Contemplative Forum Founders

The Forum in Context

The Forum for Contemplative Studies was conceived by Elizabeth McCormick, Philippa Vick and Nigel Wellings out of the inspiration and admiration of the work of the American “Centre for Contemplative Mind in Society”, which supports educational, professional, social and creative projects that grow out of and further a contemplative perspective.

We believe that our own experience as psychotherapists and psychotherapy educator's finds a natural link to Contemplative Studies and consequently we hope the Forum may become a resource and platform for our own and others, whose work shares this view.

Phillipa Vick, Nigel Wellings and Elizabeth Wild McCormick

Philippa Vick              

In my late teens, anxiously confronted with overwhelmingly hungry pigs, I decided I no longer wanted to study Rudolf Steiner’s Biodynamics agriculture and changed career to a short spell as a tree surgeon and gardener. However my interests continued to change and I went on to study and practice remedial massage during my twenties, followed by Traditional Chinese Medicine and finally, for the last sixteen years, psychotherapy.

My psychotherapy practice is influenced and informed by the Hakomi Therapy of Ron Kurtz and the Jungian strain of Transpersonal Psychology taught by Barbara Somers and the late Ian Gordon Brown. From this training I have become an Accredited Member of the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology and am UKCP registered. To this I have also added the clinical application of the energetic work of Bob Moore, as taught by Hilmar Schonauer, and my own understanding of the psyche/soma link from all my previous training and experience. I have also qualified as an EMDR Practitioner, following up a specialisation in trauma, and studied mindfulness based stress reduction and MBCBT at Bangor University.

My spiritual life shows the same pluralism and draws upon Dzogchen/ Buddhism, the meditations of Hilmar Schonauer and a diffuse paganism that has lead to extensive visiting, (often wet and muddy), of the religious sites of our neolithic ancestors through out the British Isles and Brittany. Combined together these influences have informed my interest in the place where the body, mind, soul and spirit meet.

Presently, with my psychotherapist husband, I live in Bath, have a private psychotherapy practice and run mindfulness courses through out the year. I have contributed an essay in “Body Psychotherapy” (Ed. Staunton, 2001), and also made an extremely small contribution to a book of essays on transpersonal psychotherapy. (Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Theory and Practice, Ed. Wellings and Mc.Cormick 2000). I love holidays and cooking.

Nigel Wellings

A precocious desire for religious certainty lead to a great deal of confusion during at least the first forty years of my life. During this time I studied Tibetan Buddhism in India, inspired by an all too brief meeting with the late Khamtrul Rinpoche and his baffling yet wonderful introduction to the interior of the Vajrayana Buddhist vehicle. I also studied Tibetan iconography with the master painter Tsering Wangchok and met the Lama whom I have followed, (in a meandering zigzag fashion), for the last quarter century, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. After living with Norbu Rinpoche and the Dzogchen Community in Italy, during which time I taught drawing and completed commissions, and also other travels, I returned to England and following the dictates of a dream decided to study psychotherapy.

Since then I have qualified as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with the Association of Group and Individual Psychotherapy and am a member of the Association of Independent Psychotherapists. I have also studied the analytical psychology of C.G. Jung with the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists.

My professional life consists of practicing psychotherapy, providing supervision and teaching. With Elizabeth Mc.Cormick I served as Co-Director of Training at the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology and also with her edited Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Theory and Practice and co-wrote Nothing To Lose, Psychotherapy, Buddhism and Living Life.

In recent years my real interest has been in the meeting of psychoanalysis and Buddhism and the slow to come realisation that the atheism of psychoanalysis and the agnosticism of Buddhist psychology make good bed fellows for a contemplative perspective on psychotherapy. I am excited by the idea of mindfulness even while being bad at its practice.

Finally I live in Bath with my wife and work in Bath.

Elizabeth Wilde McCormick

Following a marriage breakdown and a yearning for an ‘otherness’ I came across transpersonal psychology in 1974 and attended the workshop programme run by Barbara Somers and Ian Gordon Brown. This important step led me into many different studies and experiences, including exploring the interface where psychiatry, psychotherapy and spirituality meet.

For the last ten years, I have been supported by a mindfulness practice based upon the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and from being with a Sangha in this country and an extended Sangha throughout other countries. The ripening of the practice has emerged through my own increasing awareness of ‘hurry sickness’ played out over the years in physical symptoms that I understand now had a deep psychosomatic core, in serious illness of my own and my late husband John’s long journey with heart disease and in the voyages I have taken into places of complete darkness.

The gift of my current life is to have time, a place in the country, the support of family, friends and an emerging network of ‘contemplative’ friends and colleagues. I am nourished and moved by the space created by contemplative awareness, and I try to let this inform my current teaching, psychotherapy practice and new writing and also being an active grandmother! I work as a psychotherapist in private practice in Suffolk. I was a Director of Training at the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology in London from 1996 until 2001, where I continue to teach. I am a founder of the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy at Guys Hospital and am engaged in developing a mindfulness based brief therapy.

My writing life has produced seven published psychological self help books including Living On The Edge and Surviving Breakdown. I have also co-edited with Nigel Wellings, Transpersonal Psychotherapy, theory and practice, and I have three unpublished but completed novels and a new novel which has had my contemplative attention.