Catherine Ann Lombard, M.A.

Welcome

Catherine Ann Lombard is a psychosynthesis psychologist, counselor, writer, and teacher specializing in activating the will and bringing meaning to the workplace. She is a published writer of first-person essays, poetry, and news articles. She also teaches academic writing at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Her goal is to help people from all walks of life realize their full potential. As an empathetic presence, she sees her role as standing on the threshold, holding the door open, and helping her clients to journey from their present reality towards what they long to be.

Essentially, Catherine concentrates on helping her students and clients remove obstacles to improve their life and work performance. She believes that each individual innately knows the best way forward. Whether teaching English or guiding clients through their life journey, Catherine's goal is to help her clients identify and articulate what they need to more freely learn and integrate that knowledge.

Articles Published by On Being

Catherine recently had two blogs published by Krista Tippet's On Being, reaching more that 75,000 viewers.

A Communion with the Earth: Gardening and Gratitude

The Rhymes and Rituals of Cairo during Ramadan

Love and Will - A Blog on Psychosynthesis

Visit and follow Catherine's blog Love and Will, a psychosynthesis approach to living.

Article included in Top Most Read for 2014

Catherine is happy to announce that her article, "Coping with anxiety and rebuilding identity: A psychosynthesis approach to culture shock," published in Counselling Psychology Quarterly has been included in an online article collection featuring the most downloaded articles published in Routledge Behavioral Sciences journals in 2014.

The collection features the top three most downloaded articles that were published and downloaded in 2014in each Routledge Behavioral Sciences journal.

This article (along with others you might find interesting) will be freely available until the 30th June 2015.

Book Available

Book CoverNow available for purchase is Catherine's book From Culture Shock to Personal Transformation: Studying Abroad and the Search for Meaning.

Through her psychosynthesis counseling work with international students, Catherine illustrates how young people, when faced with the challenges of living abroad, can enter into a personal journey towards their authentic selves. Ultimately, by confronting themselves and growing in awareness, the students whose testimonies appear in this book release new creative energy and renew their personal and working relationships. To read the abstract of this study, click Abstract.

Recent News and Publications

Free Meditation

If you would like a free audio recording of the Body Feelings Mind Meditation for your daily practice, just email Catherine with your request. This meditation takes about 20 minutes and is practiced in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. The Body Feelings Mind Meditation was created by Roberto Assagioli, the founder of psychosynthesis, to help you to practice identifying and then disindentifying from your body, feelings, and mind.

Workshops

Catherine successfully led the workshop "The Upside of Stress" for the PhD students at the University of Twente on 11 June, 2015.

Recent Publications and Interviews

"Reconnecting the Personal Self with the Higher Self - Journeying with Dante", was co-authored with Catherine's husband Dr. Kees den Biesen and published in June 2015 in the Psychosynthesis Quarterly.

"Into the Hidden Things He Led My Way ... A Psychosynthesis View of Dante's Inferno", was co-authored with Catherine's husband Dr. Kees den Biesen and published in March 2015 in the Psychosynthesis Quarterly.

"Coping with Anxiety and Rebuilding Identity: a Psychosynthesis Approach to Culture Shock" was published by the peer-reviewed journal Counselling Psychology Quarterly on 17 January 2014. A shorter version appeared in the March 2014 newsletter of the Assoication for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis.

"Reading The Divine Comedy from a Psychosynthesis Perspective" was co-authored with Catherine's husband Dr. Kees den Biesen and published in September 2014 by the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis.

"In Search of Meaning" was published in December 2013 by the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis.

"Letter from the Netherlands" was published by the Guardian Weekly. See more photos and read Catherine's short reflection on her recent trip to see the blossoming tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens.

The Holland Times interviewed Catherine as a psychologist and expert on culture shock in the Netherlands.

"Living a Spiritual Life" was published in June 2013 by the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis.

To better understand Catherine's counseling work, you can read "Crossing Over," a story published in March 2013 by the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis. This reflection is about the conversion between a client's indecision to go home and visit her dying grandmother, Catherine's own personal story, Passover, and Easter Week.

Artwork Published on BBC Website

Catherine's painting Freedom was included in the collection of artwork for the BBC's Freedom2014 series. The painting is number 13 and represents how difficult it is to find the freedom to become our authentic selves.


Latest Poetry

First Step - Know Thyself

If you want to perfect anything in your life, you have to assess your starting position—from the perspective of both your strengths and weaknesses. Imagine yourself as an athlete trying to qualify for the Olympic Games. As a runner or gymnast, you would carefully analyze what abilities you have that you could further develop and master and what areas you need to improve. The same is true for your own writing skills.

This is the first writing assignment I give all my students:

For next week, please write a 500-600 word essay on the following:

Reflect on your own ability as a writer. What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you are not a native-English speaker, how does your native language and way of thinking influence your writing in English?

What obstacles do you face as a writer and how do you hope to overcome them? What expectations to you have and what do you hope to learn?

After completing this assignment, we discuss this topic together as a class. Strengths are written on one side of the board, and weaknesses on the other. It always amazes me how often someone forgets to mentions his or her strengths. Don’t forget you have them! You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.

The strengths on the board usually ends up looking something like this:

Strengths

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Sentence structure
  • Creative
  • Writing easily flows. I’m not afraid to write something down.
  • Perfectionist
  • Clarity. Conciseness.
  • Long and complicated sentences
  • Aware of my readers
  • Logical thinking
  • Deciding what to convey
  • Use of online dictionary and thesaurus
  • Knowledge of terminology in my field

And the weaknesses, funny enough, almost match the strengths:

Weaknesses

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Sentence structure
  • Not taking enough time to edit my text
  • Taking too much time to edit my text
  • Wanting my writing to be perfect immediately
  • Clarity. Conciseness.
  • Short and simple sentences
  • Wordiness
  • Use of articles
  • Translating from my native language into English
  • Ability to promote my research/stress the importance of my findings
  • Cohesiveness. Linking ideas and paragraphs
  • Punctuation, especially commas.

As you can see, one writer’s weakness is another writer’s strength. Sometimes the quality, like perfectionism, is both a strength and weakness held by the same individual writer. (My weakness, which inevitably shows up while we do this exercise in class, is I cannot spell on a blackboard.) The second part of the assignment asks the writers to reflect on how they hope to overcome their obstacles and what they want to learn. This reflection helps activate your imagination. In most cases, whether you are a runner of the 100-meter dash, a gymnast or a writer, deep inside, you know what you need to learn, and you know how you learn those things best.

The key issue for you to understand now is this: If you know that your native language is Arabic or Chinese and you have difficulty with the definite and indefinite articles, then you know you need to carefully review their usage in your final editing stage. You know (deep inside you) that you need to do more grammar exercises, read more attentively, listen to more spoken English, and speak more English yourself. You may initially have to ask someone to edit your text, checking for the inclusion or exclusion of “the” and “a” or “an”.  The point I am trying to make is: You already are aware of what you need to do! By focusing your attention on the weakness, you are already starting to improve it. And by deciding to take appropriate and realistic action, you can change it.

The same is true for every weakness listed above. If you know you write long, complicated sentences, then look out for them while revising your text and shorten them! If you know you have a weak vocabulary, then use a dictionary and thesaurus. (By pressing Shift-F7, my word processor software automatically launches a thesaurus and searches synonyms for the word where my cursor is.) If you know you have trouble linking your thoughts together to make a cohesive paper, then put the list of linking words in Appendix A somewhere near your computer and use them.

But you know all this. You’ve already been there 100 times. The trick is in the timing. After all, timing is everything. And that brings us to the next topic.

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Writing Tips and TricksAug 1, 2010

Your Writing Blueprint

Planning is just what it says. You make a plan. Think about how you plan a holiday. Let’s say you’ve already decided that your purpose for going on vacation is to relax and spend time in nature. The next step is to plan how you are going to do that. Planning require you to ask all kinds of questions and make all kinds of decisions before the vacation. You may ask yourself: Where do I want to go? How much money and time do I want to spend? Whom do I want to go with? How am I going to get there? Where will I stay once I arrive? Who’s going to take care of my cat? All these questions and their ultimate answers start making you excited about your upcoming trip. You can just see yourself on that white, sandy beach or climbing those mountain peaks.

Writing is like taking a vacation. (Well, not quite, but you know what I’m trying to say.) You need to ask yourself all kinds of questions and make all kinds of decisions before you write. Planning also starts the creative juices flowing. (Just think about all those fantasies you experience before going on vacation!) Basically, you need to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. You also need to be realistic when considering your time, circumstances, and capacities. The ultimate challenge when planning is to not lose sight of your purpose.

You may want write a one-page plan to help formulate your ideas around your topic, main ideas, assumptions, other authors (if appropriate) and their responsibilities. A one-page plan, might include answers to the following:

  • What is my topic? Is it novel enough?
  • What do I want to say or “sell” with this paper?
  • What will be its strongest aspects?
  • How am I going to prove my point/hypothesis and will this proof be convincing?
  • Am I writing this paper alone or with other authors? How are we going to work together? Who is responsible for what?
  • Where do I hope to publish this work and in what format?

Your plan is the master blueprint for your writing and will have to feasibly include all the stages of writing we have yet to fully explore. Most importantly, it plants the germ of the idea into your brain and allows the writing to start inside you. Plans (for writing or vacations!) always require a delicate balance between being practical and concrete as well as flexible and open to new inspiration. When you plan your writing (or anything in your life) you need to wear tri-focal glasses. First you need to remember your purpose or goal, second you need to keep an overview of all the stages necessary to achieve that goal, and finally you need to be aware of the next immediate step.

Don’t underestimate the power of planning. Planning requires imagination and imagination brings desired results. There is the story of a five-year-old girl who kept asking her parents for a bicycle. Finally, they bought her the longed for bike and, to their amazement, she immediately climbed onto the seat and expertly pedaled away.  When her parents asked the girl where she learned to ride a bike, she replied, “I didn’t. I just knew how. It was exactly as I imagined it would be.”

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Writing Tips and TricksJul 15, 2010

Strong Will of Fire

Strong will is one of the fours aspects of the will, the others being skillful, good, and transpersonal (cosmic or God’s will). We all have these aspects of will, in various degrees. Will is energy and usually one aspect is more developed than the other. The idea is to make all the aspects equally balanced.

Strong will is not your ability to force your will onto others. This is the Victorian idea of strong will. The will is to direct, not impose. In fact, most people see strength as the only aspect of will. But when the will is only strong, it can actually cause failure and harm to yourself and others.

Strong will is really about fire. How much fire or drive does your will have to carry out a decision? Perhaps you can remember a time when your strong will surged forward. It might have been a crisis, when you felt that you had to say “No!” no matter what the consequences. Times when you felt there was no other choice in a matter and your determination seemed to propel you forward towards a desired goal.

This is strong will and it is an inner experience. Its opposite is when you may have felt too easy-going, just letting other people or circumstances decide things for you. Like a weary helmsman of a ship, you let the waves and wind batter your boat around. Instead of taking the steering wheel and keeping to the ship’s course, you simply couldn’t take the trouble to struggle with the storms and sea currents and, ultimately, arrive at your destination.

I have to admit my lack of strong will shows up whenever it comes to learning a new language. I have all kinds of excuses and am ingenious at creating things that I absolutely must do first. Like writing this and preparing for the workshop! Instead of focusing my strong will on learning Dutch or German, I seem to be very clever at using my skillful will to avoid it!

Like any physical muscle, the way to strengthen your will is to exercise it. Assagioli proposes a number of techniques. Ironically, you need some will to develop a will that is weak! To help with your determination, first imagine yourself as having a strong will. See yourself walking with a determined step and acting in every situation with focused attention and persistence. See yourself successfully resisting temptations to do otherwise. For inspiration, read a biography of someone you admire who has possessed great will.

Now stand up from your chair. Right now. Stand up. Now sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Feel ridiculous? This is one of Assagioli’s “useless” exercises, deliberate acts to help train the will. Any easy, little task will do, the important thing is that you repeat it a number of times with precision, regularity and persistence for five to ten minutes everyday. Afterwards, write down how you felt and what you thought as you were doing it. For example, spend five minutes walking back and forth to your bookshelf and touching it. Move 100 matches or bits of paper from one place to another. Get up and down off your chair 30 times.

There are other practices you can do to strengthen your will. Get dressed calmly but rapidly. Remain serene while doing a tedious task. Control your impatience while stuck in traffic or when you feel that you are being unjustly treated. Resolutely stop working when you are tired. Lie down in the middle of the day for ten minutes when you have a million things to do! All these small daily activities help to exercise and strengthen the will. But don’t try to do them all at once. Pick one and stick to it and then after some time, change to another.

When the will is missing, our creative life energy is buried and we can fill ourselves instead with anguish, depression, resentment and confusion. Whenever we exercise and activate our will, we move closer to our purpose and life goals. We move closer to joy!



Moving Towards JoyJun 15, 2010

Writing Heartbeat

I have a confession to make. This blog promises you Tips and Tricks, but, actually, there are no tips or tricks to writing. As Mary Heaton Vorse wrote, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” Writing is simply hard work for everyone—whether you are a native English speaker, non-native English speaker, great writer of literature, or lousy letter writer. So the first tip and trick I have to offer you is: Just sit down and write. But, you see, this is hardly a tip or trick. It’s just common sense. After all, how many people do you know can write while standing up?

What?! Is this some kind of hoax? You are busy and want to write your masters thesis or your scientific article or your academic proposal as quickly as possible. You might often find yourself anxiously finishing a piece of writing at 2 a.m., never satisfied with the result. Blank computer screens stare back at you. Nothing ever comes out the way you know it should. You long for perfection and you want it now. There has to be an easier way! You need a few tips, some tricks, one magic wand to make it all perfect, instantly!

Like I said, there are no tips and tricks (and there’s no perfection either, but more on that later). Instead, there is a writing process and techniques and, of course, haunting grammatical rules. But, you see, I knew you would never read a blog with a title like: The Hard, Endless Work Necessary to Writing an Ever-elusive Perfect Academic Paper.  Here’s the thing (referred to as paradox in academic writing). Even though there are no tips and tricks, your first tip and trick is the importance of word choice. I have carefully chosen the words “tips and tricks”  to illustrate the following tip and trick.

Before writing, always analyze your:

  • Purpose
  • Audience

While writing, always think about your:

  • Purpose
  • Audience

Purpose and Audience. They are heartbeat to every single piece of writing you will ever attempt in your life. Say these two words out loud right now and you will hear their beat and breath. Don’t ever forget, neglect, or belittle the importance of either one. Why, look how well I managed to analyze you, my audience (with the gracious help of former students over the past years). Note that audience is a fixed entity. You decide on your audience and that’s it. We will look more closely at how you decide who your audience is later in this book. For the time being, know that during your writing process, the audience should be clearly in your head at all times.

While your audience stays the same, purpose, on the other hand, continually changes. My purpose in writing the blog's title was to entice you to read it. My purpose right now is to capture your attention so you will continue reading, offer you the two essential elements of every piece of writing (Purpose. Audience.), and hopefully make you smile.

One last thing about the word “perfecting” in the subtitle. Everybody knows that as human beings we are imperfect. That’s the definition of being human—

we make mistakes, have foibles, trip over our own feet, and sometimes smell funny. Imperfection is inevitable and NORMAL for human beings. In turn, most of what we create, including our writing, will also reflect our personal strengths and limitations. The key to becoming perfectly imperfect lies in our awareness of our strengths and limitations both as writers and human beings, and to learn from them and continually develop ourselves, our self-expression, and our writing. This takes us to the next euphemistic tip and trick!



Writing Tips and TricksJun 15, 2010

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