Daniela Szukiel, Chartered Psychologist & EMDR Therapist
I am a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and EMDR therapist, specialising in trauma, including trauma-related anxiety and attachment difficulties.
I have practised as a Counselling Psychologist since 2003 and have worked as a senior psychologist and a clinical lead in NHS in a number of settings, including mental health hospitals and secondary community mental health services. I am able to work with people who have complex and enduring mental health difficulties. Both in my NHS and private practice, I place my clients at the heart of my therapeutic approach.
The way I practice is well suited to people who have a preference for a therapist who is kind and supportive, but also quite structured, transparent in sharing their thinking and open in giving feedback. I work flexibly, integrating psychological models and engaging with the recent research in the pursuit of knowledge that serves interests of people and communities more broadly.
How can I help you?
Having experience of adversity or trauma can be life changing and can affect how we feel, think and behave. I can help you find effective ways to manage anxiety, regulate mood, improve relationships and cope better with life.
From the first Consultation I see you as my partner: we jointly and openly discuss what is wanted (your goals), what is needed (my professional understanding of causes of your difficulties and the way in which they could be addressed) and what is possible (duration and cost of therapy).
As a Counselling Psychologist I am trained in a number of different therapeutic approaches so I can create a bespoke treatment plan that is driven by your needs rather than trying to fit your needs into a specific model.
What can you expect?
Most broadly, working with me you can expect that:
- You will gain a clearer understanding of how the difficulties you experience can be understood not as something "wrong" with you, but as a consequence of adverse - and not fully processed - experiences that happened to you in the past.
- You will be able to develop ways of regulating your mood and level of autonomic nervous system activation to help with physiological states of anxiety, sadness, anger, disconnection etc. I use an innovative approach called "Safe and Sound" (please see below) which can be very helpful in re-setting our nervous system to a calmer baseline, helping you feel more secure and comfortable in your skin.
- You will gain skills on how to manage your emotions in a way that is in line with your goals rather then feel controlled by your emotions and reacting in ways you may subsequently regret.
- You will be invited to trace how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours may be linked to emotional "core beliefs" which are often held out of one's conscious awareness and appear irrational (eg phobias of everyday things). These core beliefs frequently relate to domains of Responsibility (eg "I am not good enough" or "I did something wrong"), Safety/Vulnerability (eg "I do not feel safe to stand up for myself") or Control/Choices (eg "I am not in control"/"I will fail"). They can be held in the body as implicit ways of being in the world that can profoundly influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns.
- Using EMDR (please see below), you will have an opportunity to identify and re-process difficult events from your past that might have contributed to the creation of the above Core Beliefs and undesired physiological states. You will be able to form alternative new beliefs that are not only more realistic and helpful for your everyday life, but also feel true on a "gut level".
- If your Core Beliefs relate not to traumatic experiences in the past, but to absence of sufficiently nurturing, supportive, emotionally attuned responses from your caregivers during your childhood or to other deprivations, you will be invited to work with me to create imagery scenarios of having been supported and valued in the past, as well as consider self-nurturing behaviours to practice in your everyday life.
I will encourage you to consider how to act towards yourself with a caring intention. This can start the process of creating new neural networks ("schemas") relating to safety, support and subjective well-being. You will start to orient yourself to pursuing experiences in your life that replicate those mental schemas of self-care. In other words, you will become less tolerant of situations that do not feel not sustaining and you will become more able to challenge them and chose things that are good for you.
- Support with behavioural change, skills such as communication skills, assertiveness skills, parenting skills can be provided, but often by this stage of therapy you will be able to find them in a self-help format. I will be on hand to guide you and help you formulate and operationalise your needs.
- As a final stage of therapy, you will be able to develop a coherent narrative of your Self, including a realistic and balanced appraisal of ups and downs of your life, including a sense of yourself in the history of your family of origin. This will help you develop capacities of acceptance, compassion and meaning of your life, as well as be aware both of your strengths and limitations, so standards you place on yourself are realistic and not excessive, giving you a sense of progression and self-worth. My role will be completed and your life will await you.
Please note that the above summary outlines a comprehensive model of therapy. Depending on your needs and circumstances, you may wish to focus on a specific aspect/s. If you come to therapy in time of crisis, a different model of change may apply.
In the Initial Consultation session I will be able to advise you what could be a most helpful starting point and possible progression depending on your needs. A set period of therapy, say 16-24 sessions, is often sufficient to allow to complete a journey as described above, focusing on some elements more then on others and interweaving them together. For more chronic or severe difficulties, a longer term work maybe indicated.
What next ?
I offer a no obligation, free, initial 20-minute Telephone Consultation and a reduced fee Online Initial Consultation (£40) for us to meet online and discuss in more detail your difficulties and goals as well as for you to see how it feels to be working with me.
If I am not able to offer you help at this time or you would benefit from a different approach to what I offer, I will endeavour to signpost you on to an alternative service.
Please send me a short email outlining in brief the nature of your difficulties and I will endeavour to respond to you within 72 hours and to arrange an Initial Consultation within one week. I operate a waiting list for when I do not have an immediate vacancy or the space I have is not suitable for you.
What is a "Safe and Sound Protocol" ?
The Sound and Safe Protocol is based in a neuroscience-based Polyvagal Theory, originated by Dr Stephen Porges. It is a research-evidenced intervention that has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve social communication. More recently, it has been applied to people who have experienced trauma and/or suffer from excessive anxiety. It can help to address social and emotional difficulties, Auditory sensitivities and Inattention.
It is an innovative, recently developed neurologically-based listening intervention consisting of a patient listening to specially filtered music. The music activates the Vagus nerve via auditory input to mid-ear muscles. Activation of the Vagus nerve can re-boot the nervous system to give us a felt sense of a state of feeling "safe and connected". This can interrupt the habitual sense many people have of having an inner engine that is always revving or a sense of being cut-off and isolated from others. Once we have that sense of safety and connection we can feel more motivated to cultivate it via new behavioural choices.
Why choose a Counselling Psychologist?
Counselling Psychologists specialise in providing psychological therapy of a highest quality, aiming to reduce psychological distress and promote psychological well-being in clients.
Counselling Psychologists are trained to a doctorate level through courses that focus on both research and practice of different schools of psychotherapy as well as underlying knowledge of psychology, neurobiology, ethics, social factors etc. The involves a minimum 7-year training, including a 3-year undergraduate psychology degree and a 4-year post-graduate training.
Our training model is that of a "Scientist-Practitioner": it includes an in-depth study and supervised practice of a number of contrasting therapeutic approaches, but also puts emphasis on developing our ability to critique each model by dissecting its underlying assumptions and possible limitations.
This means that, as practitioners, we are able to integrate different treatment models into bespoke treatment plans that are driven by the client and their needs rather than trying to fit the client into a specific model.
Counselling Psychologists are Chartered Members of the British Psychological Society. It is a legal requirement that Counselling Psychologists register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), meaning that the protected title “Counselling Psychologist” ensures peace of mind that you are working with someone trained to the highest level.
Training, qualifications & experience
I am a Chartered Counselling Psychologist, with a full professional registration with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and Health and Care Professions Council, and a full professional indemnity insurance. I am also registered as an Applied Psychology Practice Supervisor with the BPS.
In addition to my core training, I have done training in EMDR, CBT, Somatic Psychotherapy, Mentalisation, Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Compassion therapy, Emotion focused therapy and Mindfulness. I am a certified Safe and Sound Protocol provider.
I have a strong interest in the application of neurobiology to understanding how the mind works and how change can be created. This allows me to see your difficulties and solutions through different theoretical lenses and effectively tailor my approach to your needs and goals.
I have worked in the NHS for the last 11 years, prior to that I worked as a counsellor in voluntary services with young people and in the forensic setting. Before training in mental health I worked for a City law firm as a marketing manager and for a geophysical consultancy as a translator/interpreter.
- British Psychological Society Chartered Counselling Psychologist (Membership No 96128)
- Health and Care Professions Council accredited Counselling Psychologist (Membership No PYL27878)
- Member of the British Psychological Society Register of Applied Psychology Practice Supervisors - Certified Safe and Sound Protocol provider
MSc Counselling Psychology (Roehampton University, 2010), Postgraduate Diploma in the Practice of Counselling Psychology (Roehampton University, 2011), Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology (Roehampton University, 2007), Conversion Diploma in Psychology (Open University, 2000), BSc Psychology and Business Studies (London Guildhall University, 1998).
Certificate in Counselling Skills and Attitudes (Westminster Pastoral Foundation, 1998), Diploma in the Application of Psychodynamic Theory to the Principles of Counselling (Westminster Pastoral Foundation, 2000); Foundation Certificate in Biodynamic Massage (Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre, 2003), Mentalisation Based Treatment (Anna Freud Institute, 2016); Reflective Parenting: Increasing Mentalising in the parent-child relationship (Anna Freud Institute, 2016); Multi-family mentalisation based group training (Anna Freud Institute, 2016); Applied Psychology Practice Supervisors Training (Canterbury Christ Church University, 2017); Use of Imagery in CBT (BABCP training, 2017); Environmental Arts Therapy (London Arts Therapy Centre, 2018-2019) and with Ian Siddons Hegginworth 2019-2020), EMDR Therapy (EMDR Academy, Parts 1-3), Safe and Sound Protocol (2020).
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.
Health and Care Professions Council
The HCPC are an independent, UK-wide health regulator. They set standards of professional training, performance and conduct for 16 professions.
They keep a register of health professionals who meet their standards, and they take action if registered health professionals fall below those standards. They were created by a piece of legislation called the Health Professions Order 2001.
Registration means that a health professional meets national standards for their professional training, performance and conduct.
British Psychological Society
British Psychological Society
Areas of counselling I deal with
SERVICES AND PRICES:
Please note, as of January 2021, all sessions take place online
Initial 20-minute Phone Consultation - FREE
Introductory Consultation - £40 - will help us understand your needs and help us decide if the approach I offer would be suitable for you.
Individual Psychological Therapy- 50 mins - £75
Safe and Sound Protocol - a one-off payment of £100 in addition to hourly charges (on average 4-6 therapy sessions are recommended to get a full benefit from the Protocol).
I offer concessions for people on low incomes for daytime sessions only (£60). After the initial period of meeting weekly it is also possible to move to a fortnightly meetings.
More frequent sessions for Safe and Sound Protocol or EMDR may also be possible.
Availability: currently online sessions only: Monday 9am-8pm, Tuesday 9am-9pm, Sat 9am-2pm.
Insurance companies: I am registered with AXA, Aviva, Vitality Health and BUPA. I can obtain registration with other insurance providers - please enquire.
Resilience Group on Zoom: Mondays 7.30-9pm (£20 per session). This is a small (up to 12 people) experiential weekly group based on the up-to-date psychological research that considers what Resilience is and how we could best equip ourselves to cope with life in a resilient way. The group allows participants to develop both the "basics" of Resilience such as skills to enhance self-esteem, manage anxiety, stress and mood, as well as opportunities to develop a sense of "inner knowing" as a compass to navigate life in uncertain times. The group is co-facilitated by a Feldenkrais Teacher Jackie Adkins and uses somatic practices to help participants experientially embody psychological constructs taught in the group. Next group starts: February 2021 To enrol please email to book the Initial Consultation (£40) to determine that the Group is suitable for your needs. Early Bird Discount: request your Initial Consultation by 13/9/20 and attend your first group for FREE.
Therapy in Nature Group: monthly 2nd Sunday of the month , 11am-5pm, in a beautiful walled garden in Faversham, Kent (1.30 minutes by train from London Victoria), £95 per month. Starting Feb 2021 .
In the course of my own life, I experienced many of the challenges, losses and set-backs as well as joys and accomplishments that are experienced by people who come to me for help. I have also received my own in-depth therapy over several years so I am able to appreciate how it feels to be a client and what is needed for a successful change.
Through both my personal life and professional practice, I learned that the sooner help is received, the better. Modern life can be complex and stressful, demanding an individual to have good psychological adaptation. If that adaptation is fragile, a person may lose their “inner compass” and respond by withdrawing from life’s demands or from their own inner life or by overcompensating, ie responding too aggressively to the perceived threat. This often leads to making decisions that are not conducive to their well-being or achievement of life’s developmental tasks. The longer this continues, the less options may be available.
However, I also discovered that it is never too late to improve something in your life that you really want to change, to learn new skills, treat yourself with compassion, to connect to yourself and to others and to find meaning and valued directions. In other words, it is never too late to start doing what you can with what you have, wherever you are right now.