Nicola Stephenson, UKCP Accredited Psychotherapist

Nicola Stephenson

Hove BN3 English, French
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Nicola Stephenson, UKCP Accredited Psychotherapist

Nicola Stephenson

Hove BN3 English, French
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My Approach

Your struggle might relate to an affair, a miscarriage, a troubling dilemma, or a tragic accident. You might be anxious or depressed. You might be worried about your addictive or compulsive behaviour. You might be struggling with a lack of motivation and energy. You might be feeling angry or irritable. You might be unhappy with your sex life. You might be curious about your history and how it has shaped your life. There are endless reasons to seek help from a therapist. At your own pace, and in your own words, I will help you find your voice and tell your story. The simple act of sharing your concerns within the safety and confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship often brings immediate relief. It is an exploratory process which fosters curiosity about anything and everything that troubles you. Painful emotions are a vital source of information that can help you make better decisions and choices. Learning how to lean into, rather than away from, them will help you access a more authentic version of yourself. Armed with greater self awareness and self acceptance, you will begin to feel calmer, stronger and more confident.

Most suffering, but not all, is rooted in unhealthy family relationships. It can often be traced to childhood abuse. It can also often be traced to less obvious, but equally damaging, experiences of being ignored, or overly controlled and protected, by parents. In order to preserve the attachment relationship to their primary caregivers children quickly learn how to hide painful feelings. This separation from a child's inner-world can become a mechanism for getting stuck in a relentless cycle of emotional triggers and responses, and a life-long struggle to form healthy relationships.

It is important that parents seeking professional support for adolescent children know that therapy is not about finding someone to blame, least of all parents. Most parents do their absolute best for their children. And inevitably, as Philip Larkin wrote, they fuck them up. On the one hand this is tragic. On the other, with the right support, it affords your child the invaluable opportunity to develop confidence, resilience and integrity. If blame for the suffering of adolescents lies anywhere it is with society's flawed, individualistic ideology and harmful narratives around competition and success, which leave many young adults in a deep pit of self-loathing, and most parents too stressed and exhausted to help. The pernicious world of social media, which cruelly masquerades as a community of real friends and connections, has become a conduit for further emotional harm.

My approach is rooted in a biopsychosocial model which argues that our health is determined by a complex interplay of biological, psychological and social factors. My studies and research alerted me to a dissonance between mind and body calling for a contextualised approach to healing that recognises the many deep and layered complexities of the human condition. Neuroscientific research provides an ocean of evidence that human brains develop and mature in conjunction with their social environment. It is perplexing that Western medicine continues to separate both the mind from the body, and the individual from its environment, when the data, in stark contrast to the assumptions of the biomedical model, so clearly highlights the interconnected and social nature of our existence.
I blend skills and ideas from many different disciplines including philosophy, attachment theory, neuroscience, and trauma and body psychotherapy. I have been deeply influenced by the pioneering work of a vibrant community of world-renowned scientists including Stephen Porges, Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk. Their ground-breaking research demonstrates that human beings are born with an innate expectation to be loved, to be cared for, and to matter. In short, we are designed for co-regulation rather than self-regulation. I hold this in my awareness as I invite clients to share time and space with me. I also hold in mind the remarkable research findings of professor, Brene Brown, which identify vulnerability as the birth place of every positive human emotion and behaviour including joy, hope, belonging, change and creativity.

Other key influences include retired physician, Dr Gabor Mate, who reaffirms that healing is a process of reconnecting to the self in the presence of a caring other. Belgium psychotherapist, Esther Perel, meanwhile, highlights the pitfalls of seeking refuge in relationships. Her deft exploration of the tension between security and freedom, mystery and transparency, and trust and betrayal, provides invaluable insights into the paradoxical nature of healthy adult relationships. I draw on these to help clients explore the anguish and torment they experience in their relationships.

I am further influenced by spiritual teachers, Eckhart Toller and Thomas Hubl, who highlight our collective disembodiment. Toller claims that our evolutionary history has provided us with a means of torturing ourselves with our "higher" brains which seek peace and fulfilment in the external world. Hubl sees this behaviour as a hidden symptom of transgenerational trauma and its legacy which lives on in each of us. Spiritual practices such as yoga, tai chi, qigong and meditation show us how we can heal our individual and collective wounds by reconnecting to our bodies. These ancient traditions overlap in a very functional way with the more modern traditions of neuroscience and psychotherapy.

About Me

Firstly, I would like to reassure you that it is completely normal to feel nervous and apprehensive when contemplating therapy. At the same time, with the potential to completely transform your life and the way you think and feel about the issues that trouble you, it can be one of the most worthwhile decisions you will ever make. Therapy is a process designed to lessen suffering and restore hope for a better life. It does this by harnessing the energy generated by the very experiences and environments that hurt you. In doing so, it offers you the chance to grow, expand and feel alive. As your therapist I offer transparency and openness, whilst playing an active role in gently guiding you through each session. At heart, it is an ethical endeavour that honours your authenticity and right to self-determination.
Based in Hove I offer face to face sessions at Wilbury Clinic. To clients who reside overseas, or in other parts of the UK, I offer sessions by video link. To find out if I am the right therapist for you please book an introductory session. This will allow us to have a chat, discuss how I might be able to help you, and see how it feels to spend time together. To book please email me at nicola@nicolastephenson.co.uk or call me on 07954 428 214.

A bit about my own journey and background....in 1990 I graduated in European Business with French (BA Hons). I then spent a year working and travelling around the world. By 1993, following two years working for a commercial bank in London, I had itchy feet again. I found myself a job with a global travel firm as a holiday representative in the French Alps. A succession of rapid promotions, and a passion for travel and adventure, lead me to spend a further six years abroad. I managed various overseas operations including a large Alpine chalet programme. In 1999 I returned to the UK to help integrate a newly acquired luxury ski tour operator into the larger business. In 2005 I took on the role of Managing Director of that same niche business, a position I held for two years before finally leaving the corporate world in 2007 to focus on my personal life.
I began my training as a therapist in 2010. My growing interest in this area was born out of a long-standing curiosity about my own general sense of unease in the world, and a deeply personal search for autonomy and meaning. My immersion in the world of psychotherapy represented an immeasurably helpful turning point in my own journey. Having qualified as a Humanistic Psychotherapeutic Counsellor (PG Dip) in 2016, and a Master of Science in Psychotherapy (MSc) in 2018, I have spent the last few years as a psychotherapist in private practice. Along the way I have also had the privilege of volunteering for a number of local charities.

A key advantage of being a mature therapist (I am 53 years old) is the humility and wisdom I have gained through an examination of my own life. I first had to make sense of painful life experiences and, in doing so, learn how to honour my own truth. I leant heavily on existential notions of freedom of choice and personal responsibility to help me. Slowly, I began to understand the importance of balancing the need to steer my own ship with the need to accept that there is much in life I cannot control. With greater self awareness and a growing sense of confidence, I turned to spiritual teachings to help me connect more deeply to the people and natural world around me. I finally emerged as a more grounded and integrated individual with a renewed sense of aliveness. An important aspect of my learning has been to acknowledge my own lunacy. In the words of philosopher, Alain de Botton, we are all a bit mad! We are not the reasonable, rational beings we like to think we are. The unconscious dimension of our existence, and our innate emotionality, dispose us to all kinds of unhelpful, if not disastrous, and sometimes hilarious, acting out.

I work with

  • Individuals
  • Private healthcare referrals

Types of Therapies Offered

  • Integrative Psychotherapist

What I can help with

  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Bereavement
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Illness
  • Depression
  • Employment Difficulties
  • Health-related Issues
  • Identity Problems
  • Infertility
  • Mental Health Issues
  • Parents
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Relationships
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Sexuality
  • Spirituality
  • Stress
  • Suicide
  • Terminal Illness
  • Trauma
  • Workplace Counselling

Types of sessions

  • Face to Face - Long Term
  • Face to Face - Short Term
  • Online Therapy
  • Telephone Therapy

Hove Office

Wilbury Clinic
64 Wilbury Road
Hove BN3 3PY

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Cost:

£70 per session (50 minutes). I offer sessions face to face, online or by phone.

UKCP College

  • Universities Training College (UTC)
Nicola Stephenson

Nicola Stephenson

Hove BN3

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