Dr Emer Downey

Dr Emer Downey

Clinical Psychologist

DPsychSc, MSc, BA (Psych)

Emer studied at NUI Galway, where she completed a BA in Psychology in 2004. Following her degree, she went on to gain experience as an Assistant Psychologist with the Brothers of Charity abroad and worked in a specialist school for children with additional needs in Ireland. Throughout this time, Emer developed a special interest in working with adults, children and young people who experience challenges with communication, and went on to complete an MSc in Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Limerick in 2007. Emer worked for 11 years as a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), gaining experience to Senior and Specialist level in the HSE West and NHS Lothian, Scotland, working with adults, children and young people with developmental and acquired communication and swallowing problems. During this time, Emer worked across primary care, community and acute hospital settings. Throughout her work as an SLT, Emer maintained a special interest in psychologically informed therapeutic approaches, completing training in Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Listening Skills, and a Certificate in Counselling Skills with Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), Edinburgh Napier University. Using these approaches while working collaboratively with clients led Emer to refine and cultivate her passion for a career in psychology, and she completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in NUI Galway in 2021.

Clinical Experience and Training

Throughout her clinical psychology training, Emer specialised in working with adult mental health and older adult services. She gained experience working with adults with mild-moderate and complex mental health difficulties. In these roles, she developed expertise in providing collaborative and evidence-based psychological assessment and intervention for adults presenting with anxiety, depression, attachment and adjustment problems, emotional distress, complex trauma, childhood neglect, memory difficulties, and neurodivergence. She conducted cognitive and autism identification assessments for adults, children and young people. During her training, Emer also worked in CAMHS, Early Intervention, and Mental Health for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities teams. Since qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist, Emer worked in Primary Care with children and families with the HSE. In this role, Emer provided psychological services to children presenting with anxiety, low mood, behaviour that challenges, anger, adjustment and attachment challenges and their families. Throughout this experience, Emer worked with neurotypical and neurodivergent clients. Emer joined the team at Evidence-Based Therapy Centre in December 2023.

Special Interests

Emer has experience working with individuals who live with psychological distress that impacts on their wellbeing and satisfaction in life. She works with adults with anxiety and depression, and individuals who are experiencing challenges adjusting to the life circumstances that they find themselves in, for example, grief, bereavement and stress. She has a special interest in supporting adults who experience psychological challenges and are neurodivergent, for example, Autistic people and people with communication differences such as stammering and developmental language disorders. She also has experience working with attachment across the lifespan, and is passionate about providing evidence-based therapeutic intervention to support parents as they navigate the emotional complexity, expectations and responsibilities associated with the journey of parenting.

Therapeutic Approach

Emer believes that the therapeutic relationship between her and her clients is key in developing a shared understanding of their psychological distress and what it means to them in relation to the everyday impact in their daily life. Emer seeks to create an open, compassionate and safe space for clients to explore and understand their inner world in a way that makes sense, so that they can build on and develop adaptive coping strategies that are supportive in the long-term. Emer draws on a range of evidence-based therapeutic approaches to collaborate with her clients and identify together considered and meaningful interventions for positive change. Emer uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Internal Family Systems Theory (IFS), attachment models and neurodiversity affirming models of practice. Since qualification, Emer has completed training in Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) which is a visual model that supports specific relationship capabilities in promoting secure attachments, and she is a Registered Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator. She has also completed training in neurodivergence identification assessments, such as the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – 2 (ADOS- 2).

Research Interests

Emer was awarded the Health Research Board Summer Student Scholarship in 2003 to complete research in collaboration with NUI Galway examining the age at death of people with learning disabilities in Ireland. She conducted a research project as part of her MSc examining the lived experience of young people with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in Ireland. Her doctoral thesis focused on early relationships in children with Developmental Language Disorder from the perspective of their parents. See below for published research, under Emer’s maiden name (Lavin):

Lavin, K.E., Norman, H.A., & Murphy, C.A. (2009). An exploratory study into the experiences of

adolescents with specific language impairment (SLI) in Ireland: insights from parents and adolescents.

Journal of Clinical Speech and Language Studies, 17, 92-110.

Lavin, K.E., McGuire, B.E., & Hogan, M.J. (2006). Age at death of people with an intellectual disability in Ireland. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 10 (2), 155-164.

Professional Registration

Emer is a Chartered member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).

Appointment Availability

Emer is available for appointments on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you would like to book an appointment with Emer, please call the clinic on 091 727777 or email admin@ebtc.ie or alternatively you can get in touch via our contact page.