Susan Macdonald FDAP APM RMN

Addiction Counsellor & Recovery Coach

Registered Mental Nurse (RMN), Life Coach, Counsellor, Recovery Coach, Sober Coach, Sober Companion

Advanced Practitioner, Federation of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners

Accredited by The International Recovery Specialists Institute

Accredited Specialist in Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Intervention in the Work Place

Trained by Hoffman Institute in Hoffman Process

Trained by Bowlby Centre in Attachment Theory

Trained in Motivational Interviewing

Why me?

My name is Susan and I have been in recovery since March 2008 – over 14 years.

I am wife; mother, step-mother; a partner; a counsellor; a friend; a Life Coach and a Recovery Coach. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse, domestic violence and long term health issues but most of all I’m someone who cares!

I can help you to get your life in Balance!

My Story

I qualified as a Psychiatric Nurse in 1983 and have been in and around mental health and its treatment ever since. I started to drink alcoholically from a very early age in fact I can distinctly remember my first real drink being at the age of 14 where I raided my parents drinks cabinet. That afternoon ended with my best friend and I having a fight, a black eye and a split lip and me being sick all over my parents new carpet. Oh boy was I in trouble!

Looking back that should have warned me, that really should have been the end of me getting drunk – but of course it wasn’t!

Trying to fix my own dysfunctions I was first married at 18 trying to find “Happiness” – that didn’t work! I got remarried this time to an abusive man and for over 12 years I tolerated horrific domestic violence; drinking this time to numb my own reality, somehow alcohol made it all bearable! After one especially violent incident as the medics treated me yet again, I finally found the courage to leave. He had spent years telling me that it was all my fault and years of me believing him! I finally realised I was worth more than that reality! I was worth more than his abuse!

I was now starting to have memory lapses and days of “death by duvet”. I would drink to forget; I would drink to try and get some connection to life, to try to feel anything; I would drink simply because I could!

I met my soulmate; he made me feel safe, he accepted and loved me but still I continued to drink, more and more! Ups and downs of life continued but seven miscarriages later I gave birth to our gorgeous son. He was so precious, so perfect and who could have possibly imagined on that miraculous day that some five years later the alcohol – my best friend as it had long been – would become so powerful that I would put his life at risk just for one more drink! That was my rock bottom, my Enough!

My husband gave me yet another ultimatum but this time he meant it, “You are an unfit mother!” He was right!! I knew it and I accepted it but this time I really had had Enough. I knew I was so far out of Balance that something had to change.

He told me he would not any longer play second fiddle to a bottle and I either choose now to get sober or he would leave that day and take our son with him!

I am so grateful for so many reasons that that event happened, terrible though it was without it, without that terrible day, I don’t believe I would have ever had “Enough”! I was completely out of Balance! Out of control of my life and thanks to drink up to that moment I just didn’t care!

I went to AA that day, I found “My Tribe”, they loved me until I could love myself. I honestly did not believe that I could beat it; that I could stay sober for even one single day. My drinking ended with me dry retching most mornings, losing hours of each day in memory blanks. My liver was so sore and bruising from the inside out that I was covered in yellow blotches across my abdomen on an almost daily basis.

I was lost, I was broken, I was completely adrift; but then, in that room I felt “at home” with these strangers, to be amongst people that “got me” to be with others who truly understood. They told me that I would never need to take a single drink again; that scared me, in fact that terrified me but what my husband had said, what he was now going to do terrified me more.

So began the best years of my life! Everything that I have done, that I am most proud of has been done whilst in sobriety. Almost everything that I have done, that I have been most ashamed of has been done whilst drinking. Thankfully our beautiful son has no memories of a “drunken mummy”! Thankfully perhaps most of all – I have forgiven myself.

I am not going to pretend that life in recovery has always been plain sailing. I have found its rarely the mountains that get to me its usually the mole hills. Life happens, even in recovery.

Ill health, financial insecurities and some pretty serious bumps along the way until I finally reached the place in my marriage that I am in now.

A true partnership, where I am accountable, where I am productive and where I am ENOUGH!

Where I am now is in “Balance”.

I trained and qualified as a drug and alcohol counsellor and specialised in substance and multiple addictions. Then expanded my learning and experience to encompass behavioural addictions such as co-dependency, food, eating disorders, exercise, gambling and now the rapidly growing issues with social media and screen addictions.

I love my job! However I am not the sort of Counsellor that will say “There, there it’s all going to be ok” or even “what do you think you should do next!”. I sugar coat nothing! I am honest and I am firm because let’s get real here – we are dealing with a fatal disease. If this is not controlled, it may one day kill you! Even if it doesn’t it WILL, one day, steal from you everything that you hold dear. So I take my role extremely seriously. I will never work harder than my client but I will certainly work as hard! Standing shoulder to shoulder in this wonderful journey of RECOVERY.

Some people don’t need to abstain; some of my clients just need more “Balance” to manage their substance or behavioural issues and get it to a place where they are comfortable with their own life, their own journey and that is just fine. My recovery is not necessarily for you. For me control and limitation was never an option but that does not mean it cannot be for you. Balance is the most important thing that I can offer.

Balance, understanding and acceptance.
AA saved my life but that route is not for everyone. The 12 Step Programme; especially the spiritual element is not for all. There are other options, other choices that suit my clients on an individual and bespoke basis. I have merged my 40-years of professional training and experience with my own detailed experience and understanding with the 12 Step Programme with elements of many allied therapies in which I have trained and experienced such as CBT, Attachment Therapy, Family of Origin Theory, Harm Reduction techniques, Mindfulness strategies, management and life skills to enable me to work with my clients to create a unique personal “Tool Box”.

Your “Tool Box” is to give Balance; to give you the options in your own lives; tools that can be called upon when you feel overwhelmed; tools to call on when they feel out of control; tools to be used when you slip out of Balance or you fear your Balance is in doubt.

This combination of therapies and my life-long experience means that I can adapt my counselling to my clients needs, wishes and desires. The therapy and counselling you will receive is unique to you – just as your problems, issues and challenges are unique. I cannot offer you a one-size fits all solution to anything. I cannot offer you a quick or instant “fix” but I can offer you hope! I can offer you a route back to Balance!

Today, my husband treats me as a partner, he trusts me, I am present, I am accountable and I am in a loving relationship. My son trusts me, I show up, I am present, I am accountable. My family, friends and my clients know that I can be trusted, I am present, I am accountable, I am honest and open. I can be direct; I don’t pull the punches or avoid the hard conversations. I offer solutions and strategies, not new dependencies, or new issues.

I am happy that I am in Balance! You can be too!

Here’s what my clients have to say about working with me

I met Susan when my life was spiralling out of control, I was on the verge of loosing my Children and my marriage. I just couldn’t get sober or clean no matter how hard I tried. I tried AA and it wasn’t for me. Susan came highly recommended and I decided I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I have been seeing Susan on a maintenance programme now for 18 months and I have been sober and clean for nearly 2 years. I would never have believed it. Thank you from us all as a family.

– Sarah

I originally came to Susan due to another issue but as a result we looked at my drinking which was getting very heavy. It was starting to cause problems at home and at work. I thought that Susan was going to persuade me to attempt to give up drinking. She didn’t, she asked me what I wanted and I wanted to control my drinking instead of it controlling me. It took a few months of goal orientated therapy but I’m now at a level that is acceptable to me and I’m no longer a liability! I’m accountable PLUS I still have fun. Who knew that you could still have laughs without getting legless. My grateful thanks.

– Tony B

How can I begin to sum up how awesome this lady is. She smashes it every session. Never judgemental, always honest, never lets me get away with bottling a subject, but it works. I came to see Susan over 6 years ago now. I was a daily drinker and had been for a number of years. After yet another night of me behaving badly I decided something had to change. I met Susan and I’ve never looked back. This lady is one tough cookie but she will guide and handhold you to a place that’s safe, serene and no guilt. I’d been to see 3 different therapists before and nothing had worked. I think I was really ready this time I just didn’t know how. I thank the universe everyday for guiding me to Susan.

– Theresa W

Susan is my earth angel, I love her so much. I owe my life to her. I now have a wonderful relationship with my family, I have a gorgeous little girl. My Mum has got her daughter back and my little girl will never know a drunk Mummy. I love my life now, I haven’t had to touch a drink or a drug for over 4 years now and I really do have a life beyond my wildest dreams.

– Kelsey

I met Susan when I was at my lowest ebb, quite literally on my knees. I thought I was beyond help as I’d already seen 3 other therapists, none of which had any success.

Susan was like a breath of fresh air, her honesty and enthusiasm gave me hope and slowly but surely things started falling into place. I relapsed in the beginning but Susan didn’t judge me. We just pushed even harder towards my goal of getting sober. I’m 17 months sober now and I am so grateful. Susan is like a machine she just keeps on pushing and is always completely honest. I can’t recommend Balance highly enough.

Thank you Susan my forever friend and trusted therapist.

– Vanessa. Lincoln

I first went to see Susan in August 2017 as I couldn’t stop drinking and using. I was stuck and completely broken. My family had given up on me, I’d lost my job and I felt like the biggest loser known to man. Together with Susan I gradually began to believe that maybe I was capable of having another life. It didn’t have to be like this. Susan showed me how to start liking myself then even start to love myself. I am now attempting the hardest part and that is forgiving myself but together with the team at Balance I’m getting there. I have my family back in my life and I’ve just had promotion at work. Life is good now, not always but most of the time and that’s a miracle.

– Steve. London

Susan saved our family by helping our son overcome his BDD. Susan quickly became a friend that understood our family and worked with our son to overcome his challenges by developing a tool box of coping strategies that he will have for life. We can not express enough gratitude to Susan for her commitment, time, patience and understanding. A very special friend for life.

– Bev. Lincolnshire


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