Sandra Turner

We wish to honour our colleague, Sandra. We value her creativity, her wisdom, her commitment to NZAP at both national and local levels, and most of all, her humanity.

Sandra initially trained as a psychiatric nurse. She had a nascent passion for group work, fuelled by her own life story and studies in Theology, which led her to introduce psychodrama to the Ashburn Clinic in 1982. This groundbreaking initiative proved very successful and was highly sought by patients. Through her work, Sandra opened a door for those for whom words alone did not communicate the heart and soul of their person; in particular, those severely damaged as the result of traumatic early psychological and emotional injury.

Encouraged by the positive influence of psychodrama, Sandra involved herself further in both training and then in training others. Her energy, creativity and generosity have been a major influence in keeping psychodrama alive and vibrant in Dunedin for more than eighteen years.

Since becoming a full member of NZAP in 1998, Sandra has reliably contributed in a lively, generous and thoughtful way. She is an inspiration to many because of her constancy, her perceptive grasp of issues and her unflagging commitment to NZAP and to the quality of the organisation. At a local level, Sandra has worked creatively in many ways to develop and strengthen our branch, always looking for ways we can work together more effectively.

In addition, Sandra is a long serving member of the local NZAP Supervisors’ Group and chairs the National Supervision Committee. She is also the chair of Australia/ NZ Psychodrama Ethics’ committee.

Beyond her skills and her energy, Sandra is a trusted and readily available resource as a mentor to many. Her interests and influence are widespread. She is committed to ‘walking the talk’ of bicultural issues; to forming relationships within the Māori community of depth and strength; and of finding ways both Māori and Pākehā share knowledge and power in group settings. Sandra has been a catalyst for groundbreaking work through Stopping Violence to address legacies of intergenerational pain across Māori and Pākehā families. Her focus is in healing the group community. Her practice is underpinned by holistic, strength-based tenets of systemic theology, threaded alongside the wisdom of her own journey.

To all her activities, Sandra brings her robust demeanour, empathy and warmth, which adds an enormous richness to all she does. Ill health notwithstanding, she pitches in; she asks for no reward other than the satisfaction of a job well done; and most importantly, she doesn’t give up. She applies her skills broadly and creatively, whether it’s to assist a gymnastics club to function, to train Youthline workers, or to help a family process a violent death, to give a few examples. Always wanting to understand what makes a difference, Sandra is currently researching the experience of participants in the Stopping Violence ‘Moving forward’ sessions to find those key aspects that helped people see change as possible.

To summarise the feelings of many: ‘We could not wish for a better colleague. We treasure her deeply. She is one of our taonga’.

Te toka tū moana: The rock standing in the ocean