Experience and Qualifications
I have a postgraduate Diploma in Gestalt Therapy and a further Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy. I am a Registered Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. This means that I work in accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. I receive regular professional supervision and I am dedicated to ongoing professional development.
I have worked in a wide range of settings across the private, public and voluntary sectors including a charity for Disabled People in Torquay, the NHS in Exeter and as a counsellor in a G.P. surgery. I have experience with a diverse range of clients amongst the general public including the elderly, young people, people with disabilities (physical and learning difficulties), carers, and people of ethnic minorities.
Since early childhood I have had a deep desire to understand the nature of things. I was initially attracted to the realm of science. I qualified with an honours degree in Physics, writing my thesis on 'The Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics'. Although I was a high achiever I struggled with life and I felt that deep down there was something somehow wrong with me, which I longed to remedy. Whilst travelling on my year out before university, I had met a martial arts teacher in Malaysia who had profoundly impressed me with his way of being. I trained with him and as a result I realised that scientific understanding would neither satisfy me nor really help me. I became interested in an embodied, rather than purely intellectual, approach to exploring life and resolving my predicament.
After completing my degree I set out on what turned out to be a five year trip travelling through Asia, with the intention to return to my teacher. On the way I encountered a number of spiritual teachers and teachings with which I resonated strongly (particularly the 'Non-dual' traditions). I spent two years in intensive meditation practice, mostly in silent retreats. Some time after this I felt I had completed my journey and that it was time to return to the UK.
I moved to Devon to live and work at Gaia House Retreat Centre, one of the largest meditation centres in the UK. Whilst there, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a degenerative auto-immune inflammatory condition. I suffered from recurring and prolonged periods of severe pain, sometimes being unable to walk. I decided not to take the medications I was prescribed as I did not trust their long-term effects. Instead, I began to investigate the nature of my illness relying on awareness to look into my thought processes, feelings, sensations, emotions, perceptions, behaviour and beliefs.
Training as a Gestalt Therapist
After leaving Gaia House I asked myself what kind of work would most deeply satisfy me and best make use of my skills and interests. I discovered that the principle of awareness is at the heart of the practice of Gestalt Therapy and I was struck by the immediacy, aliveness and authenticity of this style of therapy. My interest in exploring the nature of my experience had expanded to the interpersonal. I saw Gestalt Therapy as a beautiful way of relying on awareness to facilitate a very real and personal meeting, supporting another to meet his or her unique life challenges. I went on to train as a Gestalt Therapist with the Centre for Humanistic Counselling and Psychology in Devon, began to see clients in 2007 and qualified in 2010. With a background in mindfulness practice, I went on to integrate that approach with my therapeutic work.
I'd had an interest in 'bodywork' for a number of years prior to my illness, having trained in Shiatsu and Seiki. I also received plenty of bodywork during the period of my ill health, of which I found Feldenkrais to be the most profound. Dance has been my strongest passion for many years, especially Tango Argentino, which I have been teaching since 2011. My involvement with dance and Tango was incredibly challenging for many years due to the illness, demanding a great deal of body awareness. This has been a blessing in disguise. All of this, along with my martial arts background, inspired and contributed to an exploration of my own body process.
Over several years I discovered how previously unconscious negative thinking patterns, along with resistance to the pain and some of the emotions associated with my illness had actually exacerbated the condition. By becoming my own detective, relying on the torchlight of awareness, I have been able to recognise how I have actively participated in the suffering I have been experiencing - not just in relation to the illness but also in relation to the rest of life. This awareness has also opened the doorway to the release of many of those patterns which has felt transformative. In terms of my health, there has been a radical shift; its very rare for me to experience any pain and when I do it is not so significant that it disturbs me emotionally or interferes with my daily activity. I no longer conceive of myself as 'unwell'. My love of dance and commitment to a detoxifying diet have also contributed to the return of my health. At the same time, it seems to me that it is impossible to comprehend the totality of causes and effects, so I cannot ultimately take responsibility for my health. In the realm of conditions and circumstances, nothing is permanent, including health. Experiencing illness and the death of loved ones reminds me of the preciousness of Life and all that occurs in it. The presence of being is priceless.
All of my work is grounded in a power, inherent to us all, to look into the nature of experience. When each of us looks into the nature of our experience we clarify and dissolve the causes of our suffering. I invite you to take that journey by working with me.
In the heart of difficulty lie the seeds of change and growth