At school I joined the St John Ambulance Service as a cadet and began learning about general first aid and providing assistance at public events like football matches. Working towards my Grand Prior award, I was introduced to communicating with deaf people through sign language and volunteered at a nursing home for people who had lost their sight. I observed compassion in those around me and wondered if I too could be part of changing the course of a person's life, for the better. My interest in psychology grew further in my teens - I now needed better coping strategies to respond to difficult people, the stress of exams, puberty and the uncertainties that we all face in being human.
I embarked on a first degree in experimental psychology at Sussex University, where I engaged with schools, outreach groups, and voluntary organisations built connections and understood more about harm reduction, education, personal responsibility and choices, whilst developing a foundation of knowledge spanning physiological psychology, developmental psychology and neuroscience and published my first paper in infant development.
Seeking travel and adventure I earned a visa to share specialist knowledge in psychology and counselling with a child and adolescent service in the USA and was sponsored for a further six years to stay and work in Boston. On the East Coast I supported children and families who struggled to communicate their needs; many were involved with drugs and alcohol, some with gangs, all were seeking connection and safety. Working with the US State Department of Social Services, Youth Services and Mental Health, I considered the impact of our environments and our culture on the availability of resources and on our commitment to thrive.
Eventually my roots in Plymouth pulled me back home and I returned to work in the UK with an early intervention in psychosis team, joined the National Health Service for a further ten years and undertook doctoral training to become a chartered clinical psychologist.
Throughout each post I have felt privileged to provide psychological and neuropsychological assessments, meeting and connecting with individuals and groups who have struggled with illness, disability, trauma and circumstance. I have enjoyed providing training and reflective practice supervision to staff teams and supporting them to develop resilience for themselves and the people they work with at the front line of their personal battles.
Through research and audit, campaigning and teaching, I have sought to improve services and engage organisations in understanding psychological formulations, thinking always about how to implement change, and have contributed to new service development and National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
This year I turned 40 and as part of my personal commitment to flourishing at 40, I have chosen to embark on a new journey and develop a dynamic and evidence based psychology service for the South West of England. It is a culmination and celebration of my learning over the past twenty five years of service to others, continuing to explore what the individual, family or team needs in order to flourish; despite trauma, despite disability, despite limited resources within their family or company, whatever the barriers may be.
I strongly believe that we each have within us the capacity to thrive and the tools to achieve optimal health and well-being and that with the right support and resources we all may FLOURISH.