I am Australian by birth, my parents were migrants from the south of Italy. I was brought up bi-lingually, starting school not speaking any English. As a child I had to help my parents negotiate life and work, interpreting for them (and relatives) and being a young carer. I came to higher education late, supporting myself as a young adult to gain university entrance and graduating with honours from The University of Sydney.
I moved to the UK with my husband and two small children in 1995. I then completed a PGCE in Secondary Education and taught in a multi-cultural school in Cardiff Bay, an area of severe deprivation. I then changed careers and trained for Presbyteral Ministry in The Methodist Church, starting at St Michaels College and Cardiff University and ending my ministerial studies at Durham University with a Master’s in Theological Research specialising in Psychology and Religion. I served as a District Officer in Business, Industry and Commerce and a chaplain to business and industry in the North East. I also had pastoral responsibility within churches which included providing pastoral support to families and individuals in times of bereavement, social and economic hardship, parenting and family life. I was also a national trainer for workplace chaplaincy working ecumenically in the UK and chaired various local and national committees.
After resigning from The Methodist Church, I then worked as Director of Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Services, advising on Religious and EDI Issues, providing mediation and conflict resolution for a major FE College in South Yorkshire and providing pastoral support to students, as well as managing teams of chaplains in the steel industry and fire and rescue services. After working with this chaplaincy, a colleague and I began an independent company to provide advice to both private and public sector bodies on EDI and Religious Issues, providing mediation services and pastoral support to students and staff.
I now work as a psychotherapeutic counsellor, having qualified for both children and adults, and as a psychotherapist qualified to work with children and young people having trained through Northern Guild. It has been an amazing journey moving here, having lived in Australia, the USA and now the UK. But I am fortunate in having relatives, friends and colleagues both in the UK and around the world.
Where are you based?
In the North-East of England, mainly Durham and South Shields.
What are you doing now?
I am self-employed as a Psychotherapist and currently hold a contract as Mental Health Practitioner with a primary school in South Shields and work independently as a consultant to public and private sector bodies on a range of organisational and mental health issues. I am also studying for an MSc in Psychotherapy and Diploma in Clinical Supervision.
What does your working week look like?
I am in school for two days a week offering clinical face-to-face, one-to-one, psychotherapy sessions to the children as well as a drop-in service, and mediation services. I also offer support to parents and school staff. Other days are taken up with administrative work, clinical supervision, my consultancy work and research for my MSc in Psychotherapy.
How has the emergence of online working impacted your practice?
I do have experience of online working, but my practice is currently all face-to-face. The school that I work with prefers face-to-face but would use online if another pandemic lockdown occurred, as long as it could be safeguarded appropriately. I feel confident with online practice based on past experience. In terms of attending case conferences, clinical supervision, accessing CPD, consultancy work, online working has made this all more accessible and inclusive for me. I find working online brings different senses to the foreground – it’s a bit like watching a movie with no sound, so I have to work harder and activate my other senses into the foreground because I can’t hear what people are saying with their body language and smell for instance. Once I got used to it I found I could still get behind the words and read what might be really going on – I had to dig deeper within my own senses to stay connected but that felt quite wholistic. It’s brought more choice regarding accessibility and practice and if worked well, is no bad thing.
How did your training at Northern Guild prepare you for working as a therapist?
From day one you take responsibility for how you use your time, how much you want to get from the training – you don’t get spoon-fed. I felt held to a very high standard of professionalism which is how I like to work, so the training was a good fit for me. It is amazing to look back and see how much was covered in the training. It follows you around – I have been told more than once that people can tell that I trained through Northern Guild ‘you can always tell the difference’ they say (which was also the case when I applied for placements during my training).
What opportunities have opened up for you since qualifying?
Quite a few actually, the variety of placements I did in the NHS CAMHS, educational, and charity sectors provided with me with a good amount of experience, choice, offers, work and connections. My preference is to work within organisations that have a strong sense of community, with a client base that is made up of the whole spectrum of people from diverse backgrounds. I have come away from working for a national mental health charity, preferring to work as self-employed with individuals and agencies, so I can set my own standard and type of service delivery placing the therapeutic relationship and the client’s needs first.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Mentoring, training, delivering psychotherapeutic services, learning – much the same as what I am doing now. I am an educationalist as well as a psychotherapist at heart, and I really enjoy supporting people in their own personal and professional growth.