Merrilynn Downey and Eileen Kilbride have worked together for a long time. Side by side, they supported and advocated for families involved in the children’s mental health system. Families and children who experience significant adversity are impacted on a broad number of domains including self-regulation and attachment relationships, and early adversity is significantly correlated with later life physical and psychological issues. After sharing the same information about the impact of early adversity and the power of relationship to heal relational traumas and foster self-regulation, at every meeting and case conference, they began offering educational in-services to any organization that was open to the information about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). From there, Merrilynn and Eileen have been invited to address staff at school boards, child welfare agencies, residential treatment centres, and other community agencies. In addition to providing training through Kilbride & Associates, Practice in Children’s Mental Health. Merrilynn and Eileen have also been providing training for Safeguards Training – part of Children’s Mental Health Ontario, for several years. Along the way they have strengthened their friendship, weathered the inevitable bumps, twists and turns of life, enjoyed many a good meal together and a few belly laughs too.
Eileen is a Psychological Associate, and innovative psychological consultant and member of The College of Psychologists of Ontario. She has over 25 years of experience consulting to family physicians, psychiatrists and multidisciplinary teams around child/family complex mental health diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations. Areas of interest include attachment, trauma-informed care, and the use of animal-assisted therapy with high risk/hard-to-engage youth.
Professional development includes training in: The Attachment, Self-regulation, Competency (ARC) model and Sensory-Motor Arousal Training (SMART) through the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute; Circle of Security International; The Strange Situation (ABCD); Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR); Critical Stress Incident Management (CISM) and Violent Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA).
As a core part of her current practice, Eileen provides training in clinical practice and Leadership. Trauma-Informed Care training and Trauma-Informed Leadership are areas of interest currently. Eileen also offers clinical and program consultation services to organizations as well as clinical services including parenting support and animal-assisted therapy for youth with chronic dysregulation and related challenges.
In addition to providing years of frontline service, Eileen has experience as a Psychological Consultant and Coordinator for Multidisciplinary Assessment & Programming Services teams. She has also co-developed programs from concept to practice, such as an attachment clinic providing highly specialized services, and also treatment protocols for programs servicing high risk/hard to engage youth through community based mental health.
Merrilynn Downey is a behavior and parenting specialist offering individual as well as group services for caregivers. She is a certified facilitator of Circle of Security Parenting and CONNECT Parenting. Merrilynn has extensive experience with Safeguards, part of Children’s Mental Health Ontario, providing training for service providers, school staff, and caregivers of youth with severe emotional and behavioural challenges including developmental trauma. She is a trainer for Trauma Informed schools as well. She also works in a community based agency providing intensive home-based support to families and consultation to schools and child welfare agencies. Merrilynn has extensive experience working with parents impacted by adversity themselves to understand their children’s behavior as communicating needs and their role in providing security for their children. She also co-leads Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) groups for parents and youth with moderate to severe level difficulties.