I am a professionally trained and qualified Counsellor and Recovery Coach. I have been part of the recovery movement for more than 25 years, working through my own health and lifestyle challenges which you can read about here. I have worked as an independent counsellor in private practice and as a recovery coach.
I am in my 50's, born a gay man, and in an interracial civil partnership, with my partner from a very different country to the UK. I live in Manchester, UK but work with people all around the world using various internet/online applications. I see some people face-to-face at my home office in Manchester (M33).
I have a separate academic career, part-time at a UK university. I have spent years working in the NHS, and before that, went from unskilled job to job after school at 15 years of age. I was late going to university, and became pretty engrossed in studying and research, with postgraduate qualifications including two master's degrees, a postgraduate certificate in higher education, and a doctorate (PhD). Eventually, I found the work I truly love - counselling and recovery coaching are the real deal for me.
In 2010 I completed three years of training in Psychosynthesis Counselling and Psychotherapy with a postgraduate degree (University of East London, 2010). In a therapy setting, the approach can help people develop a deeper sense of understanding about oneself and life experiences, and integrate previous 'parts'. Psychosynthesis acknowledges a soul or spiritual aspect of existence as part of a healing journey. It also incorporates modern psychological methods including transformative, cognitive and humanistic approaches, as a way of releasing psychological pain and distress.
I am one of the few people in the UK to have trained and obtained a formal qualification as a Recovery Coach. I chose to train with an accredited programme based on a model in the United States (U.S.) Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), and led by experts at the Recovery Coach Academy in England. I have other qualifications including a doctorate (PhD), Master of Public Health, Master of Philosophy, a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, and a Bachelor of Arts, associated with my career at The University of Manchester.
I am a member of the professional body the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP, membership no. 000644308) and have professional indemnity insurance. I have regular supervision to meet the stringent BACP requirements.
I just kept doing the same thing over and over and over and over again. Regardless of the outcome, I just could not stop. Despite the consequences to myself and those around me, my life was consumed with addictive substances and behaviours, and I was only heading in one direction that was getting darker and engulfed with despair. I reached out to my GP, to counsellors and even a psychiatrist, but never really told them what was going on and made many a call to anonymous help lines and support groups. I was living life like an articulated truck going down a mountain without any breaks. And even though I could see this unfolding in front of me, I found it so hard to vocalise, to tell other people what was happening, and to get the help and support I really needed from those who really understood.
Yet I was blessed with a moment of clarity despite being in the depths of despair, and I reached out to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step groups. I didn’t know of anywhere else to go. I’ve no idea how I knew about AA other than it was the first item listed in a telephone directly. I was 27 years old, petrified, full of shame, absolutely hated the fact that I was gay, desperately wanting help, yet at the same time I rejected any possible help that came my way. At the initial AA meetings, I listened as people shared their story and I judged and criticised every single one of them as they spoke. Probably three or four weeks went by, and I came to the conclusion that the ‘rooms’ were full of sad, lonely, broken people, who had nothing to offer me. I knew best (I knew jack shit but my ego didn’t want to know) and somehow I stopped drinking on my own (what some people call ‘white knuckling it’). Even though I wasn’t drinking alcohol, all the other harmful and unhelpful behaviours and harmful attitudes to life continued. In fact they were getting worse. Two years went by; I was on holiday with the guy who I thought was the ‘man of my dreams’ (and you know how that would end). From out of nowhere, a voice came out of my mouth that resulted in me ordering alcohol from a bar and within days, I was drinking far more than I had ever drank. In a matter of weeks I was starting to lose all that was good around me.
In my first AA meetings, I heard people talk about ‘the yets’ – ‘you might not have lost your job yet, but you will if you keep on drinking…’. The yet’s had started to happen. I knew I was beat. I only knew of one place that might offer a glimpse of hope for me, and that was the same AA meeting where I had previously sat and judged everyone around me. This time I properly opened my eyes and ears, finding people like me who were now living pretty ordinary lives – free from destruction, despair and depression, and experiencing pure joy and laughter, something I hadn’t had for many years. I owe so much to people who had welcomed me as me, the true me. Slowly I started to take off the masks I had previously used to protect from the outside world, and started to live as a more wholesome, fully functioning human being.
I continued to seek other sources of support and professional help. This included starting therapy with an amazing woman who had been an addict herself. She really understood me, at a level deeper than I had ever known and slowly we worked on overcoming some of my deepest fears, and healing my broken wounds. I went to other support groups, slowly started to meet people and talk honestly with them, and spent time exploring a spiritual side of life in and amongst a rather bonkers world. I’ve learnt to live life in a generally ok way. None of this happened overnight, none of it happened without effort and change by me, and none of it was ever on the cards when I was young – I didn’t start life by saying I wanted to grow up and be an alcoholic/addict; nor did I have aspirations to be a leading member of the recovery community. But thank god the latter did happen because I am now living a life which is overflowing with all the things I need.
I don’t spend every moment skipping and laughing and dancing down the street. I live in the reality of life rather than trying to escape. I have sadness and I have joy. I have had some unpleasant times through no fault of my own. I developed a debilitating chronic illness that causes me a lot of pain, and I had to let go of full time work. I was prescribed a drug called Pregabalin for the pain, and later, the scientists realised this was a pretty harmful and addictive drug. I then had to go through a process of coming off this opioid-type drug, and find other ways to live more comfortably.
Through my own experience I have realised that I can help other people in similar situations to myself. I have devoted a lot of time helping people through 12-step fellowships like AA. I also spent a lot of time, energy and money to become a counsellor and later a recovery coach. This work is so rewarding, helping people recover and move forward in their lives – to help them explore and identify and implement changes that they themselves want to take action on, and to bring more of the ok’ness of life each day.
Your life will be different to mine in many ways. If you have read to the end of this article, then hold on to the fact that you can move forward and bring an end to some of your internal and external suffering. I can help you do this. Reach out for help and arrange a free, short discovery call to find out more about how I work and how I can meet your needs.