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The Team

Our Passionate Team:

Helping Children and Young People to Thrive and Grow

Act to Connect is made up of experienced professionals who are passionate about helping children and young people to thrive, to learn and grow with confidence, and to develop the skills they need to become their best selves.

Julianne Bell

Founder and Managing Director

I set up Act to Connect to bring values guided, compassionate, and effective behaviour therapy to children and young people in Northern Ireland. A further hope is to help the helpers i.e. to empower the key adults in children's and young peoples lives, such as their parents, teachers and youth leaders, with the knowledge and tools to create environments in which children thrive.

I completed a Psychology Undergraduate Degree, received a Masters with Distinction in Behaviour Analysis and have certification UK Behaviour Analyst Certification. I specialise in supporting children, teens and young adults who struggle with the challenges associated with OCD and Anxiety, Emotional and Behavioural Disorder and Sleep Disorders with a focus on how these difficulties uniquely impact Autistic and other neurodiverse individuals.

My clinical practice is a strengths-based approach which is grounded in evidence-based practices within Clinical Behaviour Analysis such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Behavioural Parent Training, Exposure and Habit reversal therapies to name a few.

My work reflects my personal and professional values of compassion, choice and empowerment, and scientific principles. After 23 years in this field, I am still amazed and excited when I get to support and witness kids, young people and caregivers engaging in new perspectives and learning new skills that bring joy into their life. I get to be there as they take incredibly brave actions that help them connect with what they most value in life in the face of very real and present difficulties.

Marie McCrory

Behavioural Therapist

I have more than two decades experience of living with, loving, working with, and striving to help neurodivergent individuals overcome their challenges and live the lives they long for. I am accepting, respectful, and frequently in awe of their differences, and am a passionate advocate for all neurodiverse learners.

With a BPhil Autism and a MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis, my areas of special interest and expertise are anxiety, executive functioning, and social skills, and I’m forever trying to better understand clients’ difficulties and how best to help them; I can’t get enough of learning! It is my vision to ensure that neurodiverse children and young people enjoy learning, grow in confidence, and acquire the skills necessary to become the adults they aspire to be.

I have extensive experience volunteering within the community and working within the secondary school environment to support autistic young people and their parents, leading initiatives to connect peers socially, and am a certified PEERS® Social Skills for Adolescents provider.

When not geeking out over the above, I love music, running, reading, sewing, and knitting, and like to do something creative every day.

Paula Vance

Behaviour Therapist

My journey and passion supporting children and their families began in 2010 when I lived and worked in Hong Kong. While there I had the opportunity to work within a multidisciplinary team of occupational therapists, physical therapists, behaviour analysts, and teachers in a centre specialising in supporting autistic children and where I received extensive training to provide 1-1 centre and home-based therapy, special education playgroups, and weekly social groups for autistic teenagers. I have continued my growth and development in my work with Act to Connect, learning never stops.

My area of speciality is supporting children to communicate and advocate for their needs, desires and values. I incorporate play as a natural and engaging space for language acquisition, allowing for authentic and enjoyable communication experiences. It is such a privilege to be a part of each child’s journey, celebrating every step towards growth in new skills, independence, confidence, self-expression and empowerment.

In addition to my professional experience, I have personal experience loving, supporting and advocating for my own Neurodivergent child, who has gifted me with wisdom, compassion and understanding beyond my professional experience. It is the combination of my professional and personal experience that have shaped the values that guide my work. I value and am dedicated to creating a safe and empowering space for all my clients and am committed to individualised approaches which best support my clients in developing coping strategies, communication skills and build meaningful connections with the world and people around them whom they value.

Outside of work I have spent many years travelling and adventuring around the world and now I spend most of my time enjoying the everyday mini adventures with my two little ones. 

Sarah O’Prey

Behaviour Consultant

I have been working with children facing behavioural and emotional challenges since 2000 and spent many of those years working alongside Julianne. I completed an MA in Applied Psychology and an MSc in Behaviour Analysis, and have professional certification as a BCBA and UKBA (cert). Having taken a break from full-time work to focus on my own kids, I spent a fun year in an early years setting supporting a young autistic child. It truly reignited my passion and I was ready to hit the ground running again with my amazing friend and colleague at ACT to Connect. 

As a parent of three children my passion is to bring our expertise and knowledge to parents of children who are experiencing challenges, in a way that works in line with their lives and values. I am so inspired by the way parents I work with can take that knowledge home and truly support their children to face their challenges and enhance their skills. I thoroughly enjoy hosting group trainings for parents in which we can provide a shared space for them to talk, learn, grow and have a cuppa! I have learnt so much myself as a parent from my training and continued education and use many of the strategies we advocate at home. Embracing an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy philosophy to parenting alongside specific strategies like SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions) have helped me understand and support my children as they struggle. Being able to impart that same knowledge, and empowering feeling to other parents is an amazing joy.

In whatever spare time I have I love the fresh air and peaceful head space I get while running. Art and being creative has always been a huge part of my life. I have a small business making party decor and am a member of my local art group making and exhibiting paper cut art. I have learnt that making time for these activities in my life helps me to be the parent and professional I want to be.

Monica Millar

Behaviour Consultant

I immigrated to Northern Ireland from Canada in 2023. I am a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) with a Masters of Arts (Special Education - Behaviour Disorders concentration). I have worked supporting young people and their families for over a decade implementing behavioural support programs across home, school and community. I am a current PhD candidate at Queen’s University where my research focuses on blending positive behaviour support and clinical psychology in the treatment of anxiety for adolescents and children on the autism spectrum and Intellectual and Developmental Disability.