Our Therapists

We bring many years of combined experience to our service. Everyone who works in Acorn Counselling and Therapy Centre is qualified within their own field.  All our Counsellors/Psychotherapist are accredited or are working towards accreditation.

Sonia Byrne

Director of Services, Esoteric Practitioner, Herbalist / Naturopath, Yoga Instructor / Therapist

Sonia brings many years of experience to the centre in the world of business having had a career in Industrial Engineering with her main focus on industrial disputes. Sonia studied Herbalism Medicine and Naturopathy with CNM. She believes that the mind has a profound effect on the body and with a holistic approach offers naturopathy and medicinal herbs to support both body and mind during challenging times.

Sonia also offers Sacred Esoteric Healing, this is a gentle hands-on energy healing that arrests the negative energies we align to, which may lead to a disease in our wellbeing.

As part of the body, mind Soul connection, Sonia offers gentle yoga classes.

Kathleen Byrne

Dip Counselling 1992/Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapy; Accredited Supervisor; Tutor
Accredited Member of IACP

Kathleen comes from a background of primary teaching. She has been working as a Counsellor/Psychotherapist for the past 21 years. She is also a Supervisor and former tutor of Foundation Diploma in Counselling Skills N.U.I. Maynooth.

Kathleen is the founder of the Acorn Counselling Therapy Centre which was established in 1995 and has continued to the present day, building up a solid reputation in the area of counselling in Drogheda.

Kathleen is a mature, warm, empathic person who has vast experience in working with a wide range of issues. Among them stress, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, abuse and grief. She has an eclectic approach incorporating client centred therapy, humanistic, gestalt and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

Kathleen works with the Employment Assistance Programme in the workplace dealing with work stress & bullying using solution focused therapy, distressing and relaxation techniques.

Barry Smyth

BA Counselling / Psychotherapy & General Counselling
Accredited Member of IACP

My main way of being with the client is an humanistic approach. This means that I respect the human capabilities of the client and have confidence in their ability to grow and to change. The goal is to find out how the client perceives himself in the here and now and to recognize growth. This is quite an optimistic approach due to the non-judgmental, non-directive attitude of the counsellor and helps the client become aware of their strengths and intrinsic goodness. But on top of this I incorporate psychodynamic elements. I look at what unconscious thought processes are showing themselves in the client's behaviour. The goal is to help the client become more aware of how the past has influenced their current thoughts and behaviours by helping them work through unresolved issues and conflicts they may have with significant people in their lives. In addition to the two approaches mentioned above, I would also work in a cognitive behavioural manner when a practical approach is needed to challenge the thoughts and perceptions of the client that lead to negative behaviour. In short, I use an integrative approach which allows me the freedom to be flexible with the client in the very present setting of the therapy room and to fully integrate my knowledge and training into the process in the here and now.

Robert Byrne. MACI

ACI - Accredited member of Addiction Counsellors of Ireland.

BA. Addiction counsellor.


Smart Recovery Facilitator.

I work by creating a sense of participating in a collaboration and partnership. I possess a thorough knowledge of addiction and the lifestyles of addicts while acknowledging that the client is the true expert in discussing his or her own life. I do this by listening accurately, empathize effectively, and avoiding passing judgment. By doing this I can convey to the client that he or she has an ally in the difficult progress toward recovery. These approaches have proved to strengthen the therapeutic alliance and make the relationship a collaborative one.

The metaphor of the hiker and the guide is useful for conceptualizing the counsellor-client relationship. The counsellor guides the client through at least the early stages of recovery, but the recovery process ultimately belongs to the client. It is the client alone who is responsible and accountable for his or her recovery.

By guiding my clients in new directions towards recovery we gain positive results that can then be explored and built on.

Aine Fox

Member of the IACP

I am a fully accredited Psychotherapist with the Irish Association of Counselling Practitioners and qualified in 2015. I have been working with clients for over 8 years and have worked with lots of the varying presenting issues that life challenges us with. I have also completed level 1 of the Gottman Couples Therapy, which is a very practical way of working with couples to help them overcome conflict and challenges. I have worked as a HR Consultant for over 20 years and understand all work-related challenges.

My own life experience has given me great insight into how to navigate through some very challenging times which helps me greatly in supporting Clients through similar scenarios. I really enjoy being able to support clients through challenges and see people come through the other side of difficulties happier and more in control of their lives.

How I can help you

I really enjoy my work as a Psychotherapist and value being in a position to support Clients through difficult times. I have a very informal and warm approach to sessions with Clients as I feel it is important for you as the client to feel comfortable and safe opening up. I work in a very person-centred way, allowing you the space to explore what is going on and how we can work together. The aim of the therapy is to work together to find the way forward. I have helped Clients with: depression, anxiety, relationship issues, work-related issues, bereavement, recovering from narcissistic relationships, childhood trauma, trust issues, family of origin challenges, abuse, young adults dealing with parental issues. If you would like to chat to me before booking a session please reach out.

Treatment Areas

1. Bereavement

2. Anxiety

3. Emotional Abuse

4. Entrepreneurship Anxiety

5. Family Issues

6. Insomnia

7. Postnatal Depression

8. Redundancy

9. Relationship Issues

10. Separation

My Therapeutic Approach

1. Client-Centred

2. Couples Therapy

3. Mindfulness Therapy

4. Career Counselling

5. Humanistic Therapy

6. Person-Centred Therapy

7. Solution Focused Brief Therapy

8. Workplace Counselling

Mary McKenna

Diploma in Counselling / Psychotherapy
Pre – Accredited Member of I.A.C.P.

My approach is primarily Person – Centred; believing individuals have the capacity “to strive to grow towards the best possible fulfilment of the potential” Mearns & Thorne, 2008 I integrate other Therapies such as Existential, CBT and Gestalt depending on the needs of the client. 

I have trained in Bereavement Counselling helping to support clients following through their grief. I also have a Diploma in Parent/Mentoring and have facilitated Parenting Groups and individual parents over the years. I have also worked extensively with clients with Post Natal Depression.

Sinead Crawley

Member of the IACP

· Pre-accredited Member of the IACP

· Counselling & Psychotherapy Diploma IACP accredited

· Other training completed includes: Le Cheile’s Strengthening Families Trainers Training Program; The Enneagram;

Sinead’s work is mainly rooted in a humanistic & person centred approach, integrated with elements of CBT, psychodynamic theory and solution focused therapy. Most importantly each individual’s needs in the therapy room form the centre of the process, and determine the approach adopted. For many, therapy can be a very difficult process to begin, and Sinead’s approach aims to create a supportive, non-judgemental & safe environment to allow discovery and inquiry to take place.

Sinead has experience working with many areas such as trauma, anxiety, grief, low self-esteem, and depression. With former expertise working with adolescents, as well as parenting support, Sinead has also developed particular expertise working with person’s with an acquired brain injury or having suffered a stroke.

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do


Blathnaid McCabe

Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist

M.Soc Sc., (UCD), M.Sc. (TCD)

I am an accredited Psychotherapist with the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) and am a CORU registered Social Worker specialising in the area of mental health.

I have been working as a Social Worker, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist and Clinical Manager in the area of mental health and related fields for the past 21 years. I have worked with children, adolescents, families, parents/carers and adults. I most recently worked in Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health as a Clinical Manager, and prior to this in the Department of Mental Health, CHI, Temple Street Hospital with children and adolescents experiencing both acute and chronic mental health difficulties. I have also worked in the specialist area of child trauma. I have worked with adults in the past, specifically with the HSE National Counselling Service (NCS).

I have worked predominantly in the public service until the end of 2019, and have a strong knowledge of services within this sector which enables me to understand the landscape of children and family services, should the need arise to advocate for the young person or refer/signpost them to another service.

Areas of specialism:

- anxiety, low mood, depression

- bereavement and loss

- deliberate self harm

- interpersonal difficulties including low self-esteem/poor confidence


- parental separation

- family conflict/relationship difficulties

- adverse childhood experiences/trauma

- individuals/families experiencing loss, and family breakdown

- acute and chronic mental health difficulties/social and emotional (regulation) difficulties

- children and adolescents experiencing chronic illness and where there is a mental health difficulty

- eating difficulties/disordered eating/body image issues

- parent/family-based interventions

My Therapeutic Orientation

The modalities (techniques and therapeutic methods) I use are evidenced based and include solution focused therapy, goal focused and cognitive based therapies. I have additional trainings in Narrative Therapy and Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) which is derived from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CFT is a therapy with a strong evidence base that considers our biology, our thinking and our cultural influences. In Narrative Therapy we seek to find alternative stories to support the person in finding new identities (and solutions).

My overall clinical practice is largely influenced by psycho-dynamic and systemic orientations. Psycho-dynamic explores our relationships, past and present, and how this impacts our present behaviour; and systemic explores all of our systems from the family to the wider community. My experience to date enables me to work with longer term and more challenging difficulties.

How I Work

I begin the therapeutic process with a comprehensive assessment with the child/adolescent and parent/guardian. This typically lasts for one hour. If the parent and young person feel that it would be helpful to come for therapy, we will contract for a number of sessions (on average 4-6). Subsequent therapy session are 50 minutes.

We then review together how the therapy is going. We may decide to finish or continue depending on the need and wishes of the young person. I will be guided by the person, I will ask for their view on how the therapy has been going, and what improvements they have noted. When working with a child/adolescent I include the parent at the review session and at any appropriate times during the process. I use a psychological measure at the start and end of therapy to gauge change and progress. I also set goals with the person which evidence has shown is a particularly useful tool to enable change.

When working with adults I also begin with a comprehensive therapeutic assessment. We contract initially for a number of sessions, and review periodically about how the therapy is going and determine ongoing need.

If you wish to speak to me directly about the young person in your care, or if you are an adult seeking therapeutic service, I am happy to chat to you, and you can get my number from Acorn.

Pat Gannon

BA Counselling / Psychotherapy & General Counselling
Accredited Member of IACP

Pat's work is grounded in Humanistic/Person Centred approach in which everyone is seen as have "dignity and worth" in their own right. He integrates elements of other approaches when necessary, including Gestalt, Psychodynamic, Existential and Emotion Focused Therapies. Pat is professionally qualified in the therapeutic use of mindfulness and also holds a professional certificate in family therapy.

Pat is a mature, empathic person who strives at all times to work in an atmosphere of gentleness and respect. Breathing and relaxation techniques are used where appropriate. Issues dealt with in his work include:

- Depression,

- Anxiety,

- Stress,

- Anger,

- Loss & Bereavement & Low self-worth.

Barbara Donnellan

B.A. (Hons); Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy; Certified Sensorimotor Psychotherapist Accredited member of IACP

Barbara initially trained as a humanistic and integrative psychotherapist and this provides the foundations to all her therapy work.  However, she has further developed her practice into more body orientated approaches and qualified as a Certified Sensorimotor Psychotherapist with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, Broomfield, Colarado.   This training is a body centred Psychotherapy grounded in Somatic Psychology, mindfulness and neuroscientific research.  The training has equipped her to work more deeply with trauma and early emotional wounding through the body.

She has also undertaken training to work with Adolescents and couples.  Over the past number of years, she has worked as a Psychotherapist for an adolescent counselling centre, couples counselling organisation and rehabilitation organisation for disabilities and chronic diseases.  During this time, she has supported issues such as addiction, depressive states, difficulties with relationships, low self-esteem, stress and trauma.

As her practice develops, she has a growing interest in transgenerational trauma, the place of movement within therapy and the holding of a healing space.  One of her main professional goals is to continue her enthusiasm for development and growth within this field and to offer the truest therapeutic relationship possible for clients to transform. She is currently training to be a Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist.

“I believe in providing a warm, open, compassionate, non-intrusive and humours space for exploration and change to allow the client make their own discoveries”

Ron Kurtz once said “You don’t have to know the answers for your patients.  All you have to do is turn them inside themselves because they know the answers”

Personally, for me to connect with my body has been the most precious outcome of therapy. Brining about a much deeper human existence.  I can only advise this comes with patience, having a very attuned therapist, holding a degree of curiosity to listen to your body and believe your body is waiting for you to evolve.

Mike Collins

Diploma in Counselling / Psychotherapy
Accredited Member of I.A.C.P. & BACP

I have been working as a therapist for 12 years, am accredited with the IACP and BACP, and have been seeing clients at Acorn Therapy Centre since 2008. I work to support individuals and groups in reaching their full potential, through the combined application of my counselling skills, my teaching and facilitating skills, my evolving personal qualities, and my commitment to making a positive difference to people’s lives. I would describe myself as an integrative counsellor, employing aspects of a variety of cognitive, humanistic and psychodynamic models within my work, with an emphasis upon solution-focused therapy and cognitive therapy. I am calm, empathic and gentle in my counselling work, though quite capable of displaying rigour and assertiveness too. I am patient, kind and tolerant, and have a good sense of humour.

Leslie Howard

Reg: F.T.A.

Leslie is an accredited and registered Family Therapist with over 20 years experience, having trained at The Clanwilliam Institute, Dublin. He also has experience and certification in group work facilitation and bereavement counselling. Leslie’s work often means involving children and adolescents in counselling sessions with their siblings and parent(s). He has worked within care settings, such as residential care and foster care.

Leslie engages with individuals alone, and with couples and families experiencing inter-relationship and other difficulties. Quote: “My academic training and counselling work has led me to believe that since we all come from families anyway, many clients seeking counselling may be experiencing problems in the present day which are sometimes a consequence of memories, experiences and self-concepts carried over from family of origin life. Of course, I also acknowledge that this may not always the most useful or relevant focus. In either case, my experience tells me that with help, clients do overcome both negative past histories and current difficulties”

Leslie uses an eclectic mix of counselling / psychotherapy theoretical models to understand and help clients themselves to understand what they are experiencing and why. Knowledge of personality development and family life cycles helps in this.

Leslie’s style is conversational and collaborative, meaning that he focuses on joining with the person or persons in a way that best fits the goals of therapy and so as to create a co-operative but challenging therapeutic endeavour.

1111 Wellington Quay, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland ~ 041 9844277 ~ info@acorntherapycentre.net

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