Manawatu Counselling Staff


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David Coomber

I come from a creative arts background. I have been a professional musician (I studied both in NZ and in Europe) and have been involved with the University of Auckland’s School of Music since 1984 as a performance teacher. Creativity is central to my life, and I incorporate this in my work as a counsellor in various ways. Creativity in its myriad forms is, I believe, essential to a healthy life.

For me, counselling is providing a safe confidential and facilitating environment in which students can talk about their personal and emotional problems, and the difficulties they are experiencing. I work with students in creative ways that can raise self-esteem and confidence and build resourcefulness and resilience skills. I use a range of therapeutic methods, including solution focussed psychotherapy, schema therapy, Gestalt and expressive therapies, and cognitive behavioural based therapies. One aim of counselling is to promote positive personal growth aimed at helping the students manage daily living without repeating destructive patterns, recognising what positive strengths they have to support students to reach their potential.



Angela Baker

I grew up on a farm in South Taranaki and currently live in a rural area with my partner.  In my spare time I enjoy gardening, bush walks and swimming, and when we holiday at our favourite spot in Kawhia, kayaking.

I did my undergraduate degree at Massey University and later came back to do my M.A. in psychology part-time while working.  In addition to counselling, I have experience as a career counsellor and also counselling in a pain management clinic.  I have also worked in other areas including teaching, administration, and adult education.  The therapeutic approach I use primarily is Mindfulness.  I am solution-focussed in my approach, the idea being that I help you to clarify what you want to be different as a result of coming to counselling, and work with you to reach this goal. I also have an interest in Neuro-linguistic Programming (N.L.P).  I have a particular interest in health and wellness (and conditions affecting our wellness such as sleep problems, stress, anxiety and pain), and a fascination with the interconnectedness of body-mind-spirit.  I am also interested in career choice, development and spirituality. 


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John Pahina

Tēnā koutou katoa, my name is John Pahina and I am of Ngāti Porou descent. 

I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in psychology at Massey University and am a Registered Clinical Psychologist.

My primary role in this service is to work collectively with Māori and their whanau to assist in overcoming or managing difficulties that preclude wellbeing. In order to support and work alongside Māori I utilise a number of therapeutic strategies including Māori models of wellbeing, strength based strategies, and cognitive-behavioural therapies. I am committed to providing a secure and confidential space in which people can feel safe to express themselves and grow.

I have a mental health background in forensic settings prior to moving to Massey University. My interest areas include Māori mental health and the role of culture as a protective factor in wellbeing.


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Lynley Hayward

I have a diploma in health science and a diploma in counselling, and a graduate certificate in sexual abuse counselling.

I'm originally from Taranaki but have lived in Palmerston North for the last ten years. I worked at the Youth One Stop Shop for several years as a youth counsellor, and enjoy working with students.

I work in a way that aims to empower people by helping them to find their own resources within the difficulties that they may be experiencing. I see therapy as being a collaborative process that can help people to understand themselves in new ways that support their well-being. I look to strengthen stories of possibilities, desired change and how people prefer to be.

Sam Head 

I have been a counsellor for the past  thirteen years. The last eleven have been in a mental health and addiction setting at Palmerston North hospital. I have also been counselling for the past three years in my own private practice, where I have worked with individuals with a wide range of problems.

I am fortunate to have joined the Massey counselling team in February 2015. I consider it a privilege to be part of a team of people who are so passionate about helping people to achieve their academic goals.

My passion is helping to equip people to help themselves. I am trained in a variety of modalities including, person centered therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodrama, motivational enhancement , strength based therapy and equine assisted psychotherapy (no not therapy for horses).

When helping people, I like to consider all aspects of a person, from physical, psychological, social and spiritual and work with people to promote health and wellbeing in the areas most important to them.

In my role as Student Counsellor/Wellbing Co-Ordinator at Massey, I will be focussing on helping people with practicle matters related to their study, as well as providing support through difficult to manage life events, emotional distress and stress that can come from life/student life in general.


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Nicky Rees

I am originally from the UK and have been in New Zealand since 1996. I have a Bachelor of Counselling and am a member of New Zealand Association of Counsellors.

I have been working at Massey as a counsellor since 2006 and really enjoy being a part of university life. Student life is exciting and enriching but it can also be demanding and overwhelming when pressures and stresses start to build up. It is important to me that there is somewhere for you to come if and when things start to unravel and you feel overloaded. I try to provide somewhere that is safe, a space to unload, explore, ask questions and find supportive strategies.

My approach often incorporates mindfulness, which is a way of getting out of your head and into your life – this helps to reduce stress overload and increase resilience and distress tolerance. I utilise something called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and ACT which is especially useful for helping you respond to problematical thoughts and difficult emotions.

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Felicity Samuel

I initially trained as a journalist, and spent my early working life as a social researcher. My interest in helping people to live in rewarding ways lead me to study counselling, as an adult student here at Massey, so I know only too well what it’s like to juggle academic work amidst the practicalities of daily life.

As a counsellor I have worked with individuals, couples, and families at a counselling agency, and with students here at Massey. I see my role as a ‘sounding board’, enabling people to talk freely about what troubles them, and to explore ways of overcoming their troubles. I draw from a range of counselling approaches, including solution focused, person centred, collaborative and gestalt. I am interested in helping people to unearth their own wisdom about what it is they need to live well, and the steps they can take to do so.


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Lesley Lowdon

I am originally from the north of England with a background in accountancy within manufacturing and engineering fields.

My career path changed to the counselling area some years after arrival in New Zealand where I have obtained a diploma in counselling and a graduate certificate in sexual abuse counselling.

Historically my counselling experience is varied and includes working in NGOs, a drug and alcohol rehab facility, primary and secondary level educational services and sexual abuse services.

My motivation in my work is to help facilitate changes in peoples lives that result in them moving towards achieving their potential in all areas of their lives: - spiritual, physical, emotional and social. To do this I see my role as one of walking alongside my clients for a time helping engender hope and positive change.

With this in mind I use an eclectic mix of modalities which include IDT, psychodrama, narrative and CBT alongside creativity, commonsense, sense of humour and a love for people.

Patti Lang

To be provided.


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