Dr. Jessica Christie Sands

Jessica has a considerable portfolio of experience working across a diverse range of professional settings spanning twenty-five years including further and higher education, frontline statutory and non-statutory service provision and the NHS. Beginning her career in teaching full-time in post-sixteen education she worked in the educational field for a further ten years before commencing a PhD. Her early interest in trauma developed while completing a PhD on trauma-related violence. She has extensive experience working in the field of Domestic Violence in a senior management capacity, developing frontline recovery services and as an Independent Consultant training professionals on national legislative policies/practices around tackling domestic violence. Her work in this field together with her developing research interests on the traumatic implications of domestic violence on mental health provided the impetus to undertake further doctoral training in Counselling Psychology.

Jessica has continued to avidly pursue her clinical and research interests, particularly in complex trauma alongside developing an independent psychology service. Her evolving research interest in the field of affective neuroscience led her to undertake extensive clinical training in the treatment of trauma across different therapeutic modalities. Some of these include Trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT), Schema Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Compassionate-focused Therapy (CFT), EMDR Practitioner and Consultancy training, EMDR for Children and Adolescents, Non-Violent Resistant Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM) and Attachment-focused EMDR. More recently, she has embarked on specialist training in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) while continuing to expand her clinical and research interests in the field of Perinatal Psychology.

Her therapeutic approach encompasses the vital connections between the mind, brain and body. She works on the interface between the neurobiology of attachment, compassionate focused practice and body-based therapeutic interventions. She believes that the primary intelligence of the body is fundamentally towards health and healing. In much of her clinical work, she seeks to recruit the wisdom of the body as a window into the nervous system and as a key therapeutic resource. She has a special interest in how the nervous system organises relationally and how to track this through body-based patterns of activation. During any therapeutic encounter, she believes that the nervous system is in constant dialogue through subtle changes in facial expressions, gaze resting responses, fluctuating respiratory rhythms, modulation and tonal quality of voice, body orienting and movement patterns as well as micro shifts in body posture and gesture. Jessica sees the body as providing us with an essential neurophysiological map to track disrupted attachment patterns and defensive orienting patterns.

Jessica is currently working closely with Dr Frank Corrigan on a small clinically-led research project on the relational nervous system. They both have a research interest in how early adversity (prenatal, perinatal and early childhood) shapes the developing nervous system in ways that profoundly disrupt our capacity for attachment. Frank’s research is currently working to identify the neural circuits underpinning conflicted attachment seeking patterns, and Jessica’s work is exploring how disrupted attachment patterns and defensive orienting patterns provide a window into how the nervous system organizes relationally.

In her current role at Sussex Psychology, she works closely with the Service Lead to coordinate the assessment and delivery of specialist therapeutic services across different local authorities and residential services. She is keen to continue and develop her own special clinical and research interests in the neurobiological implications of trauma on the developing brain and nervous system to coordinate the range of services Sussex Psychology provide. She is also currently working closely with a cross-disciplinary team of professionals to set up Sussex PIP a non-for-profit Perinatal Service. Additionally, she runs a small voluntary clinic on behalf of the Sanctuary Project for victims of torture, and young people who have suffered from the trauma of war and cultural displacement.

Jessica is a Chartered Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC), a Chartered Scientist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). She is also a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist (BABCP), an EMDR Europe Approved Consultant, a Certified Advanced Sensorimotor Psychotherapist and a Certified Neurosequential Practitioner.