My mother, Rebecca Sawtell, who has died aged 57 of toxic epidermal necrolysis, devoted her working life as a clinical psychologist to helping children who had been abused and had nowhere else to turn. Exceptionally empathetic, she seemed to possess a superhuman level of emotional intelligence, which was often shown in the way children would open up to her about their ordeals when no one else had succeeded in persuading them to talk.
She was born in Sheffield, the third of four children of Roger Sawtell, a mechanical engineer and later company administrator, and his wife, Susan (nee Flint), an occupational therapist. Shortly after Rebecca began her primary education, the family moved to Northampton and while at Northampton School for Girls and then Weston Favell Upper school, she developed an interest in the burgeoning field of psychology. She studied for a degree in the subject at Brunel University, in Uxbridge, where she met Denis Salter, and after a number of years of living together they married in 1995.