I trained initially as an occupational therapist in the 1970s. My interest quickly became the long-term rehabilitation of people who had suffered an acquired brain injury, which then was a very niche interest.
In the 1990s, I did a four year Gestalt therapy training to augment my work in ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) with clients in supporting their emotional adjustment to living with life-changing injuries. I had a particular interest at that time in people with mild ABI and severe whiplash – a client group who generally had little by way of professional interest and support.
In December 1999, I was in a car accident, which was life-changing as I suffered a very severe double whiplash injury that damaged not only all the ligaments of my neck and back but also my vestibular system. I found that I had, in effect, become my own client. My career was over; I was unable to work, drive, or do much at all.
For a decade, my life was all about micro-management. Severe chronic pain and vertigo dominated everything. I gained some improvement through mindfulness practices, but I felt I had somehow hit a glass ceiling in what mindfulness alone could offer. And then, serendipitously, a mindfulness mentor mentioned Focusing in passing to me, and that changed my life.
Focusing has been central to my life for the last ten years. It has enabled me to befriend my chronic pain and vertigo. I discovered, thanks to the work of neurologist Dr. Robert Scaer (The Body Bears the Burden), the car accident had exacerbated the multiple traumas of my past. In particular, a childhood that was characterized by emotional neglect and abuse.
I had already had many years of therapy and was initially shocked to discover that my body was still holding all this historical pain and trauma. At the beginning of this journey, I explored somatic experiencing. I found that it felt “too fast” for my body and that inadvertently, what most needed attention, was often skipped over. My experience showed me that that old saying “more haste less speed” was true for me, particularly when non-verbal early life trauma and neglect were involved, along with the inherent accompanying deep grief.
Focusing, however, proved to be just what I needed. What I came to recognise and love about Focusing is how the whole process goes entirely at the speed of the unfolding embodying “alivening” that was taking place within me. It enables a depth of healing whenever my body ready for it. Central and essential to Focusing is the compassionate and non-judgemental relating Presence that welcomes whatever is there within one.
For me, Focusing has been and is all about me giving myself the loving parenting I never had as a child and teen. Focusing has taught me and continues to teach me how to love myself and in so doing, to be more loving to others.
Whilst I still live with a degree of physical health limitation, Focusing has transformed my life. I am a Focusing Practitioner, and I now work with people on a one-to-one basis either in person or via Skype. I am currently undertaking my training in Whole Body Focusing with Addie van der Kooy. My particular interests are to do with trauma and chronic health conditions and also how disowned grief impacts on the body.
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