I was christened Charlotte Arnold; my surname was a small disappointment, as living in England, my German heritage was not heralded in the name, and my father was conspicuous by absence. I grew up in London’s green outskirts, first in Northwood, then in Wimbledon, always with dogs to walk on nearby commons or woods. As an only child, my canine siblings were important compatriots. I became Charlotte Hastings in marrying Tom Hastings in 1997, and felt much more myself under this name, a process completed by moving to Brighton in the same year. Again on the outskirts of the city, with access to the well known and loved coast, the sturdy downs and of course urban feast of people to meet and places to go… The openness, friendly variety and scope for change, inspired by both the natural and urban landscapes of Brighton, have always made me feel at home.
A recipe of personal experience, interests and passions, with professional learning and practice, has fed into the creation of Therapy Kitchen. People and communities, how and why they tick, have been my abiding fascination. A curiosity fuelled by an overall sense of being an outsider, as an only child in my somewhat unusual family set up. Through my practice of teaching, cooking and talk-therapy I have been able to develop this interest, whilst finding a place of usefulness in my community. Being able to express ourselves creatively and feel connected to our environment, are key aspects of our well-being, which I focus on in my work, for myself and with others.
My first degree was in Anthropology and Sociology at Goldsmiths’ London. Here I learned about psychotherapy and knew that one day, this would be my vocation. From London I went to Bristol and gained a PGCE in English and Drama. Aside from studies, I indulged my love of food and cooking, surprised to realise just how much I had picked up from my grandmother’s home cooked, often home grown kitchen gifts. I found great pleasure not only in feeding myself, but in sharing meals with various members of my local community. It would be much later that I recognised the psychological significance of combining food and friendship.
Moving to Brighton, now with a family, I followed my keen interest in Special Educational Needs, landing a job as Drama specialist in a residential school for high functioning, dyslexic students. Here I also learned about working with Aspergers condition and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This was invaluable experience in juggling a variety of different needs and expectations within a multi-sensory subject. Drama is wonderfully flexible medium, lending itself to therapeutic in put. My love of theatre, story telling and improvisation further developed in this work and has now emerged in my ‘dramatic’ approach to the cooking process, whereby each ingredient has a role to play and each recipe a story to tell. With a growing family and increasing domestic demands, I took some time away from secondary school teaching. I returned to a new kitchen classroom, teaching adults domestic cookery. In the same term I also began my training as a therapist. Whilst thoroughly enjoying these as discrete occupations, their compatibility and potential to feed into one another, quickly became apparent.
I am a BACP accredited Psychodynamic therapist, with further Systemic training for couple and family therapeutic work. My initial training as a secondary school teacher, continues to inform my practice. I work in several places, as a therapist, university mentor, cookery teacher and now private practice in Therapy Kitchen; alongside being mother to three fairly grown up children.
I am currently developing this new therapeutic approach of Kitchen Therapy, focusing on enhancing good relationships through cooking. This has enabled a return to working with young people in schools, youth clubs and families sharing the fun in cooking good food. I am passionate about bringing pleasure centre stage in the kitchen and abandoning notions of perfection, that get in the way of good cooking. To this end, I am currently compiling a therapeutic cook book, based around imaginative, intuitive cooking and how this can inspire wider creative confidence in the world outside the kitchen (I’m told there is one...).
Accredited Member British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
Foundation in Systemic Family Therapy, St Georges’ University Hospital, Tooting (2014)
Psycho-dynamic Therapeutic Counselling PG Dip, Brighton University (2011)
Science Short Course – Understanding Human Nutrition, Open University (2008)
Certificate in Teaching Children with Specific Learning Difficulties – Dyslexia. Roehampton Institute (2000)
BA (Hons) Anthropology and Sociology (1991)
PGCE English and Drama , Bristol Polytechnic (1992)