The Compassion Foundation of Ireland park view

Sandra Higgins Psychologist

Psychological Assessment & Therapeutic Intervention. Offices are located at Kells, Navan and Slane, Co Meath, and online via zoom.

Sandra has particular experience in:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Relationship Difficulties
  • Work related difficulties
  • Trauma (PTSD, Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
  • Personality Disorders
  •  Assessment and treatment of Adult Mental Health
  • Medico-Legal Reports (Psychological Injury including Trauma)

What can I expect when I contact the service?

You will initially receive an appointment for a consultation to discuss your situation.

If you decide to pursue a course of therapy, undergo a psychological assessment, or to engage in one of the classes or group activities, you will be offered an agreed number of appointments at weekly or fortnightly intervals. You will be asked to sign a therapeutic contract agreeing to the conditions of the service. Your engagement with the service will involve your active participation in decisions and activities that concern your mental health.

The service offers a range of psychotherapeutic services to help with psychological suffering, and to enhance mental health. At all times the aim is to ensure that clients are treated with dignity and respect.

Sandra Higgins, BSc (Hons) Psych, MSc Couns Psych, MBPsS, Counselling Psychologist.

Sandra studied for a degree in pure Psychology at The Open University, and at post-graduate level at Trinity College, Dublin where she obtained a MSc in Counselling Psychology with Distinction. She also trained at The Positive Psychology Centre, University of Pennsylvania, The Human Animal Connection Unit at The University of Denver, Colorado, and The Institute for Humane Education, Maine, United States. Sandra is a Certified MB-EAT Instructor (Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Instructor) and Intuitive Eating Instructor and has trained in working with Trauma & Dissociation with the UK ESTD (European Society for Trauma & Dissociation), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), and Schema Therapy (The Cognitive Therapy Center of NJ & The NJ Institute for Schema Therapy)

Sandra has presented on Neuro-Psycho-Social Model and Neuro-Cognitive Models of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotraumatology & the Challenge to Counselling Psychology, Eating Disorders, Self-Harm & Trauma, Cartesian Dualism, and Compassion Fatigue at HSE Multidisciplinary Medical conference, Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the British Psychological Society, and The Fourth Dutch Conference on Psychology and Health. She is vegan and offers psychological assistance to those who are sensitive to Animal Activist issues.

She is the author of The Power of Compassion in O’Flaherty, E, Pauli, N, Owens, C, Higgins, S, Del Monte, M, Halpin, M and Billings, M (2014) (2nd ed) How to be Happy & Healthy, The Seven Natural Elements of Mental Health, Ashfield Press: Dublin.

Psychological Intervention

People seek psychological intervention not because there is anything inherently wrong with them, but because they have suffered as they attempt to live their lives.

Suffering is an inevitable part of life that we cannot avoid. Some people experience a great deal of pain that overwhelms them and at times it can become an unbearable burden to carry alone.

Given the right conditions everyone can work through suffering. The role of psychological intervention is to provide those conditions. Furthermore, given the right conditions, everyone can emerge more resilient, and enriched with insight, strength, compassion and sensitivity, regardless of the depth of their suffering.

Many people seek psychological intervention because they experience painful emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, and grief. These emotions are often reactions to distressing life experiences such as rights violations, injustice, and trauma. They may arise in reaction to painful situations such as abuse, poor parenting, bullying, work problems, relationship difficulties, financial problems, family issues, illness, or death. Some of the difficult conditions that clients seek help for are simply the consequences of painful life events and their attempts to cope with the suffering they experience. They include: unhappiness and depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, self-harm, eating distress, eating disorders and weight issues, compulsive behaviours, lack of confidence and self-esteem. Many people seek psychological intervention because simply staying alive is difficult and painful.

There are evidence based psychological approaches that can help people to resolve painful experiences. Regardless of which psychological approach is used to help you resolve your problem, there are some basic psychotherapeutic factors common to all interventions that, in themselves, facilitate healing. Special emphasis is given to these factors that enhance the therapeutic environment:

  • the belief that every life matters equally
  • a willingness to listen and support clients regardless of the situations they find themselves in
  • a genuine, non-judgmental, therapeutic alliance, that respects and values people for who they are
  • an empathic response to clients where they are carefully listened to so that their individual feelings and situations can be accurately perceived
  • tolerance and acceptance of the fact that each one of us makes mistakes and each one of us suffers
  • the belief that everyone can overcome their difficulties
  • supportive facilitation as clients discover their individual path to a meaningful, fulfilling life
  • the belief that clients can do more than survive: they can thrive and flourish
  • the belief that mental health is a rights issue that we are entitled to, and responsible for, and the willingness to help clients learn the skills necessary to accept this responsibility
  • the belief that you are the expert, by experience, of your own life. Therapy is seen as the joint effort of psychological science and your personal experience to secure the best outcome for your future mental health
  • the value of striving to live our lives non-violently, for ourselves, others, and the planet on which we depend for survival

A range of evidence-based interventions are offered including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Schema Therapy, Compassion Focussed Therapy, and Trauma treatment including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).

Following assessment and discussion of your circumstances, psychological intervention will be tailored to suit your specific needs. I also offer Positive Psychological interventions that can enable you to discover how to function at your best, what makes your life meaningful, what makes you happy and how to be psychologically resilient.

Medico-legal reports available on request