When I look back, I have to admit that for most of my working life…I was stressed.
A racing mind no doubt kept me from reaching my full potential at school, university, and in the years that followed. I found an outlet in sport and fitness, but always found it difficult to relax. I struggled for decades with gastro-intestinal problems and had my insides checked out many times. Sleep was always a problem.
Eventually, I gave up a 30 year career in aviation due to stress, insomnia, gut problems, and chronic back pain. Living in London at the time, I decided that a less stressful industry would perhaps sort things out. I swapped aviation for the charity sector, using my knowledge and expertise to assist project managers to better run their organisations. A growing interest in psychotherapy led me to become a volunteer counsellor. I worked one-to-one, facilitated groups and attended courses in the evenings. I worked with people suffering from many different mental health conditions, particularly addictions. Anxiety seemed to be a problem for everyone.
Soon I drifted back into management, budgets, and became involved in two pan-London committees. My health problems soon returned, not helped by life in the city: I realised I was once more suffering from stress. After taking a year out to work in refugee camps in Greece during the refugee crisis of 2015, I made the decision to return to Scotland for good, to complete my diploma in CBT, and to finally qualify and start my own practice.
I discovered the work of Patrick McKeown, a leading world expert on breathing, several years ago. I attended Patrick´s workshops in Dublin and London and trained first as an Oxygen Advantage instructor (breathing techniques for fitness and performance), and then as an instructor of the Buteyko Method. I had realised my own breathing needed attention long before. The exercises and techniques soon made me feel a different person. My chronic back pain (often caused by dysfunctional breathing) to my surprise, completely disappeared, as did my gut problems. I started to feel a sense of calm I had rarely experienced and an energy I had not felt in decades. Soon, all aspects of my health improved to an extent I could not believe.
Today I like to assess people before working with them. Not everyone needs help with their breathing but if they do, I have knowledge, skills and experience to rely on.
Like most therapists no doubt, I employ a range of techniques in my work. As a counsellor I learned and practiced the person-centred way of working, with an emphasis on truly listening to people, so effective for many. Everyone is different and comes with a different set of problems. My approach is to try to find what will be best for them, what they will be happy to take on, and what we decide will lead to a successful outcome. The satisfaction of seeing people get there is my continual source of inspiration.