Melvyn Bowler, MACS., CMC.; Grad. Dip. Human Relationships Education etc

This site will tell you something about the way that Melvyn approaches his counselling and therapy work, as well his educational workshops. To give you some background here are some brief biographical details.

Melvyn stopped drinking and using drugs in 1974 with the help of his local self-help group for alcoholics. He has been counselling since 1976, when he became a volunteer with the Victorian Foundation on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. At that time he was also involved in starting two 12 step self-help groups, one for drug addicts (which has now spread throughout Australia) and one for their families.

He started counselling full-time in 1981 when he founded the Knox-Sherbrooke Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Centre at his home in Tecoma, Victoria. As well as being active in counselling alcoholics, drug addicts, and family members; he also facilitated recovery groups based upon Rational-Emotive Therapy and the philosophy of the Hazelden Foundation. After difficulties with the centre’s committee of management over his refusal to allow them access to confidential client records, he started in private practice in 1984.

Educational workshops for professionals and the public were a large part of his work for the next few years, until 1989. These included workshops on counselling, alcohol and drug problems, intervention, denial, relapse, codependency, and overcoming addictions, as well as how to deal with disturbing emotions such as anger, depression, guilt, shame and anxiety using Rational-Emotive Therapy.

During this period he travelled all over the wider Melbourne area and gave many evening talks to school parenting groups on how to deal with teenage drug and behavioural problems.In 1984 he re-started a 12 step fellowship for the families of drug abusers, and this was a great help to many parents for many years.

For his work in counselling and education he was made Citizen of the Year in the Shire of Sherbrooke, and was given the Award of Merit from the Advance Australia Foundation.

The videos he made in 1988 on counselling and brief group psychotherapy are still used today, and are now available on DVD. He also ran a public Friday night RET workshop at Wesley House in Melbourne, demonstrating brief counselling interventions with members of the audience. Whilst serving as a Director of the Victorian Association for Mental Health he raised money for mental health issues by giving professional workshops on Rational-Emotive Therapy. He was also on the Board of Management of the Angliss Hospital, Ferntree Gully, but when the board disagreed with his proposal to ban cigarettes from the hospital he resigned.

He introduced the concept of sex addiction to Australia in 1988, using press, radio and television media, and although the idea of sex addiction was ridiculed and disparaged he persisted; and today the seriousness of this addiction is much better understood. In that same year he presented to a mixed group of professionals and non-professionals the first ever workshop on sex addiction in Australia.

In 1989 he initiated the formation of 12 step groups to help sufferers to recover from love addiction as well as sex addiction. Over the years since these groups have expanded throughout Australia, and no doubt will continue to do so.

Melvyn spent most of 1990 in the United States and England. He gave recovery workshops in Los Angeles and Akron in the US; and in England he gave an RET course and a counselling course in both London and Stockport. Whilst in the US he trained under Dr. Patrick Carnes in Minneapolis to gain his sexual addiction counselling certification, being the first Australian to do so.

Whilst in Minneapolis he also trained with the Johnson Institute on Family Intervention Techniques; and a further certificate course in dealing with, and helping, students who had emotional problems. He did his experiential therapy training in Colorado Springs, Colorado with two exceptional therapists – Lane Lasater and Verna Salmon.

On his return to Australia at the end of 1990 Melvyn discovered that Victoria was in recession, and all his plans to hold workshops on what he had learned in the United States were dashed. However, he decided to go ahead with his experiential therapy workshops, which are designed to release trauma that counselling often fails to help, and so free a person to move forward with their life.

These workshops lasted from Friday evening until Sunday evening, using action methods and group support to facilitate healing. They were a resounding success, and continued to be held until he put them on hold in 2006, due to health problems. He intends to start these weekends again in the near future.