dr shima espahbodi
PsychoSoul Therapy - A Natural Way to Heal
– PhD, MSc, MBACP
As an experienced integrative psychotherapist my practice has developed to include a broad range of clients from diverse backgrounds, ages, and cultures. I have over 20 years clinical experience gained working both as a clinical research scientist and psychotherapist in the NHS, academia and charity sectors combined. I have a compassionate nature and care deeply about helping people to heal from emotional/psychological pain and suffering.
Psychotherapy is regarded as a type of ‘talking therapy’ -- however it is much more than that. It is a system within which a dynamic is formed between therapist and client which serves to catalyse the healing process. By working together we will be able to explore experiences, emotions, and thoughts that may be causing you difficulties/distress today. These may be related to the past, present, and/or concerns about the future. By talking problems through in a safe and confidential space, where we will be able to develop a therapeutic relationship, I will be able to facilitate your gaining insight, perspective and understanding. With this will come shifts in ones mental, emotional and physical energy, relief of distress and a renewed sense of wellbeing.
Ultimately the work of therapy is to initiate the healing process of the self - the word ‘psychotherapy’ derives from ancient Greek where psyche=breath; soul; spirit and therapia=healing. In my work I am influenced by the work of CG Jung, C Rogers, S Freud, RD Laing, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Buddhism, Sufism, Mawlana Rumi, S Grof, M Smith, Vedanta, P Levine and B Van der Kolk amongst others.
"My journey into psychotherapy began with the body".
My journey into psychotherapy began with the body – a scientific exploration of blood flow imaging in patients suffering with chronic back pain.
This was the topic of my 5-year clinical PhD research from Imperial College London. I am interested in the subjective experience of chronic pain and the relationship between biology, dis-ease and emotional burdens. These may be linked to unresolved traumas/issues often occurring in early life. Such painful experiences may develop into somatic blocks and/or unhealthy behavioural patterns.
As a Postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University, I explored the bio-psychosocial risk factors associated with chronic illnesses. This revealed the relationship between chronic pain, depression and anxiety in patients under our care for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and other inflammatory conditions.
These insights and my extensive clinical experience - motivated me to become a psychotherapist. I completed my training in 2012 and am a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MBACP). Trained in both clinical sciences and psychotherapeutic approaches, I offer an integral/holistic approach to psychotherapy. With a unique focus on the links between body and mind I am able to bring multiple aspects of self into conscious awareness. One of my focuses is on trauma-related therapy. My trauma-based work began whilst practicing as a psychotherapist at Oxford’s Simon House - a residential hostel for people who had become homeless.
Trauma Related Work
Many of my clients suffered from a range of moderate to severe mental health issues. These problems included anxiety, complex trauma, addiction problems, complex PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, self-harm, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia. These difficulties were often the result of severe childhood trauma and neglect. I am forever grateful to all the courageous men and women who trusted, shared and bared their souls in our therapeutic work together. My multidimensional training enables me the unique opportunity to integrate trauma related work with the psychodynamic and humanistic models in my psychotherapy practice.
My training consists of an invaluable experience working with complex-trauma related cases and crisis situations. Every session at PsychoSoul Therapy is organic and tailored to meet the unique needs of each of my clients.
I work therapeutically with individuals, couples, families, and groups from the ages of about 15 years upwards. My approach is integral, eclectic and creative and, depending on individual needs, I may incorporate art and music into our work together. I ensure that therapeutic healing sessions are always confidential and supportive.
I am a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MBACP) and abide by their code of ethical practice. As such my name is on the BACP Register for Counsellors and Psychotherapists.
Education and Experience
PhD: Imperial College London: Back Pain Imaging and Psychosocial Factors
MSc: Imperial College London: Medical Science
Diploma (CPCAB) Accredited: Therapeutic Counselling
Trauma, Dissociation and Recovery: Healing the Brain-the neuroscience of trauma leading to complex PTSD and DID. Cert. (PODS), London 2016
Working with Relational Trauma: Early childhood trauma through the lens of Attachment Theory. Cert. (PODS), London 2015
Trauma and the Body: the impact of childhood sexual abuse on the body and physical health. Cert. (PODS), London 2014
Living and Working with Dissociation. Cert. (PODS), London 2013
Why do people self-harm? Cert. (SRF), London 2012
Domestic Violence: The impact on attachment relationships in families, Cert, (SRF), London 2011
Foundations in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Cert. (CPPE), London 1993
Good Clinical Practice, Oxford University 2012
Medical Statistics for STATA, MRC Clinical Trials Unit, University College London 2002
Founder, shima espahbodi:
Practitioner, East/West Clinic
Practitioner, Positive Energy Group
Treatment & Healing Approaches
Integral Clinical Psychotherapy
Humanistic & Person-Centred Therapy
Inner Child Therapy
A talking and listening treatment that uses the relationship between patient and therapist to identify and change patterns of thoughts and feelings that hamper the patient's emotional life.
As with individual therapy, but also benefiting from the relationship with and different perspectives from other group members, who have similar but distinct problems.
Sometimes a person's illness can act as a spokesperson for a family's difficulties. The therapy team works with the whole family to draw on their strengths and overcome their shared difficulties.
"Therapy with Shima has been an instrumental part of my healing journey over the past year. Her multi faceted wisdom has helped guide me to the deepest parts of myself that have been ignored my whole life. Allowing these parts to be examined in a safe, compassionate space has helped me flourish, view my ever healing wounds through a lense of self care and self love and has allowed me to engage fully with all aspects of myself.
Her non judgmental, kind and down to earth manner means I have always felt comfortable during sessions being honest and authentic in sharing painful aspects of my life.
I would not be where I am today in terms of significant emotional, psychological and spiritual improvement from what had been diagnosed as bi polar disorder reliant only on medication for treatment without the help of Shima (herself) and how she has allowed me to unlock my own power to heal and love myself. I am now medication free and am coping with life in healthy ways I never dreamed possible during the hard times of the past!"
Client MA, 26 year old Female
PSYCHOTHERAPY & PLANT MEDICINE HEALING
PsychoSoul Therapy uses an integral psychotherapeutic approach to inner growth and personal development. PsychoSoul Therapy encompasses all dimensions of the human experience and states of consciousness. It utilises a bio-psycho-social and transpersonal (spiritual) methodology for therapeutic healing This multi-layered process often enables clients to recover and reconnect with deeper, hidden parts yielding an integrated sense of self. PsychoSoul's integrative psychotherapy employs psychotherapeutic techniques from various approaches. Its core focus is on healing deep wounds, reconnecting with self, and empowering the person to flourish in healthy ways. Long standing self-destructive patterns are reduced/cleared and replaced with self compassion and care.
Ayahuasca, yage, caapi, mother Aya - these are some of the names for a mystical medicinal plant tea used in shamanic rituals of the South America. For centuries, if not millennia, indigenous Amazonian shamans have used ayahuasca to heal the physical, emotional and spiritual ills of their communities. The consumption of the "teacher" plant opens the gateway to the spiritual world and its secrets.
The earliest Europeans to mention Ayahuasca were Jesuits travelling in the Amazon. One of the earliest such reports of this “diabolical potion,” written in 1737, describes it as: “an intoxicating potion ingested for divinatory and other purposes and called ayahuasca, which deprives one of his senses and, at times, of his life.” Yet, a more serious scientific study of ayahuasca began in the 1850s with the field investigations of the English botanist Richard Spruce. In his Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes, he described its sources, its preparation and its effects upon himself. Notably, the samples of the vine which Spruce sent to England for analysis were still active over a century later, when they were examined in 1966. It is worth mentioning that the credit for the earliest published reports of Ayahuasca usage belongs to the Ecuadorian geographer Manuel Villavicencio, who in 1858 wrote of the use of Ayahuasca in sorcery and divination in the region of the upper Rio Napo.
The use of vines for healing, initiatory and shamanic rites extended from Colombia to the Amazon of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Ayahuasca is an integral part of some tribal societies of the Amazon. In 2008, Peruvian government recognised ayahuasca's status, stating that it is "one of the basic pillars of the identity of the Amazon peoples”, and thus the plant and its uses to be allowed and protected.
After a series of articles in popular media in late 90’s-00s, the use of this visionary brew become increasingly popular in the West. However, it is still considered illegal in most of the countries due to its psychoactive ingredients. Traditional amazonian medicine is a blend of two plants - the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a shrub called chacruna (Psychotria viridis), which contains the hallucinogenic drug dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Together they constitute the ayahuasca ritual tea. Like many psychedelics, DMT interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain in order to elevate mood and enhance emotional wellbeing: a tool, which, if used properly, can catalyse a therapeutic or personal growth process. Notably, the DMT compound has been successfully used to treat psychological disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though much more research is needed in order to illuminate the neurobiological mechanisms behind this therapeutic effect.
Ayahuasca sessions are usually done in a group setting, lasting between three and seven hours. They are led by a facilitator, who can be a healer, a shaman, ‘neo-shaman’, or a western therapist.
The experience constitutes of different stages and often lasts throughout the night. Many consider ayahuasca to be a mirror of the inner self, where, in the same way that internal conflicts may surface, so may surface the wonderful sides. The experience is often accompanied by a deep stress and trauma release, as well as physical purging. The setting provides for a safe and therapeutic environment for that.
There is a number of scientific institutes currently conducting research on the effects of psychedelics, including ayahuasca, in treating psychological disorders. Most notably, the Beckley Foundation, in Oxford, the Barcelona-based International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS), and a California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is largely responsible for funding and implementation of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy treatments for PTSD (currently awaiting FDA approval in the US).