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Interview with Joe Atkinson, Tutor, Mentor and Counsellor

I am incredibly pleased to have Joe Atkinson share his story with Dishevelled Dad today.

He has devoted his life to help improve the lives of others and through his natural desire to support those around him, he later pursued a career as a professional child therapist and later parents too. Today we talk about his journey and also how he can help children & families in need of therapy and counselling.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Joe, who will share his story in his own words.

“Thank you for joining us, please tell us about yourself, let's start at the beginning.”

I’ve spent the last 10 years working with children and families in both educational and therapeutic roles. After a brief career working in homeless hostels across London and training as an addictions counsellor, I re-trained as a primary school teacher. I didn’t last long in school, with the modern day pressures of teaching and after looking around at teachers who had been in the job for a while I realised that this was not a long term career choice for me.

I have since trained in Play Therapy and most recently became one of the first certified Compassionate Inquiry Practitioners in the UK and work directly with parents who are looking for support. The idea is that the best gift we can give our children is our own calm and attuned presence which can come from entering our own therapeutic process.

"The most rewarding part of it, is that so often we seem to be set to helping others in our family easily, but when it comes to looking for that help for ourselves, it’s another matter."

“What led you to want to help others in this way? Is it down to personal experience?”

Used to handing out advice, being a listening ear amongst other roles I had picked up what I thought was a fair bit of experience. And then in the last 3 years I have become a dad twice. Boy has that been a learning experience for me. It’s so easy from the outside to look into other people’s lives, think things through, offer advice and make assumptions as to what could be going on and what might be helpful going forward. I have always been very non-judgemental and before working with children I worked with homeless heroin addicts deep in the midst of their own addictions. I believed that my only experience of both these issues was what I was seeing and working with. Rarely was it ever personal to me. But now that I have my own children all of a sudden that deeper level of understanding comes. This is one of the reasons why I have wanted to work with parents.

“What do you find most challenging working with Parents?”

The most challenging is that it continuously brings you back to your own therapeutic work which is actually quite a big reward, but it’s challenging work for sure!!

“Equally, what do you find so rewarding working with Parents?”

The most rewarding part of it, is that so often we seem to be set to helping others in our family easily, but when it comes to looking for that help for ourselves, it’s another matter. It’s like there is one rule for the whole world and another for ourselves. Helping people to notice that imbalance and then providing that support is the most rewarding! This can also take the pressure off our children. When support is directed straight to them a lot of the time it might also pass on the message that they are the problem. When we openly seek support for ourselves as parents this can change the environment completely.

“Please tell us about your parenting course and other ways you can support families?”

Being a parent is the hardest role that I ever had and our society, as sad as it may be, is just not set up to look after the needs of parents, children or families. We’ve slipped down the pecking order. In many ways, it is strange, because we are surrounded by the knowledge, the techniques, the answers of how to be a good parent. Can’t we just read a book and try out a different technique?

This course is not about teaching or telling you how to parent. It is about opening up space where you can explore how you show up as a parent.

Parents are increasingly isolated both from support and their own instinctive ways of being with children. Parenting was never meant to be done in the nuclear family and we must recognise we are all parenting in a very unnatural environment. On that note, it is important that we put in the work and start to get this awareness back and it is in this process that we can thank our children for guiding us back to ourselves.

You can subscribe to download the free course here:

And if you are interested in Compassionate Inquiry or some of my other work then check out my website

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