Sophia Elise

Counselling, Coaching, Relationship Therapy and Supervision

Life can be hard and there are times when we can feel overwhelmed by the struggles we face. At these times we often need someone to talk to, someone who will listen to us, without judging, who can provide the extra help and support we need to get us through the tough times. This is where I can help.

Admitting you need help is not always easy, but everyone needs help sometimes. Reaching out for help is a strong and courageous act. As a counsellor and relationship therapist I will support you and work with you, to your agenda. Together we will find the answers and solutions to the challenges you are facing.  I am passionate about helping people turn their vision for their future into reality, and to live the best life possible. Help is available, you can feel better.

Areas of Special Interest

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Depression
  • Relationship Problems
  • Separation and Child Custody
  • Parenting Issues/Blended families
  • Sexual Issues
  • Anger Management
  • Increasing Resiliency and Self confidence
  • Neurobiology of Early Life Trauma
  • Narcissism and narcissistic abuse

Counselling Services

I provide counselling for adults, adolescents, families and couples.

My counselling approach is based in Collaborative Therapies and includes Narrative Therapy and Solution Focused Brief Therapy. I also draw from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Neuroscience, Attachment theory and other modalities as appropriate. I will listen to your story without judgment and you will choose your own goals for therapy. We will identify the origin of the problem as well as patterns of thoughts and behaviours that are keeping you stuck. We will focus on future possibilities and solutions, identifying your strengths, skills and abilities that can help you to improve your life.

My couples therapy is based on the Developmental Model and Gottman Method. Together we will identify the issues in the relationship and what you would like to improve. A variety of approaches will be used to help you repair your relationships, rebuild intimacy and connection with each other, improve your communication, increase your understanding of yourself and your partner, develop skills, resolve conflicts and build a stronger, more resilient relationship to take you into the future.

As your counsellor I will:

  • Work in partnership with you.
  • Consult with you about your goals, directions and the counselling process.
  • Combine your knowledge and expertise, with my skills to find your individualised way forward.
  • View the problem as separate from you.
  • Jointly identify your unique skills, abilities, strengths, values, commitments, and beliefs that will help you.
  • Develop practical tools, techniques and resources.
  • Promote self-reliance and the use of your own resources in meeting challenges.
  • Make all case notes available to you and written in your words with no technical terms.
  • Be transparent with my thoughts and allow room for you to disagree.
  • Not make assumptions or judgments.
  • Enjoy the spontaneity of our conversation

About Me

Before qualifying as a counsellor I worked as a registered nurse (18 years), manager of a non-profit organisation, business mentor and life coach. After qualifying as a counsellor, I worked in a community clinic and a secondary school. I’ve now been in private practice exclusively for many years. I’m experienced in working with adolescents, families, individuals and couples. I’m a specialised relationship therapist with advanced training. I attend many professional development courses every year to ensure I stay current and deliver the best possible service to all my clients.

My partner and I have five adult children and one grandchild between us. In my spare time I enjoy beach and bush walks, travelling, reading, movies, pub quizzes, art, going to shows (especially comedy ones), cooking and sharing a meal with friends. I have lived on the North Shore my whole life and enjoy being close to the beautiful beaches. I understand first hand how hard life can be because I have also experienced challenges and difficulties that have affected my relationships, health, children and family. Most recently I had to take a break from work for a period to undergo treatment for breast cancer. 

Supervision Services

I offer clinical supervision to counsellors and other health care professionals. As a supervisor, I am committed to offering a supportive and nourishing experience for supervisees which enables them to continue to continue working safely, ethically and to their fullest potential. Supervision is collaborative journey, where you can reflect on, extend and expand your practice. It provides an opportunity to learn, explore, and discover new ways of thinking, to review skills, contemplate ethical dilemmas, identify appropriate professional development and find the best way of working for you.

FAQs

Q Registrations and Memberships

- Full Member Registered with the NZ Association of Counsellors (MNZAC)
- Supervisor registered with NZAC and NZCCA
- Member of Couples Therapy NZ

Q Qualifications, Training and Research

Qualifications
- Master of Applied Practice (1st Class Honours)
- Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling
- Certificate in Supervision Skills for Health and Social Services Professionals
- Certificate in Professional Mentoring, Supervision and Workplace Coaching
- Diploma in Nursing
- Relationship Therapy Developmental Model Level 1 and 2 Certificate
- Relationship Therapy Gottman Method Level 1 Certificate
- Accredited Facilitator of My FRIENDS Youth and FRIENDS for Life Programs

Additional training courses
- Solution Focused Brief Therapy (Compass)
- Response Based Therapy for Bullying and Violence (NZAC)
- Anxiety and Mindfulness (NICABM)
- Depression (NICABM)
- Anger (NICABM)
- Trauma (NICABM)
- Working with Core Beliefs of "Not Good Enough" (NICABM)
- Working with Feelings of Imposter Syndrome (NICAMB)
- Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Dr Leah Giarratano)
- Treating Complex Trauma and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Dr Leah Giarratano)
- Working with Couples (Couplework)
- Navigating Emotional and Sexual Intimacy with Couples (STNZ)
- How To Talk About Sex for Practitioners (Tanya Koens)
- Working with Sexual Desire Discrepancy (Paula Dennan)
- Developmental Trauma and Sexuality (Sex Therapy New Zealand)
- Out of Control Sexual Behaviour (STNZ)
- Male Sexuality - implications for therapy with men, women and couples (Mind Body Institute)
- Sex Ed by Porn - helping young people (Maree Crabbe)
- Neurobiology and Early Life Stress (Compass)
- REPAIR Programme - Neurobiological interventions for Early Life Trauma (Compass)
- Working with Step-Families (Mike and Adele Cornish)
- EFT (tapping) (Robyn Shepherd)
- Understanding Enneagram Personalities
- Leadership through Mentoring (Re-new Mothers)
- Leading and Guiding a School through a Traumatic Incident (MOE)
- Preventing and Responding to Suicide (MOE)
- Managing Suicides in School (MOE)

Awards
Winner Most Community Minded Business - David Awards
Finalist Most Inspired use of Marketing - David Awards
Finalist Most Community Minded Business - David Awards
Finalist Her Business Women of the Year

Research
- Experiences of Narcissistic Abuse: An exploration of effects on women who have had a long term, intimate relationship with a suspected narcissistic male partner
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341275894_Experiences_of_Narcissistic_Abuse_An_exploration_of_the_effects_on_women_who_have_had_a_long_term_intimate_relationship_with_a_suspected_narcissistic_male_partner

Q Appointments

Monday - Thursday
9am - 6pm

Please note:
While in "Red setting" of the Covid framework, all appointments will be online.

In "Orange" the majority of appointments will be online, except for those few that can't work online and need face to face appointments.

Q Fees

Individuals 60 minutes:
- Adults: $160
- Under 20 yr: $130

Couples 90 minutes:
$250

- Reduced fees available for limited incomes please contact me to discuss. I accept WINZ funding.

Supervision:
$150

Q Payment Options

Cash or Internet deposit.
I do not have eftpos or credit card facilities.

Q More about Counselling and Coaching

I provide counselling services for adults, teenagers and families. My counselling approach is based in Collaborative Therapies where I draw mainly from Narrative Therapy and Solution Focused Brief Therapy. At times I incorporate aspects of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Neuroscience, Attachment theory and other modalities as appropriate.

Narrative therapy begins by listening to your story (what we see, feel, and do), without judgment then working to help you to change your current “problem story” to a “success story”. It includes identifying the problem, noting the exceptions to the problem, uncovering your strengths, skills and abilities, envisioning future possibilities, finishing with you living out your new “success story”.



Solution Focused Brief Therapy helps to increase hopefulness and facilitate change by engaging in solution focused talk. We focus on future possibilities, solutions, optimistic thinking and work together to identify and establish effective patterns of behaviour. You chose your own goals which are small and realistic.



Cognitive Behaviour Therapy focuses on the automatic negative thoughts that can create feelings of anxiety or depression which keep us stuck in life. We will work to identify these thoughts and how they affect your life and learn how to challenge and rewrite them so that you feel more hopeful, optimistic and happier.

As your counsellor I will:
Work alongside and with you in partnership.
Consult with you about your goals, directions and thoughts around the counselling process.
Combine your personal knowledge and expertise, with my abilities as a counsellor, so that we work together to find your own individualised ways forward.
View the problem as separate from the person i.e. the problem is the problem, the person is not the problem.
Acknowledge and jointly identify your own unique skills, abilities, strengths, values, commitments, beliefs and competencies that will help you with the problems that may be influencing your life.
Develop practical tools, techniques and resources to assist you.
Promote self-reliance and the use of your own resources in meeting whatever challenges are present and also develop your own ways of managing things in the future.
Make all case notes available to you and written in your words with no technical or theoretical terms used.
Be transparent with my thoughts and ideas and allowing room for you to disagree or correct me.
Not make assumptions or judgments.
Enjoy the spontaneity of our conversation.

My practice is guided by the NZAC (New Zealand Association of Counsellors) Code of Ethics and I hold a current practicing certificate as a full member.

Do you have some more questions? Either Contact me directly or check out my FAQ page.

Q More about Relationship Therapy

I'm an experienced and specialised relationship therapist who uses a range of counselling modalities to assist couples. My relationship therapy work is based on the Bader Pearson Developmental Model, as well as drawing from the Gottman Method and other modalities as appropriate.

The Developmental Model assists each person to gain a greater awareness of unconscious interactional patterns and emotional triggering. It also ensures that people don't feel reliant on their partner changing in order to make progress, as it encourages each partner to focus on their own change, instead of looking to their partner for solutions. It includes a sophisticated skills training approach that allows clients to learn new skills in the context of meaningful exercises that are relevant to them. This ultimately decreases conflict and improves communication and intimacy.

Together we will identify the issues in the relationship and what you would like to improve. A variety of approaches will be used to help you repair your relationships, rebuild intimacy and connection with each other, improve your communication, increase your understanding of yourself and your partner, resolve conflicts and build a stronger, more resilient relationship to take you into the future.

As your counsellor I will:
Work alongside and with you in partnership.
Consult with you about your goals, directions and thoughts around the counselling process.
Combine your personal knowledge and expertise, with my abilities as a counsellor, so that we work together to find your own individualised ways forward.
View the problem as separate from the person i.e. the problem is the problem, the person is not the problem.
Acknowledge and jointly identify your own unique skills, abilities, strengths, values, commitments, beliefs and competencies that will help you with the problems that may be influencing your life.
Develop practical tools, techniques and resources to assist you.
Promote self-reliance and the use of your own resources in meeting whatever challenges are present and also develop your own ways of managing things in the future.
Make all case notes available to you and written in your words with no technical or theoretical terms used.
Be transparent with my thoughts and ideas and allowing room for you to disagree or correct me.
Not make assumptions or judgments.
Enjoy the spontaneity of our conversation.

My practice is guided by the NZAC (New Zealand Association of Counsellors) Code of Ethics and I hold a current practicing certificate as a full member.

Have some more questions? Either contact me directly, or check out my FAQ page

Q More about Supervision

I offer clinical supervision to counsellors and other health care professionals. As a supervisor, I am committed to offering a supportive and nourishing experience for supervisees which enables them to continue to continue working safely, ethically and to their fullest potential. Supervision is collaborative journey, where you can reflect on, extend and expand your practice. It provides an opportunity to learn, explore, and discover new ways of thinking, to review skills, contemplate ethical dilemmas, identify appropriate professional development and find the best way of working for you. Trust and openness are essential for the relationship to work well and for the supervisee to be able to make good use of the perspective, support, feedback, problem solving, and learning that the supervisor can provide.

Supervision has three core elements: Case work and Professional Development, Professional Ethics and Self-care.

Case work and Professional Development
In supervision you will have the space to look at case work in detail, develop your skills, increase your learning and develop your professional identity. The collaborative relationship means we work together to reflect on and analyse work with clients. After all, “Two heads are better than one”. The discussions we have, can give you a better understanding of clients, your relationship with clients, effectiveness of interventions, your own emotional responses, and create plans for the direction of future work. This is especially beneficial when there are difficulties or impasses with work which may be due to anxieties, stress or biases. In these situations, working together can help open up more creative and imaginative ways of thinking. Overtime I develop knowledge of your strengths and developmental needs and can help you to identify further areas of skills development.

Professional Ethics
A critical part of Supervision it to ensure that you are working within the code of ethics and standards set by your professional body. Together we will identify any ethical issues that arise and find solutions to these problems. Having an ethical practice not only encompasses client work but also working with colleagues, other professionals, and the broader professional community you work in. When working in New Zealand this also takes into consideration cultural competency and sensitivity, as well as a commitment to work against existing inequalities when providing health care services. Supervision helps you to foster self-awareness of how culture is part of your relationships with clients of various cultural backgrounds and with diverse ethnicities.

Self-care
Supervision has a strong restorative and nourishing element. The supervisor – supervisee relationship provides support for the emotional effects of therapeutic work and also helps provide resources on how to manage stress and foster self-care. As your supervisor I have in mind you as a whole person and your well-being.

Q FAQ about counselling

Below are some frequently asked questions about counselling and relationship therapy:

I'm in Crisis. What should I do?
Unfortunately I do not offer a mental health crisis service but here are some contacts for people who do:
In a real emergency where someone's safety is at immediate risk please phone 111

If you can make an appointment with your GP or see an emergency Dr, that is often a good place to start. They will know what services are available to help you.

There are also helplines you can phone:
Free call or txt 1737 any time to receive support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or free txt 4357 (HELP)
Youthline - 0800 376 633 or free txt 234
Samaritans - 0800 726 666

If you have been a victim of sexual assault you can contact:
The HELP foundation 09 623 1700 or Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

If you have been a victim of domestic violence you can contact:
Shine 0508 744 633 or Women's Refuge 0800 733 843

Is what we talk about confidential?
Yes. What we talk about during a session remains between us. However, there are some exceptions to this
1.When you or someone else is at risk of serious harm.
2.When children are in danger.
3.When you give permission for your information to be shared with another person.
4.During Supervision. All counsellors are required to attend professional supervision. This means talking to an experienced counsellor about our client work to ensure that we are clear on our motivations, our own processes, and that both the clients and ourselves are kept safe. My supervisor is bound by the same ethics and confidentiality as me.

What happens during a first appointment?
The first session is usually about getting to know each other, finding out what has bought you to counselling, and what your expectations and goals are for counselling. It’s also an opportunity for you to work out whether I’m the right counsellor for you.

What if I don’t like you or we don’t click/connect?
Sometimes in life people just don’t click/connect and that’s ok. If you think I’m not the right counsellor for you, I won’t be upset or offended. Honesty is important. You just need to tell me and I will work with you to help find a counsellor who may be a better fit for you. I want you to get the help you need.

What if I don't want to talk about some topics?
Counselling is not about re-traumatising you or making you re-live painful or traumatic experiences. I will respect your desire to discuss what is relevant and comfortable to you. Hopefully over time, as you learn to trust me more and we develop a rapport, you will feel more comfortable discussing topics that may once have been out of bounds for you.

Will you tell me what to do?
No. Counselling is not about telling you what to do, telling you who to be with etc. I will work with you to work out what is right for you.

How many times sessions/appointments will I need?
You may find that one session is all you need for a specific issue. Sometimes ongoing support is required. I often find that 6-8 sessions is enough for most individual clients to feel that their life is back in control and that they feel confident in managing on their own again. With relationship therapy, couples usually require longer therapy but it can vary depending on the issues that brought you to see me and what you are hoping to achieve.

How often do I need to see you?
If you are in crisis, more frequent sessions can be helpful at the beginning, and sessions can then be spread out as you feel stronger and more able to manage. Clients generally lose momentum and motivation if they wait too long between appointments. Therefore it is often better to have weekly appointments for the first 4 weeks, then reassess at that point and maybe move to fortnightly ones. With relationship therapy, I recommend that couples commit to weekly sessions for the first six weeks in order to achieve some traction and so that motivation remains high.

How will I know when I don’t need to come anymore?
I often find that clients can tell within themselves when they no longer need to come. I also look out for signs of increasing confidence and strength and will discuss these with you. My goal is to help get you back to living your life with confidence as quickly as possible. Endings are important, so when you are ready to finish, let me know. Our final session is an opportunity for us to farewell each other and also to honour the journey we have taken together.

Can I bring my kids, partner or friend to my appointments?
You are welcome to bring a support person, partner or friend to your counselling appointments. They can be part of the counselling process or merely there for moral support - it's completely up to you. However, I don’t have a separate waiting room so if you do bring someone with you, you need to be comfortable with having them in the room with us. With children it is better to make alternative arrangements for childcare so that you are able to give our sessions your undivided attention and that we can talk freely. If you have a young baby that you need to bring with you, please let me know prior to the session.

What if I see you when I’m out and about?
If we come across each other in another setting, I will not approach you (although I am happy to be approached by you!) This is to prevent any possible embarrassment for you; if you have company, you may not want the people you are with to know how we met.

Q FAQ about counselling online

I am not sure I can find a place that I feel is sufficiently private. What can do?
This is a common concern that people have. Here are some ways people have found to manage this:- schedule the appointment for when other people in your home are out; sit in your car in the driveway or garage; drive your car to a nearby favourite place; use headphones so that people can't hear my voice; let others know that you are on an important call and not to enter the room or come down that end of the house.

Where will you be when you talk to me?
I will be sitting in my therapy office. So if you have visited my therapy office before, it will look the same. The door will be closed, and there won’t be anyone that can overhear our conversation.

Will therapy really work if we do it online?
I can understand that this feels different from being in the room with a counsellor. Research shows that online therapy is a viable and effective form of therapy. If you are unsure, we can always try a 30 minute appointment to try the experience. If you don’t like it, then we can explore other ways to engage moving forward.

I’m not a very technical person and technology scares me
I understand that you are concerned about your ability to work the technology. I will be right here to support you through that. Here are some tips to make the transition a bit easier - use the easiest and most reliable device you have; have your mobile phone handy so that you can use the hotspot function if the internet/wifi is unreliable or slow. I will send an email at least 24 hours prior to your appointment which will contain clear instructions on how to join the online session. If you have trouble connecting at the time of your appointment, phone me and we can talk through any issues. If it still doesn’t work, I will call you on your mobile or home line to continue our appointment.

What app/technology/platform do you use?
I use Zoom for most of my online appointments as it has been shown to be the most reliable, secure and easy to use. It is simple and free to download from the app store if you are using an iPad or mobile phone. If you are using a laptop or desktop you don’t need to download anything, just make sure your device has a camera and microphone.

Do I need anything specific with me for an online appointment?
Its always a good idea to make sure you have water, tissues, device charger nearby and a pen and paper. Remember to close the door as well. Make sure that you don’t have bright lights behind you or radios or TV in the background because it can make it harder to see and hear you.

I’m still not sure that online therapy is for me
I totally understand that you may really struggle with the idea of online therapy and it may feel odd at first. In those situations, we can always try a 30 minute appointment to see how it works for you. At the end of the session we can discuss how you found using the online platform and if you have any feedback or suggestions on how we could improve future appointments. In my experience, clients generally find it much better than they ever imagined.

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