About Me

Hi, I'm Caitriona (pronounced Ca-tree-na) - or Cait for short (not Cat though please 😊).

I know it can be daunting going along to a new group, so I thought I'd tell you a bit about myself so you can feel more at ease, knowing me a bit before you come along. 

Click on each heading to read all about it.

The basics

I’m a daughter of Irish parents, youngest of 5 children, mother of two wonderful little people (aged 8yo and 5yo) and wife of a lovely scientist-dad-golfer-DIYer. I'm also a breastfeeding counsellor, sling/carrying consultant, ex-teacher (secondary school Maths), forager, walker, yogi, home-educator, communication skills workshop facilitator, wild swimmer, menstrual cycle awareness advocate and lover of learning, nature and connection.

Why did I start REAL Circles?

I am passionate about listening. Listening to mothers, listening to parents, listening to women, listening to anyone who needs to be heard. I love creating spaces where people connect with each other, get vulnerable and honest and share their stories and their wisdom to raise each other up. 

What experience and qualifications do I have in running a Circle?

I am an internationally accredited breastfeeding counsellor, since May 2018, with one of the national breastfeeding organisations. I started attending their meetings since October 2015 and then have been leading talking-listening groups for mothers through that organisation since September 2018. So, I have several years experience of listening to the stories of mothers, absorbing them all into my heart and mind, ready to channel their wisdom for anyone who needs it. 

As part of the accreditation process, I received training in communication skills, both one-to-one and in a group setting, and group dynamics - to help ensure that the group conversations are supportive and balanced. The communication skills training has been life-changing, giving me the knowledge and understanding to truly listen with acceptance and attention, and to help people work through their feelings without trying to change them. Not only has it enabled me to lead warm and supportive groups, but it has helped me to listen better in all of my relationships, making me a better mother, wife, daughter, friend, random person to meet in the street! I have since trained as a communication skills workshop facilitator.

In my REAL Circles, I set the tone and make the expectations clear, so that everyone knows we are there to listen to each other with kindness, curiosity and compassion. We are not there to tell each other what to do, there's no 'advice'. We can offer helpful stories of our experiences or experiences we have heard, or perhaps a book or article that we have found useful, but the main purpose, is to make sure everyone has space to feel heard.  

I also ran a session, with a wonderful colleague, at the breastfeeding organisation's National Workshop, on Reflective Listening Skills in a Group Setting, on Zoom to 130 other breastfeeding counsellors in October 2020.

Is the REAL Circle of Mothers a breastfeeding group? (Short answer, no!)

I'm an advocate for individuals choosing how they want to feed their baby and recognise that my own choices are just that - my own. I do not hold any judgement whatsoever for mothers who are choosing to feed their babies in any way and I also recognise the great burden of grief that some mothers hold when they were wanting to breastfeed and their journey ended before they were ready, or didn't go how they hoped, for whatever reason. These beliefs are part of the reason I have created the REAL Circle of Mothers. I recognise the great power of a group of mothers getting together and talking openly and honestly with great appreciation for each other, I have witnessed it in the breastfeeding support meetings I have led. I want to offer that same amazing supportive space to mothers however they are feeding their baby and for mothers who are beyond that stage of life too. I am also grateful to be able to offer this supportive environment for mothers of any age and experience, in my REAL Circles.

Quickfire get-to-know-me questions