ABOUT OAK PRACTICE
“Inside, Outside through Creativity
My journey to being a dramatherapist begun by working as a play enabler, supporting children/young people to access mainstream playschemes in Oxford. I did this whilst doing my degree and that summer job changed my life. I found myself using my previous studies as an actor in developing relationships with non-verbal children, many of whom were on the autistic spectrum. Instinctively I knew I had to find out how I could communicate with them…that it was up to me find out how we could “be” together so it was possible for us to be in connection with each other. This learning informs my practice as a dramatherapist today.
I went onto to work in Devon Partnership NHS Trust for nearly ten years as Clinical Lead for people with Profound and Multiple Learning disabilities and when there was thought to be a mental health issue present. I managed a multi-disciplinary team and in that time we merged with the Arts Therapies Service. This developed my clinical practice into working with adults across the spectrum of abilities but where a severe mental health issues was present. I/we worked repeatedly with the most complex stories of distress and this repeatedly demanded an attention to trauma and attachment narratives.
In 2013 I left the NHS after having faced a diagnosis of cancer in late 2011. After nearly a year’s treatment and a brief return to work, I realised that I wanted to work freelance/in private practice. I had done my time within an incredible service going through immense change. This informs my current work as a supervisor. I am fully aware of the demands of working in large organisations as a manager and as a clinical person. The tension between internal/external demands and the potential conflict with one's own ethics.
I am currently co-writing a chapter for a book about Trauma and the Arts therapies – When Words are Not Enough. The chapter is about what happens to the therapist when they face the trauma of breast cancer and return to work.
Outside of Work
Most importantly I am a parent of 2 much-loved children and am married with a rescue dog.
I am the founder of a local group called Scrambled Legs – FKF (Fun, Kindness and Fitness) which is a portal for any local women to connect with other women who want to get fit whether that be through walking, running or scooting or any other venture and for however long. I discovered the importance of being fitter in my return to life after breast cancer. Personally, I find it very important that my fitness is a choice and involve little guilt, be social and fun…then I partake! Sometimes I have even been known to push myself quite hard and for a number of years ran the 6 miles, hilly, road race in Chudleigh to raise money for a small local charity, Cancer Lifeline South West.
I am a trustee for Cancer Lifeline South West and am passionate about the support that they provide for people in the South West once cancer treatment has ended. They support both the person with cancer and whoever their main supporter was through a 3 night, free, Time to Retune break.
I enjoy canoeing, reading, singing and dancing – when I get the chance.
Talking Heads Associate
Acer Reflective Practice
My work in supervision, or reflective professional practice as I often call it, evolved out of many years' experience of management development, particularly in the social care sector, as well as education. My background and qualifications include nursing, training, and management consultancy. A growing awareness of the need for management support led me to formally develop my knowledge and skills, and in 2017 I completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Supervision.
My philosophy is that reflective professional practice is key to effective management. It can provide a private space in which to unravel the knots of your professional life, and shine a light into its darker corners, as well as offering an opportunity to develop and learn, decompress, and recharge batteries. If work is keeping you awake at night, causing you to feel stressed or overwhelmed, you may find that reflective practice helps you to retain resilience in your role.
I work from my private rooms in Chudleigh, providing a quiet environment with no interruptions or distractions.
Talking Heads Associate
From my background experience of social work and managing in health and social care settings, I am passionate about working with people to improve their lives and encourage them to give of their best in whatever they do. In my view supervision is a great way of enabling professionals to develop their capacities to flourish. I am an experienced supervisor, so it is a particular delight to be associated with Talking Heads in offering supervision to staff in education settings. In 2018 my book co-written with Jo Rowe was published about our experiences of introducing supervision into education. My dream has long been that supervision should be offered to education staff and I have been working for the last few years to see how to make that happen.
The world is one of rapid change so developing a flexible mindset, knowing what is essential for your own self-care and building your own resources and capacities all feature in the work I do. Supervision is a reflective space to cope with the demands being made of you, to think about the impact and work out what to do next. Supervision is a professional conversation that safeguards you, your wellbeing and those you have responsibility for (students, staff, school).
In addition to providing supervision, I am an experienced trainer in supervision, have written on the subject and produced resources with Research in Practice, Practice Supervisor Development Programme and In-Trac, Training and Consultancy. Since 2007 I have run my own small business, Pendrew Limited, providing training, supervision and consultancy and working in association with like minded others.
Talking Heads Associate
People and their stories is my long lasting passion, from Supervision and Counselling to my early documentary work, finding ways to tell those stories or find new perspectives on them is what drives me. I’ve worked in Higher Education as a counsellor since 2013 and in that time have supported many staff members who found themselves going ‘above and beyond’ in order to support their students. Over time and as I trained and supervised groups of students in a peer support role, it became clearer to me that anyone who provides not just a technical role, but also a relational one deserves to be supported appropriately for that work. Education, Health and many other key worker roles are not just a technical skill-you don’t just have impact on others, you are also impacted upon and take that into the rest of your work. That is why I am so passionate about caring for the educators and carers in our society.
I provide a chance to take stock, refuel and refresh your professional practice so you can keep doing your important work. I'll work with you to deal with work-place issues and their personal consequences so you can get on with doing the things that really matter to you. I aim to connect you back to the joy that brought you to your role in the first place, even if that has been lost or shifted with your changing professional and personal life. I work with a sprit of honest enquiry and my approach is rooted in the belief that learning from our ongoing experiences is the best way to be an effective practitioner who also feels satisfied by their work. A key feature of my approach involves combining both the micro right here right now reality, with the macro view of a persons life and the context of their organisation. I gained my PG Cert in Supervision in 2017.
Outside of Work
I love being outside, making pictures, going to gigs, dancing (like no one is watching) and swimming in the sea. I enjoy theatre and basically any form of live performance that attempts to shine a light on humanity. During the pandemic I rediscovered my love of baking (because then you get to make it, then eat it-the perfect activity!) and now I get to share that joy with my young family too.
Talking Heads Associate
I studied English and drama at Edgehill College (now University) and following a PGCE at Manchester University, began my professional life as a secondary school teacher in Northampton in 1983, where I taught drama and dance.
I moved back to Yorkshire in 1986 and taught drama in a large Children’s Home in Leeds. This was my first experience of working with traumatised children, and I wish that supervision had been available then, as it would have helped me understand the overwhelming feelings and chaos around me.
I trained as a Dramatherapist, and was able to bring a more therapeutic and trauma- informed way of working into my workplace. The Children’s Home closed in 1989 and I moved into a multi-agency team, where I worked for over 20 years. The team was based within the community and received referrals from local schools. I worked with school staff, parents and children and other agencies, using my knowledge as a teacher and therapist.
During this time, I completed my training as a supervisor, and began to offer supervision to other therapists and school staff.
Following the closure of the MAST team, I worked for Northpoint; a school counselling service as a therapist to staff, parents and children.
Since 2016, I have run a private practice – Dragonfly therapy, supervision and therapy and offer training and supervision to therapists and school staff. I work in a number of schools, with a range of staff. I believe that supervision is essential to a healthy working practice, and provides a necessary space to think clearly without judgement. I wish that I had been able to have supervision all those years ago, because it would have helped me understand so much more about what was going on for the child and what their behaviour was trying to communicate, and would have helped me realise that some of the challenges weren’t personal. Supervision helps to put the child at the heart of the work, but allows a space to reflect, learn and process the ripples which emanate from it.
Dix, A (1999) Creative Therapy with Children who dissociate. Dramatherapy, vol 21 no 3
Dix, A. (2001) All Our Children Dramatherapy, vol.23 No1, Spring 2001, pp22-4
Whizzing and whirring: dramatherapy and ADHD
All the better to see you with: healing metaphors in a case of sexual abuse.
in Dramatherapy with Children, Young People and Schools (2012) eds Leigh, L., Gresch, I., Dix,A.,Haythorne, D. Routledge
Telling Stories: Dramatherapy and theatre -in-education with boys who have experienced domestic violence. (2015) Dramatherapy Journal Routledge
Little-mouse Finds a Safe Place (2016) Ann Dix Worth Publishing Ltd
The shame in the home. Ann Dix BACP Children& Young People Journal. December 2016
Becoming visible: identifying and empowering girls on the autistic spectrum through dramatherapy in Dramatherapy and Autism (2017) ed Haythorne,D., & Seymour,A. Routledge
Talking Heads Associate
My background is in education, and for 10 years I taught in special schools. It quickly became clear that the use of drama was an effective tool with which to communicate with children and young people who had challenging and often self-destructive behaviour. Having worked therapeutically with drama as a teacher, I discovered ‘dramatherapy’. I knew that this was the path I wanted to follow, and have continued to passionately champion dramatherapy within education ever since.
After qualifying in 1989 as a Drama and Movement therapist at the Central School of Speech and Drama, I left teaching to become a full- time therapist.
My dramatherapy work started in a pupil referral unit, which offered individual and group dramatherapy. In 1994, inspired and supported by the innovative Chief Educational Psychologist, Phil Edwards, I established dramatherapy departments in both the pupil referral unit and in the local Special School. This involved working with children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties within the local borough.
In 2000 there were very few supervision training courses available, particularly those offering a creative approach to supervision. I was part of a small group of Dramatherapists who devised and established a supervision training; CAST (Creative Arts Supervision training). This ran independently until 2017, when it was given a home at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. CAST continues to be part of their short courses programme, as a diploma in Creative Arts supervision.
From 2004-2017 I co-ran a children's bereavement service within the NHS. The service provided dramatherapy to children with life-limiting conditions, as well as their siblings. We realised how fortunate we were as therapists to receive regular individual supervision and consultation supervision for our service, which was not the case for other health care workers. For nurses, hospital and hospice staff, this was not a robust or regular part of their culture.
I live in London where I have a private supervision, consultation and dramatherapy practice, offering both individual and group work. I also teach on the supervision training course at Central. I offer supervision to a range of different professions and settings, including Headteachers, therapists, dramatherapy students and theatre companies.
Publications / Papers
Kelly A & Daniel CJ (1996) ‘Beginning to Work with the Elderly’ in 'Discovering the Self through Drama and Movement', Pearson. J (ed) London JKP
Kelly A (2002) 'In the Wake of the Monster: When Trauma Strikes' in 'The Story so Far', Cattanach. A (ed) London JKP
Coleman A & Kelly A (2012) 'Beginning, Middle, End: Dramatherapy with Children who have Life Limiting Conditions and with their Siblings' in 'Dramatherapy with Children, Young People and Schools' (ed) Leigh. L, Gersch. I, Dix. A, Haythorne. D, (pub) Routledge
Coleman A & Kelly A (2017) 'Two to One' in 'Dramatherapy, Reflections and Praxis' (ed) Hougham. R, Jones. B, (pub) Palgrave. London
‘’Spending time with Lisa gives me the space to explore the challenging and complex issues that arise through my work. I believe that it is this very exploration, safely and supportively held by Lisa, that enables me to find meaning, direction and an increased understanding of my own place within my work.”