Meet the Wellbeing Team

The Apricot Centre offers wellbeing services in East Anglia and Devon, with practitioners who have a wide range of therapeutic experience working with children and young people. Many of them have CAMHS or Social Worker backgrounds. All our professionals are fully qualified, currently registered with their professional body, fully insured, and with a current Full Enhanced DBS Check.

Devon Team    -    Suffolk Team    -    Norfolk Team    -    Essex Team

Core Team 

Mark O'Connell: Child Psychotherapist/Process Oriented Psychologist - Service Manager - Wellbeing Director of Apricot Centre CIC

Dipl in Psychotherapy with Children and Young People (Northern Guild of Psychotherapy), Dipl POP (RSPOPUK, Zurich),Family Systems Therapy Post Grad Diploma (Plymouth Uni), Dipl Adoption & Attachment (Family Futures Consortium/ Greenwich Uni), Clinical Supervision Training (SEPT, Essex Uni) Professional Memberships: UKCP, IAPOP (International Association of Process Oriented Psychology) Professional Registration and fitness to work 

I have worked for 3 decades with children and families in complex and challenging life circumstances. While training as a psychotherapist I worked in residential children's homes, learning through direct relationship and experiences with young people who had suffered a great deal of trauma and loss in their lives. 10 years later I adopted two children and have had to learn also as a father and parent about the experiences of adopted children and adoptive parents.

Training as a Process Oriented Psychologist has engaged me with my most valuable skills and awareness around working with people. For me a central understanding is the concept of working with feedback and that for anyone to benefit therapeutically the changes or discoveries must resonate with their very being. It may be for this reason that I became very interested in developing research within the NHS around attunement for parents 'Tuning into your Toddler', as the developing relationship between a child and carer needs this two-way feedback and responsiveness.

I have also trained in Family Systems Therapy (Plymouth University) and in Adoption and Attachment (Family Futures). Between 2009 and 2017 I have been Specialist Team Leader and Manager for two NHS CAMH Services in Southend/Rayleigh ('Trouble Tree' CAMHS Tier 2) and The Connect Service for Looked After and Adopted Children for NSFT in Ipswich.

In 2010 my wife and I developed the seed of the Apricot Centre CIC with the vision of bringing together our two fields Therapy/Wellbeing with Organic Farming/Environment. The Apricot Centre is now a fully integrated organisation for community benefit, and I increasingly understand that at the very core, wellbeing and sustainability are deeply rooted in our experiences of ourselves, our communities, our everyday and our dreaming/creative processes interconnected in nature. The next phase of my/our work will include nature-based ecotherapies partially informed by but also working alongside more traditional therapeutic approaches. 

Anna Lidzey: Art Psychotherapist  -Coordintor in East Anglia

BSc, PG Dip Art Therapy, Dip Art Therapy with Children, DDP trained, Family Therapy trained, Mindfulness trained. Registered with BAAT and HCPC. East Anglian Manager for Apricot Centre (CIC) Wellbeing Service. 

I have over 23 years experience as an Art Therapist and have specialised for the past 15 years in working with children, families and residential schools specialising in Complex  PTSD, Autism, LD and attachment difficulties. I have previously worked as a therapist for the Connect Service for Looked-After & Adopted Children in Suffolk (NHS), Priory Healthcare and The Keys Childcare Group. I currently offer consultations to staff at Alternative Provision education services.

In 2018 I obtained a diploma from BAAT & CPCAB which gave me the most up to date evidence based and ethical practices for working creatively with vulnerable children.   What I enjoy most about my work is discovering and developing the innate creative spark that every child has. I’m inspired to work with tactile, sensory materials, making paint bombs and potions with children, helping them to release trauma in a way that words simply cannot. Then finding the moments with children (as well as adults) to experience the calm of mindfulness. Working closely with the child’s family / support system is of vital importance to me - supporting parents and carers to sustain and deepen further the reciprocal bonds of attachment.

Rachel Phillips - Education and Wellbeing Manager

Social Forester Level 3 Dip. QTS Secondary School Teaching, BA Art Design, Certificate of Higher Education Psychology, Diploma in Permaculutre Design

I am the Education and Wellbeing Manager for The Apricot Centre at Huxhams Cross Farm. As a trained a nature-led workshop leader and outdoor mentor, I run traditional rural skills and nature based workshops for young people and adults. My passion is heritage crafts so workshops focus on plant ID and uses, natural dying, weaving, printing, natural products, rural skills and outdoor activities.

I also coordinate the adult learning at the Apricot Centre and the Apricot Centre Wellbeing Service, which works with the most vulnerable young people and families who are experience mental health and wellbeing difficulties, working within a natural environment to help support their recovery and therapy.

I'm a trained Social Forester, Secondary School Teacher in textiles and product design. Im also a children's counsellor for women and girls through the women and girls network. I'm currently studying Ethnobotany which allows me to delve further into the field of using plants traditionally and culturally as well as undertaking an Ecotherapy Qualification in 2021.

I studied design at Sir John Cass School of Art and found myself as a secondary school teacher. I love the process of educating and passing on knowledge and am currently building a series of workshops and outdoor activities to enable people to connect with nature and permaculture. I completed my certificate in permaculture in 2015 and am at the start of the Diploma journey.

I have worked for the last 10 years for a conservation charity The Fairyland Trust, in Norfolk which uses art based workshops to connect children and families with our native habitat.

Having completed a Teach Earth course with Earth Watch I am keen to continue to develop my environmental education work combining this with Permacutural ethics and principles. I have stared a new business venture called Permanuture engaging young people with permaculture and nature