I’m Sue of Sue Smith Counselling and I just want to take the opportunity to say hello, tell you a bit about myself and outline the options available to clients.
I have lived and worked in the North East of England all my life. Born in Tynemouth, I spent my early years in North Shields (the Meadowell), before moving to South West Durham (where I have remained for almost half a century) and I’m lucky to have worked across the whole of the North East region. I am extremely proud of this beautiful place and its amazing people.
From being a teenager, I knew that I wanted a career helping and supporting people within the community. I have been extremely fortunate in that I have been able to follow this desire to help others.
Whilst studying Psychology and Sociology, I started working with Victims of Crime, helping them to recover from the most traumatic of life experiences. I developed trauma knowledge and interventions during this 12 year period and also completed my first counselling course in 1995. I spent the latter half of this period managing teams that were working with victims whilst personally supporting the most complex cases. During this time, I worked with and met the most amazing people who still come to mind to this day.
The ability of people to survive the most awful of ordeals never failed to amaze me. People can and do recover from the most tragic of circumstances, those circumstances that we always believe we would never cope with. This deep connection with the resilience of human beings has continued to drive my career since those early years.
My career took a geographical turn when in 2003, I moved from working in my beloved Co Durham to a new career in Teesside. My work in Teesside was more subject specialised and here I worked directly with people who had experienced abuse, both domestic and sexual. Many of these clients displayed complex trauma as a result of repeated incidents of harm.
Initially employed as a Training & Development Officer I delivered specialist training to agencies, including the police, ran support groups, supported the team along with my own case load of complex cases. I achieved Quality Mark status for the organisation and helped the team of counsellors, advocates and support workers to develop policy and working practises. During this time I also qualified as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) (the first on Teesside) and became a Chartered Manager.
Still in Teesside I was honoured to be selected as the Manager of the newly opening Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). The SARC opened its doors in 2007, new and purpose built, with initially just me and day staff. I developed the SARC over a 12 year period to be a renowned centre of excellence delivering 24/7 crisis intervention to victims of rape and sexual abuse. The role required a coordinated balance of forensic, criminal justice, mental health and sexual health awareness whilst keeping the client at the heart of all we did. I became an advanced Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) and updated my Counselling Qualification during this time. I also achieved a Masters Degree from the School of Health and Social Care at Teesside University.
In 2017 I was presented with a Special Community Award for ‘Outstanding Commitment to Supporting Victims’. It was a complete surprise, though not to some of the SARC staff it would appear, as they miraculously appeared from the back of the audience to congratulate me (apparently my husband knew too)!
The original concept of SARC has changed a little over recent years but I will always be immensely proud of the Teesside SARC team including all of its on-call workers who provided quality care to a vast amount of victims. The whole experience of working across Teesside was a big chunk of my career and difficult to leave. So, the decision to do just that and become self employed was not one I took lightly.
I did however leave the SARC in 2019 in order to pursue self employment and here I am - Sue Smith Counselling. In addition to Sue Smith Counselling I have also established Specialist Support Solutions (SSS). SSS is a Community Interest Company and I set this up to ensure that I can utilise knowledge and skill for the benefit of the local community, back here in my beloved County Durham.
My fascination of how the brain works when dealing with crisis and trauma has been a constant throughout my career and I intend that continue for the remainder of my working life. I recently became a registered Rewind Practitioner and have had excellent results using this technique when working with peoples flashbacks and intrusive thoughts.
I haven’t completely left Teesside either and my interest in all things trauma continues there. I am now a registered supplier with Cleveland Police delivering sessions to raise awareness of trauma to specialist officers.
So here I am offering my knowledge, counselling skills and trauma focused therapies from my base here in County Durham. I have a purpose built therapeutic space (summerhouse) overlooking fields. Its called Esperanza which is Spanish for hope. Timing has proved difficult with Covid-19, not something any new business wants in year one but, as with all things, I view this as an opportunity and used the time to set up the CIC and build a new website.
Face to face counselling is currently available and I have measures in place that meet government requirements. These include the use of a glass screen between us and a 2-metre distance, along with strict cleaning and sanitising regimes. Esperanza is located to the rear of the property and a side entrance means that all clients do not need to enter the property or indeed come in touch with any aspect of the property. Ask me about the full Covid measures in place.
Online sessions are available, and these have proved much better than I originally anticipated. Online work removes all Covid risk but also opens the opportunity for those who live too far away to travel. The connection is via Zoom which is a secure, recognised platform. All clients need to access online sessions is an email for me to send the link to and the session can be accessed on phone, tablet or PC.
Walk and Talk therapy is as the name suggests a different way of accessing therapy. It is recognised that not all people are comfortable communicating in the same. Walk and talk sessions provide opportunity to be in the great outdoors, in touch with nature for all clients who find face to face work less comfortable. I am fortunate enough to live on public bridleways and can offer 1 hour or 1.5 hour sessions along with a range of terrains dependent on physical ability. Walk and Talk therapy may also provide some Covid reassurance for those clients who do not want to use technology but are concerned about Covid risk.
Outreach therapy is available in some circumstances. I have access to a small minibus with conference style seating that can, when Covid requirements allow, be used to bring the therapy to those clients who cannot travel independently. These sessions incur an additional cost to cover travel but some clients find them more convenient.
All of my therapy is costed at £50 per one hour session, I offer some concessions and discount for block bookings. I also encourage personal development and provide personal Kaizen (continuous improvement) packages. Check out the website: www.specialistsupportsolutions.com
Hopefully I have provided a little insight into my world, what it was, what it is and what I hope to achieve.
Next steps are to develop the Counselling and Therapeutic Work along with Community Health and Wellbeing.
Long term I aim to have a therapeutic retreat that combines the mental health benefits of nature and therapy along with animal rescue and trauma focused workshops. All in good time!
Get in touch
In the meanwhile if there is anything you would like to know please get in touch:
Thank you for taking the time to read.