Hello Humber - Meet the Specialist Psychotherapy Service

Published: 15 November 2021 to 31 December 2098

Our Specialist Psychotherapy Service (SPS) was established over 20 years ago. SPS practitioners are qualified in a range of coreprofessions, and each has many years of practical experience.

Throughout the first few years, SPS mostly provided consultation, training and supervision to

community and inpatient staff. Along with humanistic and analytically informed practice,

creative methods, such as the image making 6-part story method, were utilised in assessment and formulation processes.

In collaboration with service users, the team spent three years working within a psychiatric acute ward, where a CAT (Cognitive Analytic Therapy) informed approach to care was developed and implemented. Throughout these, and subsequent endeavours, research evidence and service evaluation have been cornerstones for our work.

In response to evidence, evaluation, and requirements, the team began to provide longer

term psychotherapy, also hosting the ‘Borderline Workshop’ – a weekly group in which

practitioners could reflect upon complex dynamics related to borderline processes in clinical

practice. For over 10 years, clinical cases and theoretical papers have been discussed in a safe, secure, and consistent environment. Evaluations have demonstrated the positive impact of the Borderline Workshop, and several practitioners went on to pursue formal psychoanalytic training; bringing many benefits to the Trust.

The SPS is a small team, however, with the support of Trust colleagues, the hope is that

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy will continue to make useful contributions to Psychiatric

practice for the next 20 years, and beyond, albeit in ever changing forms.

We hope you enjoy getting to know the team better through their profiles in this article.


Dr Michael Stephenson, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy (Medical Psychotherapist)

My current job focuses mainly on individual outpatient consultations for assessment and treatment. I also undertake clinical consultation with colleagues.

I am the Psychotherapy Tutor overseeing Psychiatry Training for Core Trainees in the Humber & Grimsby Scheme and have supervised and trained many trainees. I also participate in medical meetings with my Consultant Medical colleagues both locally and nationally.

My favourite part of the job is working creatively with service users to work with dreams and images to find new ways of looking at their difficulties to help them develop.

When I was an SpR many years ago, planning to be a General Psychiatrist, there wasn’t routine Psychotherapy training as part of MRCPsych, so I took study leave to join an Experiential Analytic Group. 

I found it fascinating and immediately applied for dual training and commenced private training to become a Group Analyst. After working in Therapeutic Communities in my first Consultant jobs, I found I enjoyed the Psychotherapy component more than my General Adult Psychiatry work and that’s why I went for a Medical Psychotherapy post.

The main thing I have learned in the past 18 months is that remote working is far more effective than I anticipated. It has inspired me to learn more about adapting old ways of working to introduce new adaptations and be open to trying new opportunities.

To people looking to follow a career in psychotherapy…explore the different models to find which one best suits you. 

There are many differ kinds of Psychotherapy and some will suit you better than others. Talk to lots of people to ask advice. Be prepared to put in time and effort to achieve what you want. Sometimes, the training you choose may not be easily accessible and you might need to travel to train to high quality. Look upon it as a personal investment in your future.


Mary Clarke, Clinical Psychologist, Parent-Infant Practitioner, Cognitive Analytic Therapist (CAT)

Most of my working day is spent helping individuals and groups of people who have longstanding emotional problems affecting their capacity to live a contented life.

The work is hard, but it is very rewarding. Especially when someone engages well and starts to think and feel differently about themselves and to make changes that improve the quality of their lives.      

I did a placement in SPS many moons ago when I was doing Clinical Psychology training at Queen’s University in Belfast, this is what inspired me to continue in my career long term.

When I arrived from Belfast I thought Hull a very exotic place. I loved the work, the team and the model (primarily CAT at that time). After I completed my training, I moved to Hull, did my CAT training and further training in psychoanalytic models including Parent-Infant psychotherapy.

I have worked in several different specialities including with adults, children and families, mothers and babies and learning disabilities over the years but when I got the opportunity to come back to SPS in 2016, I grabbed it with both hands. It feels a little like I’ve come full circle career-wise. 

In the last 18 months, I have learned that it’s possible to do good therapeutic work using technology, but nothing is as affective in supporting someone with distressing memories and feelings than being physically present in the room with them.       

I would strongly encourage anyone thinking about Psychotherapy to seek further training in a psychodynamic model. 

I have many colleagues who have done this and who are using the knowledge and skills they have gained to make sense of symptoms and relational problems, even if they are not ‘doing psychotherapy’ or working in a psychotherapy department. 

We are fortunate that our Trust continues to support the delivery of high-quality psychotherapy in the region and we are hopeful that more people will want to join us in continuing to support service users in Hull and the East Riding.


Paul Fisher, Analytical Psychologist and Jungian Analyst

My day-to-day work includes the following activities - individual Psychotherapy; facilitating a weekly Psychotherapy group; consultation and supervision to colleagues; supervising Junior Doctors with psychotherapy training cases; clinical and CPD meetings with SPS.

Perhaps a Buddhist notion of the ‘beginners mind’, i.e. openness and not knowing engenders a necessary attitude in our work. The ‘expert mind’ of knowing, can be closed to new perspectives, but when balanced by the ‘beginners mind’ of ‘not knowing’, space for discovery and learning emerges. This is an essential aspect of Psychoanalytic practice.

Depth psychology provides a paradigm in which a wide variety of themes can be considered, for example; climate change, the pandemic, Neuroscience, mind, matter & quantum mechanics, and collective traumas borne out of sociological and political processes. CPD meetings in SPS present valuable opportunities to explore these, and many other ideas. We always welcome colleagues to join these discussions within we can learn from one another.

I qualified as a Mental Health Nurse in 1981, a General Nurse in 1985, and returned to MH Nursing in 1986. I then spent 10 years as a Community Psychiatric Nurse, 5 as a Psychiatric Acute Ward Manager, and 18 months in the Trust’s training department.

During my time as a CPN and Ward Manager, I was drawn to counselling and Psychotherapy. I qualified as a Person-Centred Counsellor in 1991, subsequently engaging in Gestalt Therapy training, which led into 4 years of training to become a UKCP registered Integrative Psychotherapist, qualifying in 1998. Early experiences, initially at De la Pole hospital, continued to inform and enrich my practice.

I joined SPS in 2001, where my interest in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy began. Through serendipity the opportunity to receive Jungian supervision arose, followed by several years of Jungian Analysis, and eventual qualification as an Analytical Psychologist and Jungian Analyst in 2019.

Each person’s journey to become a Psychotherapist will be unique.

After various intuitive meanderings, which began as a student nurse at De la Pole hospital, I feel comfortable (for now) in a ‘Jungian home’. Working with dreams and experiences borne out of the unconscious mind, provides something new in each encounter, and requires a scientific and poetic attitude. Depth psychology is highly applicable to the practicalities of everyday psychiatric practice, and this interface continues to interest and challenge.


Mark Sowerby, Psychotherapist

I came to psychotherapy via a winding career path, which started as a steel fabricator in the petrochemical industry. A job with great variety, that took me all around Europe (and the North Sea!) but which had a finite attraction.

I started doing voluntary youth-work in the mid 1990’s, in my spare time, and soon found myself on short ‘counselling skills’ courses. My interest was piqued, and I enrolled on a foundation certificate in counselling and increasingly focussed on transitioning to working full-time in this field. I eventually got a post as a drug counsellor with a local agency and embarked on a PGD in counselling and psychotherapy. Then, in 2000, I secured a post in the NHS as a Primary Care Counsellor. This brought me into contact with the Specialist Psychotherapy Service (SPS) for the first time, in the form of the Borderline Workshop, where my fascination with Psychoanalytic principles was born and took flight.

In 2010, an opportunity to join SPS as a trainee psychotherapist arose and I was fortunate enough to be successful. 6 years of training and twice weekly therapy on The Tavistock Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy course saw me qualify and take up a full-time role as Psychotherapist in SPS, where I have now been for 11 years.

Whether the focus of my thinking is one-to-one therapy, groupwork, consultations or supervisions there is an opportunity to get the perspectives and stimulating thoughts of my colleagues, which is invaluable. The opportunity to exercise the creative parts of my mind alongside the analytic brings me regular stimulation and satisfaction and I hope to continue for many years.

I cannot stress enough how important that entity, ‘the department SPS’ and the individuals within it are to me in my role. I could be a psychotherapist outside the department, but I do not think I would be the same therapist. I rely on the dialogue, support, challenge and containment that I get from my colleagues to function well and to continually challenge myself to evolve.


Nick Bolsover, Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist

I was an undergraduate at Hull University when there were four Clinical Psychologists on the teaching staff, two of them with national reputations and another who was an internationally respected clinician.

I soon developed a hope that I might become a Clinical Psychologist and, after a PhD from Dundee University, I trained on the Leeds University course. There I was influenced by Ronald Markillie, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, and began my interest and training in Psychotherapy. 

On my way to Hull and East Yorkshire, I worked in a therapeutic community in Sheffield and came to Broadgate and De la Pole hospitals as a District Psychologist in 1982.

I was given the title of Consultant Clinical Psychologist in 1988. 

As the hospitals prepared for closure, I talked to a number of psychotherapy training organisations about preparing staff, particularly nurses, for working in the community. I was pleased that the Institute of Family Therapy agreed to run their trainings locally at De la Pole, as well as in London.

In the mid-1980s, these trainings started and we had teaching sessions provided by the UK’s leading Family Therapists – Arnon Bentovim, Chris  Iveson, Robiin Skinner, Rosemary Whiffen, Sebastian Kramer, and others. 

It was during this time that I thought the underlying theory was Psychoanalytic i.e. how people relate to and influence each other.

After completing the training, I went on to further Psychodynamic Psychotherapy training, in particular I completed the Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) training.

I consider myself fortunate to have stumbled into a career working with people and I enjoy trying to understand them (and myself).

Like my colleagues in SPS, I continue to read, attend seminars and continue to pursue my interest in understanding people and helping them improve their experience of life.

  • Summary: