Dr Michelle Sowden
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
PsychD, MSc, BSc
After qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist in 1993 I gained experience in community mental health day hospital and acute services with Heathlands Mental Health Trust, before moving to Frimley Park Hospital in 1995, to take up a post specialising in the psychological care of patients with physical health problems. Since then I have set up and developed a clinical psychology service across the hospital, developing experience across a wide range of specialities.
I have taken a keen interest in promoting and enhancing psychological wellbeing especially for people experiencing critical or life changing illness. I strongly believe that good psychological care should be embedded in patient care at all levels of the service. To this end I have been actively working with the local Critical Care and Cancer Networks and have delivered extensive training for physical health care staff across a range of specialities.
My therapeutic work is always based on a thorough assessment of your needs and discussion about what you would like to work on. I can offer a range of therapies including cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness and EMDR (for trauma). I am able to offer help individually or with relationship issues.
People consult me when they think that emotional issues are affecting how they recover from, manage and/or live alongside a physical health condition. These emotional issues may include low mood, anxiety or generally feeling fed up with and despondent about their health. They may also be experiencing difficulties tolerating treatment and side effects. Overcoming these emotional difficulties can be an important part of the overall recovery process and ability to resume a fulfilling and satisfying life. Examples include coping with a diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, cardiac disease, respiratory condition, chronic pain, fatigue or rheumatological condition, neurological disorder, gastrointestinal disorder or obstetric or gynaecological issues.
Treatments carried out by me: Enhancing health and wellbeing using a psychological approach drawing on Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). My work involves helping people cope with the emotional, practical and social challenges of experiencing serious, critical and/or life changing illness including chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, cardiac, respiratory, gastroenterological and neurological problems. I also work with people experiencing emotional difficulties in the ante or post-natal period.
This may include: Managing long term illness. For instance, coming to terms with a difficult diagnosis and finding ways of coping better with symptoms and physical limitations; Coping with anxiety, depression or post- traumatic stress arising in relation to physical illness or injury; Coping with psychological distress during pregnancy, childbirth and the perinatal period including fear of childbirth, psychological trauma from more complex deliveries and ante- or post-natal anxiety or depression; Coping with unpleasant symptoms such as long term/chronic pain and fatigue; Coping with symptoms that may cause embarrassment such as unpredictable bowel motions or wind, and visible changes in appearance; Overcoming health related phobias, including needle phobias, fear of scanners, anaesthesia, surgery, dental work, worries about health and panic attacks, for instance, associated with allergies; Support with making difficult health related decisions such as in relation to hysterectomy and prophylactic surgery; Managing more general stress, anxiety and low mood; Coping with changes in appearance that are causing distress, such as scarring, loss of limbs, acne and body image changes due to weight gain or loss; Overcoming health related phobias, including needle phobias, fear of scanners, anaesthesia, surgery, dental work, worries about health and panic attacks, for instance, associated with allergies.
Some of the principal treatments carried out by Dr Michelle Sowden at Spire include:
Some of the principal treatments carried out include:
Please note that traditionally clinical psychologists have provided help to people with mental health difficulties. However, my expertise lies in helping people manage physical health problems and I have over 23 years experience of working in a general hospital alongside doctors and nurses contributing to people’s recovery and rehabilitation. Whilst I am happy to advise on onwards referrals for severe and enduring mental health problems and head injuries, these require a different expertise.
PsychD Clinical Psychology / University of Surrey / 1995
Doctorate training in Clinical Psychology
MSc Clinical Psychology / University of Surrey / 1993
Masters in Clinical Psychology
BSc (Hons) Psychology / University of Surrey / 1991
First degree in Psychology
Registered Clinical Psychologist (Health and Care Professional Council)
Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society / Chartered Psychologist
I also contribute to training clinical psychologists on the doctorate course at the University of Surrey and have taught on the MSc in Palliative Care there.
I am a co-author of CBT for Chronic Illness and Palliative Care: A Workbook and Toolkit, which was published by Wiley in 2008 and is used as a textbook by a range of training providers. I have also published research papers in the field of chronic pain.
Sage, N., Sowden, M., Chorlton, E. and Edeleanu A, (2008) CBT for Chronic Illness and Palliative Care: A Workbook and Toolkit, Wiley.
Sowden, M., Sage, N. and Cockburn, J. (2004) Coping and Adjustment in Pregnancy; giving babies a better start. In Cockburn J. and Pawson, M. (Eds), Psychological Challenges in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Springer.
Hatch, A., Sowden, M & Peskett, E. (2007). Annual refresher day: a cost effective contribution to a model of service provision for a long-term condition. Poster presented at the British Pain Society, UK, 2007.
Hatch, A., Coombs, J., and Sowden, M. (2005) Can four key psychosocial risk factors for chronic pain and disability be modified by a pain management programme? A follow-up study. Poster presented at the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) World Conference, Sydney, Australia.
Sowden, M., Edelmann, R. and Rankin, H. (1994) Individual differences in response to patient controlled analgesia. British Psychological Society London Conference 1994. Abstract published in the Proceedings of the British Psychological Society, 2(1), 54.
Sowden, M., Hatch, A., Gray, S. and Coombs, J. (2006) Can four psychosocial risk factors for chronic pain and disability be modified by a pain management programme? A pilot study, Physiotherapy, 92 (1), 43-49
Sowden, M., Gray, S. and Hatch, A. (2004) How understanding the personal experience of living with chronic pain has led to opportunities for further service development, Clinical Psychology, (35), 29-32
I am contracted by the Royal Surrey County Hospital to provide the clinical supervision for psychology within the Intensive Care Unit.
My therapeutic work is always based on a thorough assessment of your needs and discussion about what you would like to work on. I can offer a range of therapies including cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness and EMDR (for trauma). I am able to offer help individually or with relationship issues. I am trained and experienced in working with people facing very difficult and distressing events in their lives. In line with standard professional requirements, I access regular clinical supervision from a fellow Consultant Clinical Psychologist who specialises in the same field. Please phone me if you would like to discuss your needs.