Who am I?
Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Melbourne
Master of Art Therapy, La Trobe University
Graduate Diploma of Applied Science,
La Trobe University
Australia New Zealand Asia Creative Arts Therapies Association
Australia New Zealand Academy of Eating Disorders
Instead of telling you about me from the perspective of ‘what I do’ and the letters after my name (I’ll leave that to the end), I want to start with who I am and what brought me to this work. You may be thinking – ‘wait, aren’t therapists meant to be blank slates that just nod, mmm, and ahh?’ Yes and no, it depends who you talk to, and how old school they are. As I base my practice on humanistic, feminist frameworks – I value transparency in this work for therapeutic means.
So hi! I'm Ashlee, an older millennial living in Melbourne, Australia. I grew up during the transition period between minimal technology and the tech explosion, and saw the early version of social media in my mid to late teens. I believe no one makes it out of their teenage years unscathed, it’s kind of the point, it’s the raw material from which we ‘become’. I saw the fad diets of the 90s, and as a bigger kid – I was on them, sometimes with my mother. I admired models and actresses as a teenager and would have given anything to look like Marissa Cooper from The OC. I just knew her body was trapped inside of mine, if only I tried hard enough to reveal it.
It wasn’t so much that I wanted to look like Marissa Cooper, it’s more that I interpreted her body type as being a ticket to the things I wanted, and a way to fulfil my unmet needs for acceptance, belonging, touch, connection, being seen and heard. I never saw bigger people shown in the media that wasn’t for the purpose of ridicule, mockery or as a part of the emerging ‘obesity epidemic’. I didn’t want my body type to be a part of that – I didn’t want to identify as that (read more about Internalsied Weight Stigma (IWS)).
In the years to come, I spent a great deal of my time and energy attempting to shrink my body, my feelings and my emerging sense of self into a neat container. I experienced eating disorders that didn’t fit into a category and other mental health challenges. Little did I know I was being guided and conditioned by the sociocultural ideal of what a woman is ‘meant to be’ – a painful ideal that could never fit the whole of who I am. Becoming a therapist wasn’t a path I thought I would take as a child, or even in my early 20s. I first developed a passion for therapy, as a client (many therapists passion for therapy began here, but won’t tell you perhaps due to stigma, and certain ways of practicing). My experiences in the therapy room, have given me incredible insight into the vulnerability, courage and commitment required to unpack, do deep work, and sometimes even show up.
I do this work because I know for many there is liberation from compressed, narrow body ideals and the prison of body-hatred despite the culture we live in. This work drives me as every person who reclaims their power and autonomy, has influence in their community, has the wisdom and power to make social change and most of all grow into the person they know themselves to be.
Read about the specifics of my approach here.