I’ve worked in the area of social care and therapy for the last 15 years in a range of roles – working directly with service users as well as managing services at a senior level. Prior to this, I had a career in higher education as a lecturer and from that time have a PhD in translation studies from the University of Manchester.
I gained a huge amount culturally and intellectually from my time working in several large UK universities. But I left that world in order to engage more with other human beings emotionally and experientially as well as to have the chance to develop other aspects of my own experience. My first work mentoring young offenders and supporting young people leaving care put me on a sharp learning curve, but it was immensely rewarding. It was during this time that I trained as a counsellor/therapist. After starting to work for a large third-sector counselling organisation I began to take on managerial responsibility for service delivery, eventually overseeing and developing the organisation’s work across a large part of the country.
My interest in spiritual practice started modestly with a few evening courses at the Manchester Buddhist Centre many years ago. At first I used meditation to help cope with the stresses of a demanding job. But over recent years my meditation practice has deepened with a spiritual dimension. I now consider myself a Buddhist and, while my Buddhist practice is distinct from my counselling and psychotherapy work, I believe it supports me to become a more attentive, aware and compassionate therapist.
When not at work, I’m often out in the garden, and the opportunity to notice the beauty and resilience of plants, trees and wildlife is a constant source of insight and motivation. Gardening teaches me that, although I might dream up plans and designs for how I’d like things to be, I also need to ‘let go’ and allow things to happen. So, I can’t choose to encourage foxes, hedgehogs and dragonflies and at the same time prohibit slugs and snails…
Once my wheelbarrow is back in the shed, I’ll probably be listening to music – anything from Byrd to Boulez (and Bowie) – another practice where I’m constantly called back to an awareness of the moment as it passes.