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About Me

I’ve been a doctor for over 20 years now and worked in psychiatry for a large part of that.

I have specialised in infant, child, adolescent and youth mental health. Several years ago I was offering mental health services to offending kids from the ages of 11 to 21 in a youth re- training facility, well, really it was a child prison. I left after 15 months. I gained a kilo for every month I was there. By the time I left I was totally ‘burned out’, and I didn’t want to be a doctor any more. I couldn’t handle the responsibility and I couldn’t handle the vicarious trauma.

I dyed my hair hot pink and tried to get my head back together – to re-find my medical purpose. As part of that journey, I turned to my first love and constant companion textile art, including knitting. Next…

I dyed my hair hot pink...

I dyed my hair hot pink…

As I sat there, doing my 2×2 rib, designing poppies and butterflies, I kept thinking about the kids in Youth Justice.

I anguished over how the current models of intervention fell short with this population. The kids in youth retraining facilities can’t talk. They can’t explain their deepest dilemmas to themselves let alone a therapist. When they do, they get over-whelmed at all the unprocessed feelings. The feelings are big distressing ones, like grief and rage and deep, deep sadness. I have watched these feelings surge up and swamp them, convincing them that nothing can help. These kids can’t handle face-to-face eye contact and they can’t tolerate a long interview.

Therapy becomes another experience of failure. Next