Okay, you know by now that I'm passionate about emotional and psychological self-care, stress management, self-knowledge and self-achievement, and overall mind-body wellbeing across all areas of life. But what about my background, life philosophy, broader interests and professional qualifications?
Well, 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 how we perceive, think, feel and behave. And, as a psychologically informed and evidence-based practitioner, that process of self-understanding, making self-change, and achieving self-development, is exactly what I offer to coach and guide you through.
I've always strongly identified as European and, not surprisingly, I am a firm advocate of European Union, though not necessarily in its current form. In addition to my long Europe-based professional experience as an educator, integrative counsellor / therapist, and coach, I also had the life-enriching pleasure of residing for many years in California.
I first arrived in California in 1982, having been selected for a prestigious British and American government funded Fulbright Award, my assignment being to teach on exchange for one year at Hamilton Union High School, Hamilton City. My Fulbright award was in international recognition of my teaching and educational leadership at the school in Essex, England where, for many years, I had worked predominantly with teenagers experiencing significant levels of social, economic and educational disadvantage. It was in my Fulbright exchange year that I also met my incredible, adventurous, 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 Los Angeles, residing for eight of those happily immersed within the 1980s and 90s dynamic exercise-lifestyle community of the beautiful urban beach areas.
At heart I’m a very individualistic, highly nonconformist and autodidactic person, with a deep thirst for knowledge. I love feeling free to explore and reinvent aspects of my life, and encouraging and supporting this degree of self-development, personal change and individualistic self-expression in others also.
mind & body stress release, self-care and wellbeing?
Since 1975, I have accumulated an extensive international background working professionally with stressful children, young people, adult individuals, and sexual relationship couples, in various educational, integrative counselling / therapy, and coaching contexts, on both sides of the Atlantic. This professional background has given me a deep understanding of the causes, effects and management of stress and stressful situations in all areas of human life, including appropriate and effective strategies for improving mind-body self-care and wellbeing.
From 1975 to 1999 this was originally as a Fulbright Award-winning teacher in English and Californian secondary and special needs education. My teaching focused, predominantly, on stressful, socially disadvantaged, anxious, low self-esteem and insecure children and young people, experiencing significant emotional, social, behavioural and educational problems. I completed teacher certification specialising in education and geography at the former Crewe College of Education and at Keele University (BEd Hons); and in social science / history at California State University, Long Beach (MA).
Between 1998 and 2002 I trained in integrative counselling and psychotherapy in the the School of Psychology, University of East London, completing my BACP-accredited PGDip requirements in 2000, and my professional MA degree in 2002. My chosen psychotherapeutic practice focus was on the integration of humanistic and cognitive behavioural approaches. From 2000 to 2013, in my combined counselling / therapy and coaching practices in England, I worked with adult individuals and sexual relationship couples across a wide range of stressful emotional, psychological, behavioural, sexuality and relationship issues and self-development contexts. My special emphasis in relationship and sexuality counselling was on sexual disinformation; surviving sexual abuse experienced as a child or an adult; and also a special interest in issues arising within non-traditional and alternative sexuality, including all forms of non-monogamous relating.
In my psychologically-based coaching, there was, from the very beginning, a special focus on stress management. This has always concentrated on intervention at the root causes of stressful underlying anxiety, low resilience, low self-esteem, insecurity, and self-doubt, in various areas of career / work, education, personal life, sexuality and sexual relating. These coaching areas continue as my main current-day focus. I approach my stress management coaching through, either, targeting the actual stressors themselves (sometimes using cognitive behavioural coaching), or, alternatively, as a more holistic stress release using mind & body-based strategies (e.g. mindfulness, breathing techniques, etc.) for parasympathetic nervous system response. Sometimes, these approaches may be very effectively combined.
In 2013 I moved completely out of counselling and psychotherapy-based practice, in order to focus my work entirely on stress management and self-care coaching, emphasising mind & body self-care, and self-achievement (whilst also allowing me to enjoy a more semi-retired lifestyle!).
and personal interests
Obviously, in order to enjoy life to the fullest in the second half of my sixties and for 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 yoga has become a crucial part of self-care for me! In fact, since 2014, deep breathing exercises, positivity of thought and action, yoga and, more recently, Strala flow yoga, have also become central to me managing my blood pressure at safe levels.
Strala yoga, a gentle fusion of 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 yoga, it's 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 yoga (much of this Strala Yoga inspired) in my daily practice. In fact, I do my favourite flow yoga 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 several flow yoga "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. I also adore music -- especially new age, smooth jazz, rock, alternative, Patty Larkin's folk music, electro-swing and other electro(nic) music of many kinds. Additionally, personally, and as a former sexual relationship counsellor and present-day coach, 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 non-sex) and intimacy are becoming more widely socially acceptable and recognised. Allied with this, and with my fascination in the history of social change, I also have a strong interest in the history and psychology of discrimination and oppression based on sexual lifestyle, gender or age. And, stemming from my earlier professional training in geography and psychological therapy, I'm deeply concerned by 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.
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 coach, I keep myself well updated on relevant research. This includes studies coming from practitioners and researchers in coaching studies; mind-body exercise; positive psychology; sexuality and relationship studies; and broader areas of the health and exercise 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 sexual relating; stress management; and mind-body exercise and wellbeing. Occasionally, I have also published, or had publicly adopted, printed articles and research on stress and anxiety-creating areas of professional concern to me, such as...
* 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 / therapist and coach concerned by the stress and anxiety-creating content of public health disinformation regarding HIV transmission in opposite gender sexuality, I researched and wrote my peer-reviewed evidence-based intentionally contentious debate article on this topic.
* 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 an educator in Los Angeles, and an aspiring counsellor / therapist and coach, I became very concerned regarding the degree of restrictive legal control currently, and historically, exercised by US teacher licensing agencies and local school boards over sex education in teacher training and in school curricula. This long tradition was also linked with a history of sexual censorship throughout the US arts and media. This had, undoubtedly, created a serious level of sexual ignorance, and relationship stress and anxiety, in Americans over the years, by limiting access to sexual health and contraceptive information (e.g. Comstock Law, 1873). It also had the effect of stifling public / artistic discourse of sexual ideas and philosophies in the arts and media, and of alternatives to heterosexual monogamous marriage in school curricula. I focused my history teacher MA research onto this area, analysing the judgments reached by US courts regarding permitted levels of sexual expression in arts and media from 1821-1994, and examining the pressures exerted on the courts by social, political and fundamentalist religious entities. My dissertation was adopted for inclusion in the history of law, arts and media collections of the Osgoode Hall Law School Library, York University, Toronto, and by the American Art collections of the Smithsonian Libraries, Washington DC.