Researchers at UCD


Valerie M O'Brien



My main areas of research and teaching interests are child welfare, systemic family therapy, counselling social work, psychotherapy and qualitative research methods. I am a  social worker and registered systemic psychotherapist & supervisor.   Within child welfare, I have  researched and published in the area of kinship and relative care, adoption, service delivery models, care planning and family group conferencing.

I draw extensively from systemic ideas in my research, teaching, supervision and consultancy work.  I continue to utilise the ideas and scholarship of the Fifth Province Associates comprised of Dr Nollaig Byrne, Philip Kearney and Dr Imelda McCarthy.   I worked alongside Dr Imelda McCarthy at  University College Dublin until her retirement. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue  collaborative relationships with the  Associates.

I am committed to public service and to the idea that the  academic has a responsibility to give back. As a Social Policy, social work and systemic family therapy academic, there are many opportunities within which to contribute.   I  served on the Irish Adoption Board, as a Board Member  from 1998 - 2010. Through this service I helped to shape adoption policy and practice in Ireland. This is an area of work that continues to be of particular interest. I was appointed in March 2013 by the Minister of Children and Youth Affairs, Ms Frances FitzGerald in 2013 to become part of the Implementation Group of the HSE Alternative Care Services, through my capacity as an independent academic. Arising from this commitment, I also serve as Board Member on a number of professional associations.

Teaching is close to my heart and in particular the opportunity to use technological innovation. I recently obtained a Cert in Education Technology and previously completed a certificate in Curriculum design and problem based learning. Striving for teaching excellent remains an important goal.
Last but not least, I  continue  to stay connected to clinical work through an association with Clanwilliam Institute Dublin, a well known agency dedicated to systemic family therapy, training and supervision. Remaining a level of direct involvement enhances teaching, research and in turn provides an opportunity to bring research informed /evidence into the clinical field.


Honours and Awards

Year: 1978.
Title: First Year Examination Scholarship
Year: 1995.
Title: Open Post Graduate Scholarship UCD.


Association: Family Therapy Association of Ireland , Function/Role: Board Member 1991 - 1996. Vice Chairperson of FTAI 1994-1996 during legal incorporation as a limited company.
Association: Irish Association of Social Workers, Function/Role: Board Member of Sub Committee Child Care 1987 -1991.
Association: European Association of Family Therapy, Function/Role: FTAI Representative 2012 -
Association: Family Therapy Assoc of Ireland , Function/Role: Board Member 2012 - current
Association: Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) , Function/Role: Board Member 2012 - current
Association: Irish Foster Care Association , Function/Role: Board Member 2012 -2015
Association: Social Workers in Foster Care : Irish Associatin of Social Workers , Function/Role: Vice Chairperson 2009 to 2012; Board member 2012 - current

Conference Contributions

*; *. [Oral Presentation], Relative Care : One day national conference organised by British Association for Adoption and Fostering. Manchester, 2002, Manchester .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Manchester BAAF Conference Relative Care Typologies 2000, Manchester .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], European Psychotherapy Conference : Chaired Plenary Fifth Province. Dublin, 2000 , * .
*; MWHB From Research to Practice : An Evolving Assessment Model. [Oral Presentation], Cork- IFCA European Conference Presentation with Mr. Kevin OFarrell , 2000, Cork .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Family Group Conferences, IASW Annual Conference 1997, * .
; *. [Oral Presentation], Columbia School of Social Work : presentation to Doctoral Students: Understanding Networks of Relative Care: An Irish Perspective, 2000, * .
*; An Aged Old Tradition / A New Departure,. [Oral Presentation], Relative Foster Care: 1996 IFCA AGM, * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Irish Foster Care Conference : Children Culture and Change, Ennis, Nov, Relative Care: An update on Service Developments 2003 , Ennis .
; A Family / State Discourse. [Oral Presentation], Family Therapy Annual Conference 1996, * .
; Managing Change. [Oral Presentation], North South Conference 1990, * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Manchester, International conference on Family Group conferences, Building on Strenght workshop on Family Group Conferences and Child Protection in an Irish Context 2001 , * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Swedish Management Training - Systemic Thinking And Social Networks 1995, * .
*; Relative Foster Care. [Oral Presentation], Britain - Tower Hamlets Social Services - 1996 , * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Relative Foster Care Irish Child Care Workers AGM 1998, * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Relative Foster Care, National Conference organised by Eastern Health Board 1998, * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Outcome of Evaluation Research on Family Group Conferences, All Ireland Conference, Cavan 2000 , Cavan .
; *. [Oral Presentation], Workshop on research methodologies in Family Group Conferences, All Ireland Conference, Cavan 2000, Cavan .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], Troubled Children and Children in Trouble : The Family Group Conference Making it Work Kilkenny, Southern Health Board and Barnardoes, 2001, * .
*; *. [Oral Presentation], North South Conference An Overview of Practice Developments in FGC, Belfast. 2001, Belfast .
; Fostering into the Future Relatively Speaking. [Oral Presentation], IFCA National Conference 1997, * .
O'Brien, Valerie; (2011) Provided two days research training to systemic therpists. [Keynote Address], Organising Research in Systemic Practice, Clanwilliam Institute Dublin , 10-JUN-11 - 11-JUN-11.
O'Brien, Valerie ; (2011) Adapting to the Challenges in the Assessment of the Kinship Home. [Plenary Lecture], Social Workers in Foster Care, Dublin , 19-MAY-11 - 19-MAY-11.
O'Brien, V; (2010) Applying A Systemic Perspective to Enhance Contact Arrangements in Kinship Care. [Invited Lecture], Social Workers in Foster Care, SWIFC, Dublin , 22-APR-10 - 22-APR-10.
O'Brien, V ; (2010) The Potential of Problem Based Learning in Training Systemic Psychotherapists. [Plenary Lecture], Supervision and Systemic Therapy :Clanwilliam Institute, Dublin, , 06-MAY-10 - 06-MAY-10.
O'Brien, V; (2010) Problem Based Learning and Social Work Education. [National Refereed Conference Paper], All Ireland Schools of Social Work, Dublin , 04-FEB-10 - 05-FEB-10.
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (2008) A Commentary on SWIFC Research : Issues in Future Foster Care Service Delevery. [Keynote Address], Irish Foster Care Association National Conference, Galway , 23-MAY-08 - 23-MAY-08.
Dr Valerie O'Brien and Dr Joyce Pavoa maguire; (2008) The Extent to which the Hague Convention 1993 Offers a Framework for Resolving Ethical Dilemnas in Intercountry Adoption. [Invited Lecture], Irish Association of Social Workers National Conference  : Ethical Issues in Social Work, Dublin , 18-APR-08 - 18-APR-08.
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (2008) The Implications of the Forthcoming Hague Lesislation for International Adoption Practices in Ireland. [Keynote Address], International Adoptive Parents Conference, Dublin , 25-JAN-08 - 25-JAN-08.
O'Brien, V.; (2008) Decision Marking in Assessment Practices. [Non Refereed Paper/Abstract Presented at Conference], 2nd International Conference on Research in Adopetion UEA, Norwich , 05-JUL-08 - 10-JUL-08.
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (2008) Training Supervisors for Practice: Challenges and the Contribution of New Frameworks. [National Refereed Conference Paper], Supervision Practices in Mediation, Dublin , 22-MAY-08 - 22-MAY-08.
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (2006) Moving Forward and Reconnecting with Therapeutic Base¿. [Keynote Address], Celebrating Innovation – Therapeutic Work with Families and Children Conference,, Dublin , 09-SEP-06 - 09-SEP-06.
O'Brien, V.; (2006) Appraisal of the Co-ordinator Service. [Other], Family Welfare Conference Services to HSE North East, Navan , 27-MAR-06 - 27-MAR-06.
O'Brien, V and Richardson, V.; (2006) Towards a Problem Based Learning Approach in Child Welfare Teaching. [Other], Child and Family Welfare Teaching Colloquium, UCC, Cork , 21-APR-06 - 21-APR-06.
O'Brien, V.; (2006) Practitioner Research Perspectives: Turning Clinical Practice into Research. [Other], Clanwillian Institute Family Therapy Seminar series, Dublin , 14-JUN-06 - 15-JUN-06.
*; (2005) An Overview of Intercountry Adoption Practices in Ireland. [Oral Presentation], Presentation to the Vietnamese Adoption Central Authority, Hanoi, * , 18-OCT-05 - 25-OCT-05.
*; (2002) An Assessment Framework. [Oral Presentation], Irish Adoption Baord : What Works in Decision making in Adoption, Kilkenny, 2002, Kilkenny , 12-MAY-02 - 12-MAY-02.
O'Brien, Valerie (2000) Kinship Care : Learning from the Irish Experience. [Oral Presentation], Kinship Care : Conference organised by the Family Rights Group London, 2000, * , 21-MAY-13 - 21-MAY-13.
O'Brien, V (2000) Establishing Agency Concerns Workshop. [Oral Presentation], 3rd Annual Family Group Conference, Winchester 2000, Winchester: , 31-AUG-00 - 31-JUL-12.
*; (1999) Understanding Networks of Relative Care and FGC: An Irish Perspective. [Invited Lecture], Columbia School of Social Work : 1999, * , 10-DEC-99 - 10-DEC-99.
O'Brien, Valerie (1998) Working with Families Week Long Module. [Oral Presentation], UNICEF sponsored professional training programme for social pedagogues and social workers, 1998, * , 27-MAY-98 - 29-AUG-98.
*;O'Brien, V (1997) Potential of Family Group Conferences and Relative Care. [Plenary Lecture], Tower Hamlets Social Services -, *Tower Hamlets , 29-MAR-97 - 29-MAR-97.
*; (1995) *. [Oral Presentation], Norway - International Foster Care Conference - Relative Foster Care 1995, * , 11-JUL-95 - 17-JUL-95.
O'Brien, V (1995) *Relative Foster Care. [Oral Presentation], Belgium - European Scientific Congress - 1995, *Belguim , 28-JUL-95 - 31-JUL-12.
O'Brien, V; (1993) *. [Oral Presentation], Ireland, International Childhood Adversity Conference - Fostering And Systemic Thinking 1993, * , 27-JUL-93 - 30-JUL-93.


Committee : Family Therapy Association of Ireland.
Committee : Family Therapy Association of Ireland
Committee : Family Therapy Association of Ireland, Registration Sub Committee
Committee : Family Therapy Association of Ireland, Ethics Sub Committee
Committee : The Irish Adoption Board, Ministerial Appointment
Committee : UCD Post Graduate Committee, Psychotherapy.
Committee : UCD : Communications, Development and Alumni College Committee, UCD
Committee : UCD : Teaching and Learning College Committee, UCD
Committee : UCD : Ethics Research College Committee, UCD
Committee : Adoption Authority of Ireland,


Employer: University College Dublin
Position: Director of Post Grad. Higher Dip in Social Policy.
Employer: Fostering Resource Group
Position: *
Employer: Eastern Health Board
Position: Community Care Social Work
Employer: Western Health Board
Position: Community Care Social Work
Employer: *
Position: Management Training
Employer: Nenagh Social Services
Position: Casework / Community Projects.


Year 1997 Institution: National University of Ireland
Qualification: PhD Subject: Fostering the Family : Kinship Care
Year 1985 Institution: London School of Economics
Qualification: CQSW Subject: --none--
Year 1985 Institution: London School of Economics
Qualification: M.Soc.Sc Subject: Social Work and Social Policy
Year 1982 Institution:
Qualification: BSocSc Subject:
Year 1989 Institution: Family Therapy Programme Mater Child Guidance
Qualification: Diploma Subject: Family Therapy
Year 1992 Institution: Family Therapy Supervision Programme Mater Child Guidance
Qualification: Diploma Subject: Systemic Supervision
Year 2007 Institution:
Qualification: PhD Subject:
Year 1985 Institution:
Qualification: MSocSc Subject:


Client: National Care Planning Project
Client: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Outreach Activities

I am an executive member of the Family Therapy Assoc of Ireland 2012 -2104.

I am an executive member of the Irish Council of Psychotherapy.

I am an executive member of the Social Workers in Foster Care (SWIFC): a subcommittee of the Irish Association of Social Workers. 
I continue to be involved in systemic practice as a therapist, supervisor and trainer at the Clanwilliam Institute Dublin. Direct clinical work is essential to the development of my research work in the area of sytemic practices, family and child welfare issues.

I completed my term as member of the Irish Adoption Board on the 31st Oct 2010. I was first appointed in 1998 and therefore I have serviced 12 years on the Board. The Irish Adoption Board is a quasi judicial body. The main functions of the Adoption Board  are as follows 

  •  to make adoption orders,  
  • to grant declarations of suitability for intercountry adoption,
  • to adjudicate on applications for entries to the Register for Foreign Adoption and
  •  to decide if case documents can be available in respect of people involved in search and reunion.

The Board meets one day per week to conduct the business.

Member of the Research Development Advisory Group at the Office of the Minister for Children 2005- current.

Ministerial Appointment as Member of the Irish Adoption Board, Ministerial Appointment,  1998 -2010 ; 3 terms

Ministerial Appointment to  HSE Implementation Group for Alternative Care 2013 -

Journals Edited

Child And Family Social Work: Reviewer.

Other Activities

Presentation to the Vietnamese Adoption Central Authority, Hanoi - An Overview of Intercountry Adoption Practies in Ireland. 18/10/2005 - 25/10/2005
Ministerial Appointment to Irish Adoption Board 01/02/1998 - 30/10/2010



Book Chapters

O'Brien, V.; (1999) 'Evolving Networks of Relative Care' In: Ed. Grieff, R. (eds). Fostering Kinship. Arena: Ashgate. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2000) 'Relative Care' In: Kelly, G.& Gilligan, R. (Eds.) (eds). Issues in Foster Care: The Personal, the Professional and the Organisational. London: Jessica Kingsley. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2000) 'Relative Care: A Different Type of Foster Care - Implications for Practice' In: ed. G Kelly and R Gilligan (eds). Issues in Foster Care: Policy, Practice and Research. London: Jessica Kingsley. , pp.193-213 [Details]
O'Brien, V; (2001) 'Contributions from an Irish Study: Understanding and Managing Relative Care' In: ed. B Broad (eds). Kinship Care: The Placement Choice for Children and Young People. London: Russell House Publishing. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2002) 'Family Fostering: Children's Experiences of Care by Relatives' In: ed. A Cleary, M Nic Ghiolla Phádraig and S Quin (eds). Understanding Children, Volume 2: Changing Experiences and Family Forms. Cork: Oak Tree Press. [Details]
O'Brien, V (2012) 'Kinship Care : Enhanced Support Needed' In: O'Brien, V (eds). Voices of the Forgotten: 30 Years of the International Foster Care Organization. USA: IFCO Vanity. Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V (2012) 'The Place of Family Group Conferencing in Child Welfare in the Republic of Ireland' In: O'Brien, V (eds). The Quiet Revolution. Aggrandising People Power by Family Group Conferences. Amsterdam: SWP. Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V (2015) 'Formal and Informal Kinship Care: Complexities, Dilemnas and A Way Forward' In: Doughlas, D. & Kennedy, JA (eds). Ensuring the Rights of the Child and Family Centred Services. Sydney: IFCO. , pp.174-191 [Details]
O'Brien, V. & Cregan, M. (2015) 'Fostering the Future: A Change Agenda in the Provision of Alternative Care' In: Christie, A; Quin, S; & Walsh, T (eds). Social Work in Ireland. London: Palgrave. , pp.88-105 Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V. (2016) 'Positioning and Respectful Professional Interventions for Working with the Legacy of Irish Institutional Care' In: Barratt, S. & Lobatto, W (eds). Surviving and Thriving in Care and Beyond. Personal and Professional Perspectives. London: Karnac. , pp.217-238 Link to full text [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

O'Brien, V.; (1990) 'Setting the Context : Social Work in the Health Board Irish Social Worker'. Irish Social Worker, 9 (1):17-18. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (1996) 'Relative Foster Care: A Family / State Discourse'. Feedback, 7 (1):16-23. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (1996) 'Relative Foster Care: An Untapped Placement Resource'. Journal of Child Centred Practice, 1 (1):9-23. [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2002) 'Relative Care : Issues for Social Care Workers'. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, 3 :51-68. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2003) 'Relative Care Networks, Application of the Fifth Province'. Feedback : Family Therapy Network of Ireland, 9 (2):31-38. [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie; (2009) 'The Potential of Ireland's Hague Convention Legislation to Resolve Ethical Dilemmas in Inter- Country Adoption'. Irish Social Worker, Summer :13-19. [Details]
O'Brien (2012) 'The Challenge and Benefits of Kinshp Care'. Child Care in Practice, 18 (1):127-146. [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) 'Social Networking, Adoption and Search and Reunion'. Irish Social Worker, :21-28. Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2014) 'Navigating Child Welfare and Protection in Ireland with the Help of the Fifth Province'. Feedback, (Special Issue :):91-117. Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2014) 'An Application of the Fifth Province to Kinship Care Networks'. Human Systems Management, Special Issue on Supervision :99-117. Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V (2014) 'Responding to the call: An innovative conceptual model for kinship care assessment'. Child and Family Social Work, 19 (3):355-366. [Details]
O'Brien, V. & Mitra, S. (2015) 'Search and Reunion in Adoption: The Aftermath of the Film Philomena and an Opportunity to Shape Change'. Irish Social Worker, Spring :5-11. [Details]
O'Brien, V. & Palmer, A. (2015) 'Adoption and the Irish Care System: Context and Drivers for Change?'. Irish Journal of Family Law, 18 (3):52-59. [Details]
O¿Brien, V and Palmer A. (2016) 'Permanence and Long Term Foster Care : What are the options?'. Foster: Developments in Foster Care Practice, Policy and Research, 2 :27-45. [Details]
O¿Brien, V. & Fox, S. (2016) 'Tensions in the Monitoring and Support Work of the Designated Liaison Person in the Catholic Church: A Potential Application of the Fifth Province?'. Journal of Family Therapy, :5-22. [Details]
O'Brien, V. & Palmer, A. (2016) 'Adoption as Part of the Irish Care System: A New Challenge for Social Work'. Irish Social Worker, 1 (Spring):52-58. [Details]
O¿Brien, V. & McHale, C. (2018) 'Foster Care : A Call to the Minister for A Working Group'. Foster: Developments in Foster Care Practice, Policy and Research, 2 . [Details]
V. O'Brien and A. Palmer (2018) 'The Changing Landscape of Irish Adoption: An Analysis of Trends (1999 - 2016)'. Child Care in Practice, . [Details]

Other Journals

O'Brien, V; (2010) 'Fostering the Family, Irish Times, June 1st' Irish Times . [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2010) 'The Lost Generation : Mother and Baby Homes' The Guardian . [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) 'Kinship Care : Stability, Disruption and the Place of Support Services' Foster :15-17. Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V. & Maguire Pavao, J (2014) 'The Last Word : Is it Time to Have A Gathering (People adopted from Ireland to American)' Irish America . Link to full text [Details]

Conference Publications

O'Brien, V ; (1997) Maintaining Links through Relative Care Ireland - European Social Work Conference - *, [Details]
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (1999) Assessing Relative Care : Understanding Relative Care Networks International Foster Care Conference : Melbourne 1999 Melbourne, [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2000) An Overview of the Family Group Conference Evolution: Belfast : Northern Ireland Managers of Health and Social Services, 2000 Belfast, [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2005) Relative Care: A Different Assessment Framework National Care Planning Conference Limerick, [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2006) Decision Making in Assessment Practices 2nd International Conference on Research in Adoption UEA, Norwich, [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2006) Implementation Issues Post 2001 Children Act Family Welfare Conferencing Limerick, [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2009) A Fifth Province Perspective of Supporting the KInship Placement 4th International Conference Post Adoption Services Boston, , 22-FEB-09 - 26-FEB-09 [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2009) Permanency: A Comparative View of Child Welfare Practices in USA and Ireland 4th International Conference Post Adoption Services [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2009) Outcomes and Assessment in Kinship Care International Conference : Linking Global Foster Care Dublin, , 13-JUL-09 - 17-JUL-09 [Details]
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (2009) Contact and Kinship Care International Conference : Linking Global Foster Care Dublin, , 13-JUL-09 - 17-JUL-09 [DOI] [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2009) Understanding the Complexity of Kinship Care and the Implications for Family & State Relationships International Conference : Linking Global Foster Care : IFCO Dulbin, , 13-JUL-09 - 17-JUL-09 [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2010) Addressing the Complexity of Assessing the Kinship Home : A New Way Forward Health Service Executive : Kinship Care Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2010) Ireland: A Sending and Receiving Country in respect of Adoption Taking it to the Streets: International Adoption Conference, Cape Cod, Mass, USA [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2010) Applying a Systemic Perspective to Enhance Contact Arrangments in Kinship Care Social Work in Foster Care : Ireland Dublin, UCD, , 22-APR-10 - 22-APR-10 [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2011) Learning the Lessons from History : Ireland and USA Intercountry Adoption Practices 5th International Post Adoption Conference, Cape Cod, USA Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2011) The Challenge and Benefits of Kinship Care North South Conference on Kinship Care [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2011) Problem Based Learning in Child Welfare Teaching All Ireland Social Work Educators Forum [Details]
Michael O'Grady, Gavin Barrett, Terry Barrett, Yvonne Delaney , Nuala Hunt, Thomas Kador and Valerie O¿Brien; (2011) Sense and Sensibility Collaborative & Interdisciplinary Problem Design in PBL Initiatives AISHE International Conference : The Challenge for Graduates in a Changing World, [DOI] [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) A Different Model for Kinship Care : Time to Note the Need for Change 13th ISPCAN European Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Dublin [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) The Use of Family Group Conferences in Ireland : Possibilities within Child Welfare 13th ISPCAN European Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) The Fifth Province and Kinship Care 8th Congress European Family Therapy Association, Istanbul [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) Support Training and Kinship Care 13th ISPCAN European REgional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) An Analysis of Current Trends in Domestic Adoption in Ireland : The linkages between past oppressive practices and future possibilities 13th ISPCAN European Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) Children in Care and Permanency : A Comparative Perspective The Irish Care System and Adoption, IASW, Dublin Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) Relative Care : Future Service Delivery Foster Care in the 21st Century [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) The Emergence of Counselling and Psychotherapy Professions : The Implications for Social Work Social Work Education Conference, Cork [Details]
O'Brien, V (2014) Kinship Care: the dance between formal and informal care provision Ensuring the Rights of Child and Family Centred Service. Aug 26 -29 [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie. & Maguire Pavao, Joyce (2014) Sending and Receiving : Irish American Adoptions 8th Biennial Adoption Initative Conference [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2014) Formal and Informal Kinship Care : The Support Implications EUSARF, Copenhagen, Denmark. Sept 3 -7th Link to full text [Details]
Davis M., Phelan A, O'Brien V, Campbell J (2015) Equipping practitioners to deal with child protection and welfare: an interdisciplinary model for delivering blended learning Interprofessional Learning Dublin Castle Conference Centre, , 06-OCT-15 - 06-OCT-15 Available Online [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2015) A Conceptual Framework to Assist Irish Reform in Adoption and Child Welfare, including lessons from the USA Reimagining Adoption as a Viable Care Option In Ireland Cork, Ireland, , 24-SEP-15 Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie & Hope, Karen (2015) Sustaining a 'Partnership' Between Foster Carers and Social Workers. Navigating the Current Landscape of Fostering in Ireland Fostering Well-Being: Together We Can Make a Difference Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V & Palmer, A. (2016) From Foster Care to Adoption in Ireland : An Examination of the Critical Issues Strengthening Relationships Strengthening Care [Details]

Published Reports

O'Brien, V.; (1993) Report on Training Implications of Kilkenny Incest Report for Rape Crisis Centre. Rape Crisis Centre, Dublin. [Details]
OBrien, V. and Richardson, V.; (1999) Towards a Standardised Framework for Inter-Country Adoption Assessment Procedures: A Study of Assessment Procedures in Inter-Country Adoption in Ireland. . [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2000) An Evaluation of the Family Group Conference Pilot Project in the Eastern Health Board. EHRA, Dublin. [Details]
O Brien, V (2001) Different Models of Service Delivery Family Group Conferencing. North Eastern Health Board, Navan. [Details]
Valerie O'Brien (2002) Family Group Conferences and Child Protection. Mid Western Health Board, Limerick. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2002) Family Group Conferences: Application within Child Protection Context. Mid Western Health Board, Limerick:. [Details]
O'Brien, V.; (2003) Guidelines for Adoption Mediation Agencies. Irish Adoption Board, Dublin:. [Details]
O'Brien, V. and Conway, E.; (2004) Towards a Standarised Framework for Domestic Adoption Assessment Practices. Irish Adoption Board, Dublin:. [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
O'Brien, V (2005) Guidance for Preparation of Child Focused Court Reports under Section 20 of the 1991 Child Care Act Ireland. Mid Western Health Board, Limerick. Available Online [Details]
Dr Valerie O'Brien ; (2008) Academic Review of Practice Instruments 2006 : National Care Planning Project. HSE, HSE. [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) Independent Academic Report to National Monitoring and Oversight Group in Respect of Child and Family Foster Care Services. HSE, Dublin. [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie & Alohen, Hannaleena (2015) Pathways and Outcomes: A Study of 335 Referrals to the Family Welfare Conference (FWC) Service in Dublin, 2011-2013. TULSA, Dublin. Link to full text [Details]
Valerie O'Brien and Cahal McHale (2017) Foster Care Envisioning the Future - A Discussion Paper Social Workers in Foster Care. Irish Association of Social Workers, Dublin. [Details]

Newspaper Articles

O'Brien, Valerie (2010) The Lost Generation of Mother and Baby Homes. Newspaper Articles [DOI] [Details]
O'Brien, Valerie (2013) Adopt an Open Approach to Historic Secret : Irish American Adoption legacy Needs State Help. Dublin: Newspaper Articles Link to full text [Details]

Book Reviews

O'Brien, V (1999) The World of Foster Care: An International Sourcebook on Foster Family Care Systems. Book Reviews [Details]
O'Brien, V (2002) Permanent Family Placement for Children of Minority Ethnic Origin. Book Reviews [Details]

Technical Publication

O'Brien, V ; (2000) Preperation Course : Intercountry Adoption and Prospective Adoptive Parents. Technical Publication [Details]
O'Brien; (2003) Train the Trainers : Towards a Conjoint Training Programme for Intercoutnry Adoption. Dublin: Technical Publication [Details]
O'Brien ; (2003) Preparation Course for Intercountry Adoption : Conjoint Adoptive Parents and Social Work Delivery. Technical Publication [Details]
O'Brien, V ; (2004) An Analysis of the Section 20 Reports Provided under the 1991 Children's Act in respect of the Mid Western Health Board. Technical Publication [Details]


Research Interests

The areas of research that I am interested and involved with are as follows :
Child Welfare and Protection,  Kinship Care, Domestic and Inter-Country Adoption, Family Group Conferences.  Conceptual frameworks offered by Social Policy, Systemic Therapies and Social Work Practices are used.

Qualitative Research Methods : teaching and practice. 

 Systemic Family Therapy and Consultation, Post Modern and Social Constuctionist Approaches re Skills Training, Continued Professional Development utislising a Systemic Framework applied to broad areas of child and family welfare, protection and support.

Research Projects

Sponsor : Dept. of Health & Children
Title : Toward an understanding of the Information Seeking Behaviour & Research Utilization of Social Workers
Start Date / End Date : 08-SEP-08 / 07-SEP-11
Sponsor : Adoption Board
Title : Guidelines for Mediation Agencies
Start Date / End Date : 22-NOV-02 / 21-MAY-03
Sponsor : Eastern Health Board
Title : Family Group Conference Pilot Project: Phase 1. Training and Evaluation
Start Date / End Date : 01-JUN-99 / 31-JUL-00
Sponsor : Dept. of Health
Title : Review of Foreign Adoption Assessment Procedures
Start Date / End Date : 23-NOV-98 / 22-FEB-99


Internal Collaborators

Dr Marie Keenan : School of Applied Social Science

Counselling Social Work
Through this work, Marie and myself are working to enhance a systemic base for Counselling Social Work. We aim  to assist  social workers through our teaching  to develop couselling therapeutic and analytical skills. This is  aimed at understanding  the complexity of the work that they undertake and to provide them with a framework for assisting with meaninglful and successful interventions.


External Collaborators

<< I am currently collaborating with:
Dr Joyce  Maguire Pavao, CEO of PACT, Boston and Assoc Professor in Mental Health at  Harvard.

Title : Intercountry Adoption : From Ireland to the USA and Back Again
We are exploring  intercountry adoption  practice  wherby children were sent  from Ireland to the USA in the 1950's up to the early 1970's to be adopted and the turnabout of this practice now arising from American children been adopted to Ireland. 

Professor Gary Mallon, Hunter College, New York

Title : Child Welfare Practices in Ireland and the USA : A Comparative Perspective 
 We are exploring a number of smaller areas : assessment and suitability for foster and adoptive parents.
Kinship practices and family decision making models.
Dr Imelda McCarthy : Retired Faculty from UCD

Title : Application of Fifth Province in Child Welfare and Protection  Practices
 We are building on how an evolving fifth province model continues to be useful with complex systems.

Professor Robbie Gilligan : Trinity College Dublin 

Title : Children in Care 

Robbie and I are co writing a chapter for a book to be published by Palgrave in 2014 aimed at exploring Irish Social Work Practice in light of international trends.