How To Access Counsellors

You are doing a great job and we want to help you to keep doing it.

At TESSA we offer counselling to every parent referred to our service because we recognise that parenting a child with a trauma history can take its toll on us and our relationships. Our counselling service aims to validate your role as parent. It is a supportive space where you can be open about the challenges and the joys of family life. Look upon it as a form of self-care because you are worth it!

Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends. A trained counsellor or therapist can listen without judgement and help you find your own answers to problems.

Our aim is to provide a counselling service accessible to adopters throughout Northern Ireland. We have a team throughout the province with their own specialisms and areas of interest, all of whom fit the TESSA criteria for standards of good practice.



“The counselling I received through TESSA has been life changing. Thank you so much”

Only you can choose the therapist who’s right for you. Most practitioners are happy for you to phone and ask questions to help with your decision making. Things you should consider include: Would you feel comfortable telling this person intimate details about yourself and your family? Do you feel safe with them? Do you like their manner? Could you be completely open with them? When you have made your choice (it may be worth having a second and third choice), please get in touch so we can arrange contact.

Below is our counsellors register.


Contact TESSA

Tel: 028 9046 9211

Text: 07484054774





Name:  Julia McLaughlin BSC (Hons) Ost. Med. ND DPO
Additional information

Julia McLaughlin graduated with an honours degree in Osteopathic Medicine and a Diploma in Naturopathy from The British College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1999.

After gaining experience working in multidisciplinary clinics in Oxford, Bristol and Northern Ireland she set up her own clinic in Comber Co Down in 2003. She is currently the only Osteopath in Northern Ireland to have completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Paediatric Osteopathy at the Osteopathic Centre for Children in London. The Diploma provided unparalleled Paediatric training and comprehensive clinical experience working in such locations as the Neonatal Unit at Barnet Hospital.

A huge part of this course centres round treating patients cranially and Julia uses both structural and cranial techniques tailoring treatment specifically for each patient. She has developed a wide range of skills over her years in practice that have enables her to successfully treat a wide range of conditions in people of all ages.

Julia has completed the Children’s Teacher Meditation Course with Connected kids and has an interest in Retained Primitive Reflexes and how they affect our body and emotions.

She has completed Level 1 and 2 of Douglas Heel’s Be Activated Course looking at how compensation patterns in our body affect our biomechanics and emotions.

Julia is a member of the Sutherland Cranial College (SCCO) and is continuing her professional development through post graduate courses with the SCCO and the Biodynamic Osteopathy phase 9 courses.


Name: Lesley Delaney
Location Belfast
I am registered/accredited with BACP, Registered member
Code of ethics observed BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling
My qualifications are: FdSc (Hons) Counselling & Psychotherapy

Safeguarding Children & Young People – UU

Suicide Awareness & Prevention –Assist

I have a special interest/experience in: Adoption, Attachment   issues
Childhood Trauma, Grief & Loss, Infertility,
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Relationship Counselling, Therapeutic Parenting
Additional information As an adoptive parent, I have a particular interest in working with all people who have been affected by the experience of adoption. In my private practice, I provide therapeutic support to help empower parents, increase their confidence, promote the development of healthy attachment relationships, understand past trauma and improve parent and child’s ability to regulate. I also work independently with a Health Trust providing training pre and post adoption on attachment, neuroscience, contact and life story work.
My theoretical approach is As an integrative Counsellor, I use aspects of Person Centred, CBT and Psychodynamic therapies to suit   each client’s individual needs
I see: Individuals, Couples, Families
Willing to travel? Yes




Name: Louise Faulkner
Location: Northern Ireland – Ireland
I’m registered/accredited with:

DDP Connects UK

Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)

British Association Social Workers (BASW)

Code of ethics observed NISCC and BASW
My qualifications:

2022 Dyadic Developmental Certified Practitioner/PACE Trainer/Supervisor

2022 Theraplay LEVEL2 with Trauma Component

2022 Foundation Certification in Theraplay

2017 Non Violence Resistance Training

2015 DDP Masterclass

2015 Dr K. Golding, Foundations for Attachments Trainer Programme

2017 Group Theraplay

2014 Theraplay Level 1 and MIM’s Assessment Model

2014 PQ Specialist Social Work Award 1-3 obtained and ongoing

2010 / 2011 DDP Levels 1 & 2

Incredible Years BASIC, ADVANCED and DINA Programmes

2007 Foundation in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice

2006 Young Minds Certificate in Child and Adolescent Mental Health

2003    Queen’s University Belfast
MSW DIP/SW Social Work

1995    Middlesex University BA Hons in Art Practice in the Community and Psychology

1992    Burnley College Foundation Studies in Art and Design

Special interest/experience in: My particular area of interest is in providing therapeutic support to children, young people and their adoptive families to enhance therapeutic parenting knowledge and responses, create safety and security within relationships and enable families and professionals to have challenging conversations with young people.
Additional information:

I have been supporting families in NI for nearly 20 years and since 2012 I have been in the role of Senior Practitioner in a multi-disciplinary Therapeutic Team for Looked After and Adopted Children providing training, consultancy and direct therapeutic support to Looked After Children, children post adoption and their care giver network. I am also registered with BASW as an Independent Social Work Practitioner and Therapist. 

Throughout my professional journey, as well as my own personal experiences of adoption, I have been fascinated by relationships, how we interact, how we influence each other, patterns of communication, our expectations, hopes and wishes as well as our commitments in relationships and attachments. Given their complexity, relationships can require support to think about how best to understand ourselves and others in helpful and safe ways and to develop a level of attachment security.

My theoretical approach: My practice is therefore significantly influenced by the principles, knowledge and skills of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), Family Therapy, Therapeutic Parenting Models and Theraplay as these interventions assess and promote resilience, attachment, self-regulation and mindful presence in times of difficulty and distress.
I see: Parents and Children
Any other information:  Work Area – Belfast
Name: Catherine Gilligan
Location: Derry
I’m registered/accredited with: IACP, IAHIP and Registered with ICP
Code of ethics observed IACP and IAHIP codes of ethics for good practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy
My qualifications: Post Graduate Dip. In Counselling/Psychotherapy

Certificate on Solution Focused Counselling

Post Graduate Dip. In Special Education

B. Ed Degree

Special interest/experience in: Attachment issues, Adoption, Shock and Trauma, Relationship Counselling
Additional information: I have a particular interest in all parties in the adoption triangle, adopted people, birth parents and adoptive parents. I aim to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with people and provide a private, confidential and safe place to begin working through the issues they bring to therapy. I have family experience of adoption.
My theoretical approach: I use a variety of approaches, staying with people with whom I work, and using a method that offers a way of working with them and understanding the situation from their perspective
I see: Individuals, Couples, Families.
Any other information:  Work Area – Derry

Name Lynda Graham
Location Carrickfergus & Donaghadee
I am registered/accredited with: Registered with BACP & NISCC

Accredited member of National Counselling Society

Code of ethics observed BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling
My qualifications are MSc Counselling & Therapeutic Communication
Dip Person Centred Counselling
Certificate in Counselling
BA (Hons) Social Work
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training
Brief Solution Focused Therapy
Child Protection Training; Vulnerable Adults Training
I have a special interest/experience in Adoption, Post Adoption depression, Relationship Counselling
Additional information I aim to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with clients and provide a private, confidential and safe place to begin working through issues and difficulties you wish to bring into counselling. I specialise in working with people in the adoption triangle. This includes: counselling adoptive parents, birth parents and young people, working with Individuals/couples applying to adopt, post-adoption support, helping with contact issues as well as assessing prospective adopters. I have a particular interest in Post Adoption Depression (PAD) and have family experience of adoption.
My theoretical approach Primarily Person Centred counselling, but I realise that a more integrated approach is often necessary so I use aspects of CBT and Solution Focused Counselling.
I see: Individuals, couples, families
Name Lynne Heber
Location Newtownabbey
I am registered/accredited with: Registered Member of BACP

Code of ethics observed


BACP and Association of Christian Counsellors.
My qualifications are Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy
Advanced Certificate in Counselling & Pastoral Care
(Christian Guidelines)
Certificate in Listening skills   + Tutor training
QUB Certificate in Social Welfare Studies
I have a special interest/experience in Adoption, Relationship Counselling, Depression, Bereavement, Anxiety and low self- esteem issues
Additional information Most of us at some time or another can feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, which can leave us feeling helpless and alone. I believe that counselling can offer a safe and confidential space, which gives us the opportunity to explore our thoughts and feelings. When we are given a sense of being listened to and deeply understood we can then begin to resolve the issues that prevent us from enjoying our lives.
My theoretical approach I work primarily from a Person Centred base which is respectful and non-judgemental , and draw on a variety of therapeutic interventions as necessary.
I see: Individuals, Couples
Willing to travel? Yes


Name Natalia Hodgers
Location Lisburn
I am registered/accredited with: BACP (British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists, Registered Member)

NHS (National Hypnotherapy Society, Registered Member)

Code of ethics observed


I abide by BACP & NHS code of ethics.
My qualifications are My counselling qualifications are:

  • BSc (Hons) Psychology & Sociology
  • CPCAB Dip (Relate) Relationship Counselling
  • FDSc Integrative Counselling
  • Dip HypCS Hypnotherapy & Counselling
  • Cert Person Centred Counselling
  • Dip Mindfulness

My training areas are:

  • Relate Trained Couple Counsellor
  • TESSA Trained Adoption Counselling
  • ASIST Suicide Intervention Training
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing Coaching
  • Cert in Alcohol & Young People’s Development
  • Cert in New Psychoactive Substances
  • Cert in Childhood Sexual Abuse

Cert in Managing Self-Harm

I have a special interest/experience in Integrative Counselling Practice, Relationship Issues, Attachment Issues, Mindfulness & Hypnotherapy Practice.
Additional information I have over 10 years’ experience in the voluntary and public sectors working with individuals, couples, and families.

I currently work as a self-employed counsellor, hypnotherapist, and mindfulness practitioner.

My theoretical approach Integrative counselling (person-centred, CBT & psychodynamic)
I see: Individuals, couples, families.
Willing to travel? Yes


Name: Heather Low
Location: Greater Belfast
I’m registered/accredited with: BACP Accredited
Code of ethics observed BACP
My qualifications: MSc in Counselling and Supervision
Certificate in Counselling Skills
Transactional Analysis Certificate
Solution Focused Brief Therapy Certificate
CPCPAG Level 5 Relationship Therapy (Relate trained)
Special interest/experience in: Anxiety and Stress Management, Communication in relationships, Trauma, family systems and Attachments, Grief and Loss, Stress and Anxiety, Self-care.
Additional information: Additional Information: I have been practising as a counsellor and Supervisor for 18 years. I have worked for over 30 years in the community/voluntary sector with individuals, families and more recently couples. Working with issues such as Domestic violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse.

I also have 15 years’ experience working in the field of pregnancy, birth trauma, post-pregnancy related issues, bereavement, post-natal depression and anxiety.

In my current post I coordinate a counseling service and provide supervision and training for counsellors. I worked for five years with parents in community-based settings, supporting them to develop ways to communicate with their children and engage in difficult conversations. Part of this work was with foster parents.

I have also worked with birth and adoptive families at different stages of the adoption process. I have a good sense of how complex things can be and why it is so important that everyone involved receives the support they need when they need it.

I have my own practice room in North Belfast with availability daytime and evenings. My room is within a shared building, and is accessible on the ground floor. Free parking is available on site.

My theoretical approach: I work with clients in an integrative way while I hold Rogerian principals my    work is underpinned by systems and attachment theories.   I also use the Transactional Analysis model of communication.
I see:

Willing to Travel:

Individuals and Couples



Name Sally McAleer
Location Ballygawley
I am registered/accredited with: Accredited member of National Counselling Society
City & Guilds Adult and Further Education
Code of ethics observed


Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling
BA (Hons) Degree
C & G Adult & Further Education
My qualifications are Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling Level 4
I have a special interest/experience in Anxiety, Addiction, Adoption, Bereavement, Grief, Stress Management, Self-Esteem, Wellbeing, Self-care
Additional information Following a career in teaching, I trained as a counsellor. I have a lot of experience working with organisations providing counselling support and also in private practice. I have undertaken professional courses including those focusing on wellbeing and self-care which I incorporate in practice to provide a holistic approach. I also have life coaching experience and professional membership with BACP and BPS.
My theoretical approach A client-centred integrative approach
I see: Individuals, couples, families
Willing to travel? Yes



Name Gerry Mc Cluskey
Location Belfast
I am registered/accredited with: BACP (registered); BICA (accredited); NICSS (registered)
Code of ethics observed BACP, BICA and NISCC
My qualifications are BSSc (Hons), CQSW, MSW, Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Person Centred Counselling; Relate Certificate in Relationship Counselling.

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) Level 1 (Dan Hughes model)

I have a special interest/experience in Adoption, Fostering, Loss and Grieving, Fertility Issues, Relationship Counselling, Attachment and Trauma.
Additional information My aim is to create a safe, comfortable environment and relationship in which the things that are troubling you can be explored fully. Through my social work experience in both Family and Child Care and Family Placement (Adoption and Fostering), and my counselling experience as a Fertility Counsellor, I have worked with people from all parts and stages of the adoption process.
My theoretical approach Person-Centred Approach
I see: Individuals, couples
Name Christina Mc Dermott
Location Newry
I am registered/accredited with: BACP (accred)
Code of ethics observed BACP
My qualifications are BSC Hons Prof Development in Nursing

MSC Health Promotion

PG Dip Specialist Practive Nursing & CBT

I have a special interest/experience in General counselling, CBT, EMDR, Trauma, Depression,

Sleep difficulties

Additional information I am a dedicated and motivated professional with academic and clinical experience specifically related to mental health and health promotion. I possess a knowledge of health promotion theory & practice and 26 years varied experience in health promotion & psychiatric nursing. I work as a clinical nurse specialist, provide clinical supervision for psychiatric nurses and I have lectured in health promotion.
My theoretical approach Cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR, brief intervention model
I see: Individuals, couples, families
Name Sara Tibbs
Location Holywood & Belfast
I am registered/accredited with: BACP
Code of ethics observed


BACP   Ethical framework for Good Practice in Counselling
My qualifications are Diploma in Counselling
PhD English (Creative Writing)
MA Sociology
I have a special interest/experience in Adoption & Fostering; Family Support; Challenging Behaviour; Attachment & trauma; LGBT issues and Reflective/creative writing
Additional information I am an adoptive parent. I worked in the area of parent support for 10 years, focussing particularly on challenging behaviour, communication and the parent/child relationship. I have experience of counselling with parents whose children were involved in substance abuse. I have also worked in the field of HIV and Aids.
My theoretical approach My counselling qualification is in the person-centred approach. I have also undertaken training on attachment, developmental trauma, foetal alcohol syndrome, building resilience, parent – to-child violence, secondary trauma, suicide prevention and safeguarding.   In recent years my approach has been influenced by research and therapeutic practice on the effects of neglect, abuse and other trauma on adopted children and their families. I bring to my counselling practice a professional and personal understanding of the challenges and difficulties of adoption, as well as its rewards.
I see: Individuals, couples


Name Selina Turkington
Location 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.
My qualifications are My counselling qualifications are…

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

My Social Work qualifications are…
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

I have a special interest/experience in 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
Name: Tania Watson
Location: Dromara/ Dromore Co Down
I’m registered/accredited with: The National Counselling Society
Code of ethics observed NCS Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling
My qualifications: Diploma in Trauma & Addictions Counselling Level 4 MNCS (Registered Accredited Member )
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Certificate
Level 6 Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator
Child Protection Training
Special interest/experience in: Fostering & Adoption (Parents & Children)
Adults & Young People
Attachment & Trauma
Additional information: My main areas of work include:
•  Attachment focused work with parents and children using Theraplay and Filial Coaching
•  Enabling self and co regulation through Sensory Attachment Integration approach.
•  Therapeutic parenting support to families
Direct therapeutic work with children
My theoretical approach: Person-Centred, Integrative
I see: Children and Adults
Any other information:
I am registered as a Counsellor & Equine Therapist with the National Counselling Society (NCS) and have full professional membership with NCS. Equine Therapy is an innovative approach to counselling for social emotional & behavioural difficulties in individuals who find room based counselling all too much.   EFP/EFL supports clients of all ages in addressing therapeutic goals, with horses as co-facilitators and teachers, in this process.   Horses are non-judgemental and honest; these are invaluable qualities to have for people who have been through traumatic experiences.
Equine Therapy offers an alternative way of communicating verbally & non-verbally, better understanding & building on relationships, develop self awareness and gain a better understanding how our behaviour impacts on others around us.   Equine therapy also allows clients to express feelings & emotions in a non judgemental & safe environment while enjoying the outdoors.
I have extensive experience working in the Fostering and Adoption sector, working with children and families. I also work as part of a team with other professionals from the Northern Health & Social Care Trust. I have 40 years horse experience, I have enjoyed riding horses out bush in Africa and the outback of Australia.What is the difference between EFP & EFL
EFP uses equine-facilitated activities to explore the way a client sees and relates to themselves and others, their patterns of behaviour and survival as well as their gifts and strengths, and may include the exploration of past experiences and traumas.
EFL uses equine-facilitated activities as a tool for self development and education, with a focus on the present moment. Skills include non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, relationship skills, confidence and resilience.


Name: Faye Wilson
Location: Cookstown
I’m registered/accredited with: BACP
Code of ethics observed BACP
My qualifications: ·       BSc Psychology

·       Foundation Degree in Counselling

·       Certificate in Complex Trauma and Childhood Abuse


Special interest/experience in: Trauma, Anxiety, Depression, Relationship issues, Bereavement, Loss, Eating Disorders, Mindfulness and Self Care.


Additional information: I offer face to face counselling in a safe and private setting. My approach of counselling is always based on your needs. I have experience working with a wide range of issues including trauma, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, bereavement, abuse, self-esteem to name a few.

I have also worked in two GP Surgeries over the past six years where I have gained wide ranging experience with a variety of different issues.

I am very passionate about my work and enjoy being able to support people through difficult stages of their lives in a non-judgmental and empathic way.

My theoretical approach: Integrative Approach including CBT, Psychodynamic and Person Centred
I see: Individuals
Willing to travel? Yes