Avigail

Avigail Abarbanel (b. 1964), Psychotherapist / Supervisor / Trainer BA(Hons.), Grad. Dip. Psych/Couns.(JNI), Cert. Gestalt Counselling MBACP(Snr.Accred), ACMCOSCA(BACP)

Contact: E avigail@fullyhuman.co.uk

Ph: 07913 295 029


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Appointment days & times 

Cawdor

Unit 5, Old School, Cawdor, Nairn IV12 5BL

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday — 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
  • Remote sessions by Zoom or Skype are only available to existing clients.


About my work

Read about how I work.

About me

Professional background

I was born in Israel in 1964 and moved to Australia with my first husband in 1991 aged 27. In 1995 I graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney with a BA(Hons) in social science. When I decided to change direction and become a psychotherapist, I was fortunate to discover the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) in Sydney where I felt immediately at home. In 1998 I completed my Graduate Diploma in Individual Psychotherapy and Relationship Therapy at JNI, and during 1999 continued to study for a Certificate in Gestalt Counselling at the Illawarra Gestalt Centre. In the same year I moved to Canberra with my second husband Ian, and opened my private practice, Fully Human Psychotherapy and Counselling.

After arriving in Canberra I joined the local psychotherapy and counselling association Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Canberra and Region (CAPACAR – formerly ANNC, Australian National Network of Counsellors). I served as Secretary during 2000-2001 and as President in 2002. I have been on the Psychotherapy & Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) National Register since 2003 and in 2006 was accepted as a member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy(BACP). In May 2008 I received my accreditation with the BACP and since 12th November 2021 I have been granted Senior Accreditation status. I am a member of Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA) and am on the BACP Register, which is accredited by the UK Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.

Memberships of these associations is important for clients because it means that among other things, I abide by these associations’ ethical standards and codes of practice. Information about ethics and standards of training and practice can be found on all professional associations’ websites. Please also look at my Ethics section on this site.

What I love to do as a therapist

I am passionate helping people grow and develop towards their full potential so they can live a full and satisfying life. I prefer working as a generalist practitioner rather than specialising in one area or a particular client group because it makes my work more interesting and challenging.

Over the years I have worked with many adult (male and female) survivors of childhood trauma due to a variety of causes. I find working with trauma deeply inspiring  as trauma is one of the main obstacles that stops human beings from fulfilling their potential. I also love working with relationships although (or maybe because) it is a complex and challenging area of psychotherapy.

The best experience for me is working with motivated clients who are interested in their own growth and development and who are keen to make the most of themselves and their lives. I am not the best therapist for people who wish to focus only on symptom reduction or on managing symptoms.

I believe that my job is to make myself redundant. Therefore I am passionate about passing on skills and knowledge to clients that they can use for the rest of their lives in order to continue to grow and develop. My work combines skills and principles from a wide range of approaches and is tailored to the client’s needs and therapeutic goals but it is all grounded in solid neuroscience which comes from Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), the theoretical orientation that guides  my work and my thinking about psychology and psychotherapy.

My passion for being a therapist and helping people grow comes partly from my personal history as a victim of childhood abuse. It has taken many years to overcome my own trauma. There are many aspects to recovery and everyone is different but in my case it was particularly significant to overcome the discouraging messages I received, that I was not worthy and had nothing useful to contribute, or that I shouldn’t expect too much out of life or other people. It has not been easy but I know from my personal experience that it is possible to transform individual suffering into something useful that can help other people. This transformation requires very particular integration in the brain, that is actual physical changes to how the brain is wired, and it doesn’t happen by itself.

In my family and my culture I was taught to never talk to strangers (or anyone really) about my personal life and my problems. To even admit to anyone that I had problems was seen as a sign of weakness and personal failure, and I was taught to ‘get on with it’ and not to dwell or complain. So when I went to a therapist for the first time, it was a very uncomfortable and awkward experience. I felt ashamed because I saw myself as unable to cope with my problems on my own and I felt like I was disloyal to my family. It took a long time for me to open up and to trust my therapist and even longer for the shame to finally go away.

I never want to forget how this felt. I imagine that for many people going to see a therapist can be just as difficult and strange as it was for me. So I have the utmost respect for people who make the decision to speak to a therapist and I never take it lightly or for granted. In my training we were taught that it is absolutely essential for therapists to know what it feels like to be in the client’s seat and my experience over the last two decades has certainly validated this.

I attribute my abilities and skills as a therapist just as much to my life experience as I do to my excellent and rich training at the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) in Sydney — a training that sustains me to this day — and to my ongoing professional development. I consider myself fortunate and blessed that I am where I am in my life, and that I am able to work in the area I am passionate about.

A big part of being well and having a healthy and growing brain involves not just tolerating but fully accepting all of our emotions. (It is the conscious act of accepting our emotions that fundamentally is responsible for changing the architecture of our brain in the direction of being well and fulfilled.) It also involves learning to trust and support all of our inner experience. This way of thinking about mental health and well being isn’t new. But now there is a proper scientific basis for it from neuroscience.  Many people come to therapy in a state of war with themselves. It’s not their fault. It is a combination of how the human brain has evolved and how we are brought up.

I love helping people change their ‘inner environment’ from one that can be quite hostile and troubled to a safe and peaceful inner space. I do this by helping people work effectively and skilfully with the clusters of neurones (that represent what people call the ‘inner child’) and develop their adult self or inner parent which is really our executive brain at the front of our heads. Bringing neuroscience into therapy through the new perspective of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) has been exciting and a relief to me as a therapist because it means that therapy and psychology are no longer ‘airy fairy’…  I know that this has been a game changer in the field of psychotherapy and has been making it more relevant to people and no-nonsense.

innerchild
(Image by Highland artist Mike Forbes)

Over the years I have facilitated support and therapy groups as well as workshops and seminars on relationships, trauma, assertiveness and boundaries, grief and change, overcoming debilitating habits (‘compensatory behaviours’) like overeating, compulsive shopping etc. I love teaching and facilitating groups and workshops, and hope to be able to continue to offer them in the future.

I have also supervised therapists for a number of years and offer clinical supervision in addition to my therapy work.

Personal interests

My personal interests include reading, writing, cooking and baking, and singing. I am committed to my own journey and ongoing development, and I make sure I have time for myself to do the things I love. For those familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, my profile is INFP.

I have been an activist for Palestinian rights since 2001 and have a separate website for my political writings and blog. I am deeply concerned about the state of the world, the environment and human society. My choice has been so far to try and contribute to what is healthy and positive through my work with clients and the way I interact with others.

While I am aware of what isn’t so good, just or fair in the world, I make sure this doesn’t crush my spirit. I wrote my thoughts about this a few years ago in my paper ‘Engaging with the Dark Side’, which you can find in the Resources section of this website.

I love animals and had two cats (Fritz and Laura) who came with me from Australia. Sadly, we lost both Fritz and Laura to old age within five months of each other. I am by no means  exclusively a ‘cat person’ and in due course, when the grief is over, we will consider adopting a dog or a cat or both…

My personal website and blog can be found here.

If you have any questions about what you read please contact me.