I draw from my training, practice and research in psychotherapy, but also very different paths of my life such as my work in conflict affected areas as well as Buddhist and transpersonal practices.
My first career was in the United Nations, I spent several years in different warzones like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Eritrea and Timor L’Este leading educational, CIMIC and SRHR projects. The intense focus of this work, the relentless and immediate consequences of one’s actions in it taught me grounding and efficiency.
My first degrees in psychology were in Sweden two decades ago; they focused on children, CBT and psychodynamic modalities. A decade later at NSPC London, I became the first doctor of existential psychotherapy and counselling psychology in the UK, as I presented my dissertation on how humanitarians returning from warzones suffered more from alienation than any form of PTSD, as previous research had assumed.
I then worked with OTR Bristol – Bristol’s main young people’s mental health charity – overseeing a substantial service transformation as their Clinical Director. I led a radical transformation of our ethos from being service led to being user led, so that we went from being a counselling only service to having an array of innovative ways to engage. We saw an increase in the service by several orders of magnitude and were awarded the King’s Fund GSK Impact Award. I am still connected to OTR as their consultant psychotherapist, but now focus on research and teaching at universities in the UK, predominantly at UWE where I am Senior Lecturer on the counselling psychology doctorate.
As a counterpoint to my UN work is the Buddhism, the yoga and the shamanic work. I spent a year in Sri Lanka at a Buddhist monastery whilst teaching Buddhist psychology at Peradeniya University, I am a qualified Vinyasa yoga teacher, and took part in Ian Reese’s brilliant and absolutely bonkers shamanic Awen training. I also did two years of Karuna Institute’s excellent and infuriating Buddhist psychotherapy training, where I ended up setting the chimney on fire.