A little biography
I was born and raised in Holland, mainly in Amsterdam. My first job was as an apprentice journalist for a dutch local weekly newspaper, age 18. Soon I also started working for a crisis centre as a volunteer, which brought out a conflict between wanting to be a journalist/writer and to 'do something with psychology'
Moving to Scotland in 1981 ended the newspaper career as it's hard to become a journalist in a new country and a new language...
I'd started to read Freud when I was 12 years old, growing up with strong experiences of the inner worlds and quite a few childhood challenges in the outside world.I was always really interested in transcending and overstepping the boundaries between those worlds. A lifelong lesson,in which you hit concrete walls many times as I am sure some of you reading this will recognise.
Somehow I believe though, that precisely what you struggle with in life, -or what you see as weaknesses in yourself-, are the very qualities that make you unique and that will become your best talents when you have the courage to face and accept them.
Some great places in Scotland
Scotland satisfied all my romantic longings about nature, in true 'Lord of the Rings' style, my all-time favourite book.
I slowly progressed from bar-, gardening and cleaning jobs in the countryside to being an assistant-matron at a boarding school for Edinburgh girls. Being told off by the head-matron for 'leaving my teaspoon standing upright in my cup' as a bad example for the girls...
The job left me time to study drama classes in the evening, and around that time I connected with a wonderful crowd of people in the Scottish and English alternative circles, whom I met regularly in Laurieston Hall, Castle Douglas, in Dumfriesshire. I learned a lot and had great times at Music- and Healing weeks, some of the happiest times in my life, with great spontaneous performances, sweat lodges, strange encounters with nature creatures and surrounded by jugglers, clowns, wood stove builders, and healers.
I decided to join the next training of the Post-Reichian therapy course by Energystream, which partly took place in the Hall. From there I built up my own practice in Edinburgh, in the Salisbury Centre, where I also lived and worked for a while as coordinator. For seven years I had my own practice , combining bodywork, inner journeys and art. Working with individual people and also running workshops in Edinburgh and in the Highlands, using Jenny's Bothy which to my delight I see is still up and running, and a great place to stay.
Then a new post-graduate course in Edinburgh was started by the British Association of Art Therapists, now run at Queen Margaret's College there. It was the first year of the new art therapy school, and I was very lucky to be accepted on the course by the grace of my previous practical experience and therapy training. For my apprenticeship I worked in a social work childrens' centre, developing play therapy with the toddlers there, and pioneering an art therapy project on the out-patient ward of Dr.Greys' Hospital in Elgin.
Cigarette smoke and Alpine sunrise
Curiosity and fate then transferred me to Switzerland, where I worked in various psychiatric hospitals in the most incredibly beautiful settings. Psychiatric hospitals are by tradition often set in the countryside, away from the cities, with their own technical workshops and farms. Or they were run by monasteries and some of them still are. I had an amazing time there. Getting up incredibly early because of the long swiss working hours, taking a train alongside the lake covered by morning mist like clouds. Then getting out to transfer to a post bus with a bunch of colleagues who would be reading their newspapers whilst we would drive round the hair bends with breathtaking views of the Alps on both sides of the road, snowy peaks glowing in the sunrise. And then from there straight through a heavily locked door, quickly shut behind me, to the cigarette smoke and tense atmosphere of the acute closed ward.
Winter, by Esther Knecht
I had wanted to work in psychiatry, and to be able to do art work there, intensely, extensively,with all sorts of materials,from the ancient art of basket weaving to film making was a precious experience. Apart from the great sorrows encountered there - the domestic - , childhood- and political horrors survived by the people there, some of whom were refugees from wars in the Balkan and Africa, there was such astonishing creative talent and so many outrageous moments, I doubt if I ever laughed as much at work as I did there. And that together with the patients. I can honestly say I have never met anyone 'crazy' there, (apart from some of the staff perhaps..!)
In 2004 I returned to Holland, after 23 years absence, at that time that was exactly half my life.
Since my return I work part-time with children, and the rest of the time is devoted to my practice, to painting, and my training as a herbalist.
I'm always interested in hearing peoples' stories,do write me if you feel you would like to comment or share something of your own experience!