I first discovered the healing aspects of storytelling in my own therapy. Relating my experiences to a qualified specialist, I saw my life in a new light. I learned to identify the habitual negative stories I told myself and replace them with alternative stories that were positive and productive. The process unleashed my creativity, boosted my self confidence and helped me accept myself.
As a clinical psychologist, I drew on the power of story to enter the mysterious minds of severely mentally ill adult patients and also children whom I treated with play therapy.
After emigrating from South Africa to New York in 1990, I began the journey to becoming a professional storyteller and storytelling teacher.
Before I was born
Third generation South African, born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Great/grandparents from Russia and Lithuania. Father a pharmaceutical executive, mother a concert pianist. From infancy onwards cared for by nanny of Koi/Tswana origins.
Mediocre student, lived in a fantasy world.
Got into trouble for inviting black musician to play at high school.
Obtained Masters degree in Research Psychology from Wits University. Conducted laboratory experiments investigating the correlation between the unconscious mind and creativity improvement.
Entered clinical psychology training. Developed treatments for severely mentally ill patients by harnessing creative impulses. Trained in Play therapy. Delivered paper to South African Psychological Association – “Is adult creativity child’s play?”
Emigrated to USA to become a playwright. Modest critical success. Financially disastrous.
Enrolled in Ph.D program at Columbia University School of Social Work. Began working with dying AIDS patients. Developed listening and storytelling method. Studied Alexander Technique.
Co-author and performer of Two Men Talking with Paul Browde MD at Narrative Therapy Conference, Adelaide, Australia and co-founder of Narativ, Inc., a communcations company specializing in listening and storytelling.
Oscar nominated for documentary Why Can’t We Be A Family Again?
Documentary film Paternal Instinct airs on HBO and BBC.
Performed Two Men Talking at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and off-Broadway, New York at Barrow St. Theater.
Performed run of Two Men Talking at Trafalgar Studios, London.
Following passing of teacher Khen Rinpoche (2010), becomes student of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, author and the founder of Mangala Shri Bhuti, an organization in the Longchen Nyingtik lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
Director of Narativ, Inc., conducting keynotes, workshops and trainings for corporations and non-profit organizations. Author of Powered by Storytelling: Excavate, Craft and Present Stories to Transform Business Communication.
In 2020, Powered by Storytelling was published in China.