1997 - Founded the ‘Coming To Life Project'
Over the years of my own recovery I had gathered a huge amount of scientific research, observation and experience about what did, and especially what didn't, help with healing from the physical, psychological, emotional and relational legacy of a dysfunctional upbringing.
However in the 1990's mainstream psychiatry, psychology and therapy did not, and often still doesn't, understand the impact that such an upbringing has on a person's brain, biology, identity and life.
Survivors were constantly told that there was something wrong with them, rather than the reality being that, during a vulnerable and vital time, their development had been disrupted and they were now living with the negative repercussions of this.
Survivors were often left alone to recover as best they could, whilst simultaneously being stigmatized and labeled as dysfunctional, and I realised that a Centre was needed where I could share what I had learned with people.
This Centre would be a hub where survivors could safely gather and explore together what they had found to be missing from the mainstream world of recovery.
This meant a rounded and full approach which saw the person as a whole being whose physical, emotional and psychological challenges were inextricably bound together with their living conditions, relationship with society and place in the world.
Secondly, and just as crucially, expanding their consciousness to actualize more of their own innate human potential and non religious spiritual than was previously thought possible at the time.
Through word of mouth, more and more people were hearing about my approach and contacting me, and so in 1997 the 'Coming To Life Project' was born.
As it was important that the Project stay independent in order to seen by survivors as a healing refuge, so the early years were funded by my re-mortgaging my home - which eventually happened twice, before the Project was standing on it's own financial feet, although it has always remained a not-for-profit organization.
The Project became a lifeline for people falling through the cracks, or under the radar, of health and social systems here in the UK. It wasn't so much that professionals didn't care, after all they had chosen to go into helping professions, but rather that they were caught up in systems that were cash strapped, had outdated understanding about childhood trauma, significant shortfalls in treatment and were large which meant change was often slow.
Meanwhile survivors were living in the shadows of life.
As the Project developed, people from other countries also began to make contact as they too desperately searched for help in a world that couldn't, or wouldn't, accept what the growing body of science was showing - that they were damaged, but not deranged.
To this day I continue to work at a scaled down capacity within the Project and assist people as they too climb what amounts to their own internal Himalayas as they progress on their own deep healing and recovery journey.
Highlights of the Professional training undertaken prior to starting the Project:
1995 – 1997
Recovering from Childhood Trauma
2 years modular residential training with Kip Flock, the Clinical Directors at the John Bradshaw Recovery Centre USA.
John is considered a founding father of the Self-Help movement and New York Times Bestselling Author of: ‘Healing The Shame That Binds You', ‘Adult Children Of Dysfunctional Families’, ‘Surviving Divorce’, ‘Homecoming - Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child’, ‘Creating Love’, ‘Eating Disorders’, and ‘Bradshaw On: Family Secrets’.
Training Focused on the recovery processes for adult survivors of childhood abuse, with an emphasis on working with groups of survivors.
Trauma Recovery Group Facilitation
Rebuilding the Psyche
Kip recommended me to John Bradshaw, and I subsequently worked as a group therapist at John’s sold out UK workshops with 400 to 600 participants as well as spin-off group and individual recovery sessions.
I was thrilled to work alongside John as his book 'Homecoming - Reclaiming and Championing your Inner Child' had been instrumental in deepening my own recovery process - for which I am forever grateful.
1994 to 1996
Advanced Diploma in Person Centred Counselling - Post Graduate level Gold Standard Accreditation awarded by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and successful completion means that you can practice independently as a qualified counsellor
Due to my prior experience, I was asked to be the facilitator for the experiential course module on recovering from trauma and the role of ‘Inner Child’ work.
Subsequent to founding the Project, I continued with my professional development and highlights include:
Making Trauma Recovery Safer - The Biology and Neurobiology of Trauma and its Healing.
Babette Rothschild MSW, author ‘8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery’ ‘The Body Remembers - The Psychophysiology and Trauma’ ‘Revolutionizing Trauma Treatment: Stabilization, Safety, & Nervous System Balance’ and also contributor to ‘Trauma Treatment, Women, Trauma and Mental Health - Empowering Women with the Skills and Insight to Thrive’
2 day training focused on;
The science of Psychotherapy
How trauma impacts the Autonomic Nervous System
Identifying hidden somatic resources and the role of the body in healing trauma.
Safe modalities for working to heal past trauma.
Working with dissociation, depersonalisation and disengagement from reality.
2004 – 2007
Integral Regression Therapy: Post Graduate Residential Training with Roger Woolger Phd, Jungian analyst, regression therapist, author and lecturer. Woolger held degrees from Oxford University and the University of London, as well as the C. G. Jung Institute in Switzerland.
Reinhabiting the body
Using Guided Imagery to connect with unresolved trauma.
Working with the body through deep trauma
Effectively and safely releasing trauma somatically
The training that got away…!
1999 - 2001
MSc in Conscious and Transpersonal Psychology - 2 years taught Masters in Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology.
Aspects covered included;
Eastern and Western approaches to consciousness
Neuro correlates of consciousness - the mind/brain interface
Ancient and contemporary spirituality and practice
Spirituality, Identity and Self
I successfully completed all modules over the two years except for one short module at the end on research methods that I was sadly unable to do as by this time, 2001, I was heavily involved in developing the Coming to Life Project which now taking up all of my energy and resources, so my qualification is Post Graduate Degree in Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology.
My course work was however cited in several theses by other students.
Further areas of research and training include:
2007 – 2009
Nonviolent Communication based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg author of ‘Nonviolent Communication - A language of Life’ and ‘Getting Past the Pain Between Us: Healing and Reconciliation’
Understanding how words can harm or heal
Breaking patterns that lead to anger, depression and violence
Transforming potential conflicts into compassionate dialogues
Speaking your mind without creating resistance or hostility
2 year modular residential training, culminating in Andina being invited to work together with Marshall as part of an extended reconciliation and healing process between factions of the former Yugoslav wars and genocide.
Due to credible bomb threats the meetings had to be held at a highly secret island location.
The Living Process of Transformation and Change
3 years modular experiential training. in working with dreams, body symptoms and how physics can play a part in the process of human healing and transformation.
Working with dreams and body symptoms
Deep Democracy - Engaging with different views to unearth creativity, innovation and transformation.
Bringing concepts from physics and mathematics into psychology
Taoism and Shamanism.
1999 - 2001
Brandon Bays; Cancer survivor and author of ‘The Journey’ where Brandon outlines the cutting-edge transformation and mind-body-healing healing method that brought about her healing.
Modular 2 years experiential residential training covering;
Tools for awakening and liberation our human potential
Connecting with trauma held in the body
Clearing dysfunctional childhood patterns
Visualisations and guided imagery to heal unresolved trauma
At the end of the training Brandon named me to the cohort as the person to go to for help with healing and recovery.
Other Ways of Knowing - Recharting Our Future with Ageless Wisdom
John Broomfied past Professor at the University of Michigan for 20 years, President of California Institute of Integral Studies from 1983-1990 and author.
10 day in the field research with Aboriginal peoples in Northern Australia exploring:
Worldviews ignored by the Western world as possible solutions to environmental and social problems.
Trauma and the multi-generational legacy of Colonisation.
Lost connection with the land and the missing sense of belonging.
Short training modules on specific topics
1990 - 2000
Tony Humphreys, psychologist and author of The Power Of 'Negative' Thinking’ resolving dysfunctional thinking patterns
1 day experiential training workshop
John Button, therapist and author of ‘From Rage To Resolution’
2 day experiential residential training working safely with rage
Robyn Norwood, author of ‘Women Who Love Too Much’ Women, Codependency and love addictions with an emphasis on women’s identity
1 day theory and practice.
Donna Eden, author of Energy Medicine - Donna recovered from being wheelchair-bound with Parkinson's disease and I was keen to learn from her on ways of working with the body's energy field to enhance and support healing and recovery.
I day experiential training
Further ongoing small group work
Candace Pert, neuroscientist and author of ‘Molecules of Emotion’ the biochemical links between consciousness, mind, and body.
How our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health
Biomolecular basis for our emotions
I day theory training in hard core body/mind science
2005 to 2015
Founder member of ‘The Whole Human Community’
Monthly weekend gathering exploring our fullest human potential
Coordinated regular residential retreats in the UK and abroad.
NHS Royal Free Hospital, London
Breast Cancer Support Unit: Keynote speaker at 1 day conference on the role of the Mind & Emotions in health and disease.
Lead to invitation to facilitate a series of experiential sessions on Mind/Body healing with patients.
Patients feedback to the hospital was that these sessions were the most practical and informative input that they’d had.
1995 to 1997
MIND – the largest mental health charity in the UK
Womens Group facilitator - Under my facilitation previously low take-up groups all increased membership to waiting list levels
Began as a volunteer and subsequently employed
1994 to 1997
Citizens Advice Bureaux - Hailsham, Sussex and Greenwich London
Senior Advisor : financial, medical, disability and housing
Representing clients at Disability and Welfare Rights Tribunals
Training trainees and providing pre tribunal case overview for other advisors
Ran in-house Workshops on Stress Management
Began as a volunteer and was subsequently employed.
1977 – 1993
Samaritans - Eastbourne
16 years suicide prevention volunteer
In person and telephone support
4 hour shift - 1 x week
1 all-night duty each month - 8pm to 8am
Provided training for new volunteers
Provided on-going training and volunteer support
Additional voluntary and paid employment
1994 to 1997
Association of Greater London Older Women
Volunteer workshop Leader
Mental health in older age
Meditation for wellbeing
1994 to 1996
London Borough Of Hounslow
Mental Health Project Team - Part Time Facilitator for Drug Dependency Group
1994 to 1996
Broadcasting Support Services
Telephone counsellor after challenging TV Programs
Employed by BBC and Channel 4
1978 to 1994
‘Broad-acres’ Farm, East Sussex
Founded Organic Farm with emphasis on superior animal welfare and a venue for courses and workshops.
‘Horse Whisperer’: rehabilitated ‘problem horses’ and ‘failed’ racehorses – many who subsequently went on to win numerous races in the UK and abroad.
Received RSPCA’s Lady Grace Emerson Award for Services to Animal Welfare.
Invited to Buckingham Palace to meet HRH The Queen.
Ran courses and workshops on mind/body health, meditation and consciousness
Another one that got away…!
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)
NAPAC received Lottery Funding and offered me the opportunity to set up, and then run, the first nationwide series of groups for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
Regretfully I had to decline as my work focus within the Project was evolving into the 'Whole Human Community' however I provided them with a replacement therapist for their pilot course, course material, suggestions and guidance.