Barbara Ansell, BSc runs the Levante Life Institute and is a practitioner of Psychotherapy & Counselling, Hypnotherapy, Stress Management and Drug & Alcohol Counselling.
Barbara is based in Hertfordshire, England.
She has the following holistic therapy qualifications:
SNHS Dip. (Psychotherapy & Counselling), SNHS Dip. (Hypnotherapy), SNHS Dip. (Stress Management), SNHS Dip. (Drug & Alcohol Counselling), SNHS Dip. (Life Coaching) & SNHS Dip. (Advanced Stress Management)
My life changed with a phone call; there were seven messages from two of my brothers asking me to stay where I was until they came over. I had three brothers, one of whom was my best friend, the most important part of my life and many times over the only family I really knew. My parents had returned to the UK, leaving me in America at fifteen years old, by myself. But several years later, and (a few failed relationships) my ‘big brother’ came back.
He and I lived together for a few years, travelled the U.S.A. and made our own family. We both developed different lives and careers but always stayed in touch. He came for Christmas every year and what an adventure that was. I knew he had been having a tough time, he had become involved in drugs, and his marriage was on the rocks, but what I didn’t realise was how dark his life had become.
The realisation hit hard when my younger brother arrived at my house to tell me that my beloved elder brother had committed suicide. He had left no note, and his wife wanted to know what we wanted to do with his body. I brought my brother home and gave him a small service and then for the next few years, I struggled with the depth of my loss. Christmas was always hard and no amount of positive thinking could stop the nightmares.
Our family was no stranger to mental illness, our own father struggled with his demons during our childhood and behaved erratically towards us, sometimes violently and as if he didn’t even know us. This culminated in him being given electric shock treatments; which meant that the father we knew was never there again. The impact of his illness lay deeply on my elder brother, with years of name calling and physical abuse and neglect as the two eldest children; we received the brunt of his sickness.
In the mental health system, at the time we were children, there was no consideration given to the family members. My father got loads of attention, and medication and college courses, whatever they felt was necessary to help him with his treatment. Yet our mother and her four children were like ghosts, just waiting for the next shoe to drop.
The result of this was financial distress, emotional distress and a method of keeping our private lives very secretive. We didn’t invite friends over and we became ‘loners’. Somehow, though, I pulled through. All my life I was called “Pollyanna”, and not always in the nicest way, as though being positive was considered weak. I have been searching for answers since I can remember. I always believed that our family needed a roadmap, not one to take it every where to escape its troubles but some method of navigating the twists and turns our family dynamics had taken.
Several years ago, I too escaped. My husband and I moved to Spain, giving up our own international careers to ‘lay on the beach’ and chill. It was fantastic for quite a while, sun and sangria, but even there the desire to ‘do’ hadn’t left us, we developed and ran a photographic and video company producing travel films for our area.
It was in Spain that I began to come to terms with the loss of my brother; my life was finally quiet enough to contemplate and it was there that I found out about S.N.H.S. during an internet search.
I have been fortunate in many ways. My husband and I have beautiful children of whom we are immensely proud. They have given me the chance to prove that love can be unconditional and can heal all wounds. I am grateful too for the amazing tools we have in our world that can help people suffering through times of emotional turmoil. One of the greatest gifts for me was education.
Through my studies at the School of Natural Health Sciences I was able to pick and choose the natural health courses that would mean the most to me. I have found the work stimulating beyond belief, and useful; not only for work with clients and associates, but for my own work, my own understanding of where I’ve been and where I’m going – “I got my road map!”
I began with Psychotherapy and Counselling, and moved quickly on to Stress Management, Hypnotherapy, Drug and Alcohol Counselling and am just completing Advanced Stress Management. Each and every course gave me just a bit more information in natural healing of emotional distress, of recognising signs of stress which is an invaluable tool in managing your own health.
This led me to return to “real life”, no longer needing to escape, and to England, where I have set up my own centre of ’emotional excellence’ in a company called Levante Life Institute (Levante meaning to raise up) in Hertfordshire. (we still keep the house in Spain – with five children – it will get loads of use.) I counsel clients privately as well as offering workshops, and am just about to take a teaching certification course. In addition, I volunteer for the local mental health charity.
I used to think that because of our family’s experience, I was not good enough to help anyone else, all the hiding, all the family secrets, and now it is my greatest joy to realise that all the history is part of me, nothing to be ashamed of and so very useful to help other people. How amazing to have a client tell me that I put into words just how she felt, and to see individuals come together with pride in themselves and to understand that everything that happened to me has value, in that I can use it to help others, whilst at the same time healing myself.
I cannot bring my brother back, but perhaps with my passion for mental health, and belief that there is a road map for everyone, I could help just one more person survive one more day and at the same time help those in their family to understand and have someone listen to them. I mean really listen.