Eileen Birch

Eileen was born in London’s East End docklands. She went to school and university and taught English literature, grammar and religious studies, where she might be today if she hadn’t met Tony at a summer school in France. They married and lived and worked in Manchester for 2 years. They then went on a big overseas adventure where they lived and worked in Fiji, Eileen teaching English as a second language, and there they had their 2 children. On a holiday in New Zealand Tony was offered a locum job at Rawene and, though Eileen was initially not keen to settle forever there, she now feels that Rawene chose them and in spite of the isolation they have lived there since.

The next few years were incredibly busy as Eileen raised her children, attended and participated in Playcentre and went back to University at Massey. She gained a Sociology degree, with papers in Psychology, and was influenced by the Feminist perspective. She trained with Marriage Guidance (as it was then) in the early 1980s, and helped start an agency in Kaikohe for them. She also worked with Women’s Refuge and helped fund and open a ‘safe house’ for them too, in Kaikohe. Eileen is a registered ACC Sensitive Claims counsellor, and has worked with CYFS and the Family Court.  She continued working as a counsellor and psychotherapist in Kaikohe and surrounding areas, until recently when she began working from home. She has loved being a member of NZAP and is grateful for the fun and the collegiality, in contrast to the beautiful isolation of where she lived and worked. Eileen has also always been interested in the Jungian perspective and has twice attended training at the Jungian Institute in Zurich and is still a member of the Jung interest group.

Eileen was first elected onto NZAP Council in 2002 and took up the Public Issues portfolio. Bicultural issues were present in all her work up north so she was passionate about how NZAP could help these changes as psychotherapists. After a hui at Te Kai Waha marae in the Hokianga in 2003 it was suggested that the then NZAP Bicultural committee become the NZAP Advisory Committee of Te Tiriti. In 2004 there was another name change and it became Te Tiriti and Bi-cultural Committee and in 2005 Eileen became Convenor. She was a very active Convenor and, through the Committee, encouraged members of NZAP to understand how the practice of psychotherapy in keeping with the principles of the Treaty, would provide a better and more appropriate process for Māori. Eileen was also a founding member of Nga Ao E Rua (The two worlds) which has had an enormous influence on the thinking and practice of members of NZAP.

Eileen was re-elected to Council in 2004, became President-Elect in 2006, was a wonderful President from 2008-2010 and Immediate Past President 2010-2012. This has been a huge commitment and loving gift to NZAP over the years.  Eileen graciously and elegantly gave of her time, and her massive experience, to aid and guide wisely many knotty decisions through Council meetings. She has now taken up the responsibility of Complaints Convenor and is bringing her long experience and wisdom to the tricky task of dealing with complaints brought to NZAP.

We of the Northern Branch of NZAP would like to fully endorse this award and wish her well in the future.