About

MAGGIE YAXLEY SMITH

Having enjoyed a career in counselling for 35 years and a love of writing, I have now put these two activities together to write about counselling. My first book, Finding Love in the Looking Glass: A Book of Counselling Case Stories, is due to be published by Karnac Books in April, 2014. I create very real but fictitious characters that are experiencing specific difficulties and reveal the dynamic dialogue of their counselling process as it unfolds. These clients show how we can successfully overcome outdated survival patterns and make effective new choices that work for us. My aim is to show just how effective counselling can be. The topics covered in this first book of case stories are: Anorexia; Depression; Relationship Breakdown especially as related to issues about boarding school education and cultural differences; Cocaine Addiction and Childhood Sexual Abuse.

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I’m a Senior Accredited Counsellor with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I’ve spent most of my counselling career working with staff and students at the University of Kent. I supervised and mentored counsellors on placements and had responsibility for the management of the Counselling Service there up until 2011. I’ve worked as a counsellor with Relate, a women’s refuge, the prison service and with various employment counselling services in private practice.

Several years ago, I trained as a Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator with Lauren Artress at Chartres Cathedral and collaborated with the staff at the University of Kent who instigated the building of the Canterbury Labyrinth, pictured above. I have encouraged a number of counselling clients to use the labyrinth and one of my first blogs is an article that explains the benefits of walking a labyrinth. Most recently, I have joined the Kent Writing and Wellbeing Network that meets in Canterbury. I am thoroughly enjoying attending the monthly S@ve As Writing Group and feel fortunate to be able to attend the exciting events and open mic that S@ve As organise at the Jolly Sailor in Canterbury – do check out their website.

Since my education included rather more male role models than was helpful for me as a young woman, I pursued an M.A. in Women’s Studies as a mature student. This balanced out my education and enabled me to research and write about things that interested me: oppression, sexuality, mothering, the philosophy of learning and psychoanalysis from a female perspective. My dissertation was about Rudolf Steiner education, which I believe is a truly humanistic education with a curriculum based on the developmental stages of childhood. It encourages children to become the best they can be as an individual balanced with a healthy respect for their peers.

In my creative and counselling writing, I want to honour and pass on what I’ve been taught by the clients, colleagues, teachers and supervisors that I’ve worked with.

Other interests that are most important to me are: spending time with family and friends; singing with the Maridadi Singers – a World Music Choir; walking in forests, mountains and by the sea and enjoying every kind of wildlife; yoga and meditation; writing and performing poetry and listening to other people performing poetry and prose; playing Bananagram, Hearts and Bridge and house renovation…

I list some books that have been valuable for me.

TWENTY FAVOURITE BOOKS

Allende, I. (2000). Daughter of Fortune, Flamingo; Armstrong, F. & Pearson, J. (Eds.) (2000). Well-Tuned Women: Growing Strong Through Voicework, The Women’s Press; Cameron, A. (1984). Daughters of Copper Woman, the Women’s Press; Paulo Coelho. (1995). The Alchemist, Thorsons; His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Cutler, H. (1998). The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living, Riverhead Books; Diamond, H. & Diamond, M. (1987). Living Health, Grand Central Publishing; Hoff, B., (1993). The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet, Mandarin Paperback; Horley, S. (2002). Power and Control, Vermilion; Jansson, T., (translated by Thomas Teal), (2003). The Summer Book, Sort Of Books; Lane, J. (2006). The Spirit of Silence, Making Space for Creativity, Green Books; Liedloff, J. (1975). The Continuum Concept, Arkana, Penguin Books, 1975; Lorde, A. (1984). Sister Outsider, The Crossing Press; Neale Hurston, Z. (1978). Their Eyes Were Watching God, Illionois Press; Nhat Hanh, T. (1987). Being Peace, Parallax; Northrup, C.M., (2010). Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Bantam; Steiner, R. (Translated by Michael Lipsom) (1995). Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, A Philosophy of Freedom, Anthroposophic Press; Tolkien, J.R.R., (1969). The Lord of the Rings, George Allen & Unwin; Tolle, E. (2005). A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Gale, Cengage Learning; van Gulik, R., (1990). The Chinese Maze Murders, Sphere Books, 1990; Walker, A., (1984). In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, The Women’s Press.

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