THERAPY - Caring for you
I have been working therapeutically with people who struggle with their difficult emotions since 2003.
I have helped people who are suffering in all sorts of ways. Despite their different difficulties and lives, all these folk had some things in common. One was that they wanted things to be different yet weren’t able to get there on their own. They had tried so hard, and realised that they needed care to heal and find a way to get unstuck.
It was also clear to me that they were all coping in their own best ways. Sometimes these ways were helpful and sustainable. Other times they found themselves resorting to strategies that weren’t sustainable and sometimes were downright dangerous; overeating, avoiding important things in life, withdrawing, self harming, considering suicide, lashing out and turning to substances.
Often too, they were thinking badly of themselves, feeling ashamed about their struggles and wishing things were different.
Even when they had supportive others around them, they often worried about their relationships and weren’t always able to get the care they needed.
The thing is, we could always make sense of their experiences when we considered their feelings and the context. Always.
None of these folk were bad, unlovable or broken, no matter how much they believed they were. And it was always possible to build the caring relationships they needed with themselves and with others.
And this is why I know that you too can heal in the way you hope. It is possible to get unstuck from whatever you’re struggling with.
I can’t promise it will be easy. It is sure to take a lot of determination and commitment. Though I do know that it is possible for you to heal, especially if we can create for you a context of compassion.
QUALIFICATIONS & ACCREDITATION
The therapeutic models I have specialist training in are CFT, DBT, and CBT. These models variously help with a wide range of difficulties including: depression, anxiety, self criticism, difficult and overwhelming emotions, trauma, PTSD, and CPTSD or complex trauma, personality disorders, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, binge eating and bulimia, health anxiety, social anxiety, anger and shame.
In terms of qualifications, I have a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, which I completed in 2008 at Griffith University, in Brisbane Australia. In 2001 I gained first class honours in my Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) at the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia. In 2018, I deepened my knowledge of CFT by completing a Post Graduate Certificate in CFT at the University of Derby, UK, under Professor Paul Gilbert.
I am passionate about learning, so engage in regular training workshops and brief courses to keep my skills and knowledge current.
Experience is an incredible teacher. Since 2003, I have been fortunate to support hundreds of clients through my work in various wonderful teams. From each I have learned a great deal.
Early in my career I gained experience in general outpatient clinical psychology. For a couple of years I was the psychologist in a multidisciplinary chronic pain management project, supporting people to find joy and freedom in their lives despite their musculoskeletal pain conditions. At the Life Promotion Clinic within the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, I worked within a dedicated team of psychologists and psychiatrists offering therapy to people who were in deep pain and struggling to stay alive.
When I moved to the UK in 2008 I joined an incredible team of psychologists and psychological therapists in the Intensive Management of Personality disorders, Assessment and Recovery Team (IMPART), in the NHS in North East London. I stayed in this team for a decade, working my way up to become a senior psychologist and manager so I could support therapists in the team as well as my clients. Our remit was to support people who were stuck in patterns of overwhelming emotions, dissatisfying and volatile relationships, and who felt despairing about life and the possibility of change. They would often resort to self harm, suicide attempts, substances and binge eating to cope, which had the unintended consequence of deepening their pain and suffering. I loved working with these clients and still do. I find it is deeply satisfying to help people to discover and break free of old patterns that are keeping them stuck and then help them find a new way of being that enables them to feel good about themselves and find nourishing, satisfying relationships with others.
Since 2017 I have been working in independent practice, supporting adults to find ways out of their suffering and towards the lives they want and need for themselves. I started out as a member of the therapist team for Balanced Minds in London, supporting my clients to find their way to compassionately relating with themselves and flourishing beyond their difficult experiences. In 2021 I moved to Bristol and from here Compassionate Change was born. Our intention is to providing high quality, compassionate, clinical psychology services in Bristol and online.
I would be honoured to bring my experience to supporting you to find a compassionate way to relate to whatever you're struggling with, to get unstuck from the past, and to finding your way to flourish.
One thing to be clear on when you’re choosing a psychologist, is that therapists are humans too. This means no one therapist will feel ‘right’ for everyone. I want you to know that that even if we aren’t a helpful match, there will be a therapist out there for you, so please hold hope that you can be supported in the way you need.
SUPERVISION and TRAINING - Caring for therapists
I am passionate about training and nurturing other therapists, to support them to both trust their wisdom and develop their skills.
My experience as a clinical supervisor stretches back to 2010 when I was fortunate enough to take responsibility for nurturing and training my first Trainee Counselling Psychologist. Since then I am fortunate to have supervised many therapists from various backgrounds, including Clinical Psychologists, Nurse Therapists, CBT therapists, and Counsellors. Alongside this experience, I have completed various training courses in supervision and received regular supervision on the supervision I offer.
I am recognised as an Accredited DBT supervisor with the Society for DBT and a CFT supervisor by the Compassionate Mind Foundation. Since 2021 I have also been supervising on the University College London (UCL) Post Graduate Certificate in CBT for Personality Disorders.
To read more about what I might offer you as a supervisor please click here.
To get in touch and discuss working together, please reach out using the button below.
I love sharing the wisdom of the approaches I have been fortunate to become skilled in and share my experiences to help you grow. I have delivered many bespoke workshops throughout my career, mostly focused around the theory and practice of CFT, and also compassionate ways of working with and understanding 'personality disorder'. In 2019 I became one of the national CFT trainers working for the Compassionate Mind Foundation (CMF), delivering the official 3 day introduction to CFT workshop alongside Dr Chris Irons. I have been described as a "approachable", "interesting" and "compassionate" trainer. I strive to provide an enriching, compassionate, and thought-provoking space for professionals and teams.
Please click here to read more about what I might offer you or your team.
I'd love to hear from you to discuss your training needs further and think together how I can help you grow.
Research was once a key passion of mine. Before completing my doctorate I was a research assistant at the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention and spent a couple of years in the commercial research world too. I later discovered I love clinical work much more and invested most of my time and energy into my clients and supervisees.
Still, I’m fortunate to have been involved in a variety of fantastic projects over the years, on topics ranging from suicidal behaviours, personality disorders, gratitude and kindness, and fears of compassion.
Please see below for my publications list if you’re keen to read more about these amazing research projects (you'll notice some published under my previous surname - Burgis).
Burgis, S. (2000). Cognitive factors bearing on suicide ideation in young people. Unpublished Honours in Psychology Thesis. Armidale: University of New England.
De Leo, D., Burgis, S., Bertolote, J. M., Kerkhof, A., & Bille Brahe, U. (2004). Definitions of suicidal behaviour. In De Leo, D., Bille-Brahe, U., Kerkhof, A., & Schmidtke, A., (Eds) Suicidal Behaviour: Theories and Research Findings. (pp. 17-39). Ashland, OH, US: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers.
De Leo, D., Burgis, S., Bertolote, J. M., Kerkhof, A. J. F. M., Bille-Brahe, U. (2006) Definitions of suicidal behavior: Lessons learned from the WHO/EURO multicentre study. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. 27(1), 4-15.
De Leo, D., Cerin, E., Spathonis, K., Burgis, S. (2005). Lifetime risk of suicide ideation and attempts in an Australian community: Prevalence, suicidal process, and help-seeking behaviour. Journal of Affective Disorders. 86(2-3), 215-224.
De Leo, D., Swanton, K., Harper, C., Firman, D., Leorin, C., Burgis, S., Morris, P., & Pollard, G. (2002). The Gold Coast suicide prevention community survey interim report. Conference paper presented at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 37th Congress, The Mind: The Final Frontier. 29th April, 2002.
Kerr, S. L., &O'Donovan, A. (2009). Can Gratitude and Kindness Enhance Well-being in a Clinical Sample? Positive Psychology World Congress, Philadelphia
Kerr, S. L., O’Donovan, A., & Pepping, C. A. (2014). Can gratitude and kindness interventions enhance well-being in a clinical sample? Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 17–36. doi:10.1007/s10902-013-9492-1
Lumsden, V., Kerr, S., & Feigenbaum, J. (2018). ‘It makes me not worthy to be a father from time to time’: the experiences of fathers with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Journal of Family Studies, 24 (2), 109-125.
Naismith, I., Kerr, S., Mwale, A., & Feigenbaum, J. (2019). A thematic analysis of compassion‐focused imagery for people with personality disorder: Inhibitors, facilitators and clinical recommendations. Clinical Psychologist, 23(3), 213–224. https://doi.org/10.1111/cp.12180
What do my clients, supervisees, and students say?
"Shelley is a fantastic supervisor. She is warm, compassionate, supportive and containing. Shelley has helped me develop my skills and private therapy practice by sharing her expertise and experience and guiding me to become a better therapist. I have grown and changed as a result of our supervision and know that I am more adherent to specific models (eg dbt) as well as a better psychologist overall. She creates a supportive, non-judgemental space to explore the impact of the work I am doing and generate coherent, theory driven formulations. I come away from supervision feeling energised, clear about the direction for my clinical work and inspired to learn more."
"Shelley is not just someone who listens, but someone who helps you to listen to yourself. At the time, in a depressed state you feel like none of this is actually going to make any difference, you think “this isn’t going to work for me” - because you desperately want a magic sticking plaster to feel better. Then, a few weeks in and you start to notice small changes to the way you approach thoughts and feelings, you’re a bit surprised by this, but maybe it’s just because you’ve got someone to talk to who listens and understands. You see Shelley again, and she tries another exercise with you, you leave the session relieved and uplifted, but think “I’ll never remember all of that or actually be able to do it in the real world” and then a few days later, you find your brain starting to adapt that technique Shelley taught last week without even realising it, or reacting to something differently because you’ve approached it from an entirely different perspective without even realising.
Truthfully I felt guilty about the way that I felt. I felt guilty for the dark mornings when I couldn’t face the day, or the tears that would arrive and remain all day, and just feeling that every task was beyond me. The guilt was because I had a good life and really shouldn’t have anything to cry about. Shelley let me know that it was okay to feel this way, the work we did on breathing and safe spaces really helped me take the joy and positives from small things and realistic achievements and slowly, the small things turned into bigger achievements. She taught me to self-congratulate and see the good in the things I did. I’m 14 months on from my last session with Shelley and they haven’t been easy times! But I feel like I’ve got my own back, it’s as simple as that. The imaginary voice of compassion and reason we used to pretend existed, now does, and it’s me.
How easily some of the techniques I thought were a bit balmy at the time have stuck with me and have just settled into my mindset. The safe space work has translated to a real place that I go to just exist and breathe and reflect. I don’t even have to consciously do this - as soon as I’m there it just happens and the breathing slows. I’ve also had many people comment on how my approach to others have changed. When you are not constantly thinking “it must be something I’ve said” or “something I’ve done” you can see a way to treat others more compassionately and patiently."
"Really enjoyed this on a personal level as well as professional. Shelley's material was well-prepared, interesting and informative. She was responsive and reflective during group discussions and was passionate about CFT. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated her session."