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Interview With Best-Selling Hove Author Dr Jessamy Hibberd


The Hove-based chartered clinical psychologist, best-selling author and speaker, Dr Jessamy Hibberd, has just published her ninth book about overcoming trauma. Rebecca Pitcairn meets her

How did you come to live in Sussex?

I live in Hove with my husband Jack, our son who is 12, and daughters who are 9 and 7. Jack went to university at Sussex so it was somewhere we always thought about moving to, but it came about by luck. I was pregnant with our third child and Jack got a job in Brighton. We looked around houses when I was heavily pregnant and moved when my youngest was five months. We didn’t know anyone, but it’s been the best move and exceeded all our expectations. There’s nowhere I’d rather live.

What are your favourite things about the county? 

I’m sure everyone says it, but I love the fact we can turn right and be on the beach or turn left and go to the South Downs, whilst having all the benefits of a city – art, music, great restaurants and shows. I enjoy being outdoors with the kids, or on my bike or running, and it’s so easy to do that here. Everything is so accessible and there’s a great sense of community. I also love that it’s such an accepting city – anyone can be who they want here without fear of judgement.


You’re one of the UK’s leading self-help experts, can you describe your journey to this point? 

I am passionate about making psychology accessible to everyone. When I was training (I gained my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, and completed my accreditation in CBT at the world-renowned Institute of Psychology, Kings College), I realised that the ideas I was learning about were really useful, not just if you were experiencing mental illness, but to feel your best more of the time. They were simple to do and easy to put into practice, but it was only because I was training as a psychologist that I knew about them. That’s how my first books came about – to share the ideas more widely. Since then I have tended to follow what I’m interested in or learning about at the time, which is why my books span a range of topics. I love a project or a challenge, so it’s the perfect combination. Amazingly, the books are now sold all over the world!

Your latest book, How to Overcome Trauma and Find Yourself Again, has been described as revolutionary. What’s the premise and why did you write it?

Our brain finds a way to trick us into believing that trauma happens to other people. My work as a Clinical Psychologist showed me what life was like, but I believed that these things would not happen to me or the people I loved. Then a significant personal trauma happened and I had to face up to reality. It threw me into a situation I had never expected to be in, and it was this experience, and the work I did to get through it, that inspired this book. 

My personal and professional experience has shown me that trauma can be a turning point. You can go through unimaginable pain, but emerge stronger from the darkest of times. We can use these incredibly tough times to look within ourselves and to re-evaluate. They can remind us how precious life is and what is important, and give us the potential for a more meaningful life. It can bring everything into sharper focus. A chance to re-evaluate our priorities, strip away the unimportant and focus on what really matters to us. To learn more about ourselves, to see our strengths and become more resilient.

The question is not how we avoid these difficult experiences, but how we learn to live with them. Rather than deny their existence, we need to look at how best to cope when they happen – because they will. This book has been called revolutionary as I outline seven steps to overcome trauma. I also share seven stories, interspaced between the theory and strategies of people who have gone through trauma and come out the other side – one of the most helpful things when you go through trauma is knowing you are not alone.

Htot Book

What are your top tips to live life a little happier? 

Live a meaningful life: Think about what is important to you and try to live a daily life that fulfils you. How we feel is a natural product of our choices, but especially the small choices that each of us makes every day.

Look outside of yourself: Find something you believe in – charity, community, study, spirituality or a higher power. Find a sense of belonging, maybe by helping others or creating something you are proud of. Being part of something is central to a meaningful life. 

Gratitude: Try writing down three things each day that you are grateful for and why. Research shows that gratitude increases happiness and resilience; boosts optimism, self-esteem and energy levels; and improves sleep, health and productivity.

Look death in the face and live intentionally: Death is something we are often discouraged from thinking about, but doing so can be empowering; it can clarify life and act as a reminder of how fragile it is. Our time is finite and valuable – you can’t buy extra hours, so you need to make sure you use them wisely. 

Tell your story: Stories are the fabric of our lives. Telling our story allows us to overcome the challenges we have faced and find meaning in what has happened. By making sense of our past, we can take more control of our future. 

Let it go: Letting go helps you avoid getting lost in negative feelings. It doesn’t mean forgetting or ignoring what has happened, but it allows you to focus on the present and the future, rather than staying imprisoned in the past.

Where are your favourite places in Sussex that make you feel happy? 

This time of year is always fun as you roll into the summer festivals and Pride. I love time on the beach (and in the sea!) with my family, preferably followed by a trip to Marrocco’s for ice-cream or dinner at Fatto a Mano – it’s the best pizza and the friendliest family restaurant in Hove. I enjoy watching my kids cycle at Preston Park Youth Cycling Club on Saturdays and wondering up to the Sussex Peasant to see what delicious treats they’ve got. I also love cycling in the South Downs with my husband or friends, I took up road cycling when I was 40 and it’s my favourite way to destress and get an exercise high.

How to Overcome Trauma and Find Yourself Again, published by Aster (a division of Octopus) is out now, RRP £16.99,

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Picture of Mark Kebble

Mark Kebble

Mark's career in journalism started in 2001 when he landed a role on a small lifestyle magazine in Angel, North London. Soon enough, the magazine was purchased by a larger organisation and Mark found himself promoted to editor at the tender age of 23. He later became group editor, working on magazines for Angel, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. He was also involved in a launch in Hadley Wood and a major new group website, later becoming Group Hub Editor. In 2021, Mark joined Zest Media Group and oversaw the launch of many Absolutely titles across the UK. To date, Mark has launched in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex, Essex, Yorkshire and Cheshire. When he does have some free time, Mark is also the Chairman of an amateur football club in Surrey and is also a fully qualified FA football coach.
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