Reclaim your wellness
from chronic stress, illness & trauma
I have completed two doctoral qualifications. One was a research PhD in Psychological Medicine at King's College London exploring psychological factors in irritable bowel syndrome. One was a practitioner psychologist Doctoral Qualification with the British Psychological Society as a Health Psychologist.
This means that I am a psychologist twice over. Chartered with the British Psychological Society and accredited and regulated by the Health Care & Professionals Council (HCPC), the main regulating body of allied health professionals and medical professionals.
A qualified psychotherapist too
The degree of psychotherapy training received by psychologists differs depending on the regulating body and course attended. That training can range from zero (yes zero!) to moderate training on different modalities to intensive training in one particular modality. For me, it was important to have an in-depth knowledge and skill of a primary psychotherapeutic modality.
In addition to my doctoral training, part of which involved training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness teaching, I decided to do a year Post Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at King's College London. I got to develop and hone this skillset in a busy NHS primary care service seeing a wide range of clients from diverse backgrounds, presenting with anxiety, depression and chronic illness.
It is in this busy service that I developed and lead the Long Term Conditions care pathway, developing specialised treatment protocols and processes for patients with health conditions.
It is also in this busy service that I then became trained in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), a trauma-focused approach, due to a high caseload of clients presenting with trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
When you work with me, you work with someone trained in multiple psychotherapeutic modalities in depth, with diverse experience of tailoring therapy to individuals' needs.
I published my first peer-reviewed paper shortly after my Health Psychology Masters, a systematic review of the use of psychological interventions in Intensive Care to reduce traumatic delusions. The process of identifying the evidence base, reviewing and evaluating methodologies and drawing conclusions in order to develop care and support for patients further, was both cathartic and energising. We can improve care and services if we pay attention to what is working, what isn't and explore the hows and whys!
Working on Randomised Controlled Trials & Developing Interventions
Over the course of 4.5 years, I worked on the largest RCT assessing the efficacy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to date, along with an amazing and prestigious research team at King's College London and the University of Southampton. Part of this work involved developing a therapeutic manual for patients and therapists. This manual is currently used in the NHS now for patients with IBS. After completing my PhD, I then went on to work on the development of a CBT-based intervention targeting fatigue, pain and urgency in inflammatory bowel disease.
I published six papers from my PhD in leading peer-reviewed journals and have co-authored others in the area of psychological approaches to IBS and IBD. Some of these papers have been published in top journals including the BMJ, Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology and the British Journal of Health Psychology.
It has long been my ambition to apply this knowledge to the area of women's health. In particular urogynaecological, pelvic and bladder conditions that women commonly experience with little support in the healthcare system. This has led to collaborations with Vanderbilt University research lab investigating psychological approaches to support Bladder Pain Syndrome and Overactive Bladder Syndrome and Teesside University exploring the experiences of women with Chronic Urinary Tract Infections.
You can see a list of my academic publications here
I am still actively involved in research projects.
I am in the process of exploring women's experiences of chronic urinary tract infections and developing research proposals on developing further support for this patient population. I am also writing up papers on the role of psychology in experiences of endometriosis and undiagnosed bladder syndromes.
I am collating an editorial for Frontiers in Psychology on the role of psychological factors in women's urogynaecological health issues.
Lecturing, Supervising Students & External Examiner
I am a visiting lecturer at King's College London, University College London and the University of East Anglia, delivering training on the use of psychological approaches for chronic health conditions.
I have a limited capacity to supervise trainee health psychologists, PhD students and clinical psychology trainees. I am currently supervising projects on the role of psychology in women's health conditions.
I have acted as an external examiner for the University of Bath for Health Psychology Doctoral vivas.
When you work with me, you work with someone who is actively consulting the latest research developments and contributing to the evidence-base to improve support for you and the many others like you.
Perhaps I would not even be doing this if it wasn't for my own experiences
I am proud of how much my own experiences with physical health issues has informed my work. And I am happy to share what led me here. I finished my undergraduate psychology degree with a job in marketing. It took me a while to realise how unhappy it was making me. Before I got to that realisation, I began having recurrent urinary tract infections. And then the symptoms morphed into something else. Chronic sensation and pain. Generally feeling ill. Unable to think about anything but my poor health. I took time off work as I was feeling incapacitated and severely depressed. And then came the migraines...
This was one of the darkest times of my life.
But it got better. And as it did, I vowed to understand how, why and use this to make it better for others with similar experiences. I don't want anyone to feel as alone and desperate as I did.
You can read more about my own experiences here
Your care is not based on what worked for me...
It would be unwise for me to assume that just because something worked for me, it will work for you too. Honestly, I see that conclusion drawn far too often in the wellness industry. You are not me. You are a unique individual, with a unique set of experiences, beliefs, feelings, challenges and goals for therapy.
My personal experience informs my passion and some of my hypotheses about how things work. But it is research, clinical training and extensive clinical experience in this area that inform how I approach supporting you.
When you work with me, you work with someone who personally understands what it is like to be impacted by health issues and chronic stress. I will never pathologise your pain or experience but look instead at what options can empower you in these difficult times.
WAYS TO WORK WITH SULA
Thinking about therapy, but not ready?
You're not alone. Therapy can feel like a big step. A big investment. A big journey to begin.
Far be it from me to persuade you that now is the right time. It's actually really important that you come when you are ready to make that step. To help you work that out, you may need time to reflect. But beware of the "out of sight, out of mind" phenomena. Where a decision feels to big and scary to think about, that we happily think about anything else.
If you would like the opportunity to reflect on whether now is the right time and whether I'm the right person to support you, you may like to sign up to get therapeutic insights, resources and tips from me. Just pop your details in the form below