Colleen Davison began her working life after completing a B.A. in Education and Educational Psychology in 1958 at Auckland University. She worked initially as a careers counsellor in Vocational Guidance. It wasn’t long before she realised that people could not be given much help in career choices if they had personal problems that kept intruding into the discussion.
Her curiosity about this went on hold when she married and had children. But that curiosity surfaced again when she became a Play Centre mother. She began to take the opportunities offered by that organisation to do leadership and early childhood development courses, as well as to learn about attachment, separation and loss.
As her own family matured, she began to look around for more structured work related to counselling. By now she was aware that her curiosity was about unconscious processes. This brought her to Auckland Family Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre (AFCP) in 1980, where she remained a staff member until 1994. During her time at AFCP she became solidly grounded in psychodynamically-orientated theory and practice and she contributed much to the regular training meetings and other professional activities of the Centre. She maintained her interest in and support for the Centre until its recent closure.
In 1985 she also began part-time private practice in the Lister Centre. By the end of the nineties, she and some of her colleagues at both AFCP and the Lister Centre had begun to feel the need for a more advanced training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Their thinking and their dedication resulted in the founding of the Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IPP) around 1990. In 1992 the first IPP training course began. Colleen was one of the foundation group who designed and completed the training over the next four years. Many psychoanalytic trainers came from overseas to teach. Later on, she and other foundation members taught students at the Institute. In 2002 Colleen was Chair of Training for IPP for many years and was one of the group involved in rewriting the training course and attending to the lengthy documentation required when IPP applied to become fully affiliated as a member association of the Psychotherapy Association of Australia (PAA). This was achieved in 1999. Colleen has represented IPP at Australian conferences and is now on the Editorial Board of the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy. Though no longer teaching, Colleen continues to be an active and participating member of NZIPP, as it is now known.
Colleen became a member of NZAP in 1992, when she submitted two case studies and attended the panel interview. Over the years since, she has been an active member and has taken a strong interest in many aspects of the profession and its responsibilities. Supervision is one of those interests and she has supervised many full and provisional members in the Northern Branch. In 1994 she became chair of the regional supervisors’ group and held this post for four years. In the same year (1994) Colleen became co-ordinator of the applicant (now provisional) panels in the Northern Branch. The difficulties about entry to NZAP had long been a concern to many, including Louise de Lambert and Lewis Lowery who, with Colleen, pioneered the change to personal presentation rather than the paper exercise it had been previously. Another advantage was that panels could be chosen with consideration to the applicant’s preferred way of working. After three years, Colleen’s thoughtful approach had greatly contributed to the process for applicants as well as panel members, who were sometimes faced with difficult decisions regarding the suitability of candidates. Colleen has also been involved in the final part of admission into NZAP — the case study marking and panel interviews. In this she worked hard to help candidates express their thinking and understanding of unconscious dynamics more clearly. She gained the respect of her colleagues, and candidates, by rigorously insisting on high standards.
Colleen’s other interests centre on her family. Also important are music, literature, art and gardening. She is at much at home talking about bromeliads as she is about Bach. Her capacity to remember detail, her persistence and doggedness in getting things right, are supplemented by her warmth, sense of humour, enjoyment of the moment, and delight in good company and conversation. She brings a mature richness and generosity to her work and relationships.