I was born in 1977 in Zagreb, where I grew up and finished elementary and high school. I started studying psychology at the Department of Psychology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb in 1996 and graduated in 2002 with a thesis "The Connection between Experiences of Childhood Abuse and Some Psychological Aspects of Adolescent Functioning". In 2013, I was awarded the status of clinical psychologist by the Croatian Psychological Chamber.
During my studies, through volunteer work at the NGO Courageous Telephone, I focused on the area of advocating for children's rights, protection from violence and support for abused children and their families, which remains the primary area of my professional interest and work. I gained my initial work experience in 2002 as a psychology teacher at a high school in Zagreb where I worked for a year and then as a counselor at the counseling center for children and parents at the Courageous Telephone association. For most of my professional life (from 2004 to 2018), I worked as a psychologist at the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, a healthcare institution with a mission and goal of action focused on psychodiagnostics and providing treatment support for children and their families with particular sensitivity to experiences of abuse and other forms of traumatization that children are exposed to as they grow up. In addition to specific issues, I have had an opportunity to gain extensive experience in working with children who face a range of difficulties and emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, self-destructive behaviors, learning disabilities, ADHD symptoms, developmental difficulties, and problems with socialization. Many years of experience of working in this healthcare institution have brought me a number of opportunities and possibilities to learn through teamwork and collaboration with colleagues from different professions (psychiatrists, pediatricians, social workers, social pedagogues, lawyers). Problems faced by families and interventions related to their well-being often required cooperation with other institutions and cooperative organizations that were involved in different ways in lives of children and families. For me, these experiences and forms of collaboration have been a valuable form of learning and support in understanding individuals and different processes at the family level, as well as functioning of different system mechanisms.
Throughout my professional work, I have been continuously learning and improving, primarily in the direction of psychodiagnostics and treatment, in applicating psychological measuring instruments, different treatment approaches and techniques, learning about the specifics of the functioning of family systems and parent-child relationships, especially under the influence of various crises. A particularly important education for me, which influenced me personally and characterized my professional approach and work with clients, was a four-year training in gestalt psychotherapy approach (facilitators: Jasenka Pregrad and Klaus Engel, within the IGW Institute, 2002-2006).
The following are trainings focused on treatment work with children and specific areas of support: psychological crisis interventions (Jasenka Pregrad - Society for Psychological Assistance and Bruna Profaca - Child Protection Center of Zagreb, 2004); gestalt approach in working with children (2005), cognitive-behavioral therapy focused on traumatic experience (Barbara L. Bonner, 2009, followed by Barbara L. Bonner and Susan R. Schmidt, 2013, Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb), first stage in EMDR (Vesna Bogdanović, IPSA, 2017) and attachment-based family therapy (ATBF, Dr. Jody Russon, 2018, Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb). In the field of working with families, I gained valuable knowledge through a year's training in systematic approach in working with families (Jasenka Pregrad, HOMA, Zagreb 2007 - 2008) and education in working with alienated children (Karen and Nick Woodall, Family Separation Clinic, Zagreb, 2016 and 2017).
Helping profession and exposure to the many, often very difficult, life stories and sufferings of the people we work with certainly affect us, which I have felt in various ways on my own skin. During my work, I have encountered many issues, difficulties and challenges, in which supervision, colleague support as well as learning about the different roles and the responsibility that arises from them have been a valuable source of support for me in finding solutions to problems, empowering my own competencies and ways of coping with occasionally really difficult and demanding situations I was in. One my professional passions which sincerely pleases my is supporting colleagues, learning together and enhancing professional competencies, in order to offer our clients better support with more quality, but also learning to protect ourselves and our mental health. Because of this, in 2019, I enrolled in the specialist study of supervision in psychosocial work at the Social Work Study Center of the Faculty of Law in Zagreb.
In addition to clinical work with children and families, I have designed and conducted a number of trainings for professionals of different profiles on topics related to approaching and supporting abused and traumatized children, child development, parenting, communication skills, and strengthening the competencies needed to build relationships (primarily with children and young people). I am a member of several professional associations (Croatian Psychological Chamber, Croatian Psychological Society, Croatian Society for Traumatic Stress) and I am a member of the Board of Directors and actively involved in the work of the Zagreb Psychological Society in whose establishment and starting I participated in.
I have published papers in scientific and professional journals and presented at scientific and professional conferences. I am constantly cooperating with the media and writing articles promoting psychological knowledge, especially on topics of child developmental psychology, family relationships, parenting and support after difficult and traumatic events. In co-authorship with my colleague Buljan Flander, in 2005, I wrote a book "Telephone Counseling, A Guide for Counselors" in the edition of Courageous Telephone, and in 2004 a workbook for children "When Mom and Dad Divorce", also in the edition of Courageous Telephone. I worked on the project and was a contributor to the development of the Unicef electronic violence prevention program "Break the Chain" (2008-2009). In 2019, I worked with the Luč association and participated in the design of child and family support groups in the grieving process after losing a parent.