I began conducting counselling groups in 1980 with a co-therapist when I was training for my first Transactional Analysis qualification as a clinical member. At the same time I was attending Murdoch university completing my honours degree in psychology. I found this a good combination – I learnt the practical skills of counselling with my counselling training and had a strong theory base of psychology with my university training.
My early counselling was with adults as well as focusing on work with children & teenagers, and this has continued throughout the past 30 years. This resulted in a series of articles and three books:
- How kids grow up and leave home
- Creative feeling – How to understand and deal with your child’s feelings
- Adolescence, anger and what to do
My work with adults has been in a wide variety of formats including individual counselling, group counselling, couples counselling, family counselling, residential weekend and week long group counselling.
This has involved treating many common problems such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks, relationship problems, separation and divorce, loss and grief, suicidal thoughts, sexual abuse, eating and sleeping disorders, addictions and so forth.
Over the years I have specialised in a number of areas. I was a consultant to the St. John Ambulance Service WA for trauma debriefing for 10 years and produced a number of articles and a book on this topic. Part of this involved setting up a training program for peer debriefing for the entire organisation. This involved training members of that organisation to do the initial assessment and debriefing of ambulance officers who have been traumatised for what ever reason.
I set up the training program for these men and women who were not professionally trained in counselling. They did the initial assessment and if they thought the trauma was more insidious then the person would be referred onto some like myself who was a qualified psychologist. I would have trained hundreds in this program which to my knowledge was unique in organisational psychology. This culminated in a booklet that we would use for training. The final edition of this booklet was produced in 1991 and called the Employee Support Programme.
I have also worked with the YMCA as an employee support counsellor. I spent 4 years working in a drug rehabilitation centre and worked in a prison for 3 years. My principle role in the prison was as co-ordinator of the program designed to identify and manage self harming and suicidal inmates.
I have also worked on a respite program with the Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI). This involved working mainly with people who have chronic schizophrenia, manic-depression, psychotic depression, and borderline personality.
In conjunction with these pursuits I have also done more formal psychology work such as psychological testing for dyslexia and learning difficulties, career guidance, assessing academic underachievement and personality testing for a variety of reasons including identifying the addictive personality and the potential for suicide.
I have been training people in counselling skills since the mid 1980’s. This has included the teaching of theory and supervision on the practicalities of hands on counselling. I have also supervised many psychologists for registration. The supervision has included:
- Individual supervision
- Group supervision
- Supervising people to be supervisors