|"Laurie Clarke, CEO of BACP, has a lifelong interest in mental capital and wellbeing and is motivated by a desire to make people aware of the benefits of therapy" |
|"Psychotherapist and media pundit Phillip Hodson keeps himself grounded by digging potatoes" |
|"He once aspired to be Gandalf. Today Robert Elliott finds satisfaction in running, cooking, exploring Scotland and watching the ripples from his work become absorbed into therapy research" |
|"School counsellor, trainer and psychodrama psychotherapist, Nick Luxmoore believes you have to know when to adapt the rules to help young people"|
Counsellor, research consultant and former academic, John McLeod believes in the power of art-making as a fundamental human activity that can help change the world
Questionnaire – John McLeod
When did you become interested in counselling/psychotherapy?
I see myself as a counsellor rather than a psychotherapist. As I grew up, and particularly in my teenage years, I struggled with a lot of personal issues around relating to other people and to parts of myself. I had various kinds of therapy to try to work through these issues. In my early 30s I realised that I was finally in a position to offer something back.
What gives your life purpose?
In my own small way, I am trying to make the world a better place.
What is your earliest memory?
At around three or four years, diving into the pool on a bright, humid afternoon in India, then swimming into my father’s arms.
What are you passionate about?
The possibility of an independent Scotland that does the right things. The struggle to prevent the destruction of the environment. In my professional life, I am passionate about clients getting what they want and what they know is right for them.
Do you always tell the truth?
Definitely not. I am deeply familiar with all shades of self- and other-deception.
What has been the lowest point in your life?
A day in 1985, driving north on the M5, alone.
How do you relax?
Snuggled up on the sofa with my wife Julia, working our way through a DVD box set, eating pineapple.
What keeps you awake at night?
Worrying about things I haven’t done and deadlines that have been missed.
What makes you angry?
Right wing politics.
Which person has been the greatest influence on you professionally?
Dave Mearns, who has been a source of support and inspiration over many decades. Henry Murray, whose ideas about how to do meaningful research are only now finding expression, 80 years on.
How do keep yourself grounded?
Walking the dog, meditating, digging the garden, cooking, ironing, stacking logs, experiential focusing, remembering my mother’s voice.
What are you reading for pleasure right now?
A Scandinavian crime novel.
Do you fear dying?
Absolutely. It is the end of the story, and the shift from being to nothingness. What is there not to fear about that?
What would you have written on your tombstone?
‘He did his best to work as if he lived in the early days of a better nation.’ It’s an adaptation of a quote from the Scottish writer and artist Alasdair Gray.
What do you feel guilty about?
Letting other people down.
What makes you laugh?
Early Garrison Keiller. Ben from the BBC series Outnumbered. The News Quiz on Radio 4.
Where will your next holiday be and why?
Somewhere hot in the Mediterranean, with the whole family. Anyone who survives winter up a hill in rural Perthshire needs as much sunshine as they can get over the summer.
What would you change about society if you could?
I would want to change the fundamental premises around which contemporary society seems to be organised – military solutions to international conflict, dehumanising forms of work, the illusion of material success, alienation from nature, pseudo-democracy, and so much more. One thread that runs through all of these areas is the importance of art-making as a fundamental human activity.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A day looking after a baby.
Do you believe in God?
What’s your most treasured possession?
I don’t have any.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
At a personal level, my three daughters, who are wonderful human beings. At a professional level, a paper titled ‘Counselling as a social process’, which was published in this journal in 1999.
John McLeod recently retired from his post as Professor of Counselling at the University of Abertay, Dundee. He continues to work as a counsellor, author and research consultant.