Since my teens I have been fascinated by the connections between our thoughts, emotions, bodies, faith, and 'nature' and being outdoors. As a child, when I wasn’t reading I was often immersed in the outdoors, and count myself as fortunate to have grown up in the Somerset countryside of the south west of England - and I'm fortunate to still live close to this land. I realised I wanted to become a therapist when I was 21, learning counselling skills as part of my postgraduate teacher training certificate. I was in awe of the deep listening and presence of the trainers, sensing the possibility of change growing from the therapeutic relationship. A seed was sown...
After postgraduate studies in social science and a varied and interesting working life as a university lecturer at Bristol and in Gloucestershire, aid work on training and microfinance projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, a director in my family’s business, and a facilitator working with other family businesses living and managing through challenging transitions (like succession, bereavement, and illness), I realised in my late 20s that I felt ready to start training as a therapist - the seed started to grow roots.
I qualified as an Integrative Counsellor in 2004, following a three-year qualifying training. This training entailed a commitment to personal therapy, a rich programme of both theoretical and experiential learning, working as a trainee counsellor with clients, and therapy supervision. I have been a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) since 2001, firstly as a trainee and now as an accredited member. I am also a senior accredited member of the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS).
15 years ago I trained in Embodied-Relational therapy, a form of Relational Body Psychotherapy and have also trained in Wild Therapy (a form of nature-connection/ecopsychology), bereavement work with CRUSE Bereavement Care, as well as in providing supervision for other therapists. I'm also a former trainer with the Embodied-Relational therapy and Wild Therapy training teams. I'm definitely a lifelong learner (!) and value continuing professional development very much - you can read more about my qualifications.
In my early 20s I began practising Buddhism and started meditating. These practices continue to shape my understanding of life, embodiment, and the nature of being – raising more questions, of course, rather than necessarily answering any of them! I've found sitting still, with an alert, curious, awareness (or, at least, the aim of that state of mind!) very useful in being present with clients, supervisees and trainees. For 11 years I was ordained as a Buddhist and I have subsequently taken the precepts in the Soto Zen tradition. Since 2016 I've been practising under the tutelage of Colorado-based Zen teacher, author and activist David Loy, in parallel with a deepening interest in ecodharma practice. I'm curious how the dharma (the teachings and practices of the Buddha) inform my/our responses to the 6th extinction crisis, climate emergency, and the other interrelated crises and oppressions, and, in turn, how the context we're in shapes my/our understanding of Buddhist and other awakening and contemplative practices of various faith traditions.
Since my late thirties, I've been drawn to re-visiting my own birth and exploring pre and perinatal psychology - our earliest somatic experiences as humans - as well as working with clients curious about exploring their birth stories and how they might shape their present day experience, particularly at points of transition and at life thresholds. In 2015 I completed 'The Birth Journey', a two-year training with Matthew Appleton and Jenni Meyer at Conscious Embodiment. I am also a graduate of their two-year Integrative Baby Training and am qualified as an Integrative Baby therapist. I have also been fortunate to have undertaken 'birth surround' work with Cherionna Menzam-Sills. and have undertaken her 9 month long: 'Our Journey Here' training course. My fascination with how our earliest experiences shape our present day continues.
Bringing together my early interest in social and ecological justice with therapy, from 2010 - 2014 I was steering group member of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR) and editor of its Transformations in house journal and remain a PCSR member. In 2012 I was part of the team co-founding the now annual 'Edge of the Wild' UK ecopsychology gathering and I am an active member of the ecopsychology community. I have written three books, and co-edited a fourth: '#MeToo - counsellors and psychotherapists speak about sexual violence and abuse' a collection published by PCCS Books, all featured on this website. I have written several book chapters, as well as papers and articles, am a regular writer for US-based Somatic Psychotherapy Today, One Earth Sangha, and, closer to home, a member of Bristol Climate Writers.
Learning and teaching has been a lifelong strand in my work, from training as a teacher after my first degree, to designing and teaching a variety of different courses over the years, from an MBA for family in business, through to Buddhist study, meditation retreats and Wild therapy workshops - my more recent teaching. I give public talks on themes relating to Wild therapy, ecopsychology, as well as the themes of each of my books.
In the past few years I've very much appreciated training with Merete Holm Brantbjerg and Kolbjorn Vardal (co founders of Relational Trauma Therapy) in working therapeutically with hypo response and hypo arousal in our and bodies, as well as how hypo and hyper responses interweave (or sometimes, polarise). This work, and my work and training to date is deepening my understanding and practice of trauma-informed work in parallel with paying attention to health and our resourcefulness in everyday life.
When I’m not exploring life with clients, trainees and supervisees, I love being in the elements, tending our allotment, travelling, exploring ancestry and geneaology, meditating, and living with my partner here in North Bristol.