Sonya Suter Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Supervisor & Life Coach (Msc, MBACP)
Hi there and welcome to my profile.
Tell me about you
30 years ago, I began my own journey and sat in the seat of the client. I remember how daunting it felt for the first time and the fear of trusting another person with my life story: the uncertainty whether they would keep it safe. I was entering into an unknown territory and I remember feeling scared and nervous.
I tried to convince myself everything would be alright and that I should get on with life and find my own way forward. Only to realise I was prolonging the difficulties and the stuckness I felt in my life. I realised it was ok to ask and accept the help of another. A professional that could sit outside of my life and look in, helping me to see what was right in front of me although not able to see it for myself as I was the one in it. Someone to help me understand my thoughts, feelings and behaviours and not judge me. Someone who could hear my voice.
I recall realising how past events and influences had shaped me and how they were having an impact in my present life. Therapy turned out to be one of the best journeys I would take. It became the making of my true identity and took me on a path of understanding who I really am. It re-shaped my outlook: the lens I saw myself through and the lens in which I saw others in life. It encouraged and motivated me to change how I responded to people, situations and most importantly how I responded to myself. I separated the past from the present and went on to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. This became a journey for life and a career I am truly committed to. I have supported others with their own unique journey and find the person they want to be rather than the person they think they should be. I have supported individuals with significant life changing events.
Why I am a counsellor/psychotherapist
Since a very young age I have always been interested in human behaviour and the feelings and thinking behind it. I believe in the right environment we all have the capacity to reach our full potential and lead a fulfilling life. I am aware life has its challenges and how easy it is loose sight of ourselves. I have a keen interested in the dynamics in relationships and our bodies response to external stimulus. My job is to help you find you way and help you manage external distractions.
Early relationships with parents and care givers form the foundations of future relationships and our path ahead. We hear so many messages as youngsters, helpful and unhelpful and when we become adults some of these messages can feel a little confusing. Our mind a body has an inbuilt system that memorises such messages. As life evolves, we are reminded of the messages we’ve collected in life. Some will still be very helpful and of value, however others may cause us to hold ourselves back in life. They may lead us to self-sabotage, beating ourselves up and pulling ourselves down. Generally being unkind to ourselves with unrealistic or high expectations of ourselves and of others. We can develop maladaptive thinking and behaviour patterns that do not help our well-being or mental and physical health.
I became a therapist because I wanted to use my knowledge, skills and experience and give back to those who were ready to help themselves and improve/change their life. I believe in everyone that sits in front of me. I believe everyone has skills, talents and strengths. I appreciate that we cannot always see those ourselves, especially when we are in difficult places. I want to help you find your way in the present. You may feel lost at this point in your life and not sure of your direction, or you may be taking a direction you think you should be taking rather than a direction you would like to take. You may not be sure where to start or when you do you lose your way. You may have had a life event and you are finding it hard to navigate your way through.
Life can throw many challenges in our path and we can easily get caught up in the various roles we have in life, parent, son, daughter, professional, colleague or partner. Do you find yourself constantly trying to do the right thing all to realise someone was not happy with your choice? This may leave you feeling angry, feelings of guilt, confusion and frustrated; wondering ‘what is the point’ and eventually giving up on yourself.
In time life can soon feel like it’s all about others needs and not yours, leading to feelings of resentment. Creating and maintaining a life balance can feel like a constant battle, at times it can feel impossible. You may find yourself questioning your identity and wondering where life is going? You may be afraid to make the change in fear of others disapproval or running the risk of upsetting others. This can cause low mood, anxiety and depression. It may cause difficulties with relationships personal and professional.
We are all unique and different and there is no ‘right or wrong’ with who we are. If you are finding any of the above overwhelming it does not mean you’re not strong it means you are human. Contemplating help indicates you are being honest with yourself and that takes courage and strength.
Therapy in my opinion an investment in you. I am sure many of you have invested time, money and energy into many things and people in your life. By the time it gets to you, you are probably too exhausted to do anything for yourself. But what about you, your needs, your happiness, your well-being, your future? It is ok to re-prioritise and begin to put yourself first and not feel guilty in doing so.
What do you like about being a therapist
There are so many aspects about my job that I enjoy. I feel privileged to meet the people I do in my work, allowing me into your life and helping you find your way is a great honour for me. I enjoy seeing the growth people make and the happiness they begin to feel and create for themselves. I feel I am always learning myself from the people I work with.
How do I take care for my on mental and physical health?
Taking care of myself it an important part of being a therapist. Not doing so can lead to burn out and not being able to be fully present in sessions with clients. I see my mental and physical health very connected. I work on both; I take frequent breaks from my work, participate several times a week in a variety of sporting activities and practice yoga and mindfulness. I enjoy travelling and understanding other cultures and differences.
Training, qualifications & experience
Qualification and Training
In my 20’s I had some time away from therapy to get on with my life and put all that I had learned into practice. As I evolved and learned more about myself, I decided to change career and embarked on an Advanced Diploma in Person-Centred Counselling. I have continued to further my education, personal development and skills to enhance my work and practice by completing the following….
2020-Level 7-Certificate in Supervision. CTSD London (Current studies)
2019-Level 7-Msc Integrative Counselling & Psychotherapy. University of Derby 2016-Level 5-Certificate in Coaching & Mentoring. XUE 2016- Level 4-Diploma in Counselling Children & Adolescents. Lindum College 2008-Level 3-Certificate in Substance Misuse. North Notts College
2003-Level 3-Advanced Diploma in Person- Centred Counselling. Loughborough College
Continued Personal Development
As a member of the BACP I am required to participate in 30 hours of Continued Further Development a year. Here is some of the CPD I have completed….
· Dream Groups-Robin Sohet & June Wilmot
· Trauma Training
· Somatic Psychology Integrated into Evidence-Ariella Schwarz
· Working with Shame-PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors
· Relational Depth-Mick Cooper
· The Psychophysiology of PTSD and Trauma-Babette Rothschild
· Treating Trauma Master Series-NICAM (National Institute for the Clinical Application Behavioural Medicine
· Routine Enquiry to Adverse Childhood Experiences-Warren Larkin & Associates
· Child Sexual Abuse-Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse
· Safeguarding Adults and Children-every 3 years
· Prevent Training
· Exploring the Intersections of Gender and Sexuality-Sam Hope
· Working with Dissociative Disorders in Clinical Practice-PODS
· Compassion Focused Therapy
· Working with Relational Trauma: Dealing with Disorganised Attachment-PODS
· Trauma and the Body: Somatisation & Dissociation-PODS
· Advanced Alcohol Training-HIT
· Understanding Dual Diagnosis-Drugtrain
· Various other illicit substance training
What sort of people do I usually see?
I work anyone that is at the right place for therapy. We all have our own unique way of thinking, feeling, behaving and seeing the world. My role is to help you navigate you own way forward. A therapist does not give advice, they will listen and attempt to understand you and your world and what you want from therapy. I will support you in trusting and believing in yourself so you can find the right pathway for you. Carrying out an assessment on the first session is a standard procedure in counselling/psychotherapy. It is an opportunity for you to meet your therapist and together see if you can worker together. If for any reason I did not feel I had the skill set to help you with what you need in therapy I would be honest with you so you can find a specialist in the field you are looking for.
What area do you work?
I began my career in substance misuse, working with individuals who had a drug or alcohol dependency. Drugs and alcohol can be a coping strategy that can numb underlying pain and difficulties short-term; all for it to come flooding back once the substances has worn off. We all have our own way of dealing with emotional pain, some people avoid their discomfort by participating in excessive amounts of sport, spending more hours at work than needed, comfort eating, gambling, shopping and many other behaviours. I support people understand the underlying emotional discomfort beneath the behaviour alongside raising awareness of their default coping strategies. We may explore alternative strategies that may be more suitable for you in your life now, if that is what you are looking for.
I have worked with people who have experienced loss either through bereavement, loss of a job, identity, relationship, financial status, health and loss of self. I support people with relationship difficulties whether this be a family member, friend, partner, child, professional or the relationship we have with ourselves. I work with people who are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and other limiting thinking and behaviours which may be causing restrictions in your life. I work with people with specific learning and behavioural needs, such as dyslexia, autism, OCD, asperges etc.
Do I have a specialist interest?
My work has taken me in the direction of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences, specifically survivors of sexual violence. I have extensive experience in addiction and substance misuse and the childhood adversity that lies beneath it.
I carry out contract work for a charity who specifically take referrals for children and adults who have been subject to sexual violence either historically or in the present. I am employed in a Substance Misuse setting delivering an Identity Group which I created and also deliver privately. I am the Child Sexual Abuse Lead and the Routine Enquiry to Adverse Childhood Experience Lead in Nottinghamshire.
What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?
25 years ago, research was carried out that recognised that childhood adversity shapes the development of the brain, leaving some areas of the brain under-developed and other parts over-developed. As the child adapts to its environment so does the feelings, thinking and behaviours of the child. In adult life these can present as unhelpful and maladaptive (dysfunctional) defaulting thinking and behaviour patterns, in some cases they can be detrimental to oneself and those around us. Without the necessary support and nurturing as a child our emotions, voice and thinking can become suppressed and lead to passive, aggressive or passive/aggressive behaviour as adults. Escapism from such intense feelings and emotions can lead us to using unhelpful coping strategies, replicate family patterns and a feeling of living an existence rather than a fulfilling life. Such patterns are known as Schemas (Lifetraps)
Adverse Childhood Experiences can consist of the following…
· Domestic Violence
· Parental abandonment through separation or divorce
· A parent with mental illness condition
· Being subject to physical, sexual and emotional abuse
· Being subject to physical or emotional neglect
· A member of the household being in prison
· Growing up in a house where adults are misusing drugs or alcohol
What are Lifetraps?
I have worked with lifetraps for the past 5 years; they link early life relationships and childhood adaptations (mentioned above) with how they may be playing out in the present. I work with you by exploring the past and identifying the link with the her and now. Together we explore where your body is holding on to adversity and begin to work through it, finding new ways to manage and live life in a more fulfilling manner. By doing so helps to form new pathways in the brain by disempowering old thinking and behaviour patterns and empowering new ones.
Tell me about the Identity Group
It is a combination of interventions, discussions and practical exercises that help raise awareness around identity. It explores our true self and self-concept (the person we have become as a result of external factors). We look at strategies to challenge our thinking and behaviour and tools to experiment with which will help develop alternative thinking and behaviour patterns. We explore feelings and learn to be more compassionate and take better care of them.
The aim is to develop tools that help you become more true to yourself. We will take a look at our own childhood adversity briefly and see where it might be affecting the present and which lifetraps could be playing themselves out in our sub-conscious and getting in the way of decision making and choices.
What’s your consultation room like?
My room is off the A60 in Mansfield. There is plenty of parking. From the bus or train station it is a 10-minute walk through town. My room is in a building with other small businesses. It is in a quiet location of the building. My room as 3 seats and is currently operating with the 2 metre social distancing guidelines. Furniture is sprayed after each client and only I touch the door handles to help limit any risk of contracting COVID-19. The building as a whole is also adhering to government guidelines around COVID-19. Depending on the guidance at the time will depend on whether I am seeing clients face to face or remotely via online or over the phone.
What would you like people to know about therapy
Therapy requires commitment for it to work, a commitment to yourself and the process. Sometimes you may feel like you are getting worse but that can be because everything you have held in is beginning to now filter out. Your body is an amazing tool and it will do what it needs to do to heal. If you fight it and be impatient with yourself or have unrealistic expectations it will cause internal conflict. If you can give your mind and body the time and patience it deserves whilst in therapy you will begin to notice changes. I believe our mind and body knows what it needs but so many of us have spent so much time not listening to it and trying to control it. When we begin to trust our mind and body, control from within can take place and an inner peace be found.
What do you learn about yourself?
I never stop learning about myself, others and my surroundings. I enjoy looking at life through other perspectives and learning about how our mental health impacts our physical health, particularly our immune system and genetics.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practice?
Each counsellor or psychotherapist works differently. I initially qualified as a Person-Centred counsellor. This means that there is a focus on forming a healthy therapeutic relationship with client’s, so they feel safe, not judged and able to explore aspects of themselves safely with positive regard from the therapist. I believe this is very important. There is a focus on what is happening in the present moment of a counselling session which gives the client and counsellor access to some vital information.
As I evolved as a therapist I realised some clients need more. I furthered my studies and embarked on a Coaching qualification as not every client needs to explore the past or present, some clients want to achieve goals and move forward. In 2016 I completed a Diploma in Counselling Children and Adolescents. Helping people at a young age can limit the onset of unhelpful thinking and behaviour patterns in adult life. This course helped me to understand the inner child that sits inside everyone of us, this was a perfect way to understand our adult self on a deeper level.
As I have continued to work as a therapist, I wanted to gain more depth in my understanding of human thinking and behaviour which would enable me to offer more depth in my work to clients. To do this I completed an MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. This combines a Person-Centred Approach as mentioned above, attachment which explores our childhood attachment to others. It also integrates Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which looks at strategies to help us think and behave differently in relationships and in situations. Integrating all 3 models has given me flexibility in my work and an ability to work with all our other parts, i.e., our adult self, our own inner child and our critical parent.
I find human thinking, behaviour and feelings fascinating, all to be respected and handled with the care they deserve. I have a keen interested in how past trauma can shape our path and how the brain and body adapts, remembers and responds. To help complement by work and the modalities I have trained in I have attended many developmental courses around trauma, compassion focused therapy, somatic (body) psychology and mindfulness which all help with raising awareness to our mind and body and encourage healing and recovery.
What is Life Coaching?
Some client have specific goals and aspirations in life and may struggle to implement them and stay focused. I will help you explore this and work with specific goals to help you achieve them. We can explore the obstacles and I will help you re-focus.
I have a Supervisor who I see once a month for 1.5 hours which is a requirement of the BACP (British Association for Counsellor and Psychotherapists). In order for me to help others and help you find your way in life I have a personal responsibility to make sure I am functioning to my best ability in all aspects of my life too.
British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
BACP is one of the UK’s largest professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy. Therapists registered with the Association fall into a number of different membership categories such as Individual Member, Registered Member MBACP and Registered Member MBACP (Accred), each standing for different levels of training and experience. MBACP (Accred) and MBACP (Snr Accred) members have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by the Association.
Registered members can be found on the BACP Register, which was the first register to achieve Accredited Voluntary Register status issued by the Professional Standards Authority. Individual Members will have completed an appropriate counselling and/or psychotherapy course and started to practise, but will not appear on the BACP Register until they've progressed to Registered Member MBACP status.
All members are bound by a Code of Ethics & Practice and a Complaints Procedure. Accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
Accredited register membership
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.
Areas of counselling I deal with
Individuals £45 (50-minute session)
Couples £60 (50-minute session)
Supervision £45 for 1.5 hours whilst training
I offer a discount for trainee counsellors and psychotherapist of £35 for 1.5 hours
To supervise other counsellors or psychotherapists it is not a requirement by the BACP (British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy) to have a qualification specific in this area. However, I have chosen to embark on a qualification as I believe it is essential to have good supervision and I feel I need the knowledge and practice to embed the specifics and detail which will ensure I can deliver this role comprehensively. For this reason, whilst training I will be offering a reduced fee as above.
Identity Group £300 per 12-week course (2 hours a week) (minimum of 8 people needed) only online available at this time
Types of Counselling Offered
Face to face (this is not offered at this time due to the current pandemic)
Video via google meet, TEAMS or Zoom
Concessions offered for
Enhanced DBS check & Memberships
I hold an enhanced Disclosure and Barring (DBS check) which is the highest level required to work, train, supervise or be in sole charge of children, young people and vulnerable adults. This check entails a search from the National Police Data base of criminal records, reprimands, warnings, cautions and convictions.
I am a member of the BACP Counselling Division which means I have passed the minimum requirement which enables me to be a member. I have passed BACP accredited courses and the BACP Certificate of Proficiency. I am currently in the process of working towards by BACP accreditation which is a competency-based evaluation. I am a member of the BACP Coaching and Children and Young People’s Division.