Our people

Common Ground currently has three directors: Robbie Breadon, Michael Connors and
Fi Gilmour.

Robbie Breadon

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Robbie studied microbiology at Queen’s University Belfast and went on to do a PhD in molecular microbiology.

Robbie has been working in complementary health for 25years.  This has taken in him into Chinese Medicine (practice and education), clinic management,  humanistic psychotherapy, and in the fast few years ecopsychology & ecotherapy.

Robbie has taken his bodywork and psychotherapy practices into private, corporate and NHS settings. Over the years he has developed a profound understanding of the complexity of the integration of body, psyche and environment in every sense.

In recent years he sought to integrate his love of  nature and his outdoor experience with his professional practice through the study of ecopsychology.  In 2014 he co-founded Ecotherapy Kernow.

Robbie is involved in many aspects of Common Ground and is offering  workshops  within the Professional Training , Local communities , Retreat and  Expressive Arts programmes.

Michael Connors

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Michael has been working within health, eco psychology, therapy,  education and outdoor programmes for the last 20 years. He brings a wide experience in facilitation, therapeutic methods, training and outdoor skills to his work with people in nature. As director of Human Nature and a senior member of a national health charity he has a vision that all people can access nature based support for their health, wellbeing and personal development.

Michael is a qualified counsellor/psychotherapist and mountain leader. He teaches and trains people to work with people in nature. With others he set up Failand Training and runs year long Certificates in Ecopsychology and Nature Based Practice. He is passionate that a holistic model must be applied within ecopsychology programmes in order that participants fully access the wonderful support and deep opportunities for personal growth facilitated by our human nature connection.

He has worked closely with Bill Plotkin in developing Soulcraft (TM) programmes in the UK and offers ‘Deep Nature’ retreats in South Wales with his life partner Rhonda Brandrick.

Michael is involved in many aspects of Common Ground and is offering workshops  within the Professional TrainingRetreat and the Expressive Arts programmes.

 Fi Gilmour

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Fi was born in Australia in 1960 and came to the UK in 1982.  From a young age she’s had a great love of the sea and wild landscapes, which remains a constant companion and source of inspiration today – influencing her love of painting, music and poetry.

Born to an Irish mother who had immigrated to Australia at age 17, she became aware of the deep psychological impact of exile and discrimination.

From an early age journeys between Ireland and Australia began to inform her ongoing search for home and cultural identity. This led to her training as an  Integrative Arts Psychotherapist in London where she been practicing since 2003. She has maintained a private practice as well as working within the NHS and various private sector organisations.

Central to her work is an engagement with the creative process using a diverse range of art mediums with an emphasis on Jungian Sandtray Therapy.  Fi is also interested in exploring the transpersonal and how psyche communicates to us through the images and art forms we create using objects and materials found in nature.

Fi is involved in many aspects of Common Ground and is offering a workshops  within the Professional TrainingLocal communitiesRetreat and  Expressive Arts programmes.

The directors are delighted and grateful that the people below are working with us to design and deliver the programmes you can see on the menu headings:local communities, professional training, expressive arts and retreats.

Rhonda Brandrick

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Rhonda is an Outdoor Expedition Leader and Nature Based Guide. She has worked for twenty years supporting people in their process of individuation and healing.  She started her work with people in nature 20 years ago and has a wild passion for the ongoing inquiry into our deeply embedded relationship with the earth. As co-director of Human Nature she is committed to offering and developing nature based courses that reach as many people as possible.. Rhonda is currently training with Bill Plotkin and the Animas Valley Institute.

Rhonda is offering a workshop  within the Professional Training and Retreat programmes.

Anja Rosler

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In 1995, after 5 years of study, Anja graduated with a Diploma in Biology (equivalent to M.Sc.) from the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University in her native Germany, after specialising in botany, landscape ecology and nature conservation. In 2004, she acquired a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Management from the University of Ulster, Coleraine.

Following her studies, she moved to the UK in 1997 and started to pursue a career in biological surveying and nature conservation. She has developed particular skills in the identification, recording and mapping of higher plants, bats, land mammals, birds and habitats. She also gained substantial experience in practical nature conservation, in particular habitat management and restoration.

Over the past five years, Anja has been branching out into the areas of community/ school gardening, horticulture training/ teaching and therapeutic gardening. During 2012, she taught the City & Guilds accredited Practical Horticulture course for the SUSE (Sustainable Steps to Employment) project at the South-West-College campuses in Enniskillen and Dungannon.

In her role as the Green Gym project officer for the Western Health Area, she continues to work as a community gardener and walk leader with a wide range of groups. She also gardens with young adults with special educational needs.

Anja is Forest School trained and is interested in further exploring the benefits of nature, the great outdoors and especially woodlands for physical, mental and emotional well-being. She firmly believes that there is a great need to re-connect people with the natural world at a deep level.

Anja is a co-facilitator of the horticulture therapy service – Horticulture Therapy and mentor to the Community Garden project.

Dave Key

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Dave is an outdoor educator and ecotherapist based in Cornwall, a small Celtic corner of the British Isles. He works mostly outdoors, taking people into wild places as a catalyst for personal and social change. He teaches and mentors internationally and has researched and written extensively about people’s relationships with the rest of nature.

Dave is a fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology, on the editorial board of several international journals, Director of Natural Change Limited and a regular teacher at Schumacher College. He has also taught at the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling, Strathclyde, Exeter, Plymouth, Bath and Anglia Ruskin.

Dave is offering a workshop within Professional training programme.

Mary-Jayne Rust

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Mary-Jayne is a Jungian analyst and an art therapist. Her many years of working in the area of eating problems has informed a wider interest in the cultural roots of consumerism and the links between gender and culture, soul and the land. Alongside private practice, she lectures and teaches in a variety of settings, as well as contributing to books and journals on the subject of ecopsychology. She has worked for two green NGOs. She grew up by the sea, and living beside water remains a source of great nourishment.

Mary-Jayne is offering a workshop within the Professional training programme.

Sharon Blackie

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Sharon is a writer, storyweaver and psychologist, and co-editor of EarthLines Magazine. Her work is focused on exploring and deepening our relationship with the land and with place through the transforming power of myth, story and other expressive arts. Her first novel, The Long Delirious Burning Blue, was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘Hugely potent’ and by The Scotsman as ‘powerful (reminiscent of The English Patient), filmic, and achieving the kind of symmetry that novels often aspire to, but rarely reach.’ Her new work of nonfiction, If Women Rose Rooted, will be published in March 2016. She lives in the hills of Donegal, in a small stone riverside cottage by a waterfall in a wood.

Sharon is offering a workshop within the Nature writing aspect of the Expressive Arts programme.

Paul Maiteny

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Paul is an ecologist, anthropologist, and transpersonal psychotherapist in private practice.  He has worked in ecological education and research for thirty years, held research fellowships at Oxford and Open Universities, and tutored Education for Sustainability at London South Bank University since 1996. He is a staff member of the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education, London. He has written and spoken widely on psycho-spiritual and cultural dimensions of ecology, sustainability, learning, and behaviour. He integrates scientific and mytho-religious ways of knowing in seeking to understand the evolving role of the human, person and species, as intrinsic to the ecosystem.

Paul is also an experienced spiritual director in that he works with individuals acompanying them in discerning their spiritual direction and calling in life.  He offers himself as a guide and finds the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius useful for the journey.

Paul is offering a workshop within the Inter-faith nature aspect of the eco-education programme.

Chris Robertson

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Chris has been a psychotherapist and trainer since 1978 working in several European countries. His training background includes Psychosynthesis, Child Psychotherapy, Family Therapy and Archetypal Psychology. He contributed the chapter ‘Dangerous Margins’ to the Ecopsychology anthology Vital Signs (Karnac, 2012); is co-author of Emotions and Needs (OUP, 2002); and author of several articles including ‘The Numinous Psyche’ in International Journal of Psychotherapy (Vol. 18, no2). He is co-creator of the workshop Borderlands and the Wisdom of Uncertainty, which in 1989 became the subject of a BBC documentary. He is a co-founder of Re•Vision, an integrative and transpersonal psychotherapy training centre, where he is involved in developing Ecopsychology.

Chris is offering a workshop within the Professional training programme.

Grace Wells

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Grace was born in London in 1968, she is a poet and writer whose work concerns itself with the intertwining of people and place. Fired and inspired by a deep love of the natural world, she has spent the last twenty-five years living as an organic smallholder in rural Tipperary. Her second collection of poetry Fur (Dedalus Press, autumn 2015), is a meditation on the being human and being animal in our era of environmental crisis. She is presently undertaking an informal exploration on the nature of depression and pre-traumatic-stress-disorder in eco-activists and those concerned with environmental destruction.
Grace’s first book, Gyrfalcon (2002), a novel for children, won the Eilis Dillon Best Newcomer Bisto Award, and was an International White Ravens’ Choice. Other publications for children include Ice-Dreams (2008) and One World, Our World (2009). Her debut poetry collection, When God Has Been Called Away to Greater Things (Dedalus Press, 2010) won the 2011 Rupert and Eithne Strong Best First Collection Award, was short-listed for the London Fringe Festival New Poetry Award and has recently been translated into Italian. Fur will be published in the autumn of 2015.

Grace is offering a workshop within the Nature writing aspect of the Expressive Arts programme.

Yvonne Cullen

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Yvonne Cullen’s writing background ranges from poetry through screenwriting to vivid and poetically inflected social and cultural history. Her first book of poems Invitation to the air (Italics Press) won the American Ireland Fund Award at Listowel Writers’ Week. Her screen work has been awarded FilmBoard grants. She has had her work included in international and national anthologies. Her next book to appear will be, A Winter Quarters, a chronicle of a residential caravan park in West Dublin and a love song for Ireland’s vanished travelling shows.

Yvonne has been facilitating the development of new writers in Ireland for 23 years. Over this timeframe, her students have won and been short -listed for all of Ireland’s major new writing prizes, but not because Yvonne focuses her students narrowly on outcomes like this. What might better explain her effectiveness is this quote from writer and performer Abie Philbin Bowman: Yvonne’s aim: a happier, healthier relationship with your creativity. With this fostered, Yvonne can then go on to help you realise your creative potential whatever kind of writing journey you are on.
A longtime performing musician and creative event organiser – it is safe to expect the unexpected in one of Yvonne’s workshops.

Best creative writing teacher in Dublin – Dubliner Magazine
Writes beautifully and can pass on the skill – The Irish Times
A creativity whisperer! – Mairin Harte (student)

Yvonne is offering a workshop within the Nature writing aspect of the Expressive Arts programme.

Paul Matthews

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Paul is a poet, teacher and gymnast who has worked for many years at Emerson College, Forest Row, Sussex. He travels widely, giving workshops in Creative Writing in a variety of contexts and speaking his poems. The Ground that Love Seeks and Slippery Characters (Five Seasons Press) are two gatherings of his poetry.

Working first as a teacher of children, and then of adults, his interests opened into a wider concern for the life of language in home, classroom, workplace and everyday relationships. His inspirational books, Sing Me the Creation and Words in Place (published by Hawthorn Press) address both the craft of writing and the freeing and schooling of imagination. In his joyful and interactive workshops  he helps poets and writers, even the most anxious, to develop their creative voice.

One of Paul’s urgent concerns is for children to meet living language and imagination in the classroom. He is a trained Steiner/Waldorf Teacher and his earlier work with young people informs what he does with those studying to be educators. He is often invited into schools to work with teachers, children and parents.

Therapists, social workers, group facilitators have benefited from his recognition that for words to be healing we need (through what the Buddha called a Path of Right Speech) to heal our own language, while environmentalists such as Margaret Colquhoun of the Life Science Seminar at Pishwanton have recognised his insights into the relationship between word and world to be a vital support in enlivening perception of the natural world.

Paul is offering a workshop within the Nature writing aspect of the Expressive Arts programme.

Sandra Reeve

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Dr. Sandra Reeve is a movement artist, facilitator and teacher who lives in West Dorset, UK.

She teaches an annual programme of autobiographical and environmental movement workshops called Move into Life®, offering a practice in environmental embodiment for performers, community artists, teachers, psychotherapists, arts therapists and health professionals.

Sandra is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter, and has lectured in Performance and Ecology and Physical Theatre. She creates small-scale local ecological performances and events, as well as mentoring creative movement projects.

She is a Movement Psychotherapist, offering therapy and supervision in private practice.

Sandra first studied with Suprapto Suryodarmo in Java in 1988 and subsequently worked with him intensively for 10 years, based in Java from 1995-98. Their practice together continues to evolve to this day through workshop collaborations in the UK and in Java.

Her first book Nine Ways of Seeing a Body has been highly commended internationally as an invaluable resource for students of movement, dance, somatics, psychology and performance.

Sandra is offering a workshop within the Movement and dance aspect of the expressive arts program.

 Therese O’Driscoll

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Therese  is a psychotherapist, supervisor ( SIAHIP, MASP) and movement practitioner working and living in the North West of Ireland. Drawn to live here 16 years ago by the beautiful landscape of Sligo she established her own practice in her garden and cabin studio which she later called An Talamh. Her work with An Talamh, a gaelic term meaning the ground of the earth, recognises the value of place, and encourages dialogue with ground, earth, trees, water and rock , not as mere back drop but as Being itself.

She has studied the principles and dynamics of Move in to Life work for many years and incorporates this work into her psychotherapy practice both indoors and outdoors. As a supervisor she was awarded the Michael Carroll award for her portfolio on Eco Supervision submitted for her Masters in Supervisory practice . An outline of this work is published in  Inside Out  – the  Journal for the IAHIP Vol 77, Autumn 2015, p 41 – 51.

As a movement practitioner she regularly runs Waking the Bones sessions in rhythm with the Celtic Calendar and also offers other themed days and opportunities for retreat. Further details can be found on her website www.thereseodriscoll.ie

Therese is offering a workshop within the Movement and dance aspect of the expressive arts program.

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