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During one of the most traumatic experiences in my life, I became frustrated with a medical system that offered only a ‘diagnosis’, talking therapy or medication. As lovely as it was to have someone hear and validate my story for months on end, I could see no change in the way I dealt with life. I wanted strategies to work with intense anxiety, trauma and feelings of paralysis.

 

Although the desire and desperation were within me to rebuild my life, at the turn of the millennium there was little on offer that appeared to ‘cure’ me. Until that was, I discovered therapy that released the stored trauma energy from my physical body, which completely transformed my mind. The journey of healing the associated anxiety, overwhelm, hopelessness, and fear followed a holistic, multi-dimensional therapy programme.

 

Realising that many of the traumatised individuals I worked with in schools and prisons never had access to any integrative mental health programme, I founded Teenage Toolbox in 2013. The reward for the past nine years has been witnessing a remarkable transition in teenage and adult lives, where many services have failed.

Hi! My name is Sue! A little bit about me......

I have always loved Teenagers! But then - to be honest - I'm not like most people! 

Firstly, I lived and worked with hundreds of Teenagers in boarding schools for fifteen years. I get what works with Teens!  I get their tenacity, their rebellion, their anxiety, pain and fear. I get their ability to keep on keeping on (I don't think my parents had it easy!). My precious mum also died when I was young and so I know what pain is like to a teen.

Secondly, I hate the status quo: I have never been good at the mundane! I believe life was for expanding, innovating, creating and change. Our teenagers need change! Teenagers need doors that will open - I am a door opener - I also get what they need to make life easier for their parents!

 

Thirdly, I'm a strategist. Give me a problem, and I'll quickly show you a solution. With Teens it's easy - you just have to know how!

 

During the past 35 years, I have held pastoral care and HoD positions in schools in the UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. 

My work in UK maximum security prisons laid the foundations for trauma work and training - as well as a powerful understanding of the role of compassion and restorative justice in transforming lives, as opposed to an outdated ‘exclusion’ and punitive system.

 

Twice published - my understanding of human resilience is expressed through my personal life story of trauma, and complex PTSD in my first book called TAKEN. 

My second, co-authored book, HATE MYSELF HATE MY LIFE: A Teenage Guide to Finding Self-Confidence and Inner Love, is stocked in over two-thirds of New Zealand High School libraries.

For eighteen years, I single-parented four children. Not only did I raise four teenagers at once - but I also fostered - AND survived.  I know what it is to SURVIVE!

We are living in a Mental Health crisis. SURVIVAL is key!

I believe not only do survivors empower survival, but now more than ever, we need individuals with 'lived experience' to empower transformation in both adult and Teenage lives. 

My work includes experience in the following:

Positive psychology, Transactional Analysis (TA), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Restorative Justice, EMDR, Strengths Assessments, Mindfulness, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Somatic Experience, Sensory Modulation, Vagus Nerve Exercises (Polyvagal Theory), Guided Meditations and Trauma-Informed Inquiry.

I am currently training in Compassionate Inquiry, under Dr Gabor Maté. 

 

 

'I believe teenagers are the most adaptive, creative and valuable asset the world has. Yet they are also the most misunderstood, underrated and undervalued sector in society. Honour who they are, understand their needs, mentor them with wisdom: Do this within a framework of solid boundaries, and they will rapidly rise to become the most innovative and inspiring force that will change the world.'

Sue O'Callaghan.

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