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Sue O'Brien Counselling in Cardiff - 174 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3NB
Therapy for Individuals £70, Couples £90, Students £55  



I have particular skill in working with relationship issues, anxiety, depression, trauma, guilt, shame, fear, grief, anger, suicidal thinking, self-harm, disordered eating, substance use, and most of all, hope.

Even the worst impulses and feelings - the urge to drink, the compulsion to cut oneself, the paranoid suspicions, the murderous fantasies - spring from parts of a person that themselves have a story to tell and the capacity to become something positive and helpful.........The point of therapy isn't to get rid of anything but to help it transform.

Richard Schwartz, PhD


My approach incorporates Systemic and Internal Family Systems (IFS) thinking - simply put, just as we have external systems in our lives (relationships, environmental, cultural, religious etc) and internal biological systems (for example, digestive, respiratory, reproductive), we also have emotions, behaviours, impulses, thoughts and reactions - our internal family that show up as 'parts' of us. 

We often become aware of our parts when their presence is extreme, or they 'take over' for example, anxiety, depression, anger, substance use, self-harm, and it can be common to treat them as you would a troublesome family member by either giving into them or by getting angry with them, or pushing them away, sometimes into dark shadows hoping we can ignore them and they'll go away.  This can work for a while, but inevitably, they can up their game and come back fighting to get your attention. 

When this happens it can be overwhelming, frightening, affecting relationships and quality of life. 


How I work with Individuals



'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you' - Maya Angelou

I get that life, past and present - and knowing what’s coming - can be a bitch!  It can slap us in the face so hard it can be a struggle to get through the day.  At times we can feel overwhelmed by life, consumed by the pain of our experiences with confusing and sometimes bloody scary thoughts and behaviours. 

If you're familiar with the films Inside Out where we meet Riley's five core emotions, Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness, and Inside Out 2 when Riley enters puberty and Anxiety, Boredom, Envy and Embarrassment show up, you will have seen how these 'parts' of her struggle with the changes in her life and their battle to help her fit in.  We all have parts, you're probably familiar with your core parts, but when we've had experiences in our lives that cause distress, trauma and pain, our parts can become more extreme leading to behaviours and impulses that cause us problems.   My role is to help you connect to your parts using curiosity and compassion, to explore how they're influenced by your experiences and your external systems.  Instead of pushing them away, sometimes into dark shadows where we try to ignore them, we discover their purpose and beliefs.  My aim is to help you create trust between you so you can listen to them, validate them and help them let go of burdens and the beliefs they no longer need leading to a more harmonious internal family, improved relationships and quality of life.  

How I work with Couples

'Healing relationships with intimacy from the inside out.'  Toni Herbine-Blank & Martha Sweezy


Couples Counselling is a healthy, positive and supportive exploration into the issues and challenges experienced by many couples. ​Every couple is unique, yet their problems often have a commonality – one or both partners having a sense of not feeling validated, heard or understood.  If misunderstood, or ignored, emotions and tensions can escalate leading to feelings of blame, shame, hurt, confusion and sometimes infidelity or violence.  These issues are often less of a lack of commitment or love, but more from past experiences leading to unhelpful communication patterns and behaviours.  

I often see couples who are stuck between a part of them that wants to save the relationship and a part of them that wants to leave with feelings of hopelessness, anguish and frustration added to the mix.  My role is to act as an impartial facilitator to you as a couple, to help you make sense of past and present experiences that affect your patterns of communication and behaviours and how these are influencing your relationship.  The reason you came together, the strengths and resources of your relationship can often be overshadowed by your conflicting parts, but by approaching them with courage, curiosity and compassion, you can gain clarity and insight into your influence on the relationship helping you decide whether you want to stay together, or separate, with the confidence of your decision making.


By working together with open and curious minds, we can explore your inner and outer worlds to bring healing and change to your lives



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