About Me

Lisa Reilly, B.Eng, MSyl

Certified Counsellor

Currently studying for my MSC in Transactional Analysis


Originally graduating as an engineer, I worked in the UK for a few years before deciding to spread my wings and going to work overseas. Originally, I volunteered for 2 years with VSO in Namibia, but decided I did not want to return to the UK and stayed overseas for the next 12 years. After Namibia, as a typical humanitarian, I lived and worked in a variety of contexts including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan and South Sudan. 

On coming home from my last full-time overseas mission, covering both Pakistan and Afghanistan, my organisation sent me for a psychological de-briefing, where it became apparent that the last few years had taken a heavy toll on my mental well-being. It was at that point I started my personal therapy journey. At the time I saw a therapist who was experienced with helping international journalists as there were virtually no therapists with direct experience of the humanitarian sector. And while this has now improved, the number of therapists who have experience of the specific vagaries of overseas work and the consequences remain limited.

Back in the UK, I started working within the humanitarian sector for improving staff safety and security, and quickly realised that staff well-being and mental health were an integral part of effective security risk management. This work, along with my continuing personal therapy journey, led me to my current position as a qualified counsellor and in my 3rd year of advanced training (MSc equivalent) for becoming a Transactional Analysis Therapist at the Berne Institute. 

While very happy to work with anyone struggling with life in general, I believe my experience makes me particularly useful for those struggling with the impacts of working away from home, and, following the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, those feeling isolated and disassociated from their usual coping mechanisms.

My particular hope is to be able to help those impacted by work in risky environments, whether working there directly or as family and friends to those working overseas. I am lucky enough to have had a rich and fulfilling career in the humanitarian sector and, through my therapy, saved from long term harmful impacts caused by the stresses of my role. I would like to help others to achieve similar fulfilment, hopefully without getting to the same rock bottom point which forced me to make the changes I needed.   

I am a Member of the Security Institute where I Co-Chair the Inclusive Security Special Interest Group. The aim of this group is to improve inclusivity and diversity across the security sector, including recognition of the well-being issues often faced by individuals who feel the need to hide certain aspects of their personal profile as well as looking at support for those differently abled.


  • Berne Institute Certificate in Transactional Analysis Counselling Skills
  • Berne Institute Foundation Certificate in Transactional Analysis
  • BEng Mechanical Engineering
  • UNSMS Security Certification Programme

In 2020 I won the Women in Security Contribution to Industry award.

Walking in the Himalayas, Pakistan 2006

“A failure is not a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

BF Skinner