My approach to individual and couples counselling
My name is Catherine Topham Sly and I am a warm and welcoming professional counsellor, writer, and speaker.
I work with adult individuals and couples who want to make changes and feel better – in Brighton and Hove and online.
If you decide to come for counselling with me, whether on your own or with a partner, we will work together to make sense of your problems and find a way forwards.
I will give you the space to tell your story and unravel your thoughts and feelings. I will listen not only with empathy but also with an objective distance that enables me to make links you may not have noticed.
I will offer my ideas to you with an open mind. This way we can think together about what you need and how you can get it.
Through my training and experience – professional and personal – I have a deep understanding of the range of difficulties that bring people to counselling. I also have a great respect for anyone who is brave enough to face their struggles and explore what they can do about them.
Often I think the core aim of counselling is best summed up by the serenity prayer. If you are looking to achieve serenity (or something close to it!) therapy can help you to develop the wisdom to work out what you cannot change and accept it, and the courage to change the things you can.
The best way to find out whether I would be the right therapist for you would be to book a consultation but if you would like to know a little more about my background first, please read on.
Catherine Topham Sly’s Professional Background
My academic background is in linguistics, the scientific study of language. I took a particular interest in psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics: what the things we say and how we say them tell us about ourselves and how we relate to others.
After University I worked at a communications consultancy. I managed people and projects and developed my listening skills as a market research focus group facilitator and trainer. I enjoyed the work but found the corporate world unfulfilling so in 2011 I started training as a counsellor.
In 2018 I decided to combine my expertise on what makes healthy, satisfying relationships with my workshop leadership skills. I started writing Relationship Goals 2.0, the regular event for parents in Brighton and Hove which launched in July 2019. Relationship Goals 2.0 is a relaxed event where parents learn the skills and habits that keep couples close while having fun together in a room above a pub.
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit I wanted to do something to support young families in lockdown together, so I released the online course Love in Lockdown. This self-paced course is still available, and recommended to anyone who finds themselves getting into conflict when under stress.
I am also the author of Back In The Sack, the PDF workbook which has helped hundreds of couples to get their sex lives back on track after kids.
I have a postgrduate Diploma in Counselling and Therapy from Northbrook College Sussex, and am an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy working to their ethical framework.
2019 – Certificate in Emotionally Focussed Couple Therapy, EFT International School
2017-2018 – Certificate in Clinical Supervison, The Rock Clinic
2017 – Certificate in Working with Couples, The Link Centre
2014 – Transactional Analysis 101 Certificate, Northbrook College
2012-2014 – Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Therapy, Northbrook College
2011 – NCFE Level 2 Award in Helping Skills, City College Brighton and Hove
2011 – CPCAB Level 2 Award in Introduction to Counselling Skills, Varndean College
2003-2006 – BA Hons Linguistics
2016-Present – Counsellor in private practice, Insight & Connection (formerly Hove Counselling & Therapy)
2013-2018 – Counsellor, Rock Clinic Association, Brighton
2006-2010 – Workshop facilitator and trainer, Space Doctors, Brighton
2018 – Accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
2016 – Registered Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
So many things were helpful
So many things were helpful that it is hard to choose just one. Most helpful was probably how compassionate you were towards me. This slowly helped me shift the way that I relate to myself. Counselling felt like a very safe and warm space, in which I could look at myself with more kindness and allow myself to express feelings and needs. This has helped me personally as well as making me more open in my relationships with other people, privately and at work. Thank you Catherine. The two years with you have meant a lot to me and have changed me in many ways.
Individual Therapy, October 2020
Really good value for money
I felt that my session was really good value for money because Catherine shared models of relationships, gave me recommendations for further therapy, gave me the space to talk, challenged (in a positive way) my position so that I could reflect and she also got me thinking about the areas that I would benefit from working on. Overall, I felt that she held a very effective clinical space, whilst also creating feelings of warmth and understanding.
One-off Coaching Session, November 2020
I could not have asked for a better independent witness to my story
I could not have asked for a better independent witness to my story than Catherine. As she joined me on my journey she was kind and supportive. Encouraging me to see things in a different light. I will probably return at some stage; Catherine's instinctive approach and skill of picking out key elements in my narrative helped me make sense of things at this difficult time for me. Thank you. Everything was clear & straight forward. Which is no mean feat when you are operating in a global pandemic!!
Individual Therapy, August 2020
Catherine always remained calm and collected
Catherine always remained calm and collected even during times filled with conflict in couples therapy. She managed to bring back my then boyfriend to a calmer state and I felt like she was standing up for me when I couldn't. I felt like I had a good bond with her and trusted her so that I could open up in front of her.
Couples Therapy, August 2020
I feel I am in a very different place
One of the most useful things about going to counselling was learning so much about myself. I feel I am in a very different place from when I first started and I owe it to the support and help which Catherine offered. I will not rule out returning if I feel I need to, but for now I feel happy with the place I am in.
Individual Therapy, July 2019
Such a calming force
[Catherine] was such a calming force, I felt very supported, she pointed out a few things I should look at, gave a book recommendation, she reframed some of the issues I had swirling around in my head, and she was able to bring the conversation to really nice ending point.
One-off Coaching Session, February 2021
I really found the whole experience really helpful
[What was most helpful about your counselling?] Having a different perspective on my situation and what I was going through. Talking through how I was feeling and then being directed by Catherine to look at things in a different way and make connections to other parts of my life and relationships helped to make sense of things. I really found the whole experience really helpful and exactly what I needed at the point I was at. Thank you for your help.
Individual Therapy, June 2018
You were excellent
Thanks for all your help. I will be in touch if I need to in the future. You were excellent.
Couples Therapy, November 2017
She helped me through the fog of self doubt
Catherine describes herself as a demystifier – and she is. But not just of psychobabble. She helped me through the fog of self doubt, delusion, depression that clouded me in a difficult period of my life. And in place of fog she helped install the ropes and tackle I needed to climb onto dry land, out from the cold, and find a seat back by the fire. But equally, she possesses a superpower (and a useful one for a therapist): she has an off-the-chart ability to listen. To make you hear her listening, to adjust the quality of silence you sometimes need to say what you didn’t know you were going to say, to make you feel heard. Her empathy is palpable; yet I’ve never once felt patronised. Most extraordinary is that she does all this without judgement or prejudice, but with sincerity and good humour. It’s pretty much the perfect combination and I can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t benefit from talking to Catherine. And I can’t thank her enough.
Individual Therapy, January 2018
Definitely go for it
[What was most helpful about working with Catherine?] The clarity of her questions, including when completing the questionnaire before the session. Catherine's style of covering the points that I raised in a direct but sensitive way; I felt extremely well heard and held.
[What would you tell someone else who was considering working with Catherine?] Definitely go for it; Catherine is very professional and very good at what she does.
One-off Coaching Session, November 2020
Catherine was wise and supportive
Catherine was wise and supportive, picking out elements of my story and helping me see things in a different way. I will probably return at some stage; Catherine has been very kind and helpful at a difficult time in my life.
Individual Therapy, August 2017
The help you’ve given me has been invaluable
I just want to say a huge thank you for the past year. The help you’ve given me has been invaluable and I’ve learnt so much about myself, my past, and my relationship to the wider world. Your guidance and help will stand to me for the rest of my life and I’ve made so many positive changes in the past year, a lot of which I feel I owe to you. Thank you so much for everything.
Individual Therapy, May 2017
I got more out of that one hour than I expected
I got more out of that one hour than I expected. I really appreciated it. It made me want to sign up with her as my therapist!
One-off Coaching Session, February 2021