Drawing on a lifetime’s experience
I bring my training and practice in psychoanalytic and transpersonal psychology to my work. Combining embodiment and somatic intelligence with my coaching work, these diverse backgrounds enable me to contribute different perspectives, bringing together areas of thought, theory and practice often divided by tribal loyalties.
HERITAGE, ART & LANGUAGE
I studied French and Italian at university confirming a love of language and story. A Masters in history of art introduced me to the social, cultural, philosophical and political behind the visual. The power of the visual, and the power of beauty to inspire and shift a stuck situation is something I love. I listen out for how we use language, and I use metaphor, imagination and narrative in my work. These are threads weaving through all my work.
A BETTER WORLD
The core ideas that came to inform my work derive from Psychosynthesis, established over a twelve-year period of practice as a transpersonal psychotherapist. In particular I continue to hold as central a model of the psyche that gives equal importance to our future possibilities as to our past and which sees the spiritual and the psychological as an integrated whole.
In my early 30s it was profoundly transformative to reframe my experience of depression and anxiety as spiritual yearning. That the context might need changing rather than me need fixing, and that my blues might come from a yearning for a better world, fired my imagination, my hope and my active engagement.
HOLISTIC THINKING & BEING
I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where many ways of being were welcomed: in the kitchen and with others around the dining table I learnt that the fluid blending of activity with dialogue – ranging wide and going deep, combining seriousness and laughter, sharing joys and taxing challenges, exploration, confrontation and dissent – create a rich brew that trains heart, mind and soul. This is creative living and it is healing: not just in the obvious sense of balm for internal pain, but in its contribution to collective wounds. It trains a nimble mind and strong values, enabling us to find simplicity within complexity and right action within competing options.
This habit for networked thinking and dialogue – creating links, pattern and meaning is my signature style.
As the founding director of The Parenting Education & Support Forum and then as Research and Development Director, I worked in the world of government policy and practice development. I brought together the piloting mentality of social entrepreneurship with theories of child development, perspectives from the social sciences with political realities. I helped the then Labour Government develop its first family policy and many local governments and practitioner organisations put in place monitoring and evaluation practices. It was here I first understood ecological models – the child nested within the family, which in turn is nested within a series of expanding circles of society, local and global – and thus the interdependent nature of our lives.
My work with the non-profits Be the Change and The Pachamama Alliance immersed me in alternative worldviews, an exploration of the perspectives of indigenous peoples and questions about how to live sustainably on this earth. Through the ‘Symposiums’ we ran I learnt about influencing and inspiring versus convincing or berating. It was a time to engage also with the beauty and fragility of life on our finite planet – a period to cultivate spiritual practice, compassion and focussed intention.
STUDY & WRITING
Further to my training in transpersonal psychology and in coaching I gained a Masters with merit in psychoanalytic and systemic approaches to working with organisations from the Tavistock Centre. This deepened my understanding of interdependence and the contribution that concepts of psychoanalysis make to coaching which inform my coaching, leadership development work and my writing.
Read my blogs or order my book ‘The Future of Coaching: vision, leadership and responsibility in a transforming world’
LEADERSHIP EMBODIMENT & BODY MEDITATION
As a serious practitioner of yoga since the age of 18 I benefit from the flexibility, focus and concentration of this body-mind discipline. Yoga is an active meditation. Seeking to bring the wisdom of the body into my leadership work I trained in Leadership Embodiment, a methodology developed by Wendy Palmer from the non-violent Japanese martial art of aikido. These simple and powerful techniques are designed to bring awareness of how we use our body, how our physical posture impacts our thinking, and how we can instantly change our attitude, energy and effectiveness through breathing and centring activities.