Team

 Charles Watkins

My approach to life and therapy has always been guided by the following: "Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world”

Lao Tzu

Charles Watkins

Clinical Psychologist M.Sc. · Licensed Psychotherapist · Founder

Born in 1985 in Osnabrück, Germany
Having graduated with a master’s degree (with distinction) in clinical psychology and completing his clinical training at the world-renowned University Medical Center of Princeton, Charles continued to use his passion to inspire positive change and advance the field of psychology in areas new to the psychological approach. Working in his private practice has been complemented by lecturing on various topics around the world. His devotion towards identifying places of need for dealing with stress and depression has led him to the maritime industry. Through the team’s profound research in the maritime industry, Charles has been able to create training videos and safety plans for the crew and on-shore personnel.

Charles has been researching the area of maritime stresses and psychological illnesses to develop preventive measures for the maritime industry. Charles is continuing to find helpful psychological solutions for real life problems on ships and on shore.

Languages: German, English

Other areas of his expertise include:

  • Systemic therapy
  • Emergency counselling
  • Mindfulness techniques
  • Crisis management
  • Self-compassion therapy

Helping to treat with the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Culture specific syndromes
  • Trauma
  • Disproportionate sadness
  • Disproportionate anger

Susann Rüsch

Licensed Psychotherapist · Founder

Born in 1966 in Bremerhaven, Germany
Having started out her career as a journalist, Susann quickly realised her real calling as a psychologist and after qualification set up her own practice in Hamburg in 2007 with a number of medical colleagues. As well as her private client work, Susann has focussed on the maritime sector, in particular dealing with the stresses and demands faced by crew/employees on board and ashore.

Susann has lectured on the above topics and has contributed to various publications and training videos, most recently „Mental Health Essentials for Masters“.

Languages: German, English

Her main areas of specialisation include the following:

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Business Coaching
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Sport and Mental Coaching
  • Trauma Therapy
  • Crisis Management

Helping to treat with the following symptoms:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety / Fears
  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Concentration inability
  • Trauma / shock
  • Accident recuperation
  • Family relations
  • Cancer and terminal illness
  • Psychosomatic

The health of the body, soul and mind are inextricably linked. If the soul is struggling because of surrounding  circumstances, it affects the body. More than 50%  of all physical illness is caused by mental health issues. A seafarer who is worried about events at home and/or cannot sleep or concentrate as a consequence, will quickly become physically ill and will be unable to do his job effectively. He could also expose his colleagues to dangers because of his mental and physical ill-health.

Christian Ayerst

Christian Ayerst

CEO

Born in 1986 in England, Christian spent 8 years working as a lawyer in a top London shipping law firm, before moving to become the inhouse lawyer of an international shipowner and logistics company.

Having spent time both at insurers and ship-owners, as well as volunteering with the London police, Christian has seen the day-to-day challenges to mental health and wellbeing of individuals and companies.

He is passionate about effecting change – and using every means possible to achieve this. When not working, Christian travels widely, learns languages and competes in triathlons.

Languages: German, English, Spanish

Sophia Onken

Clinical Psychologist (Dipl.-Psych.) · Partner

Born in 1989 in Hamburg, Germany
Sophia graduated from University of Kiel with a degree in Clinical Psychology (Dipl.-Psych). She has since worked in the field of psychological first aid, as general counsellor, with criminal offenders and as family therapist. Her main areas of interest are emergency psychology and cross-cultural psychology.
With a desire for a deep understanding of the challenges and resources of the maritime industry, Sophia develops preventive measures, tailored trainings and support solutions to improve mental wellbeing for seafarers.

Languages: German, English

Her main areas of specialisation include the following:

  • Emergency counselling
  • Crisis Management
  • Mindfulness techniques
  • Relaxation therapy

Helping to treat with the following symptoms:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety / Fears
  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Concentration inability
  • Trauma / shock
  • Family relations
  • Psychosomatic disorders
Sophia Onken
Anna Wucher

"Love for a cause not applause. Live to express, not to impress. Live by choice, not by chance. Make changes, not excuses. Be motivated, not manipulated. Work to excel, not to compete. Listen to your inner voice for therein lies the answer to life worth living”

Muhammad Nauman

Anna Wucher

Psychologist · Business and Product Development Executive

Born in 1991 in Namibia, Anna completed her basic psychological training in South Africa before continuing her postgraduate studies in Clinical Psychology in Wales as well as specializing further into Clinical Neuropsychology in the Netherlands. Her experience working in neurological and orthopedic rehabilitative clinics in Northern Germany have provided her some insight into the significant consequences that physical as well as mental health can have on the quality of life. Throughout her life, Anna has followed a love for traveling to different countries and truly experiencing the culture and practices tied to the people residing there. She is driven by helping people realize their own potential in creating their own personal happiness while feeling capable and empowered in reaching this. Her mission is to alleviate the stigma still attached to mental illness and create a safe and respectful conversation about the topics which touch us all at some point in our lives. She is passionate about making people feel seen and heard, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.

Languages: German, English, Afrikaans

Veronika Cernakova

Head of Marketing and Communications

Born in 1998 in Latvia, Veronika moved to the UK after finishing High School. Having graduated with a Politics and International Relations degree from Goldsmiths, University of London, she gained a better understanding of the world's processes and issues. Growing up, there was and still is social stigma attached to the subject of mental health. However, having worked and volunteered in different sectors during her time at university, Veronika was able to fully recognise the significance of psychological wellbeing in personal and professional life. In recent years, Veronika has been actively advocating for an open conversation around mental health. She believes that through collective efforts we will be able to change the narrative and normalise the subject. This is why she is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting the importance of mental wellbeing in the modern society.

Languages: ...

Veronika Cernakova

Our Consultants

Atul Kumar Mehra

Languages: English, Hindi, Spanish, Punjabi, Urdu

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Atul Kumar Mehra is an author, international speaker and registered psychotherapist in Ontario, Canada. He participated in panel discussions with Dr. John Gray, spoken at an international event headlined by Dr. Deepak Chopra and a guest speaker on hundreds of TV & Radio shows.

He published his International Best-Selling book on Amazon, "The Unseen Wisdom of the Unborn," and the second one is under editing "The Need for Disease." He is currently working on two others, "Addiction is Survival and not Guilt" and "My Unconscious Self," to share his experience and wisdom from more than 20 years of working with the unconscious mind. Since childhood, he was intrigued by the mind's power, which led him to start meditating at the age of four years with guidance from his father.

Benjamin Low C.Y.

Languages: English, Mandarin-English combinations

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Having studied psychology in Australia, Ben is an alumnus of the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, and James Cook University. His professional training is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council. In addition to receiving his honours degree in psychology, he furthered his knowledge of Clinical psychology completing his masters in Singapore. Having lived in three multicultural cities, Ben works well with individuals of different backgrounds and his biggest passion is to help people live more fulfilling lives, both on individual and corporate levels. Ben has run educational programmes for employees, doctors, and university students. He has also been commended for his service to various portfolios under the Singapore Psychological Society and received multiple awards for his research in the field.

His main areas of specialisation include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT),
  • CBT for Insomnia (CBT-I),
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT),
  • Behavioural Activation
  • Schema Therapy,
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT).

Karen Gail C. Ibanez

Languages: English, Filipino

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Karen started her career in the mental health service in 2007 as an assistant psychologist focusing more on assessment and diagnosis. She is a licensed psychologist and psychometrician and is currently affiliated with a local government university in the Philippines as an Assistant Professor. She is also an academic officer since 2012 at Careerline Courses Ltd., an online education provider in Australia.

Ming Yin

Languages: English, Chinese, Japanese

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Ming graduated in Applied Psychology. Her expertise lies in understanding the pathology and psychological treatment of depression as well as bipolar disorders, which she has been studying in patients for 11 years. Additionally she completed the Psychological First Aid Training from Johns Hopkins University, as well as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) training from the Associations for Psychological Therapies (ATP).

Munavvar Karimli

Languages: Azerbaijani, Turkish, Russian, English

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Born in 1995 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Munavvar graduated from the Middlesex University London with the degree in Counselling Psychology (BSc Honours). She also graduated with the degree in Business Psychology (MSc Honours) from the Heriot-Watt University. She also obtained certificates from the Professional Therapeutic league of Russia. At the same time, she took part in different psychological conferences, workshops and trainings that focused on Business Psychology, Coaching, Counselling skills, Neuro Linguistic Programming, General Psychotherapy and EMDR Psychotherapy. She has since worked as a counselling psychologist and conducted Psychotherapeutic sessions with adults to improve their psychological well-being. Her main area of interest is to provide psychological first aid in a cross-cultural setting to individuals who need mental health support. She is constantly learning and practicing new psychological methods to maximize the positive effect of emergency psychological counselling on seafarers.

Shar Gupta

Languages: English, Hindi

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Having spent over a decade studying, living and working in multiple multicultural cities overseas in Europe and North America, Shar’s journey to develop her own sense of self has played a significant role in her desire to help adolescents and adults navigate their unique issues around cultural identity, adjustment, assimilation, and multicultural families and relationships.
Shar earned a dual Masters in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University and her primary clinical experience has been treating a range of conditions including but not limited to anxiety disorders, depression, Autism, ADHD, body image, relationship concerns and multicultural issues.
For her impactful work, she earned the title Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New York after several years of inpatient and outpatient work with children, adolescents and adults from diverse backgrounds.
Shar is also passionate about social justice, and believes that the therapeutic process is a unique, powerful, collaborative and professional relationship that has the potential to help foster awareness, change, and growth. She is hoping that her practices will have a positive impact on those in maritime industry who need help.

Alexander Dimitrevich

Languages: Ukrainian, Russian, English

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Alexander is a Clinical Psychologist, who did his master’s degree scientific work at Odessa National State University, and is also candidate for a PHD in Clinical Sociology.
Since March 2016, he has been working for Sailors’ Society as Regional Crisis Response and Wellness Programme Co-ordinator. Alexander is trained and experienced in organising and providing support for trauma survivors, helping seafarers affected by piracy and their family members. He has a Maritime Lloyd’s Academy Diploma in Crew Management and is a March on Stress associate. Alexander is qualified in Trauma Risk Management (TRiM Practitioner/Manager) and previously worked as Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) Regional Director in Eastern Europe.
Alexander is co-author and trainer of Three Layer Psychosocial support system for trauma survivors which has been utilized as a basic training model for non-psychologists in Ukraine.

Lucy Courtney-Brisbane

Languages: English

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Born in Birmingham, Great Britain, Lucy is a HCPC registered Forensic Psychologist with a deep interest in organisational and systemic wellbeing and functioning and in therapeutic work supporting those with complex needs. Over the last twenty years, Lucy has worked in a range of settings including prisons, secure mental health services, community substance misuse services and criminal justice systems. Her work has deepened her commitment to supporting the development and growth of policies and systems that enable healthy functioning and performance in workplaces and organisations where high stress, challenge and trauma are inherent parts of day to day work life.
Outside of work, Lucy has a keen interest in writing and in music.

Ariadna

Languages: Spanish

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Although I was born in Madrid, Spain's capital city in the middle of the country, my entire working life has been connected with the sea and with ships. My innate talent for exploration and for getting involved in multicultural environments led me to develop my entire professional career in the maritime sector (6 years as an officer on board ships and 9 years in shipping companies on land). Life at sea was, undoubtedly, an adventure and a life-changing experience that meant a before and after for me. Since then, my passion has become my profession, and I devote my life to accompanying other seafarers in finding their balance on board and getting the most out of everything that shipboard life can offer.

Carmen Leiser

Languages: English, German

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Carmen graduated with a master’s degree (with distinction) in Psychology and a certificate in Organizational Development after having studied at the University of Konstanz, Germany and Humboldt State University, USA. She is a published author in the International Journal of Training and Development and spent years contributing to academic research, in different therapeutic settings, at The Gottman Institute and at a management-consulting firm before joining Lufthansa Airlines as a manager. Carmen is a Design Thinking Coach and has a strong interest in workplace culture, organizational psychology and leadership development. She is a people person though and through and eager to help people make the most of life.

Jonathan Martin

Languages: English

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Jonathan is a psychotherapist, CBT practitioner, life coach, and mediator who specialises in trauma and bereavement. His Bachelor’s degree in 1980 introduced him to the study of Psychology (University of Northampton). This was followed by a Master’s degree in 2007 (University of Wales). Trained at the Emergency Planning College Easingwold Jonathan is experienced at deploying within 30 minutes notice to respond to death, bereavement, and kin forming duties.
Jonathan has worked with seafarers for twenty years, both in the Royal and Merchant Navy, boarding a thousand or so ships to assist the crews of container, cruise, bulk, tanker, cargo ships and Ro-Ro’s. Jonathan was awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board for his service to the welfare of seafarers.
Apart from his work in the maritime sector Jonathan has piloted new initiatives to improve wellbeing among patients attending GP surgeries, and amongst those living with mental health challenges seeking to return to the workplace.

Toon van de Sande

Languages: English, Dutch

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Toon is on a regular base working as first mate in the inland shipping. He was sailing pastor from 2000 till 2012 for the Dutch Dredging Industry, providing counseling and first emergency response. From 2009 till 2014 he was assisting programme director of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme. He has trained 300 trainers in Pre Departure Piracy Awareness worldwide. He studied Theology and edited a 13th century Manuscript about a philosophical topic. He finished his university-study "cum laude''. In the context of Mental Health Support Solutions, he wants to distinguish different types of assisting people after disruptive events based on the continuum of care, while maintaining their specific characteristics. For example, a social worker is not a psychologist, and a psychologist not a legal expert… They should not overstep the limits of their profession.

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