Shirley Baxter

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Registered Member, MBACP (Accred) Counsellor & ACT Therapist
Available for new clients
Available for new clients

This professional is available for new clients.

Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO3 5EJ
Available for new clients
Available for new clients

This professional is available for new clients.

About me

Welcome to my profile.

I am a Registered Member MBACP (Accred) Counsellor with 18+ years experience of working with adult Individuals, Couples, Trainee/Counselling Students, and EAP & Insurance Providers. I have been BACP Accredited since 2009 and have been in private practice as in Independent Counselling professional since 2009. I own Shirley Baxter Counselling Service, and am a Co-founder and Partner of Portsmouth Therapy Partnership

Face to Face & Online via Zoom or Teams & Telephone. Daytime & Late Afternoon Appointments Available, both Short-Term & Open-Ended.

How I work

It isn't always easy to open up to complete stranger and talk about the issues that are troubling you or causing you distress.  My aim as your counsellor is to create a safe space in which you can do this.  I work in an open and respectful way, that enables you to find your voice and express yourself in an open and honest way.  It is through the warm and trusting relationship that we build up that you will begin to find your way towards change, growth and healing and ways to regain control over your life.

Counselling can help you to

- Clarify things
- Feel empowered
- See that you have choices
- Increase your self awareness
- Identify your resources & strengths
- Gain a greater insight into your world
- See things from a different perspective
- Decide if you want to make changes in your life

Whatever your reasons are for choosing to have some counselling with me, my aim is to be alongside you throughout your counselling journey and to help to enable and empower you.

Humanistic Counselling

The core of my work is based on the Humanistic counselling model which focuses on, & honours the your individuality & uniqueness.  Your past experiences can impact you in the present day, leaving you feeling stuck & powerless. With greater understanding & self-awareness you can begin to see the choices available and feel better equipped to make changes to move forward.

ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy)

You may be caught up and feel very stuck in the 'stories you tell about yourself' (Content) which can cause you to have very distressing thoughts and feelings in the 'Here & Now' (Process), working with ACT can help you to step back and give you a different perspective (Context) and change your relationship to your thoughts.  Accepting that uncomfortable thoughts or feelings will be present does not mean that you have to agree with or like them. The aim is to enable you to form a different relationship to them so that they don't get in your way as you move towards living a more valued, rewarding and satisfying life.

How does ACT work

  • It aims to create (Psychological Flexibiliy) - ie to free you from the sense of feeling stuck
  • It enables you to identify who & what matters in your life which in turn enables you to identify your (Values) - ie the direction in which you want to live your life.
  • It helps you identify what stops you moving ‘towards’ your values - ie any unhelpful thoughts, feelings, actions & behaviours.
  • It helps you to create distance (Defusion) from your ‘away’ patterns, & helps you gain alternative perspectives.
  • It helps you identify what you are willing to do in order to move in the direction of your Values (Committed Action)
  • Staying present and in the moment (Mindfulness) helps you to not focus on past events or attach to future anxieties.  It creates a space for thoughts & feelings to simply 'be'
  • It helps you to let go of the struggle you find yourself in (Acceptance)

ACT works well for Individuals & Couples who have lost direction, feel stuck & want to move towards living a meaningful & valued life. 


For Couple work my model is based on a Systemic/Psychodynamic approach.  I also incorporate ACT where appropriate.

As your Couple Counsellor my aim is to offer you a safe and supportive space where you are able to express your feelings about each other and your relationship.  Sometimes Couples find this hard to do outside of the safety of the counselling room and you may notice that when you try and talk to each other your conversations lead to arguments and misunderstandings and a difficulty in being open and honest about your feelings.

As a Couple you may be seeking counselling as a way of repairing your relationship, this could be following an affair or possibly as a result of other issues that have impacted on your relationship or you may seek couple counselling as a way of easing the difficulties you are experiencing during the process of separation.

Couple Counselling enables each of you to have a space to be heard and understood, to acknowledge your own and your partners needs in respect to your relationship togehter.  To build a picture of the kind of relationship you both want to have.

I work with Couples who are experiencing the following in their relationship

  • Affairs
  • Divorce
  • Separation
  • Impact of life changes
  • Impact of domestic violence
  • Difficulties with effective communication
  • Impact of Step-families on the relationship
  • Couples who are looking to end their relationship
  • Feeling stuck and unsure where their relationship is going

Short-Term & Open-Ended Appointments are available for both Individuals and Couples.


I have been working with Student/Trainee Counsellors since my Accreditation in 2009 and this is an area I feel passionately about.  I offer a supportive and challenging space for student/trainee counsellors to explore and engage in their self-awareness and personal growth.  Having been a counselling student I can appreciate and understand the complexities involved in doing a counselling course and the impact it can have on your life, which is why it is important to have a supportive and enabling Counsellor as part of your journey.

I have worked with trainees counselling students from a variety of University settings as well as other Counselling Training Organisations.

Please visit my website if you would like to know more about how I work with Trainee/Student Counsellors


I am currently undertaking some Diversity Training throughout 2023 & into 2024 which will enble to work more effectively with GSRD clients both individually and also those who would like some Relationship Therapy

Training, qualifications & experience

Professional Qualifications

  • Leicester Polytechnic – Degree BA (Hons) Public Administration (1984)
  • Chichester College – Introduction to Counselling Skills (2002)
  • Chichester College – AS Psychology (2003)
  • Chichester College - Certificate in Counselling Skills (2004)
  • University of Chichester - Diploma Humanistic Counselling (2006)
  • University of Chichester - Degree BA (Hons) Humanistic Counselling (2008)
  • Chichester Counselling Service - Certificate Couple Counselling (2014)
  • Chichester Counselling Service - Diploma Couple Counselling (2015)
  • OCST4 - Certificate Online Counselling for Audio & Webcam (2020)
  • Counselling Tutor - Certificate in Online & Telephone Counselling (2020)

ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) Training (2016 - ongoing)

  • ACT - Getting Started with ACT - Lucy Dorey
  • ACT - Understanding ACT - Professor Sue Clarke
  • ACT - Acceptance & Mindfulness for CBT & Psychological Therapists - Dr Joe Oliver
  • ACT - Clinical Skills Building Workshop - Steven Hayes
  • ACT - Matrix - 6 Steps to Flexibility workshop - Benjamin Schoendorff
  • ACT  -For Depression & Anxiety - Dr Russ Harris
  • ACT - ACT With Compassion; using ACT for shame & self-criticism - Jason Luoma & Jenna Le Jeune
  • ACT - Mastering ACT - Dr Robyn Walser
  • ACT - For Trauma - Dr Russ Harris
  • ACT - For Grief - Dr Ray Owen
  • ACT - Telehealth - Dr Russ Harris & Dr Joe Oliver
  • ACT - Using Metaphor in ACT - Niklas Torneke
  • ACT - Self-Compassion - Dr Russ Harris
  • ACT - The Therapy Relationship in ACT - Kelly Wilson
  • ACT - Masterclass in Defusion - Dr Elizabeth Burnside
  • ACT - Mindfulness & Acceptance for Self-Esteem - Dr Joe Oliver & Dr Richard Bennett
  • FAP – Functional Analytic Psychotherapy Intro – Gareth Holman
  • ACT – Masterclass (1) – Dr Robyn Walser & Dr Yvonne Barnes-Holmes
  • ACT – The Heart of ACT – Dr Robyn Walser
  • ACT – Values in ACT (Masterclass) - Dr Jason Luoma & Dr Jenna Le Jeune
  • ACT – Common Barriers to Acceptance / Creative Hopelessness – Russ Harris
  • ACT – Masterclass (2) – Dr Robyn Walser & Dr Yvonne Barnes-Holmes
  • ACT - Heart of ACT - Dr Robyn Walser
  • ACT - ACTing it Out: Using Chairwork to enliven your sessions - Dr Tobyn Bell & Dr Matt Pugh 

CFT (Compassion Focused Therapy) Training (2018 - ongoing)

  • CFT - Introduction to Compassion Focused Therapy - Dr Paul Gilbert
  • CFT - Advanced Clinical Skills Workshop  - Dr Paul Gilbert
  • CFT - Working Compassionately with Anger - Russell Kolts
  • CFT - Compassionate Mind Chairwork - Dr Tobyn Bell & Dr Alison Dixon
  • CFT - Role Taking in CFT - Katie Lucre
  • CFT – Deepening Knowledge & Skills (Intermediate) – Dr Chris Irons
  • CFT – Supercharge your CFT - Building compassion into Every Aspect of your Therapy – Russell Kolts


  • Compassion Focused Chairwork & Digital Applications online – Dr Tobyn Bell & Dr Alison Dixon
  • Chairwork Beyond the Basics Intensive course – Dr Matt Pugh & Dr Tobyn Bell
  • Transformational Chairwork – Scott Kellogg & Amanda Garcia Torres
  • ACT - ACTing it Out: Using Chairwork to enliven your sessions - Dr Tobyn Bell & Dr Matt Pugh 

RFT (Relational Frame Theory) Training (2016 - ongoing)

  • RFT - Relational Frame Theory (RFT) Made Simple - Dr Joe Oliver & Dr Richard Bennett
  • RFT - Mastering the Clinical Conversation - Dr Matthieu Villatte
  • RFT - Enhancing ACT through RFT -  Dr Louise Barnes Holmes
  • RFT – Strengthening Your ACT Interventions with Behavioural Theory and RFT – Dr Yvonne Barnes-Holmes

Couples Training

  • Dynamics for Working with Aggression – Susanna Abse
  • What do Women & Men Want Today in Intimate Relationships – Orbach & Eichenbaum
  • Working With Infidelity in Couples – Susanna Abse
  • Intimacy & Sexulality 2 Day Symposium – Sanderson, Adshead, Motz & Neves
  • Attachment MBT & Toxic Couple Relationships – Adshead & Byrne
  • Introduction to IMAGO Therapy Part 1 & Part 2 – Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari
  • Introduction to Gottman Principles (Level 1) Ongoing – Dr WIlliam Bumberry
  • How to Map a Couple’s Relationship using TA – Jennie Miller
  • Initiating Sex Talk in Therapy – Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari
  • Unconscious Coupling Through Separation & Divorce –Various Speakers – Confer
  • The Worst Kind of Hurt (Infidelity in Couples) - Kathleen Mates-Youngman
  • The Couple Outside The Room – Mates-Youngman & Dr McGregor Hepburn
  • Sex Arousal & Ageing - Murray Blacket (Aug 2024)

Diversity Training - Relationships & Individuals

  • Certificate in Diversity Within Contemporary Relationships
    • Other Loves; Polyamory, Polygamy & Arranged Marriages – Bernd Leygraf
    • Kink & BDSM – Bernd Leygraf
    • Bisexuality & Sexual Fluidity – Diane Hassall (Aug 2024)
    • Working Alongside Trans, Non- Binary & Questioning Clients – Serge Nicholson
    • Neurodivergence, Sex and Relationships - Tiga-Rose Nercessian
  • Working with Fetish, BDSM & Kink Practice (Kink Affirmative Therapy) – Various Speakers – Confer
  • The Polyamorous Choice – Working with Consensual Non- Monogamy (CNM) – Silva Neves
  • Transitioning Partners - Kathleen Mates Youngman & Laura Scarrone Bonhomme
  • Gender Sex & Relationship Diversities, Working with LGBTQ+ clients, building an affermative practice - Dominic Davis
  • Defining Gender, Sex & Relationship Diversity (GSRDT) Online – Pink Therapy (ongoing 2024-2025)

Other significant training

  • Diploma in (NLP) Neuro Linguistic Programming (INLPTA) (2004)
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)  (2006)
  • Working with Addiction - Sussex Alcohol & Substance use Service (SASS) (2007)
  • CBT Bootcamp, Core Clinical Competencies – Christine Padesky (2010)
  • Foundation in CBT (CBT with Heart) - Hemmings Field Associates (2011)
  • Cert. Introduction to Trauma Therapy - Wealden Institute - Attendance only (2012)
  • Dip. Trauma Therapy - Wealden Institute - Attendance only (2013)
  • Teaching Clients & Further Teaching Mindfulness Skills - Stanton & Greyrock (2014)
  • Therapeutic Use of Mindfulness - British Institute of Mindfulness (2015)
  • Rewind Technique - Tom Buckland (2016)

Work Experience

  • Independent Private Practice Counsellor – 2009 - Ongoing
  • Network Counsellor - Various EAP & Insurance Providers* - Ongoing
  • Telephone Helpline Counsellor - Major EAP Provider - 8 years
  • Counsellor - Carers Support Service, Chichester - 3 years
  • Student & Staff Counsellor - Southampton University - 2 years
  • Addiction Counsellor - SASS - 18 months

    * if you would like to work with me, please check with your Insurer to see if I am listed on their Therapist Network.

    Prior to becoming a Counsellor I was a Project Manager in the electronics sector for over 18 years where I gained extensive experience of working in large, complex multi-disciplined teams and gained an appreciation of the difficulties of working to tight timescales and budgets.

Memberships and Registrations

  • BACP – British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy – BACP Accredited Counsellor – MBACP (Accred) - Accredited since 2009,
  • BACP – Register of Counsellors & Psycotherapists,
  • ACBS – Association of Contextual & Behavioral Science
  • AVIVA - Registered with AVIVA to provide counselling for eligible policy holders
  • CIGNA - Registered with CIGNA to provide counselling for eligible policy holders
  • Nuffield - Registered with Nuffield to provide counselling for eligible policy holders

Member organisations

Registered / Accredited

Registered / Accredited

Being registered/accredited with a professional body means an individual must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation.

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP)

BACP is one of the UK’s leading professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy with around 60,000 members. The Association has several different categories of membership, including Student Member, Individual Member, Registered Member MBACP, Registered Accredited Member MBACP (Accred) and Senior Registered Accredited Member MBACP (Snr Acccred).

Registered and accredited members are listed on the BACP Register, which shows that they have demonstrated BACP’s recommended standards for training, proficiency and ethical practice. The BACP Register was the first register of psychological therapists to be accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

Accredited and senior accredited membership are voluntary categories for members who choose to undertake a rigorous application and assessment process to demonstrate additional standards around practice, training and supervision.

Individual members will have completed an appropriate counselling or psychotherapy course and started to practise, but they won’t appear on the BACP Register until they've demonstrated that they meet the standards for registration. Student members are still in the process of completing their training.

All members are bound by the BACP Ethical Framework and a Professional Conduct Procedure.

The Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO)

The Association for Counselling and Therapy Online

Accredited register membership

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
Accredited Register Scheme

The Accredited Register Scheme was set up in 2013 by the Department of Health (DoH) as a way to recognise organisations that hold voluntary registers which meet certain standards. These standards are set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

This therapist has indicated that they belong to an Accredited Register.

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy

Other areas of counselling I deal with

Acceptance and Committment Therapy (ACT)

Compassion Focused Therpay (CFT)



Relational Frame Theory (RFT)

Counselling for Employee Assistance Programme Providers (EAPs)

Counselling for Insurance Providers - Registered with AVIVA, CIGNA & Nuffield


£60.00 - £75.00

Health Insurance/EAP

  • Aviva
  • Cigna

Additional information


  • Assessment £60.00
  • Follow on Sessions £60.00


  • Assessments £75.00
  • Follow on Sessions £75.00

Trainee/Counselling Students

  • Assessment £60.00
  • Follow on Sessions £60.00

When contacting me by e-mail please state whether you prefer Face to Face sessions or Online, this will assist me in my response back to you.

When I work

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Mon & Thurs 09.30-17.00 - Face to Face Portsmouth

Tues 08.00-17.00 & Weds 08.00-12.30 - Online

Closed Wednesday afternoons, Fridays & Weekends.

Further information

It is important that you feel comfortable in the way you express yourself and if you prefer to include exploration through art, poetry or stories, stones or shells, objects or music we can incorporate this into our work. 

You can find more details about me and how I work via the following links

Room F9, Gatcombe House, Copnor Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO3 5EJ

Type of session

In person

Types of client

Young adults (18-24)
Adults (25-64)
Older Adults (65+)
Employee Assistance Programme

Key details

DBS check

In England and Wales, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, formerly known as CRB) carry out criminal records checks for individuals working with vulnerable groups, such as children. To find out more, visit , or contact this professional directly

My Portsmouth office is on the first floor, there is no lift in the building.

Additional languages

Although I am fluent in the Italian language I am unable to offer therapy in Italian

Online platforms



Shirley Baxter
Shirley Baxter