties, Mindfulness Practice.

Additional information
I have over 20 years’ experience working in the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors as a social worker specialising in fostering and adoption and more recently as a counsellor in private practice. I currently work as a self-employed counsellor, part-time lecturer in counselling and I am a self-employed social worker speciaIising in adoption.

My theoretical approach
Integrative counselling (person-centred and psychodynamic).

I see: individuals, couples.