About Jo- Experience and Qualifications
I have over 20 years of experience in the UK mental health field as a nurse, social worker, trainer, advocate, and researcher. I was a Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Sheffield for ten years after being awarded a PhD in Psychotherapy Studies in 1998, and then a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (E-Learning) in 2005, both from the University of Sheffield in the UK. This means I am well equipped to work with you online or in person, as you prefer.
I trained in ACT with Mindfulness Training Ltd., London, in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) with Breathworks, UK, and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, University of Wales, UK. I prefer to use ACT as a mindfulness-based coaching intervention because it doesn't require a meditation practice. Clients with busy work and family lives can find it very difficult to dedicate time to meditation on a daily basis. Instead, ACT teaches mindfulness skills in everyday life to help clients overcome unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour that prevent them from achieving their goals. The structured coaching relationship is a collaboration guided by each client's personal values. ACT coaching is limited to 8 sessions with an optional follow-up. All my clients use my ACT workbook with 8 units of supporting text, video links and exercises. ACT coaching is offered over a minimum of 4 weeks at two sessions per week or a maximum of 8 weeks if you attend group workshops.
I've used to ACT to make major changes in my own life. In 2008, I left my full-time academic post, sold everything I owned, and went to study the roots of mindfulness practice with Tibetan and Indian teachers in India. Three years later I was invited to teach mindfulness-based approaches to counselling students at Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy (SIBA) in Kandy, Sri Lanka. My ACT approach therefore combines my western clinical experience and knowledge with ten years' experience of practicing and teaching mindfulness skills in India and Sri Lanka in retreats, on training programmes, and with individual clients.
My own personal development has been especially influenced by the ancient Indian path of self-enquiry and the Buddhist teachings on wisdom and compassion. I’ve completed retreats guided by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering, Dzogchen Rinpoche, and Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve taken extensive teachings and personal guidance from His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and taken teachings from His Holiness Dalia Lama, both in the UK and at his temple near my previous home in the Indian Himalayas. I’ve studied and completed retreats at Krishnamurti centres in both India and Sri Lanka. I’ve also studied the wisdom and teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj in depth, and completed a personal pilgrimage to his family home where he gave satsang in Mumbai, India. Recently, I completed a solo pilgrimage to the Bhimakali Temple in a remote area of the Indo-Tibetan Himalayas, in Sarahan, Kinnaur, to learn more about the goddess Kali and the practices of her devotees in the Indo-Tibetan community. Finally, I visited Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvanamalai, Tamil Nadu, India where I spent a month in retreat in November- December 2019. My years spent investigating ancient Eastern wisdom traditions has deepened my appreciation of the roots of the ACT model and the extensive benefits of the approach for living a more fulfilled and meaningful life.