I first felt the call to become a therapist when I was in my late teens. I wanted to be of service, but I was also equally curious about what makes people do the things they do. As a child I had been witness to the loss of an unusually large number of close members of my extended family and started journaling at 12 after reading the Diary of Ann Frank. By the time I was 17 I was meditating and very focused on being a good daughter. Why did I care so much about being good? At the time, I had no idea.
I didn’t trust my instincts too well back then so when it became time to choose my path after school, I went to university for a science-based degree when art and languages were my strengths. I really struggled with everything in those first few years after school, but especially with being away from home for the first time and not knowing who I was or what I wanted.
Probably not surprisingly, I got depressed. And then I found a way through it. While part of the cure was 6 months on antidepressant medication, another more powerful part was the presence in my life of an unusual psychiatrist who had time to do psychotherapy with me.
Where there’s hope there’s life.Ann Frank
We worked together for about a year, and he grounded me in a way that allowed me to explore what I cared about. I made some silly choices while exploring, of course.
But one of the best things I did was to take first year Psychology in my degree and discover that I didn’t like it.
I turned my attention then to Political Science, where I found a home for myself immersed in works of political philosophy along with peace and conflict studies. As a result, I became obsessed by questions such as Who am I? How can I live well? How can I support others to do the same? How can I contribute to world peace? In those few years I dreamed of becoming a diplomat and travelling the world.
I didn’t get too far with that idea of becoming a diplomat, but I did manage to move myself to Prague at the age of 25 where I lived for the next 4 years teaching English. At a Peace conference in Prague one year, it finally dawned on me that while world peace was something I cared deeply about, working towards it through government or NGOs was not my calling.
I had had a light bulb moment – it was my role to support the notion of world peace by supporting individuals to find peace within themselves.
Again, I didn’t do too much with that idea at the time; rather, I had another few years in Europe – this time in Barcelona and in Llafranc on the Costa Brava in Spain. I was living my version of a well-lived life. I’d work 4 days a week in Barcelona and then spend 3 days a week in Llafranc.
I studied Spanish, spent lots of time in cafés drinking cortardos and reading books on feminist spirituality. In Llafranc, I’d lie on the beach, take long walks along the coastal paths, visit dolmens in the forest, drive into France for the weekend and have drinks with friends in the Hotel Llafranc bar.
Despite the fact that I had what seemed by all to be an incredible life and what I always wanted, I was plagued by unidentifiable longings, homesickness, inner conflict and big emotions. Eventually, I succumbed to the pull back to my roots and returned to Australia, where I went back into depression. And then again found a way through.
This time, I worked with a Process Orientated Psychotherapist who specialised in women’s psychology and conflict. I didn’t know it at the time, but we would end up working together for many years; gently supporting the growth of those young and tender parts of me in need.
In her presence, I was able to mourn my losses, untangle my inner conflicts, and get clear about what else I wanted for myself and to go get it. Through those years of weekly, then fortnightly and finally monthly therapy sessions, I was supported to not only work through my symptoms but also to sit at the very edge of who I was becoming and to grow in an authentic and genuine way.
This time, I had an experience of being engaged at the level of body, mind and spirit and this brought a whole new dimension to my passion for living life well.
Life was good for many years, and then, on a crisp blue-sky day in autumn I was sitting in the car with my husband. We had just done the final inspection of the house we were buying, and I was hit with the strongest sense that my mother would have only another month to live. She had been fighting cancer at the time and my knowing turned out to be true. A month to the day after that moment, my loving, difficult, wonderful, affectionate mother was gone, and I was bereft.
It was like one of the legs holding up a table had disappeared, and I had to learn how to balance the thing without it. This terrain was new to me, but I was able to fall back on my established strategies for hard times; I read lots of books, did lots of meditation, recorded my dreams and felt my feelings. Then I took everything that was arising to therapy, where I engaged in the process of grieving.
During this time, I decided to train as a Counsellor & Psychotherapist. My mother didn’t ever become the registered nurse she had dreamed of being, but I could still make my dream come true. And so I did. I studied Process-Orientated Psychology at the Metavision Institute in Bowral for 2 years and graduated in 2017. I worked then as a Counsellor with international students studying in a high school equivalency program before starting my private practice the following year.
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