The Art years: 1996 - 2007
The professional odyssey that leads to True Self Systems begins in 1996, when I returned to college as a mature student to study art, gaining a BA (Hons) and MFA with distinctions. I hugely value my creative education and what it gave me; it underpins a capacity to face into the unknown with the people that I work with and respond creatively at that edge …
The Art Years: Read On
After graduating in 2002, I engaged in exhibitions, commissions and residencies. I taught as a visiting lecturer at Wolverhampton, Newcastle, Northumbria Universities and Gateshead College too.
Through these experiences I gained a solid grounding in working with others in creative ways, whether teaching students, or the organisations and audiences I engaged through collaborations and workshops. I hugely value my creative education and what it gave me; it underpins a capacity to face into the unknown with the people that I work with and respond creatively at that edge.
More practically it gave me invaluable software, image making and design skills that supported me to establish as the practitioner I am today. These skills underpin my work with other practitioners: whether building a website or birthing a new phase in someones creative or work life, I am interested in the tension at the edge of our authentic soul calling and where that meets the world of work.
The Neo Tantra years: 2008 - 2019
Roundabout 2004 I began attending Neo Tantra workshops in London. I was aware that my Catholic schooling had left me disconnected from an innate tendency towards spiritual enquiry and a sense of the sacred in sex. I was struggling with sexual difficulties and looking for answers following a relationship breakup: Neo Tantra offered embodied and experiential ways to explore both at the same time …
The Neo Tantra Years: Read On
In the following years I attended an estimated 2000 hours of workshops offered by the most reputable teachers of the time. Most significant of those were c.1200 hours with John Hawken of The Paths of Transformation. His creative and academic background really appealed to me:
John took a first at Cambridge, studied experimental theatre with Grotowski at the Theatre Laboratory, and taught drama before training as a humanistic psychotherapist specializing in energy and bodywork, with a private practice in Germany for ten years.
About John Hakwen
I completed his year long trainings in Tantra, Advanced Tantra and Bioenergetics: the latter a thorough and practical grounding in the work of Wilhelm Reich and his followers. I also attended courses on the Art of Tantra Massage, Dark Eros and Reichian Energy and Character Types for Practitioners. I was a member of his Shamanic lodge for 8 years, a closed group of his long term students meeting 3 to 4 times a year.
During the trainings we often worked in pairs and small groups, facilitating one another’s process under John’s supervision; in the lodge we often offered shamanic healings under Johns guidance. This truly was a path of transformation, in other eras it would be recognised for the substantial apprenticeship it was: an embodied, integrative, humanistic and transpersonal education.
I established as a practitioner and educator myself in 2008 through till 2019, gathering all I was learning under the name Tantra4Tigers. I wore different hats in my practice in response to enquiries which ranged from: educational, therapeutic, healing, pleasure seeking, connection, mentorship and spiritual enquiry.
Much of my work was offered one to one or to couples. I also taught c.4 weekend workshops a year right up until the 2020 pandemic: in London, Estonia, Oxford and Bristol, usually with my colleague Rupert J Alison. I gained professional membership with the Association of Somatic and Integrative Sexologists who provided a code of ethics and complaints process that still covers my work to this day.
I also gained a great deal of experience in attuning to the unique needs of each client, tracking and responding to their bodies and nervous system, exploring vulnerable and taboo places with them. I stand by the integrity of my work, as a highly skilled and ethical practitioner in this field.
I established a live work community of similar practitioners, we hosted international visiting teachers and groups at home. With weekly sharing circles the heartbeat of this community: this 6 year phase of my home life was a profound phase of personal growth and experiential education.
True Self Systems - 2019 to present
Around 2017 I started to feel a desire to expand my practice beyond its Tantric focus. Looking back I can now see that I was about to birth my own ‘paths of transformation’: a multi modality practice not dissimilar to my teacher John Hawken. I had been researching my own family tree, prompted by comments from a cousin about my fathers origins …
True Self Systems: Read On
I had been researching my own family tree, prompted by comments from a cousin about my fathers origins. I uncovered many compelling stories of my ancestors: e.g. a soldier surviving a firing squad, a Jewish refugee escaping pogroms in Warsaw, unwed women (and their children) of French origin – mistresses or rebels of Victorian era London? – bigamy, murder and other crimes.
Through this work I felt my ancestors calling and came to realise how much of my own trauma was transgenerational, leading me to Family Constellations: a modality I loved so much I completed a 2 year practitioner training in 2018.
I also built completed a 2 year Rebirthing Breathwork practitioner training in 2018: I chose this particular branch of breathwork because I was drawn to the healing of pre verbal and developmental Trauma. It was also a practice into which I could integrate my prior Bioenergetics learning.
With these two practitioner trainings I established True Self Systems in early 2019; I bid a fond farewell to the tiger closing my Tantra4Tigers business.
I continue to take CPD hours to develop the trauma sensitivity of my whole practice. This includes integrating TEB: Transforming Touch® in 2021. TEB is a modality for supporting the healing of developmental trauma, taught by one of the worlds leading experts in developmental trauma Stephen J. Terrell.
Finally a Wheel of Consent facilitator training gave me new ways to work with clients on questions around pleasure and intimacy. It offered non sexual embodied ways to address the communication of desires and boundaries, which I came to see as the primary difficulty many of my clients faced during my Tantra years.
In all – the True Self Systems phase of my work is founded in ‘the Tantra Years’ and an additional: 585 hours of certified practitioner training and 140 hours ongoing CPD (to date, late 2021). My CPD areas of interest include the work of Pat Ogden, Bessel van Der Kolk and Peter Levine, Bonnie Badeonch, Janina Fisher: see my training and experience page for a comeplete list.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my the Professional Odyssey that is True Self Systems! If you have questions or want to reach out and comment do get in touch using the purple buttons below.