Helen Palmer

Citation for Helen Palmer for the Distinguished Service Award NZAP

It is with deepest respect and appreciation that Helen Palmer is acknowledged and honoured for her contribution to psychotherapy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 1986, Helen and her husband Peter Hubbard returned from Britain to found the Institute of Psychosynthesis New Zealand (IPNZ), one of the oldest psychotherapy training organisations in this country. Thirty years on, Helen continues to provide skilled and heart-centred leadership as a director, teacher, supervisor and psychotherapist.

This award acknowledges and celebrates both the vision to establish high quality psychosynthesis professional training and its realisation. The provision of an in-depth, rich and robust training programme in psychosynthesis counselling and psychotherapy within a New Zealand context is a remarkable achievement. The Institute provides a container and vehicle for the development of psychotherapeutic thinking that holds a spiritual lens for therapeutic work, and, in this sense, resonates with the indigenous people of this land. It has resulted in a depth of holding and healing for many practitioners and hundreds of clients.

Helen’s personal qualities are central to the success of IPNZ. She is known for her vitality, insight and clarity, astute clinical skills, and passion for how our embodied spiritual experience can enhance and inform everyday life. She reminds us that all levels of being are interconnected, and of our potential to embrace both the immanent and transcendent experience of human being. She has articulated psychosynthesis as a psychospiritual psychology of will and consciousness.

Helen has stayed true to the principles and lineage of Roberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis, while developing her thinking and teaching so that it is relevant and accessible to a South Pacific context, including in her 2010 Master’s thesis.

Helen’s influence has extended beyond her own modality. She has been a member of NZAP for 25 years, a supervisor for the NZAP Northern Branch since 1991 and an assessor for NZAP Admissions since 1993. She was an external assessor for the Auckland Institute of Technology (AIT) Diploma of Psychotherapy from 1993–1997. Helen is also an ordained interfaith minister, offering regular interfaith services in Auckland. Her keynote address to a 2015 conference in Oslo, Norway explored the importance of doing one’s own deep cultural work, and invited a disidentified acceptance of multiple cultural constructions that organise reality.

The training landscape for psychotherapists has changed significantly in New Zealand over three decades. Helen has engaged with others and the evolving landscape with integrity, generosity, intelligence and grace. This award acknowledges the profound and inspired service that she has provided, and continues to provide, to others in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.