Sophie Aitchison

DBT Informed Therapist

I am a Mental health Clinical Nurse Specialist registered with the Nursing and midwifery council/NMC and I am a member of the Royal college of Nursing/RCN. I have over 27 years’ experience in working with people with a wide range of mental health problems. My areas of interest and expertise are eating disorders, addictions, emotional instability and emotionally unstable personality disorder.

I was very lucky to do the ‘gold star’ British Isles training in DBT and have just started a two year DBT course to reach my accreditation. My approach is person centred and I work hard to create a safe and validating environment that encourages clients to engage in a therapeutic process that can be challenging and anxiety provoking at times.

It is a pleasure to work with clients whether it be weekly sessions for a short period (6-8 weeks) to understand and reduce harmful behaviour/s and help increase healthier behaviours, or a longer piece of work to help someone recover from their problem behaviours and improve quality of life. I am flexible and like to develop treatment plans that meet individual needs. Treatment plans may include home visits, family work and joint sessions with other therapists involved.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is an evidence based “acceptance and change” therapy that has evolved from other therapies like CBT and behavioural therapy and was initially developed to help people reduce persistent suicidal/self-harming behaviours and increase skills in tolerating intensely difficult emotions.

‘Dialectical’ means trying to understand how two things that seem opposite could both be true. For example, accepting yourself and changing your behaviour might feel contradictory. But DBT teaches that it’s possible for you to achieve both these goals together.

An assessment would usually take 2 session, I can offer what we call Individual “DBT informed” sessions can help with a whole range of problems that come from intensely difficult emotions. DBT is a treatment that can be effective for a wide range of teenage and adult challenges that present with multiple, serious behavioural concerns – problems like self-harm, eating disorders, substance use, high-risk sexual behaviours, impulsive or oppositional behaviour, and suicidal ideation or actions. DBT is in the NICE guidelines for evidence-based treatment for people with emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD). Research and trials are going on all over the world in delivering various forms of DBT to individuals with a wide range of mental health problems including resistant depression and eating disorders.

Whilst I don’t offer the full “standard DBT program”, information, advice and direction can be given to those who find out more.

Key achievements and skills:

  • After qualifying as a registered mental nurse/RMN in 1992, I spent the first decade working in acute mental health gaining valuable experience in all functional mental health problems. I was a charge nurse and then ward manager of a large mixed acute mental health ward for 5 years. 
  • I developed my interest in working with clients with anorexia nervosa at this time and I set up a support group in an area where there were no specialist services, and this was under the national charity for Eating disorders association/EDA which is now known as “BEAT” 
  • I then worked at Roehampton Priory for 4 years as a charge nurse, then manager of the adult Eating disorder unit where I learned so much and developed my expertise in eating disorders, group work, and motivational skills 
  • I was nominated for a national award in 2004 for EDA for my outstanding contribution in helping those affected by Eating Disorders
  • Risk assessment and management training for trainers’ certificate and I was the risk assessment/management trainer for Roehampton hospital, teaching fellow colleagues the difficult subject of risk assessment and careful/positive risk taking.
  • I moved back into the NHS in 2004, and developed my ED expertise further as a specialist Nurse Practitioner in a community Eating disorder service. I worked with clients with severe anorexia nervosa, and those who engage in self damaging behaviours.  I helped develop a psychoeducational group program working with clients at the pre contemplation stage of change. 
  • I completed the intensive Dialectical behavioural therapy training in 2009 (British Isles DBT training team) and was involved in setting up a DBT service with my colleagues in the NHS. 
  • I am a trained mentor and have been involved in teaching student nurses in an experiential way using roleplay and imagined scenarios to help them bridge the theory into practice
  • I am currently a DBT/Clinical nurse specialist and work part time in a dedicated DBT team in the NHS.

Contact Details

Working days: Monday, Thursday and Fridays
Working hours: 10.00-19.00
Text: 07306 012698

I will not be able to respond out of these hours so if there is an emergency please go to your local A+E department or GP.


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