My first experiences in the field of personal development were through yoga, which I then went on to teach for many years. Through this I met and worked with a number of people who were interested in the mind-body-spirit relationship and the development of the whole person. This often involved using experimental methods in groups, which was an important part of the therapeutic and organisational explorations of that period (early 70s). This contributed enormously to my own growth and living in a housing co-op for twenty years taught me, in a very direct and personal way, more about groups than I could have learned in theory or by going to workshops!
Having attended a number of short courses in social studies and psychology, I embarked on a degree course in sociology, graduating in 1976 and began adult teaching the following year. Most of that teaching has been for the Workers Educational Association and Oxford University Dept for Continuing Education in weekly classes and summer school seminars, covering many and varied aspects of psychology ranging from the nature of perception, via such topics as creativity, family dynamics, self and others, to the nature of the unconscious.
At the Dept in Oxford I was for a number of years Associate Tutor in Psychology. My main responsibility in this role was organising the public programme in psychology, both weekly classes throughout the district and day schools in Oxford, recruiting tutors and responding to feedback from students. I also represented the Dept on various committees, acted as director of studies for visiting study groups and was part of the team that designed and taught the University's first professional counselling courses. As well as teaching for the WEA, I was also an active voluntary member at local, District and National levels, making particular contributions to women's education, second chance courses and the development of equal opportunities.
In the late 1970s I began a psychotherapy training, based on both psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches, and have continued to explore and experience different models and ways of working, including a hypnotherapy training in the late 1980s. My individual clients have come from all walks of life - businessmen, teenagers at a girls' boarding school, housewives, couples, police officers, prison chaplains, teachers, voluntary workers, social workers, builders, secretaries, academics. I became a counselling supervisor about twenty years ago, working with both groups and individual practitioners from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Around this time I also began working with nurses of a pioneering hospice, providing space on a one to one basis to express and explore the impact of working with dying patients and their families, and later facilitating team away days for refreshment and looking at issues of team relationships. The combination of group work experience, therapeutic skills and psychological theory also led to the development of a number of practical workshops, including Dealing with Stress, Assertiveness, Presentation Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Counselling Skills. These were run both as public workshops and for particular groups - Oxfordshire Probation Service, National Federation of Women's Institutes, women's community groups, guides at the Central London Mosque, Citizens Advice Bureau amongst them.
From this diverse background I have developed an integrative, flexible approach to working with individuals and groups, ranging from testing and practising different behaviours to exploring unconscious processes. This makes for creative and appropriate responses at different levels according to the needs of people I am working with. I believe, and experience has confirmed, that psychological, social development throughout life is in our nature. Sometimes early experience and the beliefs we develop about ourselves and others can distort or block aspects of this natural process, sometimes causing us problems or limiting us in some way - but the potential is always there. I believe that people work in different ways, in their own time, and that facilitating, whether one to one or in groups, involves respecting this and providing the opportunity - and sometimes the challenge - to help them do what they need to do when they are ready to do it.