I've gone off the beaten track walked by many Clinical Psychologists. I first experienced the benefits of learning how to calmly focus my mind when I was having panic attacks as a young man - mindfulness helped me work through my struggles with confidence and I started to grow into the person I always wanted to be. I progressed from avoiding public speaking to giving talks, teaching classes and winning prizes for presenting my work.
I trained at Otago University and then decided to start my career by jumping into the deep end - by working in a rehabilitation centre for people with serious psychiatric disorders. In this job I began teaching mindfulness to groups and witnessed again the powerful positive impact that learning this skill can have. I also noticed that the majority of people in the hospital were men. I suspected that the culture of being a "hard man" was playing a role, as many of the men there had not felt able to talk about their problems when they had started to develop, or had not been encouraged by others to do so.
I went on to work as private practitioner and found my style resonated with New Zealand men, who sought me out for coaching and therapy. Even with everyday blokes I continued to see the Kiwi male culture playing a role in the problems they were facing, as many of them hadn't explored what was going on with anyone else before seeing me, particularly with other men. I also discovered that many of these men had found their own ways to be mindful, through activities like fishing, hunting, swimming and running. When I helped these men to translate this skill to other areas of their life they no longer needed my support. So I thought, why not do this on a bigger scale? Tough Talk was born.