More than thirty years ago I realised that I really had no idea how to live life well and, not knowing where to turn for answers, I began an intensive search. The first immensely fertile ground that I explored was the work of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. In reading his work, I realised that what I really wanted to do with my was to help people. So, I went back to university and trained as a clinical psychologist. Many answers emerged, my life improved significantly and I went on to establish busy private practices both in Cape Town and, later, in Harley Street, London.
Clinical psychology certainly had much to offer but it still left me feeling that something was missing. I wanted to deepen my understanding and I did this by training in several forms of psychotherapy. Many more gems were unearthed but I knew that the search was far from over. Part of the problem was that clinical psychology and most forms of psychotherapy focus on mental illness. I wanted a much broader focus that included answers to my essential question: ‘How can we live well in a busy modern world?’
Coaching was one of those professions that had a more positive approach and it soon became a valuable part of my work. But, even with all of this, I still felt that my understanding was far from complete. This led me on a deep exploration of both western and eastern spiritual traditions. One of the many invaluable gifts that emerged from this was the experience of a much deeper mind – a mind that is peaceful, wise, and fundamentally happy.
Still the search continued and, in the late 1990’s, I was drawn to explore the indigenous healing traditions. I trained as a Vision Quest Guide in the USA and later as a Doctor of Traditional African Medicine in Botswana. Despite the fact that I no longer practice in a traditional way, both of these experiences added much to the richness and scope of the work.
Now, after more than thirty years, I find that I am no longer searching. I continue to be curious – and I still very much enjoy learning – but it’s not driven by a feeling that ‘something is missing.’ Instead there is a sense of a never ending deepening of the process.
In my work, I try to meet my clients where they are and to offer to them whatever I feel might be helpful to them. My approach has always been a pragmatic one and this often mitigates the need for endless therapy.
Today, I work mainly via the internet, helping both individuals and couples all over the world. I also have rooms in Cape Town where I see clients in-person.
Besides the work, I live a very rich and fortunate life with my wife, Trish, and our four teenage children in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
In my early twenties, I majored in microbiology and worked in industrial chemistry, microbiology and medical biochemistry. This gave me a through grounding in both the usefulness and the limits of a scientific perspective.
This professional training in clinical psychology included instruction and supervision in various forms of therapy including Jungian-oriented therapy and couples counselling. My Master’s thesis was on an understanding of wilderness experience from a Jungian point of view. Although I no longer practice as a clinical psychologist (preferring to call myself a transformational coach), much that I learned in this training remains very valuable.
This was a two-year post-graduate part-time training in a form of psychotherapy that integrates a spiritual perspective with more traditional psychotherapy.
This was an intensive year-long part-time training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – a practical form of psychotherapy that is particularly useful in dealing with anxiety issues and depression.
This was a two-year post-graduate part-time advanced training in Transpersonal Psychotherapy – a form of psychotherapy that integrates a spiritual perspective with more traditional psychotherapy.
This is a year-long part-time training in psychotherapy supervision.
This is the two-part practitioner training in a form of psychotherapy (EMDR) that is extremely effective in putting any traumatic memory to rest. Most types of psychological difficulty are caused or precipitated by a trauma of some sort. Both of these trainings were with the originator of EMDR – Francine Shapiro.
Both EFT and Matrix Reimprinting use a combination of eastern medicine and western psychology to treat traumatic memories. Matrix Reimprinting is an extremely effective development of EFT. I was fortunate to train in both methods with the originator of Matrix Reimprinting – Karl Dawson.
A vision quest is psychological and spiritual process during which people fast in a natural environment after careful preparation and under proper supervision. The vision quest is a very powerful ritual that is frequently life-transforming. I was very lucky to be trained in the USA by the late Steven Foster and Meredith Little, exceptional teachers in this tradition. Since then, I have run many vision quests both in Africa and in the UK.
This arduous training as a traditional healer took more than five years to complete. Although I no longer practice as an African healer, I have integrated much of what I learned from this training into my work.
All of this has been part of my search for the models, tools, insights and processes that have enabled me to work as effectively as I now do.
“I have known Bill Petrie for several years, as a friend, co-teacher of meditation and personal growth, and therapist. I have valued several aspects of my time with him. Firstly, his integrity, honestly and humility on the journey of self exploration. So I trust him. Secondly his extensive experience as a therapist which enable him to be an effective support when travelling the often rocky road of personal and spiritual growth. Third, his broad experience in different spiritual systems of the world, which gives him a perspective and range of approaches well beyond traditional western therapy and spirituality that can be extremely valuable. I think anyone who is working with him is actually very lucky.”
Director at Sustainable Energy Africa NPC, Cape Town.
“It gives us great pleasure to recommend Mr. Bill Petrie. Bill is one of those remarkable individuals you meet once in a lifetime. Right away, you realize he is no ordinary man. He has cultivated those human(e) values that lead to fulfillment, and has won true rewards of maturity from his experiences, no matter how painful or dangerous. In a sense he is an ‘old-fashioned man’ – not one of your slick, assembly line men – but an inner-directed, weather-beaten’ man of tested wisdom and insight. His gentle, intelligent, sensitive, caring, exquisitely trained demeanor springs from a fierce appetite for life and an all-consuming love for the people and environment. Bill is one of the finest people we have had the pleasure to know. We consider him to be a personal teacher, and have relied on him for answers we could not ask of ordinary men. He will always occupy a special place in our history.”
Steven Foster and Meredith Little
Founders and Co-directors at The School of Lost Borders, California
“Bill has been an outstanding mentor and coach, and it is a privilege to work with him. He is supremely intelligent and has a deep emotional understanding of people. In practice, he is able to identify and resolve issues that are troubling me personally or which are affecting my business. I can wholeheartedly recommend him to anyone needing wise counsel.”
David de Waal
Founder and director, Steeple Online Estate Agency, South Africa
“Bill Petrie is one of the most skilful and insightful psychotherapists I have come across. In my view he holds a very grounded spiritual perspective and it is someone I can trust fully to work with. He creates a very safe, non-judgmental and loving space where difficulties can be explored and one’s goals achieved. I will highly recommend him to anybody that needs guidance to navigate the difficult inner territories and live their lives from a more authentic and expansive place! I feel truly privileged having known and worked with him!”
Psychotherapist and Supervisor, Los Angeles, USA
“Bill guided me through a particularly tumultuous time in my professional life which involved being asked to join the family business to implement an agreed succession plan. Needless to say the plan was met with resistance and sabotage which resulted in a lengthy period of disharmony and dysfunction within the family, impacting my personal life. During this time Bill patiently and gently guided closer to an understanding of what really matters in my life. After seven years in the family business I was finally able to gather the resolve to walk away from an unhealthy environment. I now find myself living with less stress and more happiness. I currently run my own business with my life partner and Bill continues to be a friend and a positive influence in our lives.”
Owner at DMQ Trading, Cape Town
“My experience of Bill is that he has a very holistic approach to his work. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in many different areas which he can draw on as tools to assist his clients. His therapy/coaching has helped me in all aspects of my life from my relationships to my business and given me better tools to face conflict and make decisions that are right for me.. I would highly recommend Bill especially those looking for someone with that bit extra… someone who has plenty of life experience, spiritual awareness, great intuition and sensitivity yet being able to combine that with practical ‘real’ life advice/insights..
Food specialist, Cape Town, South Africa.
“Bill is an insightful, subtle and humble man who has a rare ability of addressing underlying issues and hidden internal structures which cause numerous external and chaotic symptoms in our lives. My work with Bill moved deep internal blockages and obstacles and allowed me to gain a unique perspective about myself and my personal choice of direction and purpose in life. He truly is an inspirational guide.”
Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Mentor, London
“After a short period of time working with Bill I have experienced both increased effectiveness and productivity and a marked difference in my day-to-day positivity and energy. Bill is very much a coach for those who are distrustful of coaching. He is free of pretension and illusion, approaches problems practically, and seems dedicated to applying resources and techniques that work for you as an individual. Most importantly for me, Bill has pathos and humour and I always felt that he understood without judgement, and cared deeply about his clients. I arrived at the coaching in a roundabout way, being initially sceptical of the process, but have now enthusiastically referred several close friends to Bill which is the best endorsement I can give.”
Senior Legal Counsel, United Kingdom
“I have known Bill for almost 15 years, both as professional colleague and friend. He is a highly skilled psychologist and therapist with tremendous depth, intensity and insight. Bill is a man with a compassionate heart and warrior spirit, and he has always been as committed to his own growth and learning as he has been passionate about his work. He possesses a calm and open-hearted presence and brings to Life Coaching not only his wisdom and years of experience, but a focused intellect and emotional maturity that is a precious and rare combination.”
Shawn Katz, Ph.D.
Psychologist & Psychotherapist, in private practice, Brighton, England.
“The broad scope of Bill’s experience informs his practice in a unique and comprehensive way. Any interactions with him leaves you feeling you have walked away with something tremendously valuable. I cannot recommend him highly enough.”
Behavioural Neuropsychologist at Wales Centre for Behaviour Change, Bangor, Wales, United Kingdom.
“I had the privilege of attending a “What Really Matters” retreat run and facilitated by Bill. The experience re-opened conversations with myself I had thought were exhausted and re-ignited my interest in exploring new frontiers … Bill was key in providing independent, objective and compassionate feedback to both my personal and professional quests. The retreat will hold a special place in my heart and is definitely a ‘pin’ on the board charting my course through this life. What made the experience all the more special was Bill’s willingness as a facilitator to also share his experiences and journey ‘with’ the group. Bill touched my heart and I would absolutely recommend him as a skilled and heart-centered professional. “
Executive Manager , Cape Town
“Bill is a very experienced and trusted coach and therapist. He has a wonderful mix of head and heart and has helped me and my husband through some difficult and challenging stages of my life. As a therapist and coach myself, I respect Bill immensely and couldn’t recommend him more to others.”
Lawyer, Psychotherapist & Coach in private practice, United Kingdom
“For over a year now, Bill has been my supervisor as I have gone about establishing my practice as a counsellor. I have found that Bill has drawn on his extensive experience as a psychotherapist and wide range of knowledge of different approaches, helping me connect with my own style and approach. Through this transition of establishing my practice in the market place, Bill has been a mentor, supporting me as I have addressed the issues of self-doubt, lack of clarity and life’s purpose, ensuring that I am integrating the essence of who I am into my work environment. For this I am deeply grateful.”
Counsellor in private practice, Cape Town
“Bill has been a fantastic anchor during a time of considerable change in my life. Our regular appointments have given me support and stability to navigate past the old thorns I snag on. Bill has really helped me emerge into the excitement of new direction, purpose and clarity.”
Event Organiser and Poet, USA
“Bill is a naturally gifted coach and mentor. He has a deep and holistic knowledge of those factors that affect us at this time, and which contribute to us feeling overwhelmed, experiencing a lack of purpose in life, feelings of stress, exhaustion and self-doubt, as well as feelings of being out of balance. Bill is passionate about his work and his role in assisting his clients in achieving their true potential in this life. Bill skillfully guided me through a process of getting to know myself, and encouraged me to deeply experience any feelings that arose within this context, always reminding me not to hold any attachment to past events or emotions. In this way, I obtained invaluable support in the difficulties I was experiencing in integrating my work-life situation, and also with the integration of a spiritual life and a disciplined spiritual practice in a busy lifestyle. Bill always displayed true compassion during our meetings – he is deeply supportive, whilst always respectful of my space and the truths that I needed to uncover for myself. Through Bill’s guidance and support, significant shifts occurred in my life. I cannot recommend Bill highly enough.”
Lawyer and Healer, Western Cape, South Africa.
“There are few people I know who have such profound insight, compassion and understanding which he combines with a high order of professional skills. He is someone who sets a tone for deep and honest communication and elicits a level of trust which is only possible because of his own inherent wisdom and life experience. Added to this depth is integrity, warmth and a wonderful sense of humour.” There are few people I could recommend to you so unreservedly.”
A leader of consciousness in South Africa.
Metaphysical teacher, professional public speaker, author, broadcaster, retreat and workshop facilitator, Counsellor.
“Bill has the kind of wisdom and generosity of presence, which leads one beyond the ‘overwhelm’ and stress of many insistent demands, into a wider perspective… One becomes aware of his profound knowledge of psychological issues which informs his approach; a context which is richly enhanced by his spiritual maturity.”
Artist, Cape Town
“I went to see Bill during a time of overwhelming stress and imminent loss (of our business). Family relationships were fractured due to legal and financial issues and the future looked bleak. Bill helped me clarify my values and discover practical ways live by them in the distress of that time. He showed me methods of listening deeply for inner wisdom and for strengthening my core. He was particularly insightful in interpreting a significant dream, thereby enabling me to find new life and hope arising out of the turmoil. Through this inner work in sessions with him, I have been able to step forwards into a refreshing, new chapter of my life”
“I found something within myself that I hadn’t realized I possessed and I am beginning to look at myself and my life with fresh eyes as a result.
“Thank you once again for your heartfelt care and encouragement”.
“I just wanted to thank you for my amazing time…The universe showed up for me, and somehow now I have got to show up …I want you to know how pivotal you have been in this for me”.
“I would like to thank you for your caring support and wisdom. For me it was a great experience”.
“Thank you so much for facilitating such an extraordinary experience for me”
‘I can’t thank you enough for creating such a safe space… it was just what I needed”
“It was more of an experience than I had dared hope for…For me, truly priceless”
“An extraordinarily profound experience for me”
“A catalyst for growth in an extremely powerful and profound way…I can think of many who would benefit…I can’t tell you how impressed I am.”
“I think what you have been doing is amazing and of huge value to those of us who benefit from your experience.”
“It feels like a door has not only been opened but been flung wide.”
“Four years on I still benefit … Life is slower and more peaceful. I am confident and am far happier and comfortable in my own company.”
“It was a truly life-changing experience and the start of my spiritual journey”
“It was by far one of the most meaningful experiences I have had in a long time and definitely fits in the category of peak experiences for me…”
“Bill is a great teacher and … I learned immensely from him.”
“Bill has guided us with insight, wisdom and maturity. We have all been impressed by his undisputed breadth of knowledge. He comes over as congruent, warm and challenging but not judgmental.
His particular wisdom comes from the crucible of his own suffering.”
“What I can however vouch for is the huge impact and influence Bill’s role as a psychologist, teacher and friend has had on my personal life – something that I will be grateful to him forever.”
“Bill has the vast breadth of knowledge and experience spanning both spiritual and psychological areas… how many individuals out there have this sort of background and experience. I trust and respect him as a leader and as an individual.”
Bill ” taught me that I can trust my own heart …”