HumAnima CIC – Start with Why!

Some weeks back a dear friend of mine introduced me to a FANTASTIC Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, entitled “How great leaders inspire action”. The talk starts by asking the question why certain companies and individuals are successful – “There’s something else at play here” says Simon. He suggests that there is a pattern that all successful individuals and companies follow that he has called “The Golden Circle”. In short, these inspired leaders and organisations all communicate WHY they do what they do, WHY they exist, WHY they are different. This made an quite an impact on me especially as I always had an immense aversion to any form of sales.

This week, I attended a conference in Birmingham hosted by Social Enterprise West Midlands at the lovely Concept Conference Centre. The event was very well attended and with a jam packed programme I honestly didn’t think I would last the day. The subject matter? “Open Innovation”. Now what is more innovative and unique than an approach that is very fresh and new here in the UK, not familiar to many and unusual? Not to mention the business structure is a new type of structure, a Community Interest Company and a social enterprise. Pretty innovative huh? So I decided to tootle along and see what I could learn.

The day looked at several social enterprises that were being innovative and unique in their own special way – Start Again CIC (whose creator, Mark I had heard speak before) is an amazing social enterprise which came about as a result of one young man recognising a need for those struggling with their mental well-being that might be addressed in a more holistic way by working on their physical well-being, social skills […]

Building Relationships with our Canine Companions

It’s been almost a month since my last post and during that time I’ve been wondering on and off what to bring to my readers. I’ve been mulling things over a lot as to what it is that matters to me, why I do what I do and even going as deep as to think about the purpose of my existence (very deep I know!).

Whilst some of you might be surprised to hear that I don’t actually consider myself a “doggy person”, over the last few years, whilst working as an assistant dog trainer, whilst yearning for my own pooch, whilst watching other people interact with theirs I can’t help but think about how deeply I’ve come to understand and appreciate that relationship. The relationship between dogs and people.

Whether that relationship is between a pet and it’s owner, someone else’s dog and a friend, a service dog and their owner, a child and a dog, a stranger and a dog or between people from different walks of life such as homeless people, the bond can be seen in all sorts of forms, shapes and contexts.

Thinking about shape and form, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that it is something that we cannot see. It is invisible. Like emotions. Like love. Like air. We cannot see the bond but we know that relationship has substance. This brings me to Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of “morphic fields” that he summarised in his book “Dogs that Know When their Owners are Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals” (1999). Within it, Sheldrake suggests that it is thanks to morphic fields that certain aspects of nature, growth, development and organisation happen and that they organise […]

New Exciting Course: Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling – 9th June 2012 @ Keele Sustainability Hub

Come and join us for this exciting new course that we’ve developed here at HumAnima CIC!

Principle 3 – Obtain a Yield

Whether it’s because of the time of the year, the alignment of the stars, the right conditions, synchronicity, fate or just finally having the right conditions and circumstances, ideas are “being laid” left, right and centre. Much of it started last week when we had a meeting with a lovely lady from Community Catalysts. Commcats (@Commcats) are an awesome organisation fighting micro-enterprises’ corner and helping the likes of Pulp Friction – a cracking social enterprise which provides volunteering opportunities for young people to develop work readiness, social and independence skills.

Initially, I had come to the meeting not knowing really, what to talk about. So much has been going on that I was, in essence, starting to lose my focus. Thankfully, with Amy’s help, I was able to regain my focus. I’ve been able to clarify my current action plan and (incredibly) have come up with some ideas that will hopefully put HumAnima CIC on the public sector map. In the coming weeks, I will be creating 3 or 4 case studies based on anonymous details, that will give social workers an idea of how HumAnima CIC can deliver social, emotional and psychological outcomes for service users through tailor-made Animal Assisted Therapy programmes and associated work. By working in a person-centred way, we can also focus on areas that service user feels needs the most attention, as ultimately they are their own expert.

I am hoping that this will help enlighten people as to HumAnima CIC’s intentions, possibilities and ultimately the opportunities available when working with Animal Assisted Therapy and Eco-therapy. I realise now that all these ideas swimming around in my head are muddying the water and it’s time to gain some clarity and focus. However, this is also […]

By |March 17th, 2012|Case study, Counselling, Good Practice, Psychotherapy|1 Comment

Developments at HumAnima CIC & the Reality of Impact

Hi Everybody,

It’s been a while again and whilst I have not been so present in the ‘blogosphere’ my mind has been racing nineteen to the dozen with thoughts and ideas!

We have a LOT going on with HumAnima CIC – at present an application is being put together to apply for funding to deliver Counselling and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for free to the deprived communities in Wolverhampton. Haven’t a clue if we’ll be successful but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

I grew up in Wolverhampton, in one of the more deprived areas, so I have seen first hand what it can be like to live in this part of the community. Whilst everybody talks about pushing equality, the reality takes a lot longer to put into action. We can but chip away and push as hard as we can to contribute as much as possible to just one of the many communities that really could benefit from being given a little time, yes, money but most importantly, a listening ear. A multitude of people of different races, backgrounds and ages (to name but a few categories into which people are boxed into…) live in these areas and whilst it might seem obvious that they need money, what they could really do with is empathy, understanding and somebody willing to give them the time of day. Whilst growing up, I met a fair few people that could have been stereotyped as being, not so approachable, scary, stupid, dull or “benefit scroungers” who, if you took a moment to get to know them are in fact friendly (perhaps a bit shy), misunderstood, undervalued, ignored or disabled. In this way I feel I have been most lucky […]

Memories of a place

Have you ever been somewhere and as you’ve recognised that place, a whole host have memories come flooding back to you? Do you connect certain memories with certain places? Do you reconise the meaning that different places hold for you?

I was thinking about this recently, when on my regular commute to work, I spotted the Virgin train headed for Bournemouth. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at it or had a second thought, but memories of happy times spent on Bournemouth’s beaches came flooding back to me. These memories were bittersweet for me but simply seeing that train triggered flashbacks to wonderful moments spent walking along the shore, eating ice-cream in the gardens and swimming in the sea.

Similarly, when walking the dogs, I sometimes walk past the canal. This has often triggered memories of my childhood and times spent with my Father, on his boat, fishing on the canals or on one occasion canoeing up the canal with him walking alongside me! That said, being close to any body of water reminds me of my Father and his love of all things nautical – most likely where I got my love of the sea!

If I go in the garden, or to a garden centre, I often end up thinking of my best friend, who now, as an accomplished allotmenteer and Allotment Site Manager, has a similar passion to me, for all things green. Now whenever I see anything to do with “Growing Your Own” or GYO or if I see seed catalogues or adverts or magazines to do with kitchen gardening, he immediately springs to mind.

Whilst this can be a handy tool if you’re, for example, looking for a birthday present for […]

By |February 26th, 2012|Psychotherapy|2 Comments

Permaculture Principle 1: Observe & Interact

The first principle of Permaculture, an approach applied to design, utilise, manage and improve opportunities for a sustainable future, is to “Observe  and interact”. It’s been a few weeks since the Nature As Co-therapist course which was held at Keele University and it seems that that is exactly what I have been doing.

Yes, I have been insanely busy, and feeling bad that I hadn’t “done my homework”. What I didn’t realise was that the entire time, I had been doing it just in a different way.

I LOVE spending time in nature, as do many people, but when I think back to my childhood, I realise how differently I feel about nature in general now to the way I did back then.

As a child, I had an obsession with water. Any water – bath-time, swimming (Dad: “Come on Kate, it’s time to go.”, Me: “Oh but Daaaadd! Just 5 more minutes!!!”), walking by a canal, lake, pond, marinas and of course the seaside. Any kind of water. I loved being submerged in water and only later realised that this is the only time in life, other than when we are in the womb, that our entire body is in contact with something you can physically feel. Every inch is touched. Such a soothing sensation. Most would probably say that this indeed does link back to the time we spent in the womb. Perhaps it is. “Why” is unimportant. The fact that it provides such a soothing, calm and peaceful sensation is what matters.

And so my observation links to this childhood obsession with water, in that we have had so very little water this past year. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t do well when it […]

By |February 5th, 2012|Psychotherapy|2 Comments

New Year, New Resolutions, New You…?

It’s been some time since my last post as it’s all been happening. Several things have happened with HumAnima CIC, starting with the addition of two Directors to the Board.

Dr John Hegarty, has 40+ years of experience as an applied psychologist working in a university department, where he has carried out action research in collaboration with organisations for people with special support needs. He has a private practice in hypnotherapy and nature-guided counselling. He was a member of the EU scientifiic panel COAST 866 on “green care in agriculture” and has researched and published on people’s connectedness with nature and its health benefits. He is on the board of directors of two farm-based social enterprises and has established “Green Age” as a not for profit social enterprise offering day support on his farm for older people.



Mrs Susan Turner, has also joined the Board of Directors. Mrs Turner has a background in counselling and has worked extensively as a Counsellor and also in the learning disability field as a Senior Day Centre Officer. She has had a career-long interest in Gerard Egan’s Model, which is expanded upon in his book “The Skilled Helper”.


With our new Directors on board, HumAnima CIC will be able to deliver a more professional service. We will be working together to ensure that our work is of the highest standard and that we continue to deliver high quality, engaging, motivating and supportive services; be that through counselling or workshops.

Also, in light of the recent Permaculture course I went on, I am continuing to explore the nature in therapy theme. On the 14th January 2012, I will be attending a course at Keele University in their new Sustainability Hub buildings where Dr Hegarty will […]

Getting HumAnima “out & about”!

It’s been a while since I last updated the blog but simply because I’ve been rushed off my feet. September has been a busy month and I’ve been doing my best to get our presence out there and known.

I haven’t been to business school or done a business degree course but knowing a little about psychology and being interested in what makes people “tick”, I thought that thinking about marketing and doing marketing would involve employing my creative capabilities, psychological knowledge, counselling expertise with a pinch of patience, a dash of money and a smidgen of luck. Well suffice to say that if that’s what I thought (which I naively did) then I was on another planet….

Respect to the marketing executives, creative directors and general marketing know-it-alls out there. “Doing” marketing is like learning another language. I kid you not. It requires as much “oomph” as learning the past participle superlatives and demonstrative pronouns of any language – be they North, South, East or West! I can honestly say this learning journey is going to be without a doubt the hardest and the longest – it is going to continue non-stop and hopefully develop (with my growing marketing ‘awareness’ ).

My existing marketing expertise amounts to – and the best advice I can give ANY emerging enterprise – go out and network! Even if you think it might not be relevant or that a given event is only marginally relevant to what you are doing, still go! You never know who you might end up chatting to whilst enjoying your cup of tea during break, who might sit next to you whilst listening to the latest about micro-enterprises or who might spot your name on […]

By |September 23rd, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy, Counselling, Psychotherapy|0 Comments

Natural Horsemanship & Us

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to go on a days course entitled “Introduction to Natural Horsemanship” at Kingdom Horse CIC near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. The course had been arranged by Kingdom Horse CIC and the wonderful Growing Rural Enterprise, who support those in or who want to start in rural enterprise.

The course was led by Ingela Larsson-Smith, an incredible professional horsewoman with an innate ability for Natural Horsemanship. Ingela’s no-nonsense approach quickly became clear but with an injection of humour she came across as a dynamic and motivating teacher (“Leader”). I have put “Leader” there as this is what much of our learning involved in the morning… Learning about horse dynamics.

Now I suppose I should start by saying outright that I am NOT a horsey person. As much as I would love to be, this was a past-time that evaded my youth, primarily because of its expense and also due to a lack of access to any horses! I have a very healthy respect for horses and I would add a mild intimidation of them, due to their size, power and perhaps, I am now realising, their ability to look straight into your soul, know what’s their without a second glance and read you like an open book. I have been horse riding on several occasions throughout my life, mostly in Poland when I was on holiday and when I lived there. I learnt to trot and canter (once) but the lessons were stretched so far apart that there was no continuity. As a result I didn’t get a chance to really build a relationship with any of the horses I worked with, which I can quite clearly see created a massive barrier to any […]