Recent counselling experience:

In Australia, my life has straddled full and part-time employment as a lecturer, group facilitator and counsellor, further study and work in the studio as a practicing artist. The latter influenced my work as an arts-based therapist and counsellor, and this work in turn enriched my practice as an artist. I see all these activities as a way of life – ongoing processes of exploration and shared learning.

I have worked as a counsellor in many different contexts: as a supervisor for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Service at the Canberra Hospital; as an arts and narrative therapist in a juvenile detention centre and a health service in Darwin; as a counsellor for students in both the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) and Southern Cross University; as a counsellor for non-government organisations in Darwin and remote communities in Western Australia; and now as a private practitioner in the Northern Rivers area. All these experiences reinforce my belief in change and my abiding interest in what it means to be human.

In 2001, I went to America to the Tamalpa Institute, California, to study a particular approach to expressive arts therapy, the principles of which underpin my own practice. I wanted to locate and broaden the base of my practice in preparation for undertaking further study. Then in 2004 I began my PhD, a practitioner/researcher project (http://epubs.scu.edu.au/theses/104)

Now in private practice and as a member of the Australian Counsellors’ Association (ACA), I am bound by ACA’s Codes of Ethics and Practice. Through the Mental Health Academy in particular, I am able to continue my professional development, I have an active yoga practice and as required of all professional counsellors, I attend regular supervision.

Qualifications

Throughout my life I have interspersed practice with study and have the following qualifications in art, education, and psychology.

PhD Thesis title: Towards Wellbeing (see http://epubs.scu.edu.au/theses/104)
Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy from Tamalpa Institute Marin County California USA
Master of Visual Arts & Grad Dip Visual Arts SCA Sydney University
BA (Fine Art) Northern Territory University
Dip. Teaching and BA University of Auckland New Zealand Majors: Psychology, Psychology Special
NZ Trained Teacher’s Certificate Ardmore Teacher’s College New Zealand Majors: Art, Educational Psychology
I began my career in New Zealand where I trained as a teacher. But my interest in educational psychology and children’s development soon led me into counselling and further study in psychology and psychotherapy in NZ, the UK, the USA and, eventually in Australia. My early preoccupation with my own development, and my curiosity about what it means to be human drove me to travel widely and explore different cultures, different values and various therapeutic approaches.

Background experience with children and parents:

While in New Zealand, I had the privilege of being the teaching principal of the Rosedale Alternative School. This was an exciting period of experimentation and shared learning involving both the students, their parents and visiting student teachers. Together we discovered that creative expression cultivates awareness and the capacity to reflect. Through the arts and through narrative, in the context of authentic relationships and a safe environment, adults and children alike can make sense of their feelings and can learn to live together creatively rather than destructively. Existential humanistic principles underpinned a rich, whole of life approach to an education through which the school, which was subject to inspection by the Auckland Education Authority, achieved standards well above the national average in all subject areas.

Some time later, I carved out the role of school counsellor in an Auckland intermediate school at a time when there were no such positions or formal counselling training. Counselling had only just begun in New Zealand secondary schools. Children were referred to me through parents, teachers, the local police, the Psychological Services Department or came for help of their own accord. I was available to staff and parents and developed a practice, working one-on-one with individuals or with children in the context of their peer groups, their teachers or their families. It was rewarding to discovered that as children gained confidence and trust and found their voices, they developed the capacity to stop and look, and to reflect, demonstrating that they could gain insight into their own behaviour and the choices open to them. They could learn to manage their anger and to act instead of reacting, showing an understanding of the relationship between choices and consequences and their own roles in effecting change.