Psychotherapist’s Life – Paul Bailey

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak (1963)

Paul Bailey has worked in New Zealand, England and Australia as a psychotherapist, counsellor, supervisor, group facilitator and educator for almost 40 years. Paul presented at a QCA event “Honing our talent – our need for regular, accurate feedback” in October 2016 and is currently working at the Bardon Counselling Centre.


  1. Your favourite hobby? Whether favourite or not, I do love tending the four acres of land on which I live.
  2. Favourite sports player? I have an affinity with both the tortoise and the hare: sometimes I want the hare to win the race through not winning and sometimes it’s the tortoise’s task-focus that I’d like to win the day.
  3. Guilty pleasure: an every now and then delightful afternoon siesta
  4. I can’t live without remembering to be grateful, otherwise, I’m lost in some narcissistic cul-de-sac
  5. The charity I support? Right now I’m active in Therapy4Refugees
  6. Next travel destination? In a few weeks, I’ll be in the Canary Islands to visit grandchildren
  7. As I fall asleep, I love hearing the sound of Dawson Creek humming its way over rocks towards the sea
  8. I would like to learn to speak Spanish more fluently
  9. If I could rid the world of one thing it would be ticks. Yet, in the end I wouldn’t, even if I really could as, even ticks, these disease-carrying, blood-sucking annoying teeny-tiny parasites, seem to have their own mysterious though rightful place in our shared ecosystem.
  10. I have a fear of…. going blind
  11. My hidden talent is playing the saxophone
  12. Before I die I must…although there’s nothing more I must do, I will make the most of the three score year and more than life has allotted me
  13. My writing inspiration is….when I was eight years old and the family moved from the farm to the edge of the city, my Dad took me to the local public library and fill in the form for me to have my own library card. This library card awakened such a world for me for which I am forever grateful



  1. Favourite TV shows? I don’t know about favourite, however, I’m currently watching series three of Borgen on S.B.S. on demand and am enjoying it well enough.
  2. Singers While doing the dishes these recent evenings, I’m appreciating listening to Mariza singing her soulful fado ballads.
  3. Movies I love the collective cocoon of being in the cinema and, even when the movie disappoints, the pleasure of being in the cinema itself seems to often override in me any more discerning aesthetic sense.
  4. My superpower would have the will to walk out of a cinema when the movie’s a fizzer
  5. What makes you laugh? It’s the grandchildren and what they say out of the blue
  6. People I admire: us human beings as we each find a way to be on this planet as it spins and speeds through eternity
  7. What inspires you? wonder is what inspires me most
  8. The best advice I ever got? I am grateful to Satya Narayan Goenka and his deep Burmese voice as he chanted each dawn in ancient Pali the words ‘anicca, anicca, anicca’. He translated these words as ‘this will also pass’. The way through human suffering that he attempted to teach me so long ago was the theme of being aware of impermanence.
  9. The worst advice I ever got. “Don’t think too deeply”
  10. Ultimate dinner party guests? Right now I’m looking forward to Kate and I having a sunset dinner with my son and Malena and their two sons at Restaurant Emmax on the beach in Playa Honda in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.



  1. Favourite room in my home? I’m grateful to my son, Philipp, for designing and building this room next to the barn for me that I’m in right now. It’s on the edge of the creek surrounded by trees looking up to Mount Nebo where I can work and write.
  2. Most treasured possession. My eyesight. I’m aware that in earlier times my glaucoma would have been undiagnosed and I would likely be blind by now.
  3. Favourite drink? I do like an aged red wine. However, the drink’s quality is so often dependent on whom I’m drinking with and the mood we’ve created
  4. Midnight snack? I no longer do midnight snacks
  5. Favourite takeaway? nor do I any longer do takeaways
  6. The best part of the day. I’m particularly fond of the pre-dawn stillness before the rest of the world awakens.


Psychotherapy (rather than counselling, as this is the lineage in which I was educated and to which I identify).

  1. Preferred or most-liked psychotherapy framework.
    I was educated in Integrative Psychotherapy in London in the late 1970’s early 1980’s at the Minster Centre. My life’s work has rested on integrating three strands: the bodywork psychotherapy approach; transpersonal psychotherapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy, though not necessarily in that order.
  2. What are you most proud of with your psychotherapy work?
    Pride would not be the word I’d use; rather I’m grateful to have been given an innate talent for this work and, in gratitude for such a gift, I’ve work attentively and with effort for these many decades honing this talent so that others can benefit from it too.
  3. Favourite psychotherapy book
    I don’t know whether I’d call it my favourite, however I do particularly love Maurice Sendak’s psychotherapeutic classic – ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.
  4. Most expensive psychotherapy workshop that you have attended.
    I poured all the money I had and time and love and passion into the workshop that began when I stepped off the plane in London at the beginning of 1979 and continued through until the end of 1982, when I returned to my homeland, Aotearoa New Zealand to become a father and to, at the same time, make my way in the world as a psychotherapist..
  5. What do you take with you in your psychotherapy room.
    I feel the collective hand of my psychotherapeutic lineage at the small of my back, encouraging me to offer what I offer to the other.
  6. Self-care strategy for yourself.
    I don’t think of what replenishes me as ‘self-care’; rather I think life generously replenishes itself through each breath we take.  As does the sun at dawn and the hum of the creek and the love Kate offers and my community of family and friends. My work is simply to not forget to remember that we, the trees and the stars, the tiny ticks too and me and you are as one replenishing each other each moment of each day.
  7. What did you struggle with when you first started psychotherapy?
    In my own psychotherapy. I struggled with being born again anew; feeling terror and excitement and so sad and much joy as I began again to make fresh sense of the world. As a psychotherapist, I first struggled with and I continue to struggle with and take comfort in the paradox of knowing a whole lot about nothing.
  8. Favourite psychotherapy quote:
    The quote I’m being guided by currently is from a novel by Chaim Potok. One of the characters says, from memory, something like this: “We can listen to silence. We can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and dimension of its own. It has a strange and beautiful texture. It does not always talk to us. Sometimes – sometimes it cries and when it does we can hear the pain of the whole world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. Yet we must, for being heard is so close to being loved”.
  9. Advice to new psychotherapists.
    I take heart from what Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi once said. He concluded, after a lifetime of researching what he called ‘flow’, that ‘being accomplished at whatever we choose to do is among the deepest sources of fulfilment we will ever know in our fleeting lives”.
  10. Hopes for the psychotherapy profession as well as for counselling.
    I believe that our contemporary civilisation is facing a crisis of empathy. I believe that, as a species, we are blindly overheating the vulnerable planet upon which we live. That, as a civilisation, we increasingly live with the fear of chilling terror, in which Donald Trump’s childish tantrums are seen by many as leadership and in which Pauline Hanson’s racist views are popularised. Our world needs as much as ever the refined talent of those who skillfully develop their talent for holding and challenging the nuances of human complexity for the benefit of others. Thus, I see psychotherapy and counselling and practices akin to these as being and becoming crucial counterpoints to the rapid rise of fast thinking; as safe vantage points from which to step out of the pace in order to slowly, skillfully reflect on what is really happening. Spaces where we humans may pause to rediscover ways to move from mere knowledge to embodied wisdom; from curiosity to compassion.
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