Dr Sue Whitcombe

Dr Sue Whitcombe, Principal Psychologist and Director


Dr Sue Whitcombe
Hello, I’m Dr Sue Whitcombe. I’m a Chartered Psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. I am the principal psychologist here at Family Psychology Solutions. I also teach at Teesside University and conduct research into mental health and well-being related to relationship and family separation issues.

I’ve worked with children, young people and families for 20 years. My therapeutic experience with children and young people includes short and long term interventions. I have worked in an NHS community mental health team and primary care mental health services with adults experiencing emotional distress, relationship issues and mental health difficulties and disorders. I continue to work with these issues here at Family Psychology Solutions.

Some years ago I became challenged by and interested in the behaviour and response of some children and young people when their family fell apart. Despite a normal, loving, warm relationship, I noticed that some children began to be abusive or hostile towards their mum or dad. There may be what seems like a phobia of the once loved parent, distorted perceptions or memories. One parent is often rejected while there is an unhealthy, close, idealised relationship with the other parent. This is parental alienation. It is a defence mechanism which keeps children psychologically safe in the short term, but often results in long term psychological distress and difficulties with social functioning and relationships.

Over recent years, my work has focused on the difficulties experienced when there is conflict, distress or mistrust in family relationships. I work with couples, children, adults and families whose relationships are strained or have broken down. I also work with those whose mental health, well-being and functioning is impaired due to earlier relationship and family experiences.

My most recent research explored the experiences of British parents who identified themselves as alienated. You can find out more about my academic work and research here.