Based in Brighton and Hove, UK, I am a qualified and experienced BACP registered therapist, working with individuals on an open-ended and fixed-term basis. Grounded in a psychodynamic psychotherapeutic approach, my way of working is informed by somatic (body-based) and transpersonal (spiritually-informed) psychologies, and by my own long-term Buddhist and somatic meditation practice.

In addition to a general practice, I bring specialism in trauma; sexual violence; gender, sexuality and relationship diversity (GSRD) and LGBTQ+ affirmative practice.

Whether your reasons for seeking counselling and psychotherapy feel vague or specific, I welcome you find out more about me and my practice, and to get in touch with any questions you might have, or to arrange an initial consultation.

Thank you for visiting.

 

About therapy

How we work together

Weekly sessions provide a reflective, confidential space in which to look together at any areas of concern to you. As we begin to make sense of troubling, confusing or conflicting feelings and experiences, a deepening self-understanding can enable us to discover new choices in ways of being and relating, liberating us from the restrictive patterns of our past. 

Therapy involves a joint inquiry into the underlying beliefs and automatic ways of being and seeing that we carry. Thoughts, feelings, dreams, and the felt sense in the body can all serve as doorways into a deeper self-knowledge. Together we work collaboratively and at your pace to explore the roots of present issues and to move towards greater clarity in relation to areas of difficulty.

As well as being a way of alleviating the pain and struggle in our lives, therapy also aims to help us live more fully, in a greater sense of aliveness, authenticity and connection. Over time, the building of a reliable, trusting therapeutic relationship becomes the container in which a deeper healing can occur.

These weekly sessions are yours, a space for you to be as you are. It’s my intention to create an environment that feels safe, accepting and open in which you can speak freely about how things are for you and feel seen, heard and responded to. While I share knowledge or perspectives that I hope may be helpful, my aim is to connect you with the knowing you hold, and it is what you choose to bring that will guide the focus of our work.

My approach

Attention to the connections between our past and present, and between our outer relationships and inner life is at the heart of my approach, which centres perspectives from relational psychoanalysis, and transpersonal and somatic psychologies. This non-pathologising approach recognises that all of our experiences, even those that are very difficult, have value and meaning. Indeed, it is often our greatest difficulties that can signal us towards areas in need of attention towards our overall growth and development.

As human beings we have a rich and complex unconscious life, a life that is deeply interwoven with the body as well as the mind. Without our awareness, this inner world powerfully shapes our sense of self, how we relate to others, and our overall felt sense of life and what is possible for us. By shining a light into these hidden places and beginning to integrate what we find, we can be freed up to live with greater ease, empowerment and creativity in everyday life.

Experiences of relationships throughout life, including the relationship between us as client and therapist, can provide important references for what is happening for you, and what is most calling for your attention at this time. The psychotherapeutic approach I take recognises the therapeutic relationship itself as a central factor in the transformative process that therapy can be.

I bring a Buddhist and somatic meditation practice of more than ten years to my approach, bringing attention to the the intersections of spirituality, embodiment and emotional and psychological wellbeing. In addition to my own practices, this approach is informed by study and training in Hakomi (somatic mindful psychotherapy), Jungian depth psychology and an undergraduate degree in Theology and Religious Studies (MA Cantab). Values and principles from these fields; such as the unity of mind and body and the recognition and valuing of spirituality as a valid and important component of wholeness and wellbeing; bring an additional set of resources for the therapeutic process, and a depth-oriented approach.

With specialist training and experience in the treatment of trauma, I bring a particular awareness of trauma in its many dimensions to my work with all clients, with a particular focus on gentle, body-centred approaches to safely processing traumatic states and easing their symptoms.

 

About me

I completed my core training at the University of Brighton, and hold a Post-graduate Diploma (with distinction) in Psychodynamic Psychotherapeutic Counselling, a BACP accredited course of training grounded in psychoanalytic theory.

I have completed training and am currently pending qualification as a Sexual Violence Therapist, accredited with OCN Network London and Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex (RCSAS).

I am a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and abide by their ethical framework.

Continued Professional Development Trainings

  • Hakomi (mindful somatic psychotherapy)
  • Working with Trauma
  • Gender, Sexuality & Relationship Diversity (GSRD)
  • LGBTQ+ affirmative practice
  • Client assessment & risk
  • Substance use & addiction
  • Suicide prevention

Additional Qualifications

MPhil Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies, University of Cambridge

MA (Cantab) Theology & Religious Studies, University of Cambridge

Background & Experience

Since 2016 I have served as a therapist in specialist mental health, charity and university settings, including within an LGBTQ+ mental health charity, where I’ve had the privilege of working alongside clients from a diversity of backgrounds seeking support in relation to a wide range of issues.

Prior to working full-time as a therapist, I spent many years working and volunteering in the women’s and LGBTQ + sectors, where I worked in support and community engagement roles with groups and individuals of marginalised identities, advocating for equality in health and social care.

In addition to private practice, I am currently a therapist at Brighton Therapy Centre, a community counselling charity, and at Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex, counselling survivors of sexual violence.

While I relate to a client as a whole individual, rather than in terms of clinical diagnoses or the issues they bring, you may want to know about the areas with which I have experience working therapeutically. Some examples of these areas include:

  • Addiction
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Assertiveness
  • Attachment difficulties
  • Body image
  • Borderline / Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder diagnosis
  • Childhood abuse & neglect
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Chronic illness
  • Cultural identity
  • Crises of meaning, purpose, direction
  • Depression
  • Disordered eating
  • Dissociation

  • Emotional numbness
  • Experiences of oppression
  • Family disownment
  • Family dynamics
  • Gender identity
  • Hate crime
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Lesbian, bi, gay, queer & asexual experiences
  • Life transitions
  • Loss, grief & bereavement
  • Low energy
  • Low mood
  • Low self-esteem & self-worth
  • Medically unexplained symptoms
  • Neurodiversity
  • Panic attacks
  • Perfectionism & self-criticism
  • Personal development
  • Polyamory & non-monogamy
  • Psychosis
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Self-injury & self-harm
  • Sexual assault & rape
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Sexual orientation & identity
  • Shame
  • Social anxiety
  • Spiritual issues
  • Stress
  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings & actions
  • Trans & non-binary experiences
  • Trauma and C/PTSD
  • Workplace difficulties

GSRD & LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy

I specialise in working with clients across the spectrum of gender, sexuality and relationship diversity (GRSD), taking an affirmative approach to working with LGBTQ+* clients; those practicing non-normative relationship styles, such as non-monogamy, kink; and sex workers.

Beginning therapy is understandably daunting, but for those who are LGBQ, trans, gender-diverse or questioning, sex workers, or practice a non-normative relationship style, there can be an added sense of risk. Seeing a therapist who is GSRD affirmative can free you up to discuss any issues related to your sexuality, gender, relationship or work with a greater sense of safety, or not to discuss this at all, knowing that these aspects of your experience are accepted and respected. 

My affirmative approach is informed by my experience as a therapist at an LGBTQ+ specific counselling service, and specialist GSRD training. I also hold an MPhil in Gender Studies and bring experience from several years of working and volunteering in the LGBTQ+ sector. My therapeutic approach takes account of the impact of societal systems of oppression and the intersections of identity and cultural background with mental and emotional wellbeing.

If you feel you might benefit from working with an LGBTQ+ affirmative, GSRD-specialist therapist, I welcome you to get in touch to arrange an initial conversation.

*LGBTQ refers to the terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, queer and questioning. The ‘+’ can refer to intersex, asexual and other identities and experiences across the spectrum of gender and sexuality. Some queer, trans and intersex people of colour prefer the term QTIPOC.

 Content note: The below names forms of sexual violence and feelings in relation to these. Click ‘Sessions & Fees’, above, to skip this section.

Empowering therapy for survivors of sexual violence

If you have experienced sexual assault, rape or childhood sexual abuse, or are unsure if you have, specialist therapeutic support can provide a safe and understanding space in which to explore your feelings without pressure or judgment.

Sexual violence is a general term, used to refer to any unwanted sexual act or activity. It is part of the nature of sexual violence that survivors are often left with very painful feelings of shame, guilt and being somehow to blame for what happened. However complicated or confusing the situation may seem, sexual violence is always the responsibility of the perpetrator, and never the survivor’s fault. Unfortunately these feelings can make it very difficult to talk about what happened and receive the care and support you deserve.

I am currently pending qualification as a specialist Sexual Violence Therapist. I am trained to offer therapeutic support and, if wanted, practical tools to help survivors to cope with and safely process the often confusing and overwhelming feelings and trauma that result from sexual violence. I am also trained to work with survivors of ritual abuse and those with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), who can face additional barriers to accessing appropriate support.

I offer an honest and gentle space in which you will be believed and supported to go at the pace that is right for you. You are in control of what we discuss, and are free to talk about as much or as little as you want. While looking at these experiences can undoubtedly be painful, we work collaboratively to ensure sessions feel safe and beneficial, using a grounding and resourcing approach.

If you feel you might benefit from working with me around your experiences of sexual violence, I welcome any questions you might have and invite you to get in touch to arrange an initial conversation.

If you require urgent support or information in relation to sexual assault, rape or childhood sexual abuse, you may want to consider contacting your nearest Rape Crisis Centre or calling the national helpline on 0808 802 9999, who will be able help you identify the right support for you.

 

Sessions

Sessions are 50 minutes long, held at the same time, weekly. I offer counselling and psychotherapy on a long-term, open-ended and on a shorter, fixed-term basis.

I currently have availability on Tuesday and Wednesday daytimes. 

Fees

My fee is £50 per session.

The fee for the initial consultation session is £30.

Fees are payable by bank transfer in advance of the session, or by cash.

I do not currently have any concessionary sliding-scale spaces available.

Location

I see clients from professional consulting rooms at Brighton Therapy Centre, in central Brighton. There is excellent public transport access. Parking is limited. Find out more about the location and transport options here. Unfortunately this venue is not wheelchair accessible.

What to expect

Once you have been in touch I will respond within 48 hours and let you know about the spaces I have available. If you require a concessionary rate, I will let you know my current sliding-scale slot rates and availability. Should any of these be suitable, we can then arrange an initial session, for which I charge £30.

The initial consultation is an opportuntiy for you to meet me and get a sense of what working together in a therapeutic relationship might be like. We can discuss the issues you would like to look at and consider whether fixed-term or open-ended therapy would best meet your needs. It’s also an opportunity for me to understand what you are looking for through therapy and if this is something I am able to support you with.

I will give you a copy of the therapy agreement to take away, which outlines the terms of the therapeutic contract, particularly around strict confidentiality and my policy on cancellations, as well as the ethical standards I adhere to.

There is no expectation that you begin therapy with me after the initial session. You are very welcome to take time to reflect and consider whether you would like to work together, and you may be considering several therapists. Or you may decide straight away that you would like to go ahead, and we can arrange a date for our first session.

Contact

I recognise that there is a lot to consider when beginning therapy and welcome any questions you may have prior to arranging an initial consultation. Please call or email, using the details below, and I will endeavour to respond within 48 hours.

Email: contact@sophiebarnestherapy.co.uk

Phone: 07731 371868