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Say to hello to Felicity, clinical psychologist at All East

All East is a welcoming, judgement-free space where we want you to feel comfortable to talk with us. Our blogs touch on topics to help ease the nerves of someone who Is feeling nervous or unsure about visiting. We hope these interviews give you an idea of the friendly atmosphere in our clinics 

Say hello to Felicity Saunders, Doctor and Clinical Psychologist at All East

Can you tell us all about your job at All East?

I’m a clinical psychologist at All East. It’s a really busy job! I have a lot of different responsibilities every day, and work with lots of different people within All East. I love everything about it and consider myself very fortunate to be able to work here.

Why’s that?

I believe that everybody deserves the chance to have good sexual wellbeing. I feel fortunate that I’m in a position to help people achieve that. I spend my working days talking and thinking with people about how they can achieve that good sexual wellbeing and I think that’s a good way to spend my time.

I think it’s incredibly important that we have conversations about sexual health and psychological support for people who have difficulties as there is a lot of support we can offer.

I also feel that I learn a lot from my clients. I think on a human level I learn how other people deal with challenging situations and events in their life.

What is it like to visit All East?

The building itself is really bright. It’s full of bright, bold colours and it might seem like a funny thing to say, but that sort of matches the personality of the place! It feels as though we are a little annex away from the main hospital, and I would definitely say that everything about it feels bright and cheery.

But I feel that it’s a really compassionate space. Everybody who works here really cares and is focused on getting things right for the people who need us. Everybody is very passionate and very dedicated.

I think people worry that if they come to see a psychologist we will make them lie on a couch, and ask them about their childhood. It’s not like on TV, it’s much less scary, and we just start with a conversation to see how we can help you.

How much of an impact has Covid-19 had on how you work?

Obviously Covid has had a devastating impact on everybody, but there are some things in the way we have learned to work that have been good for people using our service too.

I’m now doing group sessions in a virtual way. Because our rooms in the building are quite small that actually means that I can see more people by doing it online, so that’s good. One woman who was at a virtual group recently told me she wouldn’t have come to a real session, that she would have been too scared. For her, it was less intimidating to join online. I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people. That was within a clinic for women who have vulval pain, so things like vaginismus and vulvodynia. That can now run online.

Of course, there are other clinics I run which can’t work online, like the one for women who have been sexually assaulted, helping them think about and approach smear tests. We’ve had to pause that through Covid, and we are desperate to get that up and running again. It’s a much needed service.

What would you say to a woman who thinks something like this might help them, but they aren’t sure?

Please, just ask! You can just refer yourself to us if you live in the local area. If you come through to our general clinic they can help you get through to us. If you are reading this and think, that might be me, please, please just get in touch - we will help you in whatever way we can. 

What can services like this do for women in this situation?

Well obviously it is very different for everybody.

For some people, psychological support can help them go on to have penetrative sex for the very first time. For some people it is about getting back in touch with their bodies and their sense of who they are, or reconnecting with a partner/s. Some people want to make a change so that they can go on to conceive.

Overall, I would say we can help everybody improve their wellbeing. I would also like to think that we can help people have a realistic understanding of sex and sexual relationships. We get used to seeing sex portrayed in the media and TV and films, and of course that’s not realistic.

How important is it that people know this kind of support is available?

It's so important. I think everybody should be prioritising their own sexual health and happiness. We don’t as a society talk about sex, and so not everyone feels comfortable seeking out this type of support. But for the people that do, we know they find it really rewarding. So if you can take that step, we can help you.

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