A counselling psychologist who set up a social enterprise to support families going through acrimonious relationship breakdowns is celebrating her first year in business.
Dr Sue Whitcombe, who completed her Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at Teesside University, set up Family Psychology Solutions last year and is based in the University’s Victoria Building, where she received guidance and support to help launch the social enterprise.
Family Psychology Solutions offers specialist services to families and children, as well as the professionals and practitioners who work with them. It also provides expert witness assessments in family court proceedings.
“Our core provision is working with complex relationship issues, particularly where there is hostility, conflict, rejection, alienation or estrangement,” explained Dr Whitcombe.
“The behaviours found in parental alienation are quite common. In some highly conflicted relationship breakdowns this can lead to one parent being rejected by a child in favour of the other. This is the result of the interaction of a range of complex factors. Our work with families focuses on understanding these factors and finding solutions together.
“This is something I am very passionate about and I don’t think that a child’s welfare and happiness should be determined by which parent has the most money or who has the most power in the courtroom.
“The repercussions for children affected in these cases can include enduring mental health difficulties, substance misuse and lifelong problems with relationships.”
Dr Whitcombe has carried out work across the country during her first year running the social enterprise but is eager to focus more on local families.
She added: “Setting up the social enterprise and helping families in difficult situations is something I have wanted to do for a long time.
“Completing my doctorate enabled me to carry out more in-depth research into parental alienation and it gave me both the confidence and expertise to set up Family Psychology Solutions.
“The support I received, and am receiving, from the University is fantastic and I have been extremely busy – working all over the country and providing expert witness reports in family court proceedings.”
Dr Whitcombe is holding an open afternoon at Teesside University’s Centre for Enterprise for local practitioners and agencies involved in family law, child and family services and mental health on Thursday, September 17. The aim is to explore opportunities for collaborative work in the local area.