Athena:

My history

This page has the following sections:

  • My academic studies and work history 
  • Clarity around my current registration, qualifications and funding
My academic studies and work history

Even from a very very early age I was a deep thinker and would drive those around me up the walls by asking “but why did you say that/feel that”. I guess the truth was I wanted to know why I felt that way! I wasn’t always very popular and life felt pretty uncomfortable.


I completed a degree course at Canterbury University majoring in psychology and education. That was followed by post – graduate studies at Curtin University in Western Australia, followed by two years supervised work to become a registered psychologist in W. A. At that point I didn’t feel ready to start working as a psychologist, it felt pretty scary! So I went travelling! I had more than my fair share of adventures which included driving across and climbing in the States [photo below];

hitch-hiking through Europe; climbing the Matterhorn in Switzerland [above]; being lowered inside a crevasse; feeling emotionally very effected by living in the path of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, I married in Germany then ran away; getting depressed in Bradford England but eventually, and most importantly, ending up at a Villa in Italy. This place was set up by some amazing teachers to  develop human (each individual's) potential.

It was called the International Academy of Meditation. So many many stories.

When I returned to Western Australia my work over the next few years saw me involved in helping establish a therapeutic community for drug addicts, counselling Vietnam veterans and victims of sexual abuse , running parenting groups (S. T. E. P. parenting ie systematic training for effective parenting), working in the field of rehabilitation for people with mental and /or physical disabilities, with sexual offenders and with the long-term unemployed. For the last couple of years in W. A. I was living in a retreat in the very beautiful South–Western corner of the state surrounded by big trees, wild coastline and two baby kangaroos I hand reared back to the wild. At that time I started an Holistic Health Centre in Albany, called Windrose. There were four of us, a doctor, masseuse, homeopath and myself.


Around 1990 when my Dad got cancer I returned to NZ.

Nelson became home again and there, supporting another woman, established an Holistic Health Centre in town. It is still there.
On the personal level I became a step – parent to 2 teenagers. And yes, for them I felt as if I was the wicked step mother who got in the way.
Life was very full. I was writing a weekly article in the Nelson Evening Mail. Talking on the radio to Tim. Running parenting groups. There were also groups on Anger Management, Stress Management, Self – Esteem and the Inner Child. I saw clients who wanted to develop communication skills for work or home, who had depression, anxiety or panic attacks, who were going through a crisis in their life or marriage, and some with drug and alcohol related issues.

Then when I arrived at my 40th year I really did make some major changes. The kids left home and my then-husband and I weren’t able to make the transition to the rest of our lives. Although it was so very hard to let go I left Nelson and left my business (for the second time in my life) . I went ‘walk – about’ in the out backs of Australia, basically mango picking for 2 seasons! Oh more Stories! 40°heat, 10 hour days, 7 days a week, beer drinking leathery men and I was a vegetarian yoga-doing psychologist living in a tent. It was lonely but I needed the space!

2 years I waited. But not really waiting because you’re not supposed to, are you?

At 42 I gave birth to Ben, nineteen months later to Nick. Andy and I are happily married and living in the Hutt Valley. For the past 17 years I’ve been a mother, gardener, carer of chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs and fish. Which brings me to today. I really wanted to return to work, partly because I was ready for a change, partly because I love doing sessions and using my strengths in a useful way, and  partly because we have bought some land out of Upper Hutt and are building a house this year, 2019, (which is expensive). I am loved and supported more than ever, plus of course, I’ve grown and changed since I last worked. So I’m seeing that I’ve evolved, becoming better and stronger in some ways than before. I am giving myself permission to share exactly who I am! Gotta walk the walk, not just talk the talk!!


Just out of interest I thought I’d make a list of all the jobs I’ve been paid to do in my life, some over a matter of weeks, others months and years.

In no particular order: Dental assistant (6 wks) , mango picker, Bush survival assistant-teacher(18 months), teacher in an alternative school run by a charismatic woman in the 80s (Fremantle, W. A.), Coordinator of a  therapeutic community for drug addicts, worker on an organic farm (Nelson), apple picker, dishwasher(the Lido Wellington), vegetarian cook/kitchen hand [many times], washer of old people at old people’s home (Germany),Cleaner, writer of articles on interesting stuff (related to my work), rehabilitation counsellor, unemployment counsellor, (government agencies W. A.), guidance Officer (W. A.), Deck hand on fishing boat, worker in fish factory, tomato packer (very difficult), tent stitcher (didn’t last long at that!) and in between all this private counsellor.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but that’ll do for now! Ask me if you want to know more!

Registration, Qualifications and funding

In the early 80's, I completed my professional qualifications at university. (You may have read a bit more about this earlier on this Web page). 

At that time I also registered as a psychologist in Western Australia. That meant I was covered by the Psychology Board and agreed to adhere to their standards of conduct and treatment. When I started working as a psychologist I worked both privately and within government agencies for quite a few years.

Then I returned to New Zealand, Nelson. At that time I made a decision not to register here and I was very clear to everyone that I was on the ‘Lapsed Register’ in W. A. Still qualified, not registered. In Nelson, 20 years ago (+/-!) I built up a practice that  resulted in me seeing 30- 40 clients a week plus running groups at night.

Being unregistered in NZ means that government agencies do not approve the funding of sessions with me. It is their way of making sure their counsellors are all up to a certain standard and competency, which is very important. They need to be accountable to their clients and the general public. If anything goes wrong their staff are covered by guidelines and insurances set down and paid for by the Board of Psychologists in NZ.

So where do I stand with respect to all this today?

As a trained professional I have learnt to consider many aspects of seeing a client. Some of these are to check my client’s physical health and nutrition, do they need to see a doctor; is it possible they might benefit from medication at this point, such as an anti – depressant; what is their history with other health professionals and what have they already learnt or benefited from; what is their cultural background and do they have different values to myself or the society they live in; could they be suffering, or have suffered, from sexual or physical abuse; are they in any physical or emotional danger; how much is physical pain impacting on their daily experience of life; is there a limit on the number of sessions with me they can have and so on.

Of course a person might not volunteer all this information straight up and even if I am very conscientious I might miss something. I’ve found that by being open and transparent it helps build trust on both sides but the truth is that there is always a small  element of risk. Things may not go exactly as hoped...... (They may go better than some people imagine!)

So there we have it. I am still not registered in NZ. If this worries you then maybe I’m not the right person for you. I may undertake the process of registration in the future, I’ll see how I go. Right now my focus is returning to the workforce now that my children are bigger! I feel as though I’ve continued to gain wisdom and clarity over the past 15 years  and I still really love my work. I am definitely a growing, evolving being.

I have drawn up a short contract that gives me the chance to make sure you understand the bones of all this before we start. I do not want anybody to feel cheated or mislead.

Contact me:
E-mail: athena@heartandmind.co.nz
Phone number: 021 130 6973


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