Meet our Birmingham Team of CBT Counsellors, Psychotherapists & Psychologists
We have an amazing team of skilled and supportive CBT Counsellors at our Birmingham Therapy Centre who can help you work through your difficulties or distress. By talking to someone independent, you can open-up while knowing your privacy is protected. Get our professional insights and discover why you feel stuck, so that we can teach you the relevant coping strategies to help you work, love, play and feel better.
Get in touch
Get in touch to book an Initial Consultation or to speak with a therapist at our Birmingham therapy centre. Call us on Tel. 0121 523 1108 or complete our secure confidential online form.
Would you like to get to know our therapists a little better?
Before you get in touch, meet our team of Birmingham-based CBT Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Psychologists.
Sarah Benkwitz – CBT Therapist
(Wednesday & Friday – from April 2020)
Sarah Benkwitz is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT), Eye-Movement Desensitisation Re-Processing (EMDR) as well as CBT. She has helped many people during her time in the NHS, and she has taught people how to overcome problems with trauma, depression, anxiety, stress as well as many more.
From Oxford to Rio De Janeiro
Sarah first started volunteering as a telephone counsellor in 2007 whilst studying for her Master’s degree in psychology at the University of Oxford. I was told I had a comforting voice and I should be either a psychotherapist or on the radio!”
Eager to explore the world, Sarah first went to London to work in business, and then on to the favelas of South America to work in international development.
Due to events in her own family, Sarah saw first-hand the impact of emotional and psychological distress and just how beneficial psychotherapy can be. Witnessing these moments brought her back ‘home’ to the field of psychology.
Integrating Research and Clinical Practice
After gaining a breadth of experience in community mental health settings and as an academic researcher, Sarah qualified as a CBT Therapist with distinction in 2014. She has since worked full-time in the NHS which gave her a great professional grounding – before more recently focusing on private practice since having a family.
Sarah loves to learn and use the cutting-edge of science to improve her therapeutic work. She also has additional training and experience teaching others in Compassion Focused Therapy, which works well for self-criticism, difficulty relaxing, and traumatic experiences.
Facing your difficulties is a sign of strength:
Our brains are tricky, so we can all get caught beating ourselves up and going around in circles trying to cope. Good therapy can help us make sense of it, develop self-acceptance, and make practical changes to pursue what truly matters to us. I know it’s daunting, but I think that when you face your difficulties, it’s a sign of strength.”
Claire Cotterill – Counsellor
Since starting work for the NHS in 2013, Claire has helped many people move on from many common difficulties such as stress, anxiety, depression and trauma. Claire has a special interest in therapy with people on the autistic spectrum and people adjusting to physical health conditions.
Masters in Counselling Psychology
Already obtaining a ‘Masters in Counselling Psychology’, Claire is currently completing her doctorate. Her research focuses on how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy might work to help people overcome binge eating.
Having worked in various roles for social enterprises and independent psychology services, Claire has built experience and skills in one-to-one therapeutic work with children, young people and adults.
Many ways to bring about meaningful change:
People tend to come to therapy because their coping strategies are no longer working. Everyone will struggle with their feelings or circumstances at some point in their lives, and I believe that therapy should be flexible and uniquely tailored to each person because you are the best judge of what might work for you.
There are many ways to bring about meaningful change in our lives. You might want to focus on what matters most to you and how you can redress the balance if you have lost touch with this. People are often surprised when they notice the extent to which they have become stuck in unhelpful patterns, and how quickly they can escape these habits using mindfulness and acceptance.It might be, however, that you want to spend time making sense of the past and considering how others have impacted your life. It can be helpful to consider whose stories dominate your ideas about yourself, and how to tell a different story about your life; perhaps one where you are not always to blame or responsible. “
Build your strength in an ever-changing world
Claire is a naturally kind and caring therapist who takes a holistic approach by looking at how your immediate circumstances (work, health, family life and broader relationships) could be having an impact on your well-being. She aims to help you understand how you got to where you are today, and for you to leave therapy confident in your ability to use your strengths to manage your emotional well-being in an ever-changing world.
Jess Thompson – Counsellor / Psychotherapist
After an enjoyable teaching career, Jess retrained as a psychotherapist with training and qualifications in person-centred Counseling, EMDR and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Building Professional Devotion from Personal Experience
After suffering from health issues while raising her family, Jess has devoted the last ten years to working with people suffering from stress-related illness and trauma. She has worked in several settings including hospices, schools and a private health clinic and has experience working with a wide range of people and psychological challenges.
She has found that using a combination of psychotherapeutic approaches allows her to meet the needs of each individual, with whatever issue they find is causing them difficulty.
Dr Katie Wilkinson – Clinical Psychologist
(Available Tuesday morning)
Dr Katie Wilkinson qualified as a Clinical Psychologist in 2005 and as a Family Therapist in 2011. She has personal experience of both physical health problems and trauma which has shaped her practice over the last few years.
Resolving trauma and finding new ways to cope
She has completed training in EMDR, which is a powerful therapy to resolve past traumas. Katie’s strengths are in listening to people and helping them to understand / make sense of why they are struggling; and then in finding ways to cope with every day life.
Finding the right match for your needs
Katie uses a mixture of psychological models and ideas (narrative therapy which helps people to connect with their story of survival; EDMR, cognitive behavioural therapy; dialectical behavioural therapy; and mindfulness). This is so we can find the right match for your needs. Katie strongly believes that we cannot treat the mind without also treating the body and learning to care for ourselves.
Farishta Jalal – CBT Therapist
(Available Monday evenings)
Farishta is a BABCP Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist with a Postgraduate Diploma in CBT from the University of Derby. She has experience of working with adults aged 16+, presenting with a wide range of psychological difficulties in a variety of settings using cognitive behaviour therapy.
CBT and EMDR – Two Powerful Approaches
How does CBT work?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been proven to help treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults, young people and children. According to CBT, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all interconnected. How you think about or perceive a situation affects how you feel and the way you act. In turn, your actions can affect how you think and feel.
In CBT, we’ll work together to identify any unhelpful thoughts or behaviours that are maintaining the problems and thinking about whether these could be changed. CBT works at different levels of cognition; the negative automatic thoughts, the underlying assumptions and rules for living and the core belief systems underlying more chronic and complex presentations.
Jim Lucas – CBT Therapist & Trainer
(Available Monday, Tuesday & Thursday)
Jim Lucas qualified in 2005 and he’s worked in the NHS including addiction services and psychotherapy.
Finding meaning by making a difference to people’s lives
When Jim first went to University, he didn’t know what he wanted from working life. His gap year sorted that out when he took on a volunteers post supporting people with long-term mental health problems back in to work. It was a real challenge that sparked his ambition to do something meaningful that would make a real difference to people’s lives.
He had a hand in setting-up one of the first social firms in the UK – a Garden Centre. From that moment on he found a new vitality to his education and when he got a 2:1 Combined Hons Degree he knew that health and social care was where he wanted to work.
Helping the homeless and learning about Addiction
Jim’s next big break came when he was working in a homeless hostel for single men. A colleague he’d come to know asked him to apply for a job as an Alcohol Support Worker. He was chuffed to bits at being asked and he didn’t hesitate to go for it. He got the job and this opened up new possibilities.
Within two years he was working as an Addictions Specialist in one of Birmingham’s inner city community drug teams. There he completed his training in CBT and he was the first to complete the Diploma level in his whole directorate.
Jim’s confidence grew and he had the best line manager that he has ever had and they are still mates today! Jim took on more responsibilities and supervisory roles, and he pioneered the role-out of a service-wide training initiative and coached others in developing their practice.
Taking risks to open up new opportunities
After 6 years he decided to move to a full-time Psychotherapy role, which again brought new challenges.
Working with the NHS for ten years has been so helpful because it gave me a great start to my professional development. While I remain proud of our NHS, I knew that I needed to make a change. I was striving for greater variety and creativity in my work, and I decided to leave the security of paid employment and an NHS pension to start up my own business. I am so glad that I made that choice, and today I have the chance to achieve so much more.