Are we a good fit?
Before I jump into telling you about my story and my qualifications, I suspect that you’re reading this page because you want to know if I’m the right therapist to work with you in couples counselling. So maybe the best place to start is to let you know the type of clients who have the most success working with me… I work best with people who:
- are fed up with their current situation and are determined to create genuine lasting change.
- really want to reduce arguments, conflict and anger in the relationship.
- want to get ‘unstuck’ and make a decision to either stay or go.
- appreciate insight into where self-defeating behaviour comes from and how to stop it.
- value challenging questions, direct feedback and a sense of humour.
If this sounds like you, then we may be a good fit for working together. Now here is my story and all the other good stuff you normally find on the ‘about page’…
I grew up in Wellington, New Zealand as an only child in the 1960’s and 70’s. My interest in the complex interpersonal dance of relationships was triggered by life in a family that was big on meeting the material needs of a child but fell well short on emotional connection and love. My parents were not a match made in heaven and rather than seek help, they persisted for over sixty years of unhappiness and disappointment. Fortunately, I was saved by a combination of my ‘adoption’ of another family, where I discovered what love and connection could be, and the wise intervention of a paediatrician called Elsie Gibbons. I first met Dr Gibbons when I was 10 years old. At the initial appointment, she started by asking my mother to leave the room, which surprised me but also gave me a sense of confidence. Then she gently questioned me about my goals and hopes for life… the same question I always begin by asking my clients today! I told her that I just completed building a kit-set model of the human brain and that I wanted to be psychiatrist…she took this seriously and asked me to imagine what my life as a psychiatrist would be like! Elsie Gibbons set my life course and while I did not achieve that lofty goal of psychiatry, I am now what Jung described as a ‘wounded healer’.
Becoming a ‘wounded healer’
It was not a straight line to becoming a therapist. The years of childhood unhappiness took their toll on my early education and rather than attend university, I opted for an early escape from home and became a theatre manager in another city. I then spent 20 years in the media, making a career as a producer and writer. I moved first to the USA then back to New Zealand then South Africa and eventually the UK, where I founded a creative coaching practice, working with performing artists across the spectrum of creative industries. I later expanded the practice to embrace high-profile public speakers and performers including business leaders and politicians. As I became increasingly fascinated with the deeper aspects of human behaviour, I returned to my childhood ambition and began to follow the path I had identified all those years ago. After surviving a difficult divorce, I wrote a new script for my life which took me down the road of training to become a therapist, initially in London and then later completing post-graduate studies in Australia.
Now for the qualifications: I hold a Masters in Social Science and a Masters of Family and Systemic Therapy. I am also a certified Ericksonian hypnotherapist and master coach. I’ve trained at the Anna Freud Centre and the Tavistock & Portman in London and the Ackerman Institute of the Family in New York. My ongoing learning has embraced advanced training with some of the world’s leading couples therapists, including John & Julie Gottman, Esther Perel and Dan Wile. I am committed to a path of lifelong learning.
I have now been practising couples counselling for over ten years integrating the wisdom and language of ancient traditions with insight from many schools of psychology and philosophy. My approach is systemic and integrative, embracing a solution-focused stance with a quest for meaning and relational connection. I’m influenced by the dialogical philosophy of Martin Buber and the existential philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. My life has also embraced a spiritual quest exploring the rich tapestry and wisdom of ancient mysticism, especially the Zohar, which is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. So that’s my brief story. If you’re still reading this, I suspect we may have already started our couples counselling work together.