As a qualified practitioner in the field of counselling and psychotherapy – often referred to as ‘talking therapies’ – I am particularly interested in the use of language. I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece and moved to the UK in 2001 to qualify as a therapist in a second language. I found myself engaging in subtle and complex processes with language, at intellectual, emotional, conscious and unconscious levels. I was fascinated by how this manifested vividly in my ‘dreams’ where English appeared to dominate most dialogues in my sleeping life as well as most ways of my self-expression, in thinking, speaking and writing in my awake presence. This is something that became more of a focus, from a psychological perspective, at later years, when I embarked on a doctoral research journey in Counselling.
I completed a PhD (2010) as a Scholar of the University of Manchester; my research is an exploratory study on the experiences of migrant therapists, bringing insights on issues around bilingualism and biculturalism, issues of identity, home and belonging, the challenges of researcher reflexivity in using post-modern methodologies and so on. Handling interview research data, together with my own auto-ethnographic entries in a second language – together with noticing the language switches, when researching multilingually – has played a significant part in my writing and the research process.
I am fluent in English and French, besides my Greek mother tongue and I found that creativity has been the bridging element in channelling the flow of languages within, depending on context. For example, I found myself writing poetry in English as my second language when trying to overcome the ‘writer’s block’ during the period of writing my thesis or when attempting to discover ways for personal expression and healing. I have also used poetry as a medium for depicting qualitative data in counselling research. In July 2011, I received the 1st Poetry Prize at the 22nd World Congress of Poets organised by the United Poets Laureate International (UPLI).
I am currently a Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of East London. My previous appointments outside academia included working as a counselling practitioner and supervisor in student and staff counselling, working with young people, working with refugees and asylum seekers as well as NHS and charity work. My different roles have provided me with unique opportunities to be interacting with clients or students who are often multilingual and am intrigued by the relational dynamics that occur in both verbal and non-verbal ways in each context. I am looking forward to contributing to and engaging in such dialogue with others, through this project.