Dr Brian Broom

Dr Brian Broom is internationally known for his ‘whole person’ approaches to health, un-wellness, and disease.  He is a consultant physician in clinical immunology and a psychotherapist focussing on physical illness. He has extensive experience in training and supervising clinicians of all kinds.  He developed and led the MindBody Healthcare post-graduate programme at AUT University. His journey into whole person-centred healthcare grew out of a deep dissatisfaction with the way body, mind and spirit have been compartmentalised in both religious and secular culture. He has written three books and numerous papers (see He was finalist for Senior New Zealander of the Year in 2015.


Keynote Addresses

1. The healing role
(Thursday 8:00 – 9:30pm)

What are the core enactments of healing activity? How does spirit manifest in our work as individual clinicians, governed by the training and professional structures of counselling, psychotherapy, and healthcare generally? What can happen when we make room for the radically unexpected transcendent and the quieter surging force of the immanent? How do we break free of stifling professional, cultural and religious constraints, whilst retaining humility, avoiding arrogance, recklessness and religious hubris, and allowing boundaried love to do its work? How do we find the groundedness and courage needed to be what we need to be? Is there a distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary?


2. The freedoms and alienations of not being a reductionist
(Friday 9:00 – 10:30am)

Humans survive socially by conforming to collective and reductionist ways of seeing the world. But today we are deluged by multiple voices and perspectives. Within our professions we may shelter comfortably inside methodological and theoretical niches that match our journeys, personalities, desire for mastery, and need for boundaries and manageability. From these positions it is tempting to say in what way the ‘other’ (person, method or approach) is wrong. What happens when we open up and ask in what (major or minor) ways the other is ‘right’? Can we absorb the insights of spirituality, faith systems, philosophy, science, and consciousness in meaningful and manageable ways? Can we cope with the challenges of integration without being taken over by the ‘other’ or becoming a perpetual outsider? These are hard things.


3. What do I know?
(Saturday 9:30 – 11:00am)

The rational-logical-analytic heritage of the West, into which we all have been ‘thrown’, has stifled ways of knowing and experiencing. Life does seem to be more fundamentally a holistic, visceral, present moment enactment within a framework of relationships in all dimensions. Despite the insights that give us a professional and personal sense of coherence, each of us is faced with personal challenges that erode dogma and neat prescriptive theory. The ‘cosmos’ seems to get ever larger and we get smaller. And yet in all of this there are doorways of faith, hope and love, and meadows of meaning, which sustain us.  Relational spirituality as it reflects a personal journey–out of rigid fundamentalism and through the temptations of inauthentic belonging, the constraints of powerful conformist systems, the integration of two professional identities, my experience in the healing role, and the trials of family tragedy.


Dr Ruth Lawson-McConnell

Dr Ruth Lawson-McConnell is a Counsellor with more than 25 years’ experience.  She trained and worked in Scotland and Canada before moving to New Zealand.  She is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling at Laidlaw College and has a Private Practice where she offers counselling and supervision.  Ruth completed her MA (Honours) in Social Anthropology and Psychology (Aberdeen University), followed by a PhD (Counselling Psychology), Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen, Scotland). She is a Professional Associate of the Neufeld Institute; she trained with Gordon Neufeld in his Attachment-based Developmental paradigm which she applies to her parent consulting on behavioural and emotional difficulties in children and teens as well as dealing with attachment traumas in adulthood. She also specialises in Neuropsychotherapy and has trained in the Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma model (APSATs). She has authored several journal articles, conference papers, and presents professional development training for counsellors here and in Australia. Ruth grew up in the Amazon region of Brazil where her parents were missionaries for 36 years, but she currently lives with her two adult daughters, a labradoodle and two cats in the beautiful town of Red Beach, north of Auckland.


Keynote Addresses

Love vs Fear: Non-dualistic spirituality and its application to Counselling
(Friday 1:30 – 3:00pm, Saturday 11:30am – 1:00pm)

As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. What does it mean to challenge the dualistic thinking prevalent since Plato, which splits the human/spiritual or  body/spirit (or psyche)? Since this dualism is so deeply embedded in Western discourses, how do we become more conscious of its existence and its limiting effects in order to invite our client’s into more holistical flourishing, or the Biblical motif of Shalom?

If the Universe has two invitations, to live in love or fear, which one will you accept? If our primary invitation to exist in this world (mediated through early attachment experiences) is a fear-based one (insecure attachment) rather than a love-based one (secure attachment), how does this impact our intra-psychic relationships (how we relate to yourself – self-talk, esteem issues, etc.), our inter-personal relationships (how we relate to others) and our transcendent relationships (how we relate to the Trinity, or divine beings, or the spiritual essence of the cosmos)?  In these two keynote presentations I am going to explore the theme of living in a place of love vs. fear and how these frames of reference can impact on our client’s lives; so that they too can experience more fully the Trinity’s invitation to exist in their presence, which is the ultimate Shalom experience, of love, joy and peace.  To translate into attachment-based development psychology terminology, the three processes of maturation; adaptation, emergence and integration.