Evan Sherrard

Evan Sherrard was awarded Life Membership of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists in 1992 for outstanding services to psychotherapy. His influence is evident in the Association, his contribution to training in a range of settings, the practice of his trainees and supervisees, and the lives of people who have benefited from his skill and compassion.

Evan trained primarily in Client Centered Rogerian Pastoral Counselling in Houston, Texas during the 1960s. In the 1970s he qualified in Transactional Analysis and in the 1980s in Psychodrama. He has been a member of NZAP since February 1976, and from 1977 as the first Northern Regional Convenor was active in maintaining the branch at a time when ethical concerns and conflicts had left many with low energy for NZAP. Evan served on the NZAP Council during the 1980s, was Chair of Admissions in the early 1980s, and with Peter McGeorge, Joan Chappel, Bruce Hucker and others was involved in writing the first NZAP Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Procedure. In 1986 while Evan was Chair of Admissions the Association made a significant change to the Admissions procedure. Evan used the International Transactional Analysis assessment procedure as a starting point for designing a New Zealand model for the assessment of interpersonal psychotherapeutic competency, and the current assessment processes are a refinement of those established by Evan and his Committee.

During his time on Council the Association experienced major challenges from people purporting to practise psychotherapy, whose practice and ethics were a cause of much concern to senior NZAP members. Evan spearheaded a strong ethical stance by the Association, involving among other things responding to a complaint against the Association to the Human Rights Commission. This process was costly to him in time and energy. It led to increased clarity within the Association about professional standards and the ongoing monitoring of these, as well as constitutional changes to reduce the financial vulnerability of the Association and its members to such charges.

Training of psychotherapists has been a major focus for Evan. In collaboration with Joan Dallaway he developed the experientially based training model of Clinical Pastoral Education for use at Presbyterian Support (Northern) Human Development Team. Then in 1986 he wrote and developed the first Tertiary Psychotherapy training course at Auckland Technical Institute (now Auckland University of Technology) with Joan Dallaway, Peter McGeorge and John Harre. The course was approved by Basil James, Director of Mental Health, on behalf of the Ministry. This was ground breaking in New Zealand and has become the basis of training in other Tertiary education centres in New Zealand.

A value held strongly by Evan has been to see work to be done and do it, keeping himself in the background, with no interest in any personal kudos. Yet for many it is the man rather than the deeds that is foreground. In his life time of work for humankind, as pastoral counsellor, chaplain, minister of the Presbyterian Church, educator, and psychotherapist, perhaps Evan’s greatest gift is his person, his warmth and integrity, humility, passion, humour and love.