I grew up with parents who were involved in anti-apartheid work during the 1970s and 1980s. My father, Peter Randall, co-founded a publishing house called Ravan Press together with the Rev. Beyers Naudé. Because of my dad’s work, his workplace and our family home were subjected to constant surveillance by the police and Bureau of State Security. I thus grew up with a sense of danger, anxiety and social alienation. However, I also learned to stand up for what is right, and I witnessed the power of a small group of individuals working together to change things. (Read more about my father’s work here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Ralph_Randall.)
I began studying psychology in my teenage years, partly because I had a nervous breakdown that was severe enough to interrupt my schooling and required hospitalisation. Several contributing reasons were evident, but nobody picked up that I had a genetic connective-tissue disorder. This condition can cause many health problems, including anxiety and depression as well as deep physical pain and fatigue. It is an invisible condition. This means one is also subjected to stigma and social rejection. Diagnosis is often missed or delayed, as in my case.
One of the most effective interventions in my teens was when a psychologist gave me a couple of sessions of deep relaxation.
Deep relaxation helped me more than months of medication and psychotherapy. This made me realise that psychotherapy was less effective because it did not work with the body. I began to explore meditation techniques soon after, teaching myself from books. It was mid-1980s.
I’ve survived trauma of various kinds. I had an eye injury from a life-threatening dog attack at age ten, with resulting post-traumatic stress. I’ve had orthodontic problems related to skeletal asymmetry, ending up in jaw surgery as an adult. I’ve had two major whiplash injuries, which didn’t heal because of my connective-tissue disorder. I’ve had surgery for some pretty weird stuff and rather too much of it. The emotional aspect includes having been bullied – repeatedly.
These challenges have paradoxically helped me to become better at managing pain and stress. I’ve also had to learn to set healthy emotional boundaries.
I completed a master’s degree in research psychology with distinction at age 41 (Wits University, 2006). I lived and worked at a Buddhist retreat centre for six years around that time, where I became familiar with mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is widely used in modern Western approaches to wellness and pain management.
I qualified as a TRE provider in mid-2018. A couple of months later, I was bereaved of my long-time partner and halted my plans for a while. My diagnosis of joint hypermobility (connective-tissue disorder) came in mid-2019. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was a blessing in disguise: it challenged me to find new and more effective ways of using TRE with very limited energy.
Currently I’m focusing on growing my practice. Many of the skills I learned the hard way now mesh comfortably with the framework that informs TRE.
I love small group settings, because when people pool their creative intentions, magic can happen!
My practice as a TRE provider lets me blend my psychology knowledge, mindfulness practice and interest in trauma. My experiences have shaped my journey so that I connect with clients in a non-judgmental and empathic manner, to create safe spaces that support healing.
Because of TRE and blending it with other approaches, today I am generally pain-free. When pain or illness do arise, they are opportunities to learn and adapt. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t enjoy pain! And I will always have the limitations imposed by weak connective tissue, such as needing to swim rather than run for exercise.
My additional certification includes hypnosis, art therapy, reiki, and the Safe and Sound Protocol by Dr Stephen Porges. In addition to my work in the wellness field, I’m an academic editor and a writer.
Every person is different, and that’s a truth we must respect if we want to heal.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen