It's natural to want balance in our lives - the feeling of being at peace with yourself and others around you. To be happy to be you, to fully accept who you are.
Every person's path to acceptance is unique and I find the process of revealing that path fascinating and moving. People often come to therapy thinking there’s something wrong with them and they need to change. Yes, there are often behaviours that change over time. But the biggest change that happens in therapy is the realisation that you can’t get being you wrong and your pain is valid, else you wouldn’t be feeling it. Once you’ve realised that and eased the pain of not accepting your felt experience, then trusted what you're feeling, it’s much easier to make the behavioural or attitudinal changes. The only way out of pain is to feel and care about what it feels like to be in it.
I gained a B.A. from Victoria University, Wellington, in Educational Psychology and Maori in 1982. I then worked in software development before and after I came to England in 1986. I started my psychotherapy training at Spectrum Therapy in London in 1993.
I have also been influenced by the Emotional Health work of Bob Johnson, by my experience of running Dialogue groups in prisons (based on the work of physicist David Bohm), by my engagement in the emerging Integral field pioneered by philosopher Ken Wilber and by my immersion in Mondo and Integral Zen.
I moved to Wiltshire with my husband, two dogs and a cat in 2005. I work two days a week as a psychotherapist at Spectrum Therapy in London where I see individuals and couples and run a women’s group and regular Working with Anger weekends. The rest of my time is spent in Wiltshire seeing individuals and couples in person in Marlborough and Aldbourne. I also work on Skype and run Food, Hunger, Longing and the Body workshops in Berkshire.
Training, qualifications & experience
- Accredited member British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
On-going training since 1993: 2,300 hours at accreditation in 2010
- One year course in psychotherapy (Spectrum, 1993-4)
- Postgraduate course in psychotherapy(Spectrum, 1995)
- Postgraduate continuation (Spectrum, 7 days yearly CPD on-going since 1996)
- Counselling Skills (Spectrum, 1994)
- Working with Couples training (Spectrum, 2002-3)
- Couples therapist since 2003
- Working with Anger training (Spectrum, 1998-2002)
- Working with Anger weekend workshop leader since 2002
- Dialogue facilitation training at HMP Whitemoor (Prison Dialogue, 1995-6)
- Dialogue facilitator at HMP Whitemoor (1996-7)
- James Naylor foundation conference (yearly attendance 2002-2009)
- Formative Psychology Series (Spectrum, 4 days yearly CPD on-going since 1998)
- EMDR Level 1 training and refresher (2002)
- Integral Spiritual Experience (Asilomar, CA, 2009)
- Week long silent Zen retreats with www.mondozen.org and www.integralzen.org since 2011. At least one a year.
I have been inspired by many, many people and methodologies in my career, far too many to list here. They have all added more strings to the bow of how I work. I'd like to list the important ones.
Bob Johnson’s work first brought to my attention the fact that children make traumatic events mean something about them. We just don’t have the adult awareness as children to understand that things – while impacting us – are generally not personal. Unless our difficult feelings and our underlying needs are validated, we lose touch with these deeper aspects of ourselves.
Having interpreted events to mean something about us, we then forget we’ve done so and unconsciously live in these stories about our selves and our place in the world. This forms our behaviour, our attitudes, our expectations and the way we shape our bodies, until we have the maturity to see there are things we can’t see, and the courage to seek help to untangle this protective web.
Formative psychology brings awareness to the somatic, or bodily, shapes we have unconsciously taken on as part of this protective denial. As we make these habituated muscular patterns of fight/flight and freeze conscious, we reveal the deeper reality of our felt experience that has been hidden. Once there is awareness around these habits, new choices can be embodied that bring a sense of wholeness, authenticity and personal authority to our lives.
This entails a discipline that can be hard to commit to when the mind has necessarily normalised an inaccurate view of oneself and the body has normalised discomfort, so it can help to have the support of a therapist to establish these new, more congruent habits.
My experience of running Prison Dialogue groups helped me see that if a secure boundary is formed on a collective or individual level, life itself has an impulse to harmonise that emerges into that framed interiority.
Using EMDR shows me that shock is what creates a dissociation, or disconnection from the body, which is the only instrument we have for forming that secure boundary at a personal level. In providing a safe place for a client to stay connected to the embodiment of their present, regardless of how traumatic their descriptions of memories might be, they can strengthen their own capacity to absorb shock and respond effectively, rather than be short-circuited by shock into old habitual reactive patterns. The shock is not the problem, as shocking as it is, as much as the disconnection from the body that can earth the current of the shock. The formative, generative work can then take place.
Experiencing week-long Mondo Zen retreats from 2011 to 2018 and training in the koans of the Mondo Zen dialogue protocol has supported my trust that the experience people are most wired to avoid is in fact the deepest dimension of our being. Imagine you made your need to ask for help wrong, intuiting that because no one helped you as a child, it meant you were unworthy of help and destined to do everything alone. When you realise that in fact the visceral energetic feeling of vulnerability and loneliness is the very substance of your impulse towards connection, everything changes. There is nothing to fix, nothing to understand and nothing to interpret. There’s nowhere to get to, no one watching, nothing to prove. You realise this is it, and you can’t get being you wrong. You come back to your body with an open, relaxed mind.
Running Anger Workshops for twenty years reminded me that under the wildest, most destructive rage or the deepest, most icy constriction is fear created by a real or perceived loss or hurt that is interpreted as being about this illusory self which then creates more fear and therefore more denial of the subjective, embodied reality.
But that very feeling of dislocation is what can remind each person to start looking for themselves, to come home and to grow their embodied connection to life. And this is what builds wholeness, love and competence.