About us

Who are we?

Balanced Minds is a UK organisation set up in 2011. We provide compassion-focused psychological services and resources. We have offices in London and Edinburgh, and offer therapy, coaching, supervision, training workshops, consultation and workplace wellbeing.

Our approach is grounded in compassion, and the principles and evidence based effectiveness of Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) developed initially by Professor Paul Gilbert. 

Our approach

Life can be hard at times – work, relationships, financial concerns, and health worries. Sometimes these struggles ease on their own, or through strategies that we already have access to.

However, when it feels like we’re stuck in the mud of our difficulties, when we can’t find a path out of our struggles, we can help you to find your balance again. Whether this is through understanding yourself more, or learning new strategies to manage the difficulties you’re facing, Balanced Minds has a variety of services that can help you get on track again. 

Our services

We are passionate about providing different ways for people to access helpful, evidence based psychological interventions. We have a team of warm, caring and experienced therapists who provide individual, group, couples and family therapy. We also run a variety of innovative wellbeing courses and retreats, and have a variety of audio and self-help materials that may help you learn to manage your difficulties in new ways.

Alongside this, we also provide consultation and courses for workplaces, as well as training courses and supervision for other therapists. Please take a look at these pages to learn more about this. 

Meet our therapists

Dr Chris Irons

Clinical Psychologist & Director
Read more about Chris

chris@balancedminds.com

 

Chris is a Clinical Psychologist, and completed his  training at the University of Sheffield (UK). He has many years of experience working in the NHS, and is now co-director of Balanced Minds. Here, he provides psychological assessment, formulation, therapy and training courses.  In his clinical work, he uses Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT; Gilbert & Irons, 2005) in working with people with a wide range of mental and physical health distress. 

In his therapeutic work, Chris strives to create a safe, caring and containing space to support people in exploring their distress, and finding ways to alleviate this. He is experienced therapist who is mindful and appreciative of  difference (e.g. gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation). 

Chris has worked with Paul Gilbert, the developer of CFT, since 1999, and has been interested in the theoretical and clinical developments and adaptations of CFT as a science based psychotherapeutic approach. He is one of the leading trainers and supervisors of Compassion Focused Therapy, and regularly presents in the UK and internationally on CFT and more generally, self-compassion.

Chris gained his research Ph.D from the University of Derby (UK) under the supervision of Professor Paul Gilbert. He has published many research articles, book chapters and books on CFT.  

Qualifications:
2011 – PGDip Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Royal Holloway
2007 – DClinPsy Clinical Psychology, University of Sheffield
2007 – PhD Psychology, University of Derby
2001 – BSc Psychology, Aston University

Registration and accreditation:
HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist (PYL15842)

Key publications:
See research page (balancedminds.com/research)

Key trainings:
See events page (balancedminds.com/events)

 

 

Dr Korina Ioannou

Clinical Psychologist & Director
Read more about Korina

korina@balancedminds.com

 

Korina completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2008 at Manchester University, UK. She has many years of experience working in the NHS, with individuals with a wide variety of mental health problems, including experience of working in an eating disorder service.

Korina has specialist training in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). In her private practice she implements these approaches in a flexible and cooperative manner, integrating elements from cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and psychodynamic principles. Her specialist interests include relationship difficulties, trauma, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders. Korina offers assessments and therapy to individuals and couples, and works in time-limited and long term contracts. Korina speaks English and Greek.

Qualifications:
2011-2014 – Introductory and Advanced training in Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
2013 – Practitioner Diploma in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), Sheffield Halam University/ACAT
2008 – Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (ClinPsyD), Manchester University
2004 – Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Behavioural Applications in Mental Health Settings, City University New York
2001- Bachelor of Science Psychology (BSc), University College London

Registration and accreditation:
BPS Charted Clinical Psychologist (096816)
HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist (PYL1583)
ACAT Accredited CAT Practitioner

Publications:
See literature page (balancedminds.com/literature)

 

Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland

Clinical Psychologist & Director
Read more about Charlie

charlie@balancedminds.com

 

Charlie completed his clinical psychology training at the University of Oxford, and has provided psychological therapies in a variety of NHS settings (2006-2014). He now runs a private therapy practice for Balanced Minds in London and Edinburgh, where he provides psychological assessments, formulations, and interventions that integrate different therapeutic approaches, in particular compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), but also drawing on other mindfulness-based and emotion-focused therapies.

The shorter-term interventions he offers (10-20 sessions) are more structured and content-driven, and the longer-term interventions are more exploratory and process-driven.

He works with people with a range of mental health difficulties, usually on a one-to-one basis, but is happy to involve others (e.g. partners and families), and will always attend to the broader social context of mental health difficulties (relationships, culture etc).

Charlie’s academic and research interests mainly lie in the application of CFT in psychosis, and he has been awarded a Fellowship by the UK Medical Research Council (2014-2019) to forward the scientific knowledge this area at King’s College London and University of Glasgow.

Qualifications:
2010 – DClinPsych Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford
2003 – BSc Psychology, University College London

Registration and accreditation:
BPS Charted Clinical Psychologist (171852)
HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist (PYL25704)
BABCP Accredited CBT Therapist (140566)

Recognised provider for private health insurers:
Aviva (600109605); AXA PPP Healthcare (CH03720); Bupa (30027601); Cigna Healthcare (210211); Exeter Family Friendly (CH03720); SimplyHealth (CH03720); VitalityHealth (SP075760)

Key publications:
See research page (balancedminds.com/research)

Key trainings:
Dr Heriot-Maitland runs compassion training workshops for practitioners and the general public. See events page (balancedminds.com/events)

 

Link to Charlie’s LinkedIn page:

Personal Link

Dr Alison Flynn

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Alison

alison@balancedminds.com

 

Alison works in the NHS, private practice and as a Clinical Supervisor in a charity working with young offenders. She works with children, adolescents and adults and can offer adapted therapy for people with autism spectrum diagnoses and learning disabilities.

Alison has worked with people who present with depression and anxiety, as well as difficulties including; self-harm, suicidality, psychosis, complex trauma, anger and aggression.

She gained her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at University of East London, where there is an emphasis on thinking about the relationship between distress and the world we live in – from our workplace to the political system.

Her doctoral research thesis explored shame and social rank. Alison is a keen CFT Therapist and has completed further training in Narrative Therapy. She is interested in telling the stories of our lives in ways that make us stronger. Also trained in Motivational Interviewing, Alison has found this approach compliments CFT where we may feel unsure or ambivalent about change.

Alison was drawn to CFT by its practice of ‘preparing the body to help the mind’. She has found this approach to be emotive, creative and flexible, particularly because it does not rely solely on talking. Alison continues to develop her own compassionate practice and hopes to offer a safe, confidential space for those seeking support and change.

As a therapist, Alison takes a whole hearted approach to working with people. She appreciates difference and intersectionality in Gender, Geography, Race, Religion, Age, Ability, Appearance, Class, Culture, Ethnicity, Education, Employment, Sexuality, Sexual Orientation, and Spirituality.

Dr Shelley Kerr

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Shelley

shelley@balancedminds.com

 

Dr Shelley Kerr is a Clinical Psychologist with specialist training in Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). She is passionate about helping people find balance and value in their emotions, so they can live the lives they want for themselves. Within her clinical experience, Shelley has seen the power of compassion in releasing people from the suffering that comes with cycles of shame and self criticism. As a result of this experience together with the growing body of evidence for CFT, Shelley takes a compassion focused approach to therapy.

Within her therapeutic work, she strives to create a safe, warm and non-judgemental space to support people to explore their difficulties and find ways to create positive change. She is grateful to be able to share her compassion and experience with people who wish to take the courageous and sometimes painful steps toward becoming the version of themselves they want to be.

Shelley has extensive experience in working with people struggling with intense emotions, relationship difficulties, trauma, self harm, suicidal behaviours, chronic shame and low self esteem. She is well versed in helping people find a way forward from anxiety and depression.

Shelley worked for a decade in a specialist NHS, DBT service for people suffering with overwhelming emotions and high levels of risk. She established a CFT pathway within this service, including group and individual therapy.

In line with the ethos of CFT and DBT, Shelley believes that personal practice is essential. She therefore maintains a commitment to cultivate mindfulness and compassion in her everyday life.

In addition to therapy, Shelley is passionate about supporting other therapists through clinical supervision and training. Shelley is a trainer with the Compassionate Mind Foundation, delivering the three day introductory workshop alongside Dr Chris Irons.

Shelley’s doctorate research focused on the healing potential of gratitude and kindness. Other research interests have included suicidal behaviour, personality disorder, and compassion. 

 

Qualifications and Training:

2018 – Post Graduate Certificate in Compassion Focused Therapy

2015 – Advanced Supervisor Training, University College London
2013 – Introductory and Advanced training in Compassion Focused Therapy

2010 – Supervisor Training, University College London

2009 – DBT Intensive Core Training with Dr Janet Feigenbaum, NELFT
2008 – Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy), Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia 
2001 – Bachelor of Psychology with Honours (BPsych Hons, First Class), University of New England, Armidale, Australia

Registration and accreditation:
HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist (PYL26447)
SfDBT Accredited DBT Therapist

Recognised provider for private health insurers:

Shelley is a registered practitioner with Bupa, Aviva, AXA PPP Healthcare, and Vitality Health.

Publications:
See literature page (balancedminds.com/literature)

Shima Bhunjun

Counselling Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Shima

shima@balancedminds.com

 

Shima is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist trained in CBT and experienced in working with a wide range of mental health problems such as depression, social anxiety, PTSD, generalised anxiety, alcohol abuse and adjustment to long term health conditions amongst others.

Shima has been accredited with the British Association for Cognitive & Behavioural Psychotherapies (BABCP) since 2013 and have 9 years post qualification experience, with much of my clinical work taking place within an NHS setting. I also work with a student population at a London based university providing both CFT and CBT therapy to support students with mental health difficulties through their academic careers. I have a keen interest in Compassion Focused Therapy and have been integrating the approach into my clinical work over the last 4 years and find it to be a very rewarding experience.

Shima aims to provide a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore and reflect upon thoughts and feelings, and to facilitate the change process in a way that feels collaborative, respectful and in line with the goals of the individuals that I work with.

Qualifications:

• Advanced Training in Compassion Focused Therapy for groups 2016
• Advanced Training in Compassion Focused Therapy 2014
• Behavioural Couples Therapy Training 2014
• Compassion Focused Therapy Training 2013
• CBT for Insomnia 2013
• Post Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 2008
• Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Counselling Psychology 2008
• Practitioner Diploma in Counselling Psychology 2006
• MSc Counselling Psychology 2004
• Post Graduate Diploma Certificate Psychology 2002
• Psychology & Sociology BA Hons 1999

 

Dr Rita Intili

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Rita

rita@balancedminds.com

 

Rita works as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the NHS. She has worked in the NHS for over 23 years across a variety of settings, including hospital, community and GP surgeries. Rita has extensive experience in assessing and treating adults with wide-ranging psychological difficulties of varying complexity, such as generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias, OCD, depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and trauma. She specialises in working with individuals who experience interpersonal difficulties and enduring and intense emotional dysregulation.

Rita has supervised Clinical Psychologists, Counselling Psychologists and Trainee Clinical Psychologists in the NHS for over 20 years. She has been a Liaison Tutor and has been involved in the selection of Clinical Psychology Trainees for the University College London Doctorate course for over 10 years. She has also been an external examiner for the Professional Clinical Psychology Doctorate course at University East London.

Rita draws upon evidence-based interventions using a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). Over the years, Rita has become increasingly more interested in developing and applying CFT in her practise in response to the growing evidence indicating the benefits of cultivating compassion for psychological health and well being.

Rita feels it a privilege to assist others in their journey of personal development and growth. She offers a warm, understanding, non-judgemental approach, aimed at helping individuals make sense of their emotional difficulties, move toward their aspirations and improve their quality of life.

Rita is bilingual. She speaks English and Italian.

Dr Michelle Wilson

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Michelle

michelle@balancedminds.com

 

Michelle is a clinical psychologist that has worked in the NHS for over 10 years. She gained her clinical psychology doctorate from University College London (UCL). Since then she has worked in a range of clinical settings, working in both mental and physical health services, with children and adults. Part of her clinical experience has been focused on working with individuals struggling with eating disorders and co-morbid difficulties such as depression. Alongside this, Michelle has focused on working within physical health settings. She has worked in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dermatology and Chronic Wound Care and Lymphoedema services, supporting individual with challenges such as adjustment to diagnosis, appearance concerns, trauma and difficulties engaging with physical health care treatments.

More recently, Michelle has worked extensively in weight management services supporting adults with obesity. Specifically she has worked with individuals who have difficulties with emotional / binge eating, body image concerns, depression and anxiety. Michelle has specific interests in shame and stigma associated with weight related difficulties and has used compassion-focused approaches in relation to this with clients she has worked with. She continually works on developing her compassion-focused therapy skills and knowledge, including development of her own compassionate practice. Michelle also has an interest in Acceptance and Commitment therapy approaches and uses this flexibly within her work depending on the needs of the individual.

As a therapist, Michelle takes an open, non-judgemental and warm approach. She is deeply committed to developing a clear understanding of the issues most pertinent to the individual she is working with, and supporting them to make changes such that they can live their lives in a way that is meaningful and most consistent with their values and hopes.

In addition to this above, Michelle currently also works on a doctorate in clinical psychology training course, teaching and training individuals to practice as clinical psychologists. As part of this, Michelle is passionate about engaging in research, with her research interests laying in obesity, stigma and incorporating compassion focused self-practice into clinical training.

Registration:
BPS Charted Clinical Psychologist (225307)
HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist (PYL29910)

Qualifications:
2007 BSc (Hons) Psychology (First Class with BPS Undergraduate Award for highest achieved
Psychology degree at Essex University 2007)
Essex University
2010 Postgraduate Certificate Clinical Applications of Psychology (Merit)
Newman University College Birmingham
2013 Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
University College London

Additional relevant training:
2009 CBT Boot Camp: Cognitive Therapy Training
Cognitive workshops
2013 Introduction to Cognitive Analytic Therapy
East London NHS Foundation Trust
2014 Foundation Skills in Working with Trauma
Charlie Waller Institute, University of Reading
2015 Enhanced CBT for eating disorders (CBT-E)
The Centre for Research on Eating Disorders (CREDO) Oxford
2015 ACT as a brief intervention: Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (FACT)
Contextual Consulting
2016 Essential obesity: Psychological approaches
National Centre for Eating Disorders (NCFED)
2016 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Clinical Skills Building Intensive – Intermediate Level
Contextual Consulting
2016 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Physical Health Problems
Contextual Consulting
2017 Introduction to the theory and practice of Compassion Focused Therapy
The Compassionate Mind Foundation

Dr Morag Ryder

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Morag

morag@balancedminds.com

 

Morag is a clinical psychologist working in both the NHS and private practice. She gained her Clinical Psychology doctorate from University College London. Morag has experience of working with individuals with a range of difficulties including low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, bipolar affective disorder and disordered eating. 

Morag has particular experience of working in physical health settings (including with individuals with acquired brain injuries), where she has supported individuals and their families to adjust to physical, cognitive and communication impairments, including working with experiences of grief and loss and changes to roles and identity.

 

Morag has integrated CFT into her practice for several years, and was drawn to the way the approach promotes wellbeing and flourishing, as well as facilitating a reduction in distress and suffering. Morag aims to offer a safe, non-judgemental and understanding space to support individuals to make sense of their difficulties and make changes in line with their values.

Dr Zara Christie

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Zara

zara@balancedminds.com

Zara is a Clinical Psychologist working in both the NHS and private practice. She gained her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Glasgow. At Balanced Minds, Zara offers assessment and Compassion Focused Therapy to help individuals to work through and overcome difficulties including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, relationship difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder and complex trauma.

Zara strives to create a safe space and works collaboratively to help individuals overcome their difficulties in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. She offers tailored interventions focused on alleviating distress and achieving an individual’s therapeutic goals. She is able to involve significant others in therapy, if appropriate. Zara is motivated to help people balance complex emotions and live a life consistent with their values.

Zara has worked in the NHS for the last nine years, and specialises in working with adults with complex difficulties from varied socio-economic backgrounds. She integrates a range of therapeutic models including Compassion Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Drawing on her broad experience, she provides holistic and person-centred therapeutic approaches to help individuals achieve and maintain meaningful changes in their life. Zara has worked with children and adults, both in community and inpatient settings, and where required, provided therapy through interpreters. She also has experience providing supervision to other therapists.

Qualifications
2014 – Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, University of Glasgow
2009 – BSc Psychology, 1st Class Honours, University of Leeds

Relevant post-doctoral training:
2018 – Interpersonal Psychotherapy Training (University of Edinburgh)
2016 – NES (NHS Education Scotland) Specialist CBT Supervision Training
2016 – NES Specialist Supervision Module for New Supervisors
2016 – NES Prolonged Exposure Training for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
2015 – Using Compassion Focused Therapy to work with emotional memories in shame-based trauma with Dr Deborah Lee
2015 – Introduction to the theory and practice of Compassion Focused Therapy with Dr Chris Irons
2015 – NES Generic Supervision Competencies Training
2015 – Behavioural Family Therapy Training

Registration and accreditation:
HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist: PYL31485

Jen Wood

Psychotherapist & Associate
Read more about Jen

jen@balancedminds.com

 

Jen is a psychotherapist, coach and mindfulness teacher with specialist training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) and Schema Therapy. She believes that everyone has the inner resources to find relief from anxiety, stress and fear which can be caused by work or life pressures or health challenges. Sometimes, though, life feels overwhelming; one in four people in the UK live with stress, anxiety or depression. As our desire to have, be and do more increases, so our pace of life can become more frantic. It’s at times like this that we need help to get back in balance and rediscover our zest for life. Jen empowers people to reconnect with their inner resources, to overcome life’s challenges and live life to the full.

Jen uses compassion in her personal practice, as well as in her therapeutic work, coaching and mindfulness teaching. She now chooses to work in a compassion focused way, because she has found it so helpful both personally and professionally. Her CBT and mindfulness teaching training also had a strong compassion focused component.

She has experience of 12 years of leading a therapy service within a palliative care setting, and 11 years leading a service in a centre for children with special needs, and their families. She has worked in a perinatal mental health service, and now works in private practice.

She is skilled in helping people with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and pain, as well as burnout, work and relationship difficulties, trauma, self-harm and shame.

Jen aims to create a safe, warm and non-judgemental space to support people to explore their difficulties and find ways to create positive change and reconnect with their inner resources.

Aside from her therapeutic work, she has a wide experience of life, having taught English in schools, run international festivals and conferences and worked as a clinical hypnotherapist.

Jen enjoys the outdoors, yoga, meditation and spending time with her fox red Labradors.

Qualifications and Training:
2019 – Introductory training in Compassion Focused Therapy
2019 – Mindfulness Teacher
2018 – Self Compassion in Psychotherapy
2018 – Supervisor Training
2018 – Schema Therapy Training
2017 – Advanced Clinical Skills
2016 – Diploma in Counselling and Groupwork – A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Approach
2016 – Nonviolent/Compassionate Communication Training
2016 – Diploma Life Coaching
2013 – Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)
2012 – Master Practitioner NLP Coaching
1995 – PGCE English
1991 – MA Hons (English)

Registration and accreditation:
Mindfulness Association Mindfulness Teacher
Working towards accreditation with BABCP

Lexy Rose

Clinical Psychologist & Associate
Read more about Lexy

lexy@balancedminds.com

I am a Clinical Psychologist, registered member of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and a chartered member of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

I have worked with a diverse range of client difficulties across a variety of contexts. My therapeutic approach focuses on using warmth and curiosity, recognising that the way people understand themselves and others is through their social upbringing and personal experiences and that they develop coping strategies based on these.

I first develop a shared understanding of the presenting problems, including a client’s personal strengths and values. My therapeutic approach is informed by Compassion Focused Therapy, as well as, where appropriate, the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (both ‘traditional’ and ‘3rd wave’ approaches, such as mindfulness). I will always adapt techniques based on a client’s needs.

My areas of interest include working with adults with problems with anxiety, feeling low, self-criticism, and longer-standing difficulties.

I currently work in private practice as an Associate with Balanced Minds, an organisation based in London which specifically focuses on providing CFT, and with Leathes Psychology, a practice in Reading, Berkshire. Alongside these roles, I work in the NHS, working with adults with learning disabilities and neurodevelopmental disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder.