Arif: Never Make Assumptions

Man in shadowsA young Asian man was referred to me because of his limited communication and challenging behaviour. Arif had a history of violent outbursts and his parents and members of staff in his residential home were subjected to regular attacks of spitting, scratching, pinching and biting.  On my first vist, Arif was sitting cross-legged with head bowed and shoulders hunched forward.  He anxiously darted glances towards those around him. My initial assessment revealed that his violent outbursts were triggered by the monthly shaving of his body hair in accordance with his faith.  I was told that Arif was terrified of the vibration of the clippers and every time, had to be forcibly restrained by his father and brothers. This traumatic experience perpetuated the cycle of fear.  Arif’s emotional distress manifested in bowel problems which, from a metaphysical perspective, relate to long standing patterns of fear and a difficulty in ‘letting go’ of negative feelings.  As is often the case, Arif’s support worker mirrored this stress related pattern with his own diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.

My weekly visits took place in Arif’s room. In an attempt to discover his musical preference, I played a variety of music from all over the world, including folk, classical, sacred and music from his own and other cultures.   Through careful observation of Arif’s responses i.e. vocal sounds, body language and facial expression, it was possible to determine his musical preference.  The outcome of my observations reminded me never to assume.  Showing disinterest in the music from his own Pakistani culture, Arif visibly relaxed and smiled when listening to Handel’s Water Music  .  His body language shifted from closed to open and from submissive to empowered as he lifted his head, turned to the music, opened his chest, unfolded his arms, straightened his spine and uncurled his legs.  Encouraged by his response, which surprised both me and his care staff , I requested that his musical choice was played quietly in his room and on short journeys in the car.  It is my belief and understanding that we carry forward unreleased imprinted negative memory from early childhood experiences  and also from previous lives. These negative memories influence our beliefs and colour our perception and behaviour.  However, we could clearly see that this piece of music was obviously empowering Arif and triggering positive behaviour and interaction which we needed to encourage and develop. + Read More

Toning and Energy Alignment to Heal Tinnitus

This is an excerpt from Positive Health Online Issue 220 – February 2015.  Toning and Energy Alignment to Heal Tinnitus.

Tinnitus is often described as a noise in the head, interestingly the word is taken from the Latin word ‘tinnire’ which means ringing or a tinkling bell. However, my clients who suffered from tinnitus have more frequently described the ‘noise’ in their head as a continuous loud buzzing, droning, whispering, humming or whistling. The sounds are more audible, seem louder and are more of a problem when it’s quiet, or when they are trying to go to sleep.


According to The British Tinnitus Association, Tinnitus affects 10% of the population of the United Kingdom permanently and affects millions across the world. Tinnitus is the most common injury arising from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and another alarming fact states that 75% of 18 to 30 year-olds who go to nightclubs and concerts may experience temporary tinnitus. It is obvious, therefore that many are in need of both emotional and practical support.

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It’s Never Too Late

My mother Betty was born in 1921. She was the youngest daughter of Alice and Enos Sherborne. Her mother Alice had been a milliner and a window dresser for Harrods, the now famous department store in London. Alice married Enos, a cabinet maker and they had six children. Betty was the youngest daughter. After leaving school at fifteen, Mum worked at the Vickers Armstrong aircraft factory in Weybridge until she was called into the army at the outbreak of the second World War and eventually posted as a telephonist to Bordon Camp in Hampshire, the Canadian Army base.

Mum met my father Percy at a dance in Byfleet in 1945, shortly after his return from a harrowing five year posting abroad. He had served in the 8th Army as one of Field Marshal Montgomery’s ‘desert rats’ in the North African campaigns. After a brief courtship, they married in the local church. I was born nine months later and my brother, Robert,  was born in the Spring of 1948.  In 1953, the year of the Queen’s Coronation, my father’s new job in local government prompted a move to the village of Barnack in Lincolnshire, where my youngest brother, Jonathan, was born in 1955. + Read More

Susie and Chopin

ChopinSusie, a woman in her forties had learning disabilities and had difficulty expressing herself.  Her mother, with whom she had lived, had passed away two years earlier and since that time Susie had lived in a residential home with four other women  she hadn’t previously known.  Susie was referred to me because the care staff in the home were unable to cope with her angry outbursts after a period of withdrawal and had put her on medication for depression.  I spent several sessions getting to know Susie; she loved the swathes of rainbow coloured silk that I took with me on each visit and chose to wrap herself in a silk of sunshine yellow.  She would then stand infront of a full length mirror, admiring her reflection.

We can feel the specific vibration of a colour as well as see it because each colour vibrates at a specific frequency on the rainbow spectrum. We are intuitively drawn to the colour we most need to redress any imbalance within.  Our choice of colour is indicative of our emotional state at the time.

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Vocal Toning: Rainbow Chakra Tones

Toning is an ancient and powerful method of using the voice. The toning process energises the brain and stimulates and regenerates the central nervous system to activate the body’s own self-healing mechanism.  Ancient cultures in both the northern and southern hemisphere understood the law of vibration and recognised sound as energy in motion, acknowledging that everything vibrates at its own frequency, whether a cell within our body, a flower in our garden or a star in the galaxies. Indigenous people felt and appreciated the impact of sound upon the body, the community and the environment, particularly when focused effectively.   This is the principle behind toning.

 The pioneering work of Professor Alfred Tomatis (1920 – 2001) a French physician, psychologist and educator has had a revolutionary impact on our understanding of the ear and subsequently the voice. This has deepened my perception of communication impairment and inspired my research into the relationship between the ear, heart and voice and their link to consciousness. Tomatis believed that we can only voice what we hear and therefore we need to improve our listening ability. It is my understanding that any sound we make ourselves, even humming, nourishes the auditory cortex of the brain and is of higher value than any other sound.

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Jean: A Musical Memory

MOZARTMusic has had a marked impact on the life of many of my clients with learning disabilities.  I particularly remember one lady, who was referred to me because, although she was forty- four, she had never spoken.  However, staff in her residential home believed that Jean understood most of what was said to her.  One of seven children, she was small and dark haired with pronounced scoliosis of the spine which affected her mobility.  Jean lived in a residential care home with five other men and women of similar age and ability. Her favourite occupation was brushing the hair of a resident or member of staff, whether they liked it or not.  Communication consisted of gestures and pointing to make her wishes known or if not understood, she would pull a member of staff towards the desired object . A wave of the hand meant she was either tired or going outside.  Jean  screamed and threw objects to gain attention or when frustrated. Somewhat disconcertingly, she had a permanent smile on her face which belied her mischievous intentions and confused those around her.  There was little family contact, primarily because of their discomfort in not being able to make sense of Jean’s communication.

On my initial visit to see Jean, the radio in the kitchen was tuned into a popular station because overwrought staff had made the assumption that their preferred choice of music was also that of the residents.  In the sitting room, the television was switched on, providing a constant drone of  background voices, peppered with  repetitive advertisements.  At the time of my visit, there was only one CD player for communal use.  The CD player was placed in the sitting room and because residents did not have their own personal CD players, there was little opportunity to discover  musical preferences.

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Restoring Peace to the Home

My experience as a foster mother of young children and also as a speech and language therapist in community and hospital clinics, has shown me that behaviour problems inhibit other aspects of development.  I eventually left my profession in search of another, simpler way of working with adults and children with complex needs.  Having studied the principles of healing and taught holistic therapies, my perception and approach has shifted radically.

Parents often cry out for help as they struggle to assert their authority, fearing that they may add to the difficulties that their child is already experiencing.  I have endeavoured to reassure parents that this is usually not the case because once the child begins to control their behaviour within established parameters with the realisation that it’s their parents who are in charge not them, other problems often resolve amazingly quickly. This usually leads to a general improvement in all aspects of communication. + Read More

Finding Angela’s Voice

Angela was a tall, frail looking woman in her forties with dark hair and hunched shoulders.  She spoke in a whisper and rarely made eye contact. Whenever Angela left the residential home in which she lived, she clung to her support worker, linking arms wherever they walked. She had been diagnosed with a genetic condition which limited her cognitive ability and affected muscular coordination. Her hands shook and she was often wobbly on her feet. Lacking confidence, Angela rarely spoke above a whisper and her care staff told me that  they were concerned because she ate very little, becoming aggressive if pressured  to eat or do anything she didn’t want to do.  She was reluctant to talk to people, preferring to spend long periods in her room lying on her bed seemingly exhausted. Angela’s boyfriend had tragically died of heart failure a year earlier, I was told that the subject was never mentioned by Angela or the care staff within the home because they  were afraid of upsetting her. This flagged up an area of concern. + Read More

A Shocking Silence

Billy was thirty five years old when we met, he lived in a residential care home with two other men who had severe learning disabilities. I was told, ‘Billy doesn’t talk, he hasn’t said anything for years’. When I questioned further, they believed that he understood what was said to him.

Tragically, when Billy was sixteen years old, a terrible thing had happened which shook his family to its core. His elder sister, Mary, was attacked and murdered when walking home after a night out with friends. The effect on Billy and his parents was catastrophic. Emotionally traumatised, he withdrew into himself. His grief stricken parents were  unable to console him and offer the comfort he desperately needed. Medication had no effect on Billy’s mental state and a psychiatrist recommended ECT, electroconvulsive therapy. Billy’s parents told me that Billy had been afraid and had not wanted this option but swayed by medical opinion, they had gone against their better judgement and had allowed the treatment to go ahead. The consequences for Billy were devastating.

The series of electric shocks rendered Billy helpless and unable to function. He became immobile, totally passive, unable to feed or dress himself, emotionally and physically dependent and unable to communicate. Debilitated by their own grief, his parents were unable to cope with the extra burden of looking after him.  Devastated by the loss of not only their daughter but also their son, they reluctantly placed him in a community home for adults with learning disabilities. + Read More

Healing for Adults with Learning Disability.

Working-with-Client-1EMPOWERING THE CLIENT

Orthodox symptom focused therapy that endeavours to address impaired communication and social interaction, will not be effective in the long term, unless the feelings of the client and their support team are acknowledged, accepted and prioritised.  Initially, as a speech and language therapist and later as principal and senior tutor therapist of the Academy of Spiritual Sciences, I discovered the importance of offering disadvantaged adults a plethora of positive creative choices.  This offered  a different experience which impacted positively on every aspect of their life.


Unreleased negative memory from past experience is held within our cells and within the subtle energetic field (aura) which envelops and nourishes the physical body.  These memories are continually being triggered and reinforced by events and interactions in everyday life and this ‘kick starts’ automatic behavioural response. Our view of the world is restricted by our beliefs which are influenced and shaped by earlier experience which is unrelated to current circumstances.  This can skew our perception of the world.  We all make  choices which are dependent on what we perceive to be true. In order to choose and respond differently, we must make a conscious effort to re evaluate our current circumstances and respond in a way that is not sub consciously programmed by past events.  Easier said than done!

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