Our Stories

We’ve both had our fair share of losing track of our health and wellbeing on own journeys..leading to lost balance and burnout.

We believe that we can all benefit from understanding our own life stories. By working on our own ‘stuff’, we are creating the bedrock that enables us to effectively assist others with their mental wellbeing. We believe that we really need to know ourselves inside out, including the key life patterns that have brought us to this point in our journeys – our vulnerabilities, our struggles, and our schemas. We need to be deeply grounded and to create a solid foundation before we can truly blossom into our authentic selves.

Here you can read about our own bumpy journeys out of burnout:


Diana Laponder

When I was a 10-year-old child, I loved ballet, but I discovered that my toes had the habit of pointing upwards, even during resting ground poses. Instead of teaching me to be more connected with my body’s capacity to rest and let-go of tension, my teacher simply pressed my toes towards the floor.

This story represents a recurrent theme in my life since then: ‘how to bring my body to a state of rest and calmness by letting go ‘

In my adult life there have been 2 major events that have led to a loss of connection between my body and mind: In 2009 I became seriously ill with a life-threatening illness, a few weeks before I was about to give birth to my daughter. Later, in 2017, I experienced severe concussion, following a car accident.  

THE lessons I learned: to always keep an eye on the signals my body is giving me; and taking time to ‘listen’ to my body, to help me to understand the signs of stress and take good care of myself.

My journey towards becoming a healthier professional started in 2009. And I can honestly state that I have succeeded in gaining greater balance and equanimity in my life. Stress is part of my day-to-day life, but taking good care of it, keeps or brings me back to the well-balanced track.  Over and over again.


As a young child I learned that my worth was reflected by my productivity and achievements. This is a very strong cultural message that we are all faced with – our society loves achievements and measures our success accordingly. 

Fast forward to gaining work as a psychologist as a young adult, I soon found myself caught up in an unrelenting cycle of trying to achieve a sense of being ‘good enough’. I took on more and more. It felt exciting… addictive even. It was like being in a sweetie shop, and not being able to resist taking on this course, that project, this opportunity, that venture….  I reassured myself that I enjoyed my work, I was passionate about my role as a psychotherapist, and therefore the fact that I wasn’t resting didn’t matter – what could go wrong, I was doing what I loved! The more fatigued I became, the faster I would try to run on the treadmill to get everything done. So, my burnout began to manifest in terms of exhaustion (physical and emotional), insomnia, feeling emotionally lifeless….and eventually with serious physical illnesses.

My interest in this area was really to explore why – why am I doing this to myself? Why do I keep pushing myself so hard, even when I know it’s to my detriment? And most importantly, how the heck can I get off this treadmill and get a life?!?  I’m particularly interested in the schemas and mindsets that make us vulnerable to burnout.  Also, how burnout becomes a manifestation reinforced by coping strategies that are designed to escape uncomfortable body-based stress-sensations/memories/vulnerability.

It is so easy to end up literally running on an empty tank…and not really thriving as fulfilled individuals. A hyper-focus on work can take such a toll not only on ourselves, but also our families – and our connection to the planet. At first, I was looking for a way to ‘fix’ my burnout – but without connecting to the underlyuing vulnerability.  I could talk about mindfulness – but wasn’t DOING it.

It’s been a tricky journey for me to learn to step off the treadmill and say ‘no’ to the cultural and societal ideals of busyness and productivity – and to work on my own schemas – that have kept me stuck in this pattern.  However, I have learned that transformation and ‘recovery’ from burnout is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute practice. It’s about investing in our own health as the number one priority. Its about putting our own health and happiness above everything else. For me, it is a practice, a work in progress and I have gradually developed a healthier, more balanced life. Connection, and ‘being’ in the moment are now prioritised over ‘doing’ and achievement. This is my life-long journey of learning to live in my body, and be in my own life. In this programme we will share with you all that we have learned about nourishing and nurturing ourselves so that we can all cherish our own lives and be able to fulfil our life purpose from a place of being centred and authentically ourselves. We hope you enjoy it!


Ezra Goudzwaard

Namaste! My Name is Ezra Goudzwaard. I’m a yogateacher working together with Susan and Diana. We all believe that yoga could benefit in healing and dealing with the stresses going on in our lives.

I’ve been practicing yoga since 2012. It’s helped me a lot to keep the focus on the bright things in life…a practice in gratitude. As we all know, life can get pretty dark sometimes. In these dark moments or ‘big life events’ yoga has helped me to keep me centred and focused on the beauty all around.

During my bachelor in Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies at the Radboud University in Nijmegen I specialised in religion and philosophy in Asia, where I studied the ancient yoga scripts. I also moved to India to conduct field research into the practices of yoga tourism and this lead to my bachelor thesis ‘spiritual yoga tourism in India’.

Beside this I am a qualified and certified teacher in yoga: 200 hours Hatha yoga, 70 hours Meditation, 50 hours Vinyasa yoga, 50 hours Yin yoga and Pranic Healing Level 1. Today, yoga is a lifestyle for me. Yoga teaches me a great deal in life and I enjoy practicing every day. The name Ezra means ‘help’. Through my own yogaschool ‘Yogiez’ I’d love to help you with through my yoga teaching, with the goal of making your more difficult days a little lighter.

I’ve made some videos for you, to use as a starting point in your journey and as a way of bringing nourishing movement into your working day. These are aimed at helping you to release stress and calm your mind. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me (www.yogiez.com). Enjoy!

Relevant Publications from our Team


Brockman, Simpson, van der Wijngaart, & Smout. Therapists’ Own Schemas: Enhancing our Own Wellbeing. In Cambridge Guide to Schema Therapy (In Press). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press


Smout, Simpson, Stacey, Reid. The Influence of Maladaptive Coping Modes, Resilience and Job Demands on Emotional Exhaustion in Psychologists. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, Online, DOI: 10.1002/cpp.2631


Pietrabissa & Simpson. Psychological Consequences of Social Isolation during COVID19 Outbreak. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02201


Simionato, Reid, Simpson. Burnout as an Ethical Issue in Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Theory, Research, & Practice, 56(4). DOI: 10.1037/pst0000261


Simpson, S., Simionato, G., Smout, M., van Vreeswijk, M. F., Hayes, C., Sougleris, C., & Reid, C. (2019). Burnout amongst clinical and counselling psychologist: The role of early maladaptive schemas and coping modes as vulnerability factors. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 26(1), 35-46. DOI: 10.1002/cpp.2328


Kaeding, A., Sougleris, C., Reid, C.….Simpson, S. Professional burnout, early maladaptive schemas and the effect on physical health in clinical and counseling trainees. Journal of Clinical Psychology. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22485.