About me

St. Johns Wart

I am a person-centred herbalist.

Person-centred means that I practice in accordance with the principles of person-centred counselling and psychotherapy, a way of working with people that can be applied to any type of therapy and many other kinds of relationships. The foundation of this approach is that each of us has an innate capacity for self-healing and growth, given the right conditions. Person-centred therapy rejects the traditional notion that the therapist is the expert and must be in charge of all aspects of the treatment; in person-centred therapy the client is regarded as the expert of themselves, while the therapist is there to provide support and to help the client rediscover their true self, free from the undue influence of social and societal expectations.

As a person-centred herbalist, I will treat you with what is known as ‘unconditional positive regard’. This means that I won’t judge you adversely no matter what you tell me, or what circumstances you find yourself in. I will work hard to understand what you are going through, to empathise deeply with how you feel, and to view your experiences as unique to you, rather than trying to put you in box so that I can treat you in a way that is ‘typical’ for people with a certain diagnosis or set of symptoms.

I will bring my true, genuine self to all of our interactions, and will refrain from adopting the manner of the ‘medical expert’ who knows best. I will engage with you in a warm and friendly way so that we will quickly develop a positive therapeutic relationship, one that encourages openness and frankness, and a sense of trust between us. I will listen to you on a deep level with my full attention, and will give you the space to explore your feelings and thoughts, without setting my own agenda for our conversations. At times I may challenge your perceptions about certain things, but only when it is in your best interest, not just because your opinions differ from my own. Person-centred therapy means that you are always the most important person in the room.

I am also a herbalist, so this means that I use medicines made from plants, seaweeds, lichen and fungi to help facilitate change in the body, mind and spirit, to strengthen the various organ systems and help repair any damage or weakness that has occurred from the stresses and strains of life. My herbal training was with the International Register of Consultant Herbalists, one of the oldest clinical herbalism schools in the UK, where I studied for 6 years and gained a Diploma in Botanical Therapy. This training focused heavily on the importance of emotional and psychological issues, diet and lifestyle, and adhered to the principles of traditional naturopathic medicine. Just as person-centred therapy helps to create conditions that are conducive to self-healing, naturopathic medicine works on the basis that in most cases a person has the innate capacity to be well, so long as factors such as diet, exercise, stress, chemical pollutants and so on are not acting as barriers to health. Naturopathy and person-centred therapy are therefore perfect bedfellows, and in a sense the use of medicinal herbs acts as a bridge between the two disciplines, enabling healing to take place on many levels simultaneously and to a degree that can be completely transformative.

I love my work and it is a great privilege to be a passenger on the journeys my clients take towards better health. My clients are great teachers to me, especially those who approach treatment with open hearts and open minds, and a willingness to dive deeply into the therapeutic process. I hope that you will have the courage to do the same.

My story

I was a sickly child. I remember being prescribed a lot of delicious banana-flavoured liquid antibiotics throughout my childhood, and my digestion was always terrible. Heavy colds and flu would take me weeks to get over, and I was fatigued for long periods. I was often angry and worried. At 14 years of age I discovered I enjoyed recreational drugs (a lot) and partying with my friends, and this continued through to my early twenties. I had a couple of bouts of depression during my teens which weren’t helped by smoking cannabis every day. Then, at age 21, my health, such as it was, simply fell apart.

At the time I was living in a shared house, surviving on little sleep and eating poorly. One winter all of my housemates and I contracted a particularly nasty flu, but while they were back on their feet after a few days, I just didn’t get better. Three weeks or so passed and I was in the waiting room of my local GP almost passing out with fatigue. I was diagnosed with bronchitis and given antibiotics, which did nothing, and further blood tests revealed I had glandular fever. A year or so of reasonable health followed but with a sense that things somehow weren’t right, and after a holiday abroad I suddenly developed an array of bewildering symptoms – crushing fatigue, sweats, explosive diarrhoea, food intolerances, headaches, highly sensitive hearing and vision, random pains and muscle aches, insomnia followed by uncontrollable sleepiness. Emotionally I felt deeply angry and overwhelmed by the world with a deep-seated need to be alone, to minimise stimulation and to control my surroundings as best I could, to try to cope with what was happening.

Despite endless blood tests over many years, doctors were mystified. I’m not sure how I avoided getting a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, as many people in my situation would have. Some of my friends were understandably at a loss to cope with who I had become, and many of my relationships turned sour. I found it almost impossible to cope with people, to explain what I was going through and to understand any of it myself.

Eventually I accepted that orthodox medicine wasn’t able to help me, so I began to investigate alternative therapies. A course of acupuncture boosted my energy, a week-long fast greatly helped my digestion, and I realised that wheat and dairy were contributing to my symptoms, so I gave them up for a few years. A visit to a wonderful herbalist named Luzia sowed the seeds for what would later become my career, although I wasn’t yet ready to be properly helped. At this time I was stuck in a job I hated and was incredibly stressed and angry, and I began to develop migraines and jaw problems, grinding my teeth at night. Doctors, osteopaths and dentists gave their opinions on my jaw, and I had invasive treatment to widen my mouth; no-one asked me whether I was holding anger and tension in the place that was most natural for me, even though I was going through the most stressful time of my life.

The breakthrough came when I began studying to be a herbalist. As students we were encouraged to pick apart our own medical histories and apply the principles of naturopathy, psychotherapy and herbalism to ourselves. For the first time I could join the dots of the various symptoms through my life, and make sense of them. I realised that the antibiotics had damaged my digestion and immune system, and the anger was manifesting itself physically. Abuse of recreational drugs had damaged my liver and immune system, and I had pains in my joints because my kidneys weren’t working properly due to stress. So I completely changed my diet, and began treating myself with herbs. Over the course of my training I treated every system of my body, and my health was gradually transformed; kidney herbs resolved my joint pain, liver herbs allowed me to digest fat easily again, and herbs for my nervous system made me more emotionally and physically robust than ever before.

At the same time I began reading about psychotherapy, and became particularly interested in Carl Rogers and person-centred counselling. I began to see the patterns of my emotional and physical health, the extent to which my mind was influencing my body, and vice versa. I saw the futility in treating my body without helping my mind and spirit, and realised how much of this I had suspected, deep down, all along. I began meditating, and practicing the principles of mindfulness, and letting my activity levels be guided by the seasons. I learned – and am continuing to learn - my limits, the things that I need and what I am better off without. My health today is better than ever, although I’m still on an unending journey of discovering the best way through life for me, of maintaining balance and listening to my body and my intuition. I still carry traces of some of my previous symptoms, but these are now my teachers to whom I pay careful attention.

So that is how I ended up as a person-centred herbalist. Perhaps you noticed that I have personally experienced all of the areas of illness that I specialise in treating. This doesn’t mean that I will claim to immediately understand what you are going through, because your experience is unique. But you can be sure that I will empathise on a deep level, and I will see your potential to be well again.