Biography

As a student I was clear that my calling was to work with young people, to help others raise their aspirations for themselves, to help them be the best they could be. It was hard to choose between teaching and counselling adolescents and so I eventually became both. The discipline of teaching was a great grounding in group management, program design, public speaking and working out effective ways of interacting with students with very different ‘issues' and learning styles.

Immediately after marriage in my early twenties, we studied and worked in the States for two years. A pilgrimage to Washington to join a million others protesting against the Vietnam war was a highlight of that time, whose main purpose for me was to study Counseling and Guidance at the postgraduate level. With this further development of my skills and commitment to counselling I began to work with young children, adolescents and adults. I was and continue to be struck by how the quality of the relating between counsellor and client provides healing and growth irrespective of particular techniques or approaches used.

In this period in the 70s, when the human potential movement was in full swing in the U.S., I joined the Association for Humanistic Psychology and ‘grew myself' through participating in numerous ‘marathons', encounter groups and group counselling sessions. The capacity for group counselling to augment individual work was compelling and so, on return to Australia, I became a trainer with the Australian Institute for Human Relations for some years. This group offered weekend and ten day human relations laboratories and organizational development training.

While in the U.S., Peter and I lived in a block of ‘married students apartments' in our university town. We loved the easy congeniality of sharing meals, weekends away, transport and study times and so decided to look into living communally on our return to Australia. Our two and a half years of living with four other couples in a large house in a Melbourne suburb was a stimulating and challenging experience that felt too intense to be sustainable over our long term. We decided to design a co-operative community on Melbourne's fringe and have been deeply involved in living and contributing there since the mid 70s. Our mountaintop land continues to inspire and sustain me, especially in some of the more difficult moments that living in community can provide.

My day job changed from teaching to becoming a psychologist working in school settings. This role involved individual and group counselling and training for students, parents and teachers and I enjoyed its variety for many years. Training program for teachers included Stress Management, Effective Teaching Relationships, Time Management, Conflict Resolution, Effective Leadership for Principals. Later I began to provide professional supervision and mentoring for colleagues.

As a young professional I had also dreamed of working to assist couples and families develop more satisfying relationships but felt that I needed more life experience under my own belt before embarking on this work. In the late 80s after some more study I added relationship counselling and training to my work in schools.

Around the same time I began to draw on my love of our land in a deeper way. I had long been aware that when I was feeling low, stressed or exhausted being out in nature, either sitting, praying or working in the vegie garden or walking in the forest calmed and nourished me. So I began to work more consciously with my learnings from nature experiences as aids to my own growth and also to incorporate these into my work. Particularly important were my participation in a Council of All Beings and in workshops, sweatlodges and celebrations of the seasons with ecopsychologist Susan Becchio. I now know that each time I am out on the land I can be called by something in nature absolutely germane to what I need in the present. I also know how to work with its lessons. For me, drawing on nature as a healer complements what I derive from my Christian heritage.

At this point in my life, being with my grandchildren out in nature, gardening, music and walking in the forest or on the beach alone or with others give me great contentment. Assisting others to gain greater self-affirmation, joy and capacity to live life well in relationships with others and in their own pathway continues to be my mission. I bring to this work perceptive listening, warm empathy, and the ability to ask questions which reach to the heart of others' issues and show the capacity to work with them in a more powerful way. Having worked during the course of my life with people of all ages, with individuals, couples, intergenerational families and large groups gives me confidence in my ability to tune in sensitively and relate effectively with wherever people are.

Qualifications

  • B. Ed. (Counselling) – La Trobe University – 1991
  • M. Ed. (Counseling and Guidance) – Ohio University – 1971
  • Dip. Ed. – Monash University – 1967
  • PB.A. – Melbourne University – 1966

 

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