Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Systemic Family Therapist
NVR UK Accredited Practitioner and Supervisor
In the late 1970s, I trained abroad in Social Work to ‘intermediate examination’ level. This motivated me to combine social work and clinical psychology approaches for helping children and families in need and in child protection contexts.
Following doctoral training in clinical psychology, I practiced within the German Social Services funded child guidance system, with US military authorities’ child protection agencies, and with international agencies. I have been working in child and adolescent mental health and in adult mental health as a qualified Clinical Psychologist for over 34 years. Much of this work has been undertaken in support of child protection, involving difficulties relating to child sexual and physical abuse or neglect, parents’ mental ill health, as well as drug and alcohol misuse problems, domestic violence, and very serious trauma.
After my training as a Clinical Psychologist, I went on to train as a Systemic Family Therapist. Over the years, I have pursued a strong interest in processes within the ‘larger system’, i.e. the interaction of family and the helping agencies. This interest has led me to develop service models for effective interagency working in child protection and child in need contexts.
From 1997 until 2006, I developed ‘Thanet Multi Agency Service’ (TMS), as well as leading a large child psychology department within the NHS. This team provided comprehensive psychological interventions to families involved with the local authority children-and families and child protection services, responding to behavioural, psychological, emotional and mental health issues that multi-stressed families were struggling with. As its lead clinician, I promoted not only a high standard of therapeutic competence and multi-agency working at close range, but also introduced a number of innovative therapeutic approaches to this area of work.
My last position in the NHS was CAMHS Lead for Complex Cases East Sussex. I am Director of PartnershipProjects, a multi-agency training consultancy aimed at creating effective service models for change promotion at the interface of Social Care, CAMHS and Education. I also provide general psychological practice for adults and for children and families from different locations in the Southeast of England. My main areas of interest are severe trauma, anxiety, violent and controlling behaviour.
A main focus of my work over the past years has been the introduction Non Violent Resistance (NVR) to the UK. NVR is a highly effective, innovative systemic approach to the violent, harmful and self-destructive behaviour in young people. NVR is ideally suited for working within Social Services and Education environments. Due to the nature of this work, I have developed adaptations of the approach to multi-stressed families with high levels of trauma and unmet needs and children who are looked after in foster care or residential services. A new area of interest has been the use of NVR with adults who are showing entitled dependency, both with or without enduring mental health problems.
As a therapist, I find working collaboratively with people more effective than ‘treatment’. While drawing from a large ‘toolbox’ of methods, I aim to help clients recognise and use their own strengths, resources and knowledge. Over the years, it has been my task to create space for discovering new possibilities when people have felt extremely helpless at the outset. The hope and self-confidence they gain then becomes the vehicle for change, which can often be much more rapid and profound than previously expected. I do not believe that personalities are set in stone. Childhood is short, and as adults we begin to realise that life is finite. This creates a responsibility for me: to be acutely aware of my clients’ right to therapy which promotes rapid change, and in which their own knowledge is respected – even, or especially, when they have had an abusive or traumatising past.