When I first started therapy with Chula a year ago I was in a place of considerable shock and trauma. I could barely speak about the issue that was overwhelming me and I knew I needed help. I had uncovered a memory through a chance conversation and that memory was of being sexually abused as a child. It was vivid and it was utterly shattering. Through a friend, I got in touch with Chula and feel so fortunate that I found him: finding a counsellor you can relate to, and to whom you can speak openly and with total trust, is not at all easy. Chula is exactly the person I needed to meet. Calm, measured, insightful, unshockable (and that’s an important one when you yourself are in shock) and with his gentle but structured approach, Chula made me feel at ease, in control and secure from the start.
In the world outside the therapeutic one things happen to us that we have little or no control over and we don’t understand how to process those events. That is the position I was in. I felt ashamed, bewildered, angry, deeply saddened and at a loss. In Chula’s consulting room – albeit over Zoom – I entered a room where the events and the feelings they gave rise to were examined as much as I could cope with and, as my sessions continued, I found I could cope with more and more. I began to see how I couldn’t change what had happened but I could learn to accept events that had marked me; in fact, I could see as time went on, that they ‘marked me’ less than I feared they had. There are many questions to which the answers are unknowable but there are questions about yourself you can, with help, answer. Chula’s approach is to guide you into seeing how you have coped and how you have integrity as a person despite events that are objectively awful. I am immensely grateful to him and, as so many of these testimonials also say, would recommend him to anyone.NP 27.06.21
Chula was the first person I ever really spoke to. I mean, we spoke about those things that have never been put into words. I can’t really imagine having that conversation with anyone else right now and can’t imagine anyone else creating such a safe, gentle and unique space to gradually open up in and begin to find my place. It’s with hindsight and more recovery that I realise just how significant our time together was and how, over time, with patience, warmth, intelligence, curiosity, timing and a good sense of humour I was shown that it does get better. And it does keep getting better.RH 27.10.20
I first got in touch with Chula around a year ago after a fairly turbulent few years. I had been having bouts of anxiety and after the recent loss of someone very significant in my life, I was trying to blindly navigate my way through the grief process. I had also developed a fairly unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I had a tendency to catastrophize and turn my feelings of grief into concerns that there was something wrong with me. This coupled with some good old obsessive thinking made life at times pretty awful!
Chula helped me unpick everything that had been going on in my life. He helped me understand that what I was feeling was normal but unique to the individual as grief almost certainly is. Chula helped me address my relationship with alcohol. All of this was done in a safe, comfortable and friendly environment.
Chula is in my opinion worth his weight in gold. It’s difficult not to admire someone who has helped you and so many other people so vastly. I finished my therapy with Chula with a better understanding about myself, my mind and life in general. Lessons that will undoubtedly help me in the future. I have recommended Chula to a friend and would recommend him to anyone who is struggling or has fallen off course.
I garnered the help and advice I needed and also a friend.JB 07.03.20
Would I be happy for Chula to treat someone I love? All day long – and then some. He is unquestionably the real deal. A treatment thoroughbred wrapped in competence, commitment and charisma.
Chula has an ability to instantly establish that he is a knowledgeable and safe pair of hands. As his relationship with clients/patients moves forward it becomes evident that his ethical and non-judgemental approach is extremely settling.
He can now introduce his expertise focusing on helping people to lead manageable, productive and happy lives. The results are amazing. He has the respect of other professionals in his field – and that’s something.Anthony McLellan
The McLellan Practice 25.02.20
Working with Chula is one of the highlights of my job. It is extremely rare to come across such expertise, skill and experience within one person. I collaborate with him wherever possible and continue to learn an enormous amount from him. I would recommend his abilities and expertise to anyone working within a therapeutic or addiction treatment context, or within the charity sector as a whole.Lily Lewis
Director of Social Cohesion
The Bernard Lewis Family Charitable Trust 09.02.20
I first got in touch with Chula concerning paranoiac issues of anxiety, alienation and obsessive thought patterns.
We were introduced through a charity specialising in mental health support in the music industry and felt Chula’s own experiences meant he was able to understand and empathise perfectly with the issues brought up and the destructive ways in which they often manifest.
Over the course of our 20 or so sessions we delved into the root causes of these persistent issues, much of it stemming from childhood and teenage trauma (as ever). I learned to recognise the well-worn patterns of my anxieties and behaviour, their causes and symptoms, and developed methods of understanding, legitimising and processing these thoughts and feelings in a healthy way rather than attempting to escape or subvert them with self-destructive behaviours.
In the course of our sessions I found Chula not only to be an expert therapist, able to understand and elucidate paths of my own thought processes in hopes of developing new and healthier ways of coming to terms and living with my anxieties, but felt we were able to do so in a way that was comfortingly informal.
By the end it felt more like seeking advice from a close friend than asking a stranger to peer inside my head, a feeling I came to value just as much as the understanding I was developing of myself and my mental health.
I’m able to look back on the time I spent with Chula as invaluable and consider myself, rightly or wrongly, a more mentally and emotionally stable and mature person.KA 04.07.19
When I went to see Chula for the first time I was in a very bad way: prone to prolonged periods of depression, very low self-esteem, total absence of creative [and sexual] confidence and fearfulness about how others perceived me. I had allowed myself to be defined by my work, so that, when this aspect of my life didn’t go to plan — which, as an artist, is quite often — everything else seemed to collapse. This ‘catastrophisation’ of my circumstances was crippling me and, what’s more, had begun to affect my relationship with the person I loved. I was also turning to drugs more and more frequently.
It’s hard to sum up just how big an effect my work with Chula has had on me. I’m writing this now from a very different position: fully at ease with myself, proud of who I am and the work I do, far more capable of looking outside myself towards others, balanced and fully capable of experiencing the unpredictable flow of life without recourse to self-criticism, depression or drugs. By unpacking my past, brick by brick, I came to know myself far better than I imagined it was possible to do, and from those solid foundations I’ve begun to build a very different life, one characterised by calmness, love, empathy and artistic conviction.
The disparity between my initial state and how I feel now speaks volumes, I think, of Chula’s exceptional therapeutic abilities, and I would recommend him in a heartbeat to anyone experiencing the same [or similar] symptoms.OP 20.03.19
Sixteen years ago I had a psychotic breakdown which triggered off depression. I saw various therapists for short periods, none of whom I formed any real connection with, and this resulted in my skepticism towards therapy. Antidepressants helped me cope with depression, but one of my real fears was that the breakdown could surface again.
In 2018, after a bleak start to the year I decided I needed to seek help and I began seeing Chula, who was recommended to me. I instantly warmed to Chula, I found him to be an empathetic listener, his kindness and compassion made me feel totally at ease, he’s nonjudgmental and this allowed me to share my darkest & innermost thoughts.
I saw Chula weekly for almost 10 months, we talked, we laughed and at times I cried. Over the weeks Chula helped me understand the cause of my breakdown and depression, something I never had clarification on, it felt like an eureka moment where the darkness lifted and there was finally light at the end of the tunnel, each session would reveal more about my former life.
With his guidance & advice I embarked on Mindfulness & meditation and I now feel I’m on the path to a happier life.
No longer stuck in limbo, I will always be eternally grateful to ChulaAO 11.12.18
When I apprehensively took my first step towards helping myself, I reached out to Chula. I had spent a long time at the bottom and didn’t know where to turn. I had been in and out of therapy throughout my life but it hadn’t quite worked for me as I never felt like I was really being understood
Chula instantly made me feel comfortable and within no time at all I had built up a bond with him, I felt like I could really open up completely free of judgement. He showed how to forgive myself, and to learn to accept myself and even be proud of myself
We spend so much time worrying about appearances and being body-conscious, we forget what’s important and that’s the mind and emotions
Chula gave me the strength and tools I needed to make the right decisions in every aspect of my life, and I am now in a completely new position in life, and I owe it all to Chula Goonewardene.OG 14.11.18
I contacted Chula at a point in my life where I was drinking every day. My weekends were spent taking drugs, I was losing jobs and my marriage was suffering badly. I hate to think where it would have led had I not started therapy when I did. Over the course of 11 months, Chula has gently steered me to place of calm I’d forgotten existed. I have a new found sense of self awareness that has improved the quality of my life tenfold. In this way, he’s also given me the skills to be my own therapist to some degree. The work we’ve done has helped me to stop my self destructive behaviour, and has had a clear knock-on effect in many aspects of my life, helping me to shape more meaningful relationships and break my creative block.
I was initially skeptical of therapy, but that very quickly changed. I liked Chula straight away. He’s a warm, encouraging and compassionate presence. He’s inquisitive and engaging and an excellent listener. He truly understands addiction and he knows that every case is complex and unique. He’s helped me to see patterns in my behaviour, and to understand where they come from, and he’s encouraged me to see connections between events and situations that I couldn’t previously see. I came to really look forward to the sessions. Each one would reveal some new insight and open up new lines of thought. Talking to Chula has enabled me to face things I’ve spent many years (and many drinks) trying to avoid. I don’t believe I could have done this without his help.
Addiction forces you to live a dishonest life, and it’s a very difficult way to live. I would urge anyone battling with addiction to talk to Chula. He’s helped me find my way out, and for the first time in many years I feel free. Seeing Chula was the best decision I could have made and I feel incredibly grateful for his kindness and his guidance.BP 20.08.18
I can thoroughly recommend Chula. He is a gentle, understanding and patient therapist, who enabled me to talk about aspects of my life that I really needed to talk about, but didn’t want to discuss at all.
Chula has a very finely tuned understanding of addiction and was able to enlighten me greatly, on the patterns in my life that were perhaps not the most useful to my happiness and well-being. It seemed to me that there was a very fruitful mix in his approach; between psychotherapy and addiction therapy, all helpfully set against a Buddhist cultural background. I think it was this mix of influences that made our time so productive, as it meant that at no time did I feel that I, or my behaviour, was being pigeon-holed. There was always an opening on his side and a reluctance to label.
Chula is inquisitive in just the right way and I think this is why it often felt we were on a journey of discovery together. More than anything else, Chula is kind and it was just great to have someone non-judgemental to talk through my middle-aged existence with, so that I could gain more control and shape my life into an ultimately healthier and happier rhythm.FS 23.05.18
I had until recently been slightly skeptical of therapy. However, in the face of a long term alcohol habit that had begun to spiral ridiculously, I was directed to Chula by a friend who told me we might hit it off. I wish I’d come to him much earlier.
My sessions with Chula have been enormously helpful in giving me a better understanding of the mechanics and nature of addiction, and in identifying my own triggers to drink; talking and thinking things through with him has allowed me to start to navigate my way out of what had previously seemed a very tangled maze.
What’s been particularly rewarding is that as well as providing professionalism and clarity, Chula’s sessions are always interesting and revealing, never patronising, certainly never dull – he has a great perspective on all aspects of addiction and recovery, and his guidance has been invaluable. Oh, and we got to laugh quite a lot too.BM 16.10.17
Before I found Chula my life had become completely unmanageable. I was in a desperate place of self-destruction through my addiction to alcohol. I was struggling with emotional traumas from my past that had stacked up to mountainous proportions and remained unprocessed. Alcohol had become my coping mechanism and this had led to subsequent addiction.
Meeting Chula changed my life. This exceptional therapist has given me back my life today. Through his unique mix of professional skills and experience, his empathy and understanding surrounded and supported me throughout the period of work and recovery to where we are today. Chula has skilfully taken me from the depths of despair and darkness, his wise counsel offering constructive approaches to problem solving and insightful explanations, which crucially helped me understand what happened to me mentally and physically. He crystallised it all, and with that we started the process of repairing my self-esteem and self-respect. He importantly kept me safe and ensured that my perspective and focus were sound at all times. In addition, his complete understanding and belief in the spiritual workings of AA and the 12 step programme, and encouragement to embrace it, have now given me a fellowship and ongoing support for my future life.
Through Chula’s guidance, meticulous analysis and my learning over the past 17 months, I have hope, strength, humility and happiness in my life today. Remarkably, I am back steering my own ship again and in a direction of choice that my new renewed focus allows.
In writing this testimonial, I realise Chula’s profound impact on my life. He has without doubt enriched it. It is not only me that will be eternally grateful to Chula but my husband and son too. I thank you all for having the unwavering belief in me to make this recovery and for being proud of me today. May God bless you Chula and encourage and support you in the fantastic work you do to help others.JEP 5.10.17
I worked with Chula for six months, week in week out. Came in with one problem/issue, and over the course of therapy suffered a profoundly traumatic life event – death of my father – which superseded the work we did together. I found Chula to be insightful, empathetic and really very caring. Clearly he’s a therapist with a calling for the profession, rather than one out for financial gain. I enjoyed my time working with him. We faced tough issues, together, with a lightness of touch and even the occasional laugh. Yes, laugh! To paraphrase Billy Connolly “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on”. So it is with me and therapists. I relate better to therapists who aren’t afraid to show their humanity.
Whilst I enjoyed the sessions, they were rigorous, but I felt safe enough to face many things that made me feel very uncomfortable. I really hope the work we did together stays with me, and have every faith that the most important things will. Chula has encouraged me to better trust, or start to trust, my instincts, which is worth the admission price alone. All in all, a very valuable experience, at a time in my life of extreme upheaval. Ultimately therapy is extremely personal – I recommend Chula very highly.MJ 10.08.16
I first came to Chula with a number of issues that were having a significant affect on my mental wellbeing. From the very outset, Chula’s reassuring manner made me feel comfortable and able to discuss my most private fears, thoughts and concerns. Working with Chula gave me valuable awareness of my own thought process and personality, and empowered me to take steps to address my problems. I now have a much more positive outlook on life and I am forever grateful to Chula for his assistance in getting me there. Besides being an excellent therapist, he is clearly a warm, kind and compassionate person too and I’m very glad to have met him.MB 04.11.15
Chula is enthusiastic and very committed, it is clear that he loves his work, be it his employment as Recovery Groupwork Programme Manager or as Counsellor & Psychotherapist. He shows passion, willingness to learn, a view of his work as service to the world, a perception that includes spirituality, and an ability to give people hope and perspective.
He is obviously well-suited to his management position and to his role as a Therapist.Urs Mattmann BACP accred. Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor
I am really grateful for everything WDP and especially Chula did for me, they saved my life. I am living the dream, clean and sober, and Chula helped me a great deal. Without his hard work, determination and encouragement, I would not be here, I would probably be dead, and I hope and pray that he continues to help a lot of people who are struggling, as I was. By the grace of god may he continue with his hard work and determination of helping others. I am very much obliged to you for your kindness and words of wisdom, that I will never forget. Keep up the good work & god bless. Thanks.AHN 13.02.15
When I first met Chula many years ago, I felt at ease with him, I found him to be a very careful listener and I could talk about things that I could not share anywhere else. When I started my journey of recovery Chula helped me in all aspects, with so many techniques, and looking back to reflect upon my own memories of him; as 1:1 Counsellor, in Meditation Classes, learning Tai Chi, going on Client Outings, and a whole host of other things; even visiting me whilst I was suffering from a psychotic episode, Chula has given his absolute everything and climbed that ladder naturally. He is a wonderful guy, and I’m no easy guy to work with, he helped me in so many ways and I’m really blessed to have been on his career path. My life was turned around by him and his caring team of loving individuals, without all of them I would not be writing this, or even capable of this today, and my life is fantastic now, many thanks to Chula.WVL 07.09.14
Chula is an influential leader, his style is one of a shared vision and transparency that does not undermine the process of meeting what is expected of the team, he is clear, directive, supportive and stands by his decisions, and above all, he is consistent, showing sound judgement, commitment and focus.
Chula is able to manage effectively by encouraging and supporting the team’s needs individually and as a group, he actively promotes and works with the dynamics of the team to ensure that the intensity of the day-to-day activities are explored amongst the team and critiqued in an open and honest way, this therefore has a positive impact on how the team model themselves and take responsibility for all aspects of their performance and abilities to function well.
Chula has represented our organisation in a number of settings, he has delivered training both internally and externally, and communicates well with partner agencies as well as our commissioners and service users. He articulates himself well and is responsive, able to listen and reflect. He participates well in all meetings, and where necessary will challenge negative behaviour in order to get his point heard, without compromising his integrity, or professional boundaries.
A focus of the work undertaken within the Structured Day Programme is to promote diversity and challenge inequalities – this is promoted within all aspects of the treatment programme and how the group functions, from the food prepared to how we work with women in the groups. This commitment is driven amongst the diversity of his team and how this is therefore balanced in the day-to-day operation of the group. Chula is open to learning and sharing learning, in order to understand and support difference.
Chula has faced a number of challenges over the last few months where change has been inevitable, he has supported these changes and been involved with all aspects of the reconfiguration and implementation. This support, and his involvement, have been paramount in him taking forward and leading these changes, further proving that he is able to be measured in his approach, take direction where necessary, and follow a process that has allowed the team to feel inclusion where appropriate.Andrulla Garcia NWDAS Service Manager