“Vickie is that spark and rock that created brilliant life-long change in my life,” writes one of several people that have benefitted from Vickie Simos’ unorthodox method of combining Martial Arts and the therapeutic techniques of counselling, to assist struggling individuals create a better life.
Greek Australian martial arts expert and therapist, Ms Simos, loves her job, especially when she sees the significant benefits her method provides to children and adults who suffer from mental health issues, low self-esteem or are living on the spectrum.
“The most important thing about boxing as a form of therapy, or any kind of martial arts for that matter, is that it helps bring all your emotions to the surface. All these emotions you don’t know how to deal with,” Ms Simos told Neos Kosmos, describing the individual and group programmes she offers through her new business in Melbourne, Thelo Active Therapy.
“Not everyone can sit in a room and speak to a counsellor about their issues. For many it can be very intimidating. But if you are training or boxing, even if you are just taking walks -which is something I do sometimes with my clients – many issues will come out.”
It was through her own personal experience that Ms Simos discovered the healing benefits of martial arts on the mind and body. When she was younger she started training in Adelaide with Grandmaster Vince Palumbo, whose methods as a trainer where completely unorthodox, but especially effective.
“At the time I suffered with mental health issues such as anxiety and slight depression. My trainer would encourage me and keep on pushing me, which was exactly what I needed to build my confidence, and progress,” she said.
The ‘fight or flight response’ that is so common and intensified, in the nervous system of people who suffer from anxiety, is a mechanism you face also in the boxing ring, the South Australian therapist explains.
“All your emotions come to the surface and you learn how to manage them, and slowly and surely you start to choose the fight response instead of the flight, not only in the training session but outside in the world and in your life too,” she said.
As she studied psychology and later on, completed a masters in Counselling, she began to realise how much she could accomplish if she combined the two, as a form of therapy for struggling individuals.
“Boxing is a great way to learn how to control your reactions,” she tells us referring to a primary school student she sees who has come leaps and bounds in managing his anger issues since he started training with her.
“The parents haven’t received any phone calls from the principal and he has also started making friends,” Ms Simos said.
“People believe that boxing, and martial arts in general, is a violent sport. But this not true. In fact, learning the skills and principles can help to sooth many people who suffer from anger or mental health issues.”
Her ability to help children on the spectrum through her programme, she discovered by accident, when she started offering classes at Melbourne Kids Developmental Services, and saw how much they helped.
Recognising the needs of every child, she shapes the training programme accordingly, and combines it with mindfulness and mediation exercises. Her greatest satisfaction is seeing the benefits children reap as their lives improve.
An inspiring memoir, a journey of self-discovery
Apart from being a successful boxer, a personal trainer and a therapist, Ms Simos is also a writer. In her inspiring memoir, “The Boxer Within”, she shares her journey from the small town of Riverland, in South Australia, growing up in a family of Greek migrants, to her life in the big city, the boxing ring, discovering psychotherapy. Her path to self-discovery and finding her passion and purpose in life.
Her book and her business, Thelo Active Therapy, were presented recently in a successful event held Melbourne.
Read more about Vickie Simos and the individual and group programmes she provides for individuals dealing with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, on her website www.theloactivetherapy.com