I grew up in Dorset and went to a boys grammar school, where I found myself in the lonely position of getting high marks in most subjects while experiencing life in the academic system as an obscure sort of struggle. Nevertheless I went on to study Philosophy and Literature (BA) and English Literature (MA) at the University of Warwick, and not long afterwards moved to France, where I stayed for over five years, earning my living teaching and translating while also devoting myself to one of my great loves, writing.
Aside from teacher and translator, I worked in a variety of jobs before coming to therapy, including supermarket shelf-stacker, postman, youth hostel assistant, WWOOF volunteer and live-in carer. I had a strong interest in psychotherapy from university days, but it was towards the end of my time in France, while working on farms and frequenting retreat-type environments, that alternative possibilities for living and relating really began opening up to me and I discovered the writings of Carl Rogers.
This route into therapy by way of questioning conventional values and engaging in communal and ecologically-conscious living is reflected in my interest in therapy’s radical roots and potentials. It seems to me that counselling and psychotherapy, in order to be meaningful, must open onto wider social change. Nobody’s experience is ever just ‘their problem’ in isolation but is connected to the whole of life.
I began working as a therapist in 2011 during my person-centred diploma training, qualifying fully the following year and completing my masters research the year after that. I subsequently felt I needed more than this quite sedentary and verbally-oriented training had given me, and I became involved in the more body-oriented ‘process work’ of Arnold Mindell. Together with my interest in the social and political side of therapy, this led me to the work of Nick Totton, and I have since completed a second training in the approach to psychotherapy developed by Nick, called ‘Embodied-Relational Therapy’ and ‘Wild Therapy’.
I do a lot of thinking about therapy and have written about it in both an article (‘Reapproaching Rogers’, published in the journal Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies in 2016) and a chapter for the 2018 book Re-visioning Person-Centred Therapy: Theory and Practice of a Radical Paradigm. Both pieces feel like part of an attempt to ‘individuate’ in regard to my first training.