I have always been interested in people. I like to understand the way that people ‘work’ or ‘tick’ and what causes people joy, and suffering. I have always had a deep desire to help others.
After working as an occupational therapist for some years, I discovered the joy of yoga and meditation in the foothills of the Himilayan mountains. I spent several months immersed in Eastern culture, learning and practicing mindfulness practices. Since this time, my practice as a health professional has taken on a richer inclusion of the spirit and acknowledgement of the connection between body and mind.
The practices I learnt during this period of my life equipped me, not only to connect with and assist my patients more fully — they also prepared me with the tools I needed when I developed my own pain experience.
I feel that this combination of personal and professional experiences places me in the optimal position to both understand my clients from a well balanced perspective.
Most of what we are taught about our internal experiences involves control, suppression, and avoidance of suffering. This is true for a lot of the healthcare system, and for how society views and treats pain. I believe that there are some fundamental flaws in this approach to health, and to life.
I am particularly passionate about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT recognises all humans as fundamentally whole, good and equal, rather than coming from a ‘broken’ or ‘damaged’ mindset that some therapeutic modalities have. ACT encourages us to see all experiences as just that, experiences, and encourages us to turn towards them, develops our ability to open up and find a way of living that is aligned to our personal values. This means, making space for pain, be it emotional, physical or other pain. By dropping the struggle with control, I believe we can work past and beyond our pain. ACT draws strongly on mindfulness as a core practice. This approach ties into the concept that the brain is plastic and that we can change our experiences by the way we focus our attention and desentitise pain pathways and replace them with healthy ones.
Acceptance is not about ‘defeat’ or ’surrender’, nor about living with something that can in fact be changed, improved and modified. It's about recognizing what is present in your life. Pain, suffering, emotions, whatever it might be. Then, looking at your life and making room for it. So that you can do things to stop it overwhelming you. So that you can adjust and rebuild. When people do this, they often find they are able to treat their pain, and it no longer rules their lives.