Okay, you know by now that I'm passionate about emotional, psychological and bodily self-care, including stress and anxiety management, self-development, self-fulfilment and overall wellbeing across all ages and areas of adult life, including relationships and sexuality. But what about my background, life philosophy, broader interests and professional qualifications? Well, I’ve written about these areas below. I’ve used specific headings so that you can scroll through and read only what you wish to...and then simply skip everything else that you find boring!
I was born in 1951, into an unskilled working-class background in the war-damaged, industrially and economically impoverished north west of England. From this I very quickly learned the value of positivity, determination, and developing self-understanding in life! Fact: Your life is only going to change if you actively make it change by changing yourself. And we can all -- each and every one of us -- do this, through modifying step-by-step how we perceive, think, feel and behave.
I love reinventing my life as necessary, and I'm a very autodidactic and nonconformist person across all areas of life. I actively support and encourage this degree of individuality within the lives of everyone I meet throughout my life journey. I am also a strong global environment advocate, and an advocate of human rights and social justice, including sexual and gender equality, racial and ethnic equality, and human sexual and gender rights based on ownership and self-perception of one’s own body.
I've always strongly identified as European in origin, and in addition to my long Europe-based experience as an educator, integrative counsellor, and psychologically-based coach, I also resided for many years in California.
My Fulbright Award international teaching year
I first arrived in California in 1982, having received a prestigious UK and US government funded Fulbright Award, my international posting being to teach on exchange for one year at Hamilton Union High School, Hamilton City. My Fulbright award was in international recognition of my motivational teaching and educational leadership at the school in Essex, England, where I had worked for seven years, predominantly with stressful and anxious children and young people experiencing significant levels of social and economic deprivation and educational disadvantage.
It was in my Fulbright year that I also met my Pilates and sports yoga teaching life-partner, Lynne-Marie, then vice-principal at Hamilton, and formerly a PE and biology teacher, state lifeguard, sports coach, and water safety instructor. Later on, before re-settling together back in Europe, we spent many years in 1980s and 90s southern California, residing for eight of those within the exercise-lifestyle community of the beautiful LA urban beach areas.
to my counselling & stress and anxiety management coaching
MA Counselling and Psychotherapy. I completed this professional master's in integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy in 2002, at the School of Psychology, University of East London, after having completed the BACP-Accredited PgDip requirements in 2000. This training, from which I developed my specialisation in humanistic / holistic and cognitive behavioural approaches, is an open-system process-based model equally applicable for counselling or for working, instead, in a strictly non-psychotherapeutic manner with coaching clients.
BEd (Hons) Education and Geography. In 1975 I completed qualified teacher status at the former Crewe College of Education and at Keele University, covering broad areas of the social sciences, environmental sciences, and humanities, with specialisation in education and geography. My education studies focused on areas highly relevant to my present-day coaching; particularly pedagogic skills, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology. Additionally, studies in climate and meteorology, environmental issues, medical geography, biogeography, transport, agriculture, trade and commerce (all updated by me over the years) have facilitated my deep understanding of the personal psychological, physical, and biological impacts from climate change and health pandemics. This includes the level of personal psycho-physical adaptation necessary, and the potential vulnerabilities of individuals, environment, and socio-economic systems to these phenomena.
with stress, anxiety and sexual / relationship problems
Since 1975, I have accumulated an extensive international background working professionally with stressful and anxious children, young people, adult individuals, and sexual relationship couples, in various educational, mental health counselling, and coaching contexts, on both sides of the Atlantic. This professional background, and postgraduate mental health counselling training, has given me a deep understanding of the causes, effects and management of stress and stressful situations and contexts in all areas of human life.
Between 1975 and 1999 I taught in English and Californian secondary and special education. My teaching focused on working in deprived urban environments with stressful, socially disadvantaged, anxious, low self-esteem and insecure children and young people, often experiencing significant emotional, social, behavioural and educational problems.
By the mid-1990s, I wished to expand upon my work with socially disadvantaged children and young people by making the transition into being an integrative counsellor and coach in private practice, helping adults with their emotional, psychological, sexual and behavioural concerns, and self-development and goal achievement. In 1998, therefore, I sought postgraduate training in SE England in integrative counselling and psychotherapy to provide me with an effective counselling and coaching foundation and framework, including specialisation in humanistic and cognitive behavioural approaches to counselling and coaching; a very rare combination then. Fortunately, I found such a programme, at the School of Psychology, University of East London.
My focus as a counsellor
Over many years in my counselling practices, I have worked with adult individuals and sexual relationship couples across a wide range of stress and anxiety-creating emotional, psychological, behavioural, sexuality and relationship issues and self-development contexts. My special emphases in relationship and sexuality integrative counselling and coaching have always focused on partner communication skills, especially understanding and negotiating what the relationship is about, including the terms and level of commitment. This also includes how to negotiate and maintain sexual consent and sexual activity boundaries, and other emotional, psychological and physical boundaries. Additionally, I have a strong background in working with clients on anxiety and stressful issues arising out of their survival of sexual abuse experienced as a child or adult. I also have a long-established deep interest in stress management and self-development, goal achievement and self-fulfilment within traditional monogamous and non-traditional and alternative sexuality, including all forms of non-monogamous relating, demisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality. Most recently my work opened up to include stress and anxiety counselling for climate crisis and health pandemic crisis anxieties and stress.
My focus as a stress and anxiety management coach
There has been, from the very beginning, a special focus across all of my psychologically-based coaching practice on stress and anxiety management, and understanding and resolving stressful and anxious life situations. My clients come to me with the self-development goal of better managing their stress and anxiety, in order to increase their emotional, psychological and bodily wellbeing. Additionally, once stress and anxiety become less of a blocking problem, our aim together as a team is usually to then also work together to further the client's personal or professional self-achievement and self-fulfilment goals in various aspects of their personal lives, career, education, and sexual relating.
Since 2000, my coaching has always focused on intervention with my client at the root causes of stressful underlying anxiety, low resilience, low self-esteem, insecurity, and self-doubt, in various areas of their personal and professional life. This includes a long-established deep interest in coaching for stress management and self-development, goal achievement and self-fulfilment within traditional monogamous and non-traditional and alternative sexuality, including all forms of non-monogamous relating, demisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality. These areas continue as my main current-day coaching focus. I approach my stress management work through, either, targeting the actual stressors themselves (sometimes using cognitive behavioural coaching), or, alternatively, as a more holistic / humanistic stress release using mind and body-based strategies (e.g. mindfulness training; controlled gentle breathing techniques, etc.) for parasympathetic nervous system response. Frequently, these approaches may be very effectively combined.
Coaching for stress and anxiety caused by climate and health pandemic crises
Most recently, I have become more focused on developing my stress and anxiety specialisation to include stress management / stress reduction in the stressful and anxiety-inducing scenarios of climate emergency and planetary health degradation, including viral and other health-related pandemics.
Sadly, human beings possess an inordinate capacity for denial, and for delaying the point in time at which they’re willing to confront the essential reality of what simply must be dealt with. From this background of unpreparedness, confrontation with the harsh reality of these phenomena is emotionally, psychologically and physically traumatising, resulting in serious levels of mental and physical stress both during the crisis and post-crisis. In this new era of global climate and health crises, we enter, in fact, a permanent era of insecurity, inconsistent change and uncertain health protection.
So where now do we go from here? Well, from my professional counselling and coaching experience, combined with my regularly updated BEd (Hons) geography training, I can offer a knowledgeable background for providing effective stress and anxiety management regarding personal and wider-ranging climate change and health pandemic impacts, personal adaptation requirements, and potential vulnerability. This help is mainly comprised of some (very positive) insights; some well-needed self-empowerment; understanding of the problems and their associated risks; positive thinking and helpful day-to-day decision-making strategies that are emotionally, psychologically, socially and environmentally sound. This all helps clients to reduce their stress and anxiety, increase their understanding of global and local climate emergency / health pandemic events, and cope with life more positively in our ever-changing, and increasingly riskier world.
and personal interests
Obviously, in order to enjoy life to the fullest, now and for many decades to come, and to be able to work effectively and in a relaxed way with my clients, I need to be aware of maintaining my own emotional, psychological and bodily wellbeing. So, how do I achieve this?
Well, a central element of my life since the mid-1970s has been developing a consistent and fun involvement with regular intense cardio exercise and, since 1983, a healthy, well-researched and informed relationship with food. In addition to the organic wholefood vegan lifestyle that Lynne-Marie and myself have evolved together for our wellbeing (and as a truly sustainable option for continuation of life on Earth as we know it), since 2011 daily mind-body exercise has become a crucial part of self-care for me! In fact, since 2014, deep breathing exercises, positivity of thought and action, and gentle mind-body exercise (based on Strala Yoga, a combination of gentle, breath and movement-fuelled yoga and tai chi ) have also become central to me managing my blood pressure at safe levels.
This gentle mind-body exercise of flow yoga and tai chi has created a level of balance, flexibility and a range of movement which I’ve never experienced previously. Building on all of my earlier static yoga mind-body exercise, my yoga and tai chi flow-based exercise has completed the process of healing and developing my physical core, creating a pain and sciatica-free lower back, and has increased my pelvic stability and pelvic strength. This has the obvious benefits of regaining a youthful and vigorous lifestyle, with the added bonus of eliminating the serious and health-damaging emotional and psychological stress, tensions and negativity that otherwise arise from restricted mobility. Consistency is the key here, and since 2011 I’ve completed in excess of 2,400 hours of mind-body exercise in my daily practice. In fact, I do my favourite sequences for 15 to 45 minutes every day, and sometimes much more. This usually includes a get-out-of-bed 15 to 30 minute gentle stretch / warm-up sequence, often followed by a circa 15 to 30 minute session later in the day. I also enjoy many shorter "outbreaks" which I slip into spontaneously anytime, any place, several times each day!
Completing my exercise schedule each week, along with my partner Lynne-Marie, I also undertake three intensive music / movement-based non-yoga cardio sessions, based on both linear and non-linear movement, working for 60 minutes per session at between 70%-85% of maximum age-adjusted heart rate.
In addition to my enthusiasm for the above, I'm a passionate photographer, I love living in "blue space" (either alongside, or within a couple of miles of, an ocean, sea, lake, or river mouth) and coastal / beach walking. Music of almost all genres is crucially important in my daily life, especially new age and smooth jazz instrumental, and all types of rock music. Additionally, personally, and as an experienced sexual relationship helping-professional, I have a longstanding interest in how people create excitement, pleasure, love and intimate fulfilment from a wide range of ever-evolving kinds of consensual sexuality, sexual expression and alternative / non-traditional sexual relationship lifestyles. Particularly encouraging is how, in recent decades, and across much of the globe, alternative expressions of sex (or asexuality) and intimacy are becoming more widely socially acceptable and recognised. Allied with this, I also have a strong interest in the social history and psychology of discrimination and oppression based on sexual lifestyle, gender, race / ethnicity or age. And, I'm deeply focused on the stressful, anxiety-creating and life-threatening impact on human society (and other life-forms) resulting from mass human-denial-influenced anthropogenic climate change and other environmental degradation. Not surprisingly, I'm politically engaged in all of these social and environmental areas.
And, within all of this, I always bear in mind to focus consistently on making sure that the quality of my life's journey, not the final goal, is uppermost in my mind.
and, occasionally, for print publication or other sharing
As an evidence-based and psychologically informed practitioner I keep myself well updated on relevant research. This includes studies coming from practitioners and researchers in many areas of the social sciences, environmental sciences, and exercise and health sciences. And, in the spirit of sharing with others, as a helping-professional, I have also written many articles for the internet. These have covered such topics as stressful and anxious thoughts and behaviours; stressful aspects of sexuality and sexual relating; stress and anxiety management; and, holistic mind-body approaches to stress management and wellbeing. Occasionally, I have also published print articles and publicly-shared research on stress and anxiety-creating areas of professional concern to me, three internationally distributed examples being...
* The causes and dangers of American parochialism, Guardian Weekly international edition, February 15, 1987, p8. As an educator living in Los Angeles, I was unsettled by the focus in US schools on being -- or becoming -- American, and the almost non-existent wider-world geography curricula. This seemed to go hand-in-hand with a widespread uninformed, stressful, anxious and dismissive view of other countries, peoples and cultures exhibited by many of the less-well-travelled and less-well-educated Americans that I met. Because of this, and in response to an earlier very excellent Guardian Weekly article on this topic, written by London-based American journalist Michael Goldfarb, I published this long article exploring these educational and cultural themes.
* An historical study of the role played by US courts in defining and regulating the law on artistic sexual expression, 1821-1994. In 1993, as a teacher living in LA, and completing a US history “add-on” to my BEd (Hons) qualifications, I was deeply concerned about the censorship regarding sexuality and alternative / non-traditional sexual relating throughout US sex education curricula, the media, and the arts. This repressive attitude to sexuality, finding its broadest expression in the Comstock Laws (the original law being initiated in 1873), had constrained even the dissemination of medical birth control, sexual health, and women’s health information way into the twentieth century. Even the most basic contraceptive information was unavailable until 1938. By 1994, California high school sex education curricula still mandated teaching that the only legitimate context for sexual activity was between a couple related by heterosexual monogamous marriage! In this very same year, US Surgeon-General Dr Jocelyn Elders was sacked by President Bill Clinton for mentioning that masturbation should be regarded as safe and healthy and included in the school sexual education curriculum (yes, that really happened in 1994, not 1894!). Such stress and anxiety-creating control, suppression and denial of informed access, regarding sexual description, ideas and imagery, fired my professional response to explore this further. My resulting research on the role played by US courts in regulating the law on sexual expression in the arts and media between 1821-1994 was adopted as a reference source by the Osgoode Hall Law School Library, York University, Toronto, and by the American Art collections of the Smithsonian Libraries, Washington DC.
* Heterosexual HIV transmission: ethics of disinformation and the importance of adhering to an evidence-based approach in psychotherapeutic practice, Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 23:4, 419-432 (2008). In 2007, as an integrative counsellor and coach concerned by the stress and anxiety-creating content of UK public health disinformation regarding HIV transmission in opposite gender sexuality, I researched and wrote my peer-reviewed, evidence-based and intentionally contentious and strongly-focused debate article on this topic.