M. Antonieta Olguin Cigarroa, UKCP Accred Psychotherapist. Trauma Trained.
Welwyn Garden City
The Albany Centre
4 Victoria Street
I am a UKCP accredited Integrative Counsellor and Psychotherapist. I also have specialist training and experience in trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Being integrative means that I acknowledge and value the uniqueness of each person as no one single approach can suit every person. Hence, in my work I combine different techniques and theoretical approaches according to the client’s unique needs. In my approach the client is involved in decisions about the process of therapy.
In my practice I offer you a confidential, compassionate and non-judgmental space where you can talk about and explore things that are important to you within a helping relationship.
As part of my training in Integrative counselling and psychotherapy I completed studies in systemic and psychosexual therapy; gestalt and focusing approaches; critical psychopathology; CBT; Jungian and Transpersonal approaches; psychodynamic, existentialist and humanistic theories & therapeutic approaches. This was a comprehensive and demanding lengthy training, which also included my own personal therapy. After my accreditation as a psychotherapist, I also completed training in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic Memory with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute which imparts professional training in somatic psychology.
Why have counselling/psychotherapy?
It is not always easy to talk to close ones about certain things and taking that first step can be quite difficult. We may all find ourselves sometimes needing another person to talk to as we are thinking about or going through some changes in our relationships, life, job, etc. and we feel that it is important to share these with someone outside our circle of family and/or friends, to support us during these processes.
On other occasions, we may feel worried and confused about our past or present circumstances, experiences, issues or relationships that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, confused, suffering from anxiety and/or depression, lacking motivation or not knowing what to do. Sometimes in our lives we may have also lived very difficult and/or traumatic experiences that may have left us feeling shaken, even years after the event, finding it difficult to move on. It is common to not realize that what we have gone through has been in fact a very stressful and/or traumatic experience for us because we have done our best to carry on, having adapted to our circumstances only to find ourselves still carrying the aftermath of the effects of these unresolved experiences, perhaps manifesting in other ways such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, lack of sleep, often not being able to think clearly and feeling emotionally overwhelmed, etc. not understanding really what has happened to us, finding it difficult to share these experiences with others as there might be a common expectation that ‘we should be feeling better by now’.
Therapy: purpose, length and benefits
Therapy is a helping relationship where the client is encouraged to explore their issues, increase their awareness and understanding of their own processes, therefore empowering them to make the appropriate choices and decisions in life. Therapy offers a confidential, neutral space to work through hard feelings, increase insights, enable behavioural, emotional and psychological change and growth, helping us to find new perspectives to understand and manage things.
Sometimes people use counselling/psychotherapy when considering a change in their life or for personal development. Others use counselling as a place where they can find someone who can ‘walk’ with them through a transition time such as adjusting to living alone due to a recent separation or bereavement; or after having recently received a diagnosis such as bipolar, anxiety disorder, chronic fatigue, ADHD, PTSD, BPD, etc. that may need clarification and adjustment. Therapy can certainly help during these processes.
Therapy length can vary from short term for specific issues such as difficulties at work, planning a change, making a decision, separation or divorce, etc. to long term therapy where more deeply-rooted issues that may include past traumas, developmental issues (attachment inadequacies, relational trauma), etc. may need a longer period of work. Furthermore, as the work progresses the depth of the exploration can bring about new themes that clients were not aware of before.
My work with Trauma and Attachment inadequacies using the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
Trauma is pervasive and the same traumatic event might affect each person differently, as an event is experienced as traumatic according to the person who experienced it. Trauma has been defined as ‘…an experience that overwhelms [our] capacity to cope…’ (van der Kolk, 2015). How an experience affects us will depend on many different factors such as age at the time of the traumatic incident(s), support at the moment and/or after the trauma, nature of the trauma, internal and external resources, etc. Sometimes trauma is not about what happened to us, but it is related to witnessing or hearing about others going through traumatic experiences, leaving us traumatized. Some of us might not even be aware that what we have experienced was a traumatic experience and we take it as a normal part of living or part of growing up, unaware that perhaps we have adapted to what, in actual fact, was an overwhelming experience or an unsafe environment or a life threatening situation and we live our lives now according to that experience, having been left with some symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, emotional and physiological dysregulation, emotional overwhelm, angry outbursts, high levels of anxiety, wanting to isolate, fear and hypervigilance, feeling numb or disconnected, etc.
We all deserve to be heard and validated in our own experiences, but after traumatic events we often move on quickly to join life again, without allowing ourselves or being allowed by others or circumstances, time to process these experiences, to grieve, feel angry and/or sad about what happened to us or others, unable to talk to others because they want us to simply ‘move on’.
Personal experiences have made me become deeply interested in trauma and keep motivating me to continue developing my knowledge and engaging in further training. Being an integrative psychotherapist in my work I not only use top-down approaches (Cognitive approaches), but I also use bottom-up approaches (e.g. Sensorimotor psychotherapy) because a more balanced relationship between cognitive processing and emotional/sensorimotor processing is needed in order to process the aftereffects of traumatic experience. Undoubtedly, traditional talk therapy is an important part of resolving traumatic experiences, but “…lacks techniques that work directly with the physiological elements, despite the fact that trauma profoundly affects the body and many symptoms of traumatized individuals are somatically based. Altered relationships among cognitive, emotional, and sensorimotor (body) levels of information processing are also found to be implicated in trauma symptoms…” (Ogden and Minton, 2000). Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a holistic talk therapy which is based on somatic work (non-verbal communication) where traumatic memories held in the body are processed, integrated, and transformed into resources and strengths. Sensorimotor psychotherapy incorporates into its approach different theories such as the polyvagal theory (social engagement, etc.) and interventions drawn from psychodynamic psychotherapy, gestalt therapy, cognitive–behavioural approaches and the Hakomi method of body psychotherapy (Fisher, 2011 p.102). It also integrates current findings from neuroscience and mindfulness, encouraging the client’s collaboration to process any traumatic memory held in the body.
Furthermore, when it comes to attachment, if our primary relationships with our caregivers were not satisfactory, lacked attunement or were even traumatic, it may have also left us with unconscious patterns of relating or responses (leftovers childhood legacies) that as adults can interfere with our current relationships. Sensorimotor Therapy interventions also work on developmental trauma, e.g. attachment issues, shame, low self-esteem, boundaries issues, feelings of inadequacy, emotional dysregulation, etc.
Dr. Pat Ogden talks about the Sensorimotor Approach to Resolve Trauma.
Dr. Pat Ogden explains that Sensorimotor works with both trauma and attachment.
Short video on Polyvagal theory by Stephen Porges: how trauma impacts the body. The importance of body work in treating trauma.
Article on Trauma and Sensorimotor: Advances in psychiatric treatment (2011), vol. 17, 171–177
Youtube link to practice Mindfulness meditation:
Talk on Mindfulness by Dr. Ron Siegel
Humanistic and integrative psychotherapy
Training, qualifications & experience
I am a fully qualified counsellor and psychotherapist and member of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). I adhere to its code of ethics and practice.
- Certificate in trauma training (Level 1) in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic Memory of the SPI (Sensorimotor Therapy Institute) Training Program in Affect Regulating, Attachment, and Trauma. I am now also registered with SPI https://www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org/home/referral-eu/prUK.htm
- Advanced diploma in integrative psychotherapy (ADIP)(Regent's University London)
- PGdip in Psychotherapy & Counselling (Masters of Arts, Level 7) (Regent's University London)
- Foundation certificate in psychotherapy & counselling (Regent's University London)
- MEd (Cantab) (Cambridge University)
- PGCE (University of Hertfordshire)
- BA (Honours) (University of Hertfordshire)
In addition to my private practice, I work on a voluntary basis for Mind in Mid Herts (mental health charity) and for MRC (charity)(in both Spanish and English) who offers help to migrants, many of whom have suffered traumatic experiences as a result of war, separation and loss.
Accredited register membership
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Anger management
- Borderline personality disorder
- Domestic violence
- Emotional abuse
- Hearing voices
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
Other areas of counselling I deal with
It is not possible to mention all the possible difficulties, so it is always better to have a first consultation to explore in what way I could help you according to your needs.
My current fee is £50 for each 50 minute session. This is reviewed annually. Rates sometimes may be negotiable (£40/£45) depending on personal circumstances.
I also work in Spanish.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
7 am to 9 pm Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 4 to 9 pm Thursdays. Fridays (Only in St Albans) between 4.30 and 8.
Types of client