Meet the team

Aynsley Carter

Shine Occupational Therapist

Aynsley is a qualified Occupational Therapist who has supported Shine from the beginning. She completed her studies, walking away with a Masters Level, at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand


Aynsley has over 10 years experience working within multiple settings including; hospitals, schools, home-based, community along with private and public child development centres across several countries; New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong and currently Spain.  Her expertise involves assisting children/students with sensory integration dysfunction, gross motor, fine motor, visual perceptual difficulties and executive functioning skills. Her aim is to assist children/students to reach their full potential across all environments in life; home, school and community.


Aynsley values professional development and has completed courses within Play Therapy Foundation, DIY Floortime, Brain Gym, Rhythmic Movement Training, SIPT ( Sensory Integration Training), Handwriting without Tears, Therapeutic Listening, Yoga Teacher Training and continues to participate in Neuro-Development courses.


Aynsley dedicates her free time towards running in the mountains training for Ultra races and building a sustainable container home with her overly patient husband and 3 adorable cats.


She is a member of the Spanish Association of Occupational Therapy, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, Sensory Integration Network based out of the U.K. and the Hong Kong Association of Occupational Therapy.


What gets Aynsley out of bed everyday to work is experiencing and feeling the joy children express when they see themselves achieving their goals, pure bliss.

Katie Smith

Shine Speech and Language Therapist

Katie Smith, is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, experienced in assessment and therapy intervention for all children’s speech, language and communication needs. She has been working in Spain since 2017 and has been with Shine from the beginning. Prior to that, she spent 10 years working in the NHS and privately with children with special and additional needs in the UK.


Katie graduated from University College London with a B.A. in Linguistics and subsequently an MSc in Speech and Language Therapy. She is a proud member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, UK. She is also registered with the HCPC, UK. Katie has continually completes professional development courses. For example, Hanen, PCI, Makaton, PECS, and many more.


In her spare time, Katie enjoys home time with her crazy household of 3 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats and (last but not least!) husband. Every opportunity we get we like to travel. Having grown up in Hong Kong we love to experience new things.


Katie believes in an evidence based, child centred approach with fun filled and inclusive therapy. She is dedicated to obtaining the best practice for the child, so we can give our clients the maximum opportunity to achieve their developmental and educational goals.

Ana Lepe

Shine Occupational Therapist

Ana Lepe is an Occupational Therapist, experienced in the treatment of those children with difficulties to participate in their everyday activities, such as school participation, socialize, play and selfcare. She started supporting Shine in December 2020 and prior to that, she used to work in a private clinic in Jerez with children and adults. Right now, she is offering horse therapy, school, and home sessions.


Ana studied her degree in Complutense University of Madrid and is a member of the COPTOEX College of Occupational Therapy. Ana is always completing her training and studied several masters and postgrads such as Bobath therapy, Sensory Integration, Hand therapy, Early childhood care, Animal assisted therapy, Teacch methodology…


In her spare time, Ana loves walking in the countryside with the company of her 4 dogs, which are her family and best friends. They are tired of hearing her singing and playing the guitar the whole day and always being the inspiration of her drawings and paintings.


Ana believes in the use of play for learning, because as Dr. Karyn Purvis discovered, it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.

Jessica Norris

Shine Speech and Language Therapist

Jessica Norris is a speech-language pathologist originally from Massachusetts, USA. After completing her Bachelor´s degree in Business Management, she worked as a singer-songwriter and taught preschool music classes. She continued to complete a Master´s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Worcester State University.

She has worked with both adults and children treating a variety of speech and language disorders in the clinical and school environment. Jessica currently lives in Spain and continues to provide speech-language therapy to schools in Michigan, USA, as well as accent modification and English instruction both remotely and in person. Jessica holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

In her spare time, Jessica enjoys spending time with her two children and taking full advantage
of the beautiful Costa del Sol. After a lifetime of cold New England winters, the year-round sun
is never taken for granted! Family involvement and evidence based practice are the foundations to her approach.

Victoria Howard

Shine Family Therapy and Behaviour Specialist

Victoria Howard is our Family Therapy and Behaviour Specialist. Over the past 12 years, she has dedicated her career to helping children and young adults make the best of their education and to make sense of the world around them.


Her education is in Child Psychology, main stream Psychology, Social Care, Teaching, and is a qualified Counsellor and CBT Practitioner. As well as her extensive education and work experience, Victoria has also had the privilege to live among various cultures in India, here in Spain, and the UK.


The combination of her education, life experience, and evidence based therapy methods makes Victoria a supportive, non-judgemental and valuable practitioner.


As well as working with families to be the best they can, Victoria is also a Psychology Professor, working to make the best of our next generation psychologists! In her spare time, she enjoys quality time with her 2 children and Spanish family

James Tillman

Shine Learning Mentor

James is a social circus practitioner and learning mentor with experience engaging supporting and inspiring SEN children and young people in all sorts of settings.

James has spent the last 10 years engaging hard to reach young people through creative workshops alongside teaching music, mechanics and providing pastoral care in alternative provisions.

In his spare time James can be found mixing drum n bass, whizzing his cars or tending the garden.

"The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways."

Hayley Firman

Shine Sleep Specialist Consultant

Hayley is a psychology specialist and child and baby Sleep Consultant with experience guiding a range of ages and needs into fantastic sleep. Her approaches are all gentle, and reassuring – tailored to the specific need of the child.


Hayley has come from a place of sleeplessness herself – with her own son Milo not sleeping for 12months. This encouraged her to leave her job teaching to retrain and ensure that no other family had to feel the pain that goes along with unnecessary sleep deprivation.

Her mission is simple to provide a service that makes SENse around sleep and ensure that families are well rested and enjoying each other.

In her spare time Hayley can be found painting, at the beach with her 2 kids or pottering in her vegetable patch.

“My son is now getting the sleep he needs, and I have my sanity and freedom back, it’s nothing short of a miracle!”

Dr Sara Sopena, BA, PGDip, MSc, DClin.

Shine Chartered Clinical Psychologist Consultant

Dr Sara Sopena is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist with extensive experience of working with families with children with emotional, behavioural and/or learning difficulties. She has worked both doing psychological research and clinical work in different mental health NHS settings and has contributed to the development of well known neuropsychological assessment test batteries.

Dr Sopena has experience in carrying out complex assessments to help families understand the difficulties they might be facing and develop evidence base interventions to best suit their needs. She can offer general assessments of common psychological difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression) as well as more specialist services such as diagnostic (Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and cognitive/learning assessments.


She is trained to offer different evidence based therapeutic approaches which are tailor-made to the need of the child and family. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, Behavioural Therapy and Neurorehabilitation.

Dr Sopena can also offer assessment and therapy to Spanish speaking individuals.

Louise O’Connor

Consulting Shine Nutritionist

Louise is based in Marbella as a nutritional therapist and loves spending her days nerding out on all things health, nutrition and mindset….except when she’s being a mum to her 3 boys.


Through her 18 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, Louise has learnt about the power of food and how to use nutrition to nourish every aspect of your life.


She hopes to inspire, educate, and motivate you to get excited about your own health & family´s health AND the power of food so you can feel your best but also to show you that it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.


She regularly attends continuing professional development events relevant to her work and regular clinical and peer support supervision groups to ensure that the help you receive is as effective as possible.

Mandy Lovett

Shine Administrator

Mandy is from Ireland and is passionate about her role, as Shine Administrator, supporting families to access the services their children require to blossom into independent beings.

Apart from many years working in various administration roles, she has spent the last few years working as a Special Needs Assistant, a role similar to that of a Learning Mentor here at Shine. She is also a professional singer and has worked as a children’s vocal coach.

Mandy’s expertise is to interact with both parents and guardians as the initial contact person with Shine Child Development. She is married to Gerry, and they have a daughter, son in law, three adorable grandchildren who have a pet Shih Tzu called Sneachta (the Irish word for “Snow”- pronounced “Shnock-ta”) living in Ireland, so as you can imagine, their WhatsApp video calls are precious!

“Smile, shine and take it one day at a time.”