If, as an organisation, you were unsure about the benefit of investing in monthly reflective practice in your organisation. Do it! Sheila's a great facilitator and is able to support a diverse group of people through some interesting, reflective and not always easy conversations but by the end of the time, we have learnt something about ourselves both as individuals and as a collective.The biggest thing is having space to pause and reflect. We have busy jobs, working with people who are experiencing difficult and complex situations and who require us to be well and able to support us. Being able to create an opportunity for the staff team to talk with honesty and openness about how things are for them enables us to start to build a more open culture on mental health. The sessions are also an opportunity for us to think differently about situations, gently be challenged and get a variety of perspectivesI have had so much good feedback about the sessions themselves, the benefits people feel when they attend and the appreciation that this is something the organisation has invested in.
Lauren Johnson-King - Director, Disability Advice Service Lambeth.
I was coached by Sheila during a difficult time in my career. I was burnt out, tired, angry and frustrated. She focused my mind on what was important, helped me realise my essence and understand where my strengths were. It was after our meetings that I began to put real time and devotion into my art again, this fed into my practise as a facilitator and it finally meant I created some of the best artistic work of my career. Sheila was instrumental in my growth as a person and an artist.
Arjun Manuelpillai - Poet, Performer, Facilitator
They say that when the student is ready the teacher appears. That was how I felt when the opportunity to join the Thriving Facilitators membership popped up one day and I learned that Dr Sheila Preston was running it. I had been feeling anxious and stressed out and felt like I needed clarity about my professional journey. It seemed like perfect timing and it was. Having been exposed to her work and her writings, I was excited to be part of this programme and to have Sheila as my coach.
Working with Sheila has enabled me to ask the hard questions that I was too afraid to ask myself. She reminded me about the power of vulnerability and how to harness that power to increase creativity and joy for and in the heart-centred work we are doing and in general life. Sheila emphatically, patiently and professionally held the space for me to dig deep and investigate my limiting beliefs and walls that might be holding me back in my practice. Being the amazing and reassuring listener that she is, she was able to support me and equip me with tools specific to my needs. With her coaching, I feel I am now in a better place to cope with feelings of doubt and anxiety that come up now and then as I venture deeper into my practice. Sheila has helped me trust in my own innate wisdom and to fully embrace the knowledge that I am enough as a person and therefore as a facilitator with my own unique nature. I am grateful to be able to continue working with Sheila and gain more confidence in my journey. I would highly recommend this programme and Sheila as a coach and mentor.
Varshini Pichemuthi - Facilitator, Co-artistic Director.
Before I started the program I was in a place where I knew I wanted to make some positive changes in my career and my practice but felt stuck in terms of how to achieve this practically. Sheila allowed me to take a step back and look at things with a much more objective viewpoint. It gave me perspective and also helped me to feel energised and excited about new ideas and developments. The coaching also opened up a deeper reflective practice for me as it helped me to shine a light on some of my well established thinking patterns that were not always very useful for me. I felt empowered to challenge some of these patterns and this enabled an immediate shift in my outlook. Sheila is deep listener and fantastic at asking the ‘right’ questions at the ‘right’ time, which really helped me push through previous blocks and bumps in the road.
Alison Franks - Lecturer in Applied Drama
Coaching with Sheila has been a truly cathartic and liberating journey. I have learned to think about what could be holding me back from achieving my goals and find ways to overcome these barriers. I am now able to really notice my thoughts and feelings without judgement, which has led to self acceptance in areas of my working and personal life, and given me the confidence to move forward with my ambitions. I would highly recommend this program.
Jo Afful - SEN Practitioner/ Speech Bubbles Facilitator
Artistic Director, Kazzum Arts
Dr Sheila Preston has provided us with invaluable support in her role as creative Coach for our organisation Kazzum. Offering high quality individual and group coaching sessions to our core and freelance team, she has held space for reflection and questioning with patience, professionalism and insight. I would thoroughly recommend Sheila to other creative individuals and organisations who wish to develop their practice, set goals and explore the many nuances of creativity.
Head of Broadcast & Digital, at the Roundhouse
Sheila helped me to take a step back from my working practice and find the space to reflect.This meant the changes she supported me to make were informed and considered so that I could achieve them. She was my go-to person for impartial and supportive feedback but ultimately she helped me reach my own conclusions and decisions. It was a rare opportunity amoungst the constant stream of work and noise to find someone so brilliant at listening and reflecting from such an experienced perspective. Thank you Sheila!
Working with Sheila helped me gain clarity and confidence in my own wisdom in a supportive and cherishing way. Before I started the programme I was lost on my own journey and suffering with confusion and anxiety. The biggest thing I got out of it was finding my own wisdom. I am now free from anxiety symptoms, more grounded and trusting in myself and I feel calm, resilient and powerful. I would say to anyone who is thinking of joining the programme and has the same worry to give it a try, everyone deserves to focus on themselves.
Producer, London Fringe Theatre venue
Before I started working with Sheila I was finding it difficult to understand the role that work played in my life and it was challenging to create boundaries between the emotional and practical responsibilities of work. This had left me with some tricky patterns of behaviour that were making me feel pretty physically and emotionally exhausted and unclear about how to move forward. I can now also see that I was working with some unhealthy ideas about myself and about my human responsibilities at work.
The biggest thing I got out of working with Sheila was some distance between how I perceived things to be, how things actually were, and how they could be. This meant that the high levels of stress and distress I was experiencing now feel really distant and I’ve been able to really embed a healthy approach to work.
I’m generally feeling so much happier and able to integrate work into my life. The specific results I’ve achieved are a kinder, more positive outlook on myself, a better understanding of what motivates me and how I can use this to fuel my actions, not discipline myself, and an eagerness to be more open and collaborative and a massive reduction in stress levels.
And this makes me feel happier, healthier, more balanced, like a much better colleague and worker! I nearly didn’t join the programme because I was anxious that it would be too uncomfortable to be vulnerable and honestly felt that I should be able to figure things out on my own. But I’m so glad that I did because it has genuinely, radically shifted the way I am able to move in the world and navigate work. I would say to anyone who is thinking of joining and has the same worry, do it!
Artist, Kazzum Theatre Company
I found Sheila's approach as a coach very open and organic. She always made me feel comfortable, and allowed for me to both reflect on my career and come up with methods for implementing my desired next steps. Her questions continued to resonate with me for days, and still do.
Participant, facilitation summer school, Barcelona
As facilitator, Sheila provided a space for practitioners to reflect on their creative work honestly, ambitiously and experimentally. She offered the opportunity to try out embryonic new ideas, share practice, and collectively ask big and challenging questions about the work which we do in an international context.
This kind of space is rare and enriching for anyone making theatre or performance with young people and communities.