Opportunities for healing, change and growth emerge when we listen to the earth….to traditional voices…and to each other.


Lucy Van Sambeek is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and the Founder of …metaphorically speaking.  She likes to think of herself as a trauma-informed, narrative, eco-therapist and community worker.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from the University of Queensland in 2005, Lucy moved back to the Northern Territory and worked in the Tiwi Islands and North East Arnhemland in the non profit sector for over 10 years.  Since August 2018, she has been working in private practice on the Mid North Coast of NSW.   Lucy is also a Certified Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs  and has a Certificate in Art Therapy from the Centre for Educational and Clinical Art Therapy.  Her mini-thesis explored appropriate art therapy approaches with Aboriginal Australians who have experienced trauma.  Her ongoing professional development has included suicide intervention, the neurobiology of trauma, mental health, domestic and family violence, narrative therapy, DRUMBEAT, restorative practices, cultural safety, Bringing Up Great Kids and Child Inclusive Practice (CIP).

Lucy has walked alongside women, men, children, families and communities who have been touched by the effects of domestic and family violence, child abuse, deep trans-generational grief and loss, mental health issues, alcohol and drugs, family conflict and separation, and other traumas.  She promotes healing and recovery through counselling in outdoor spaces, group work, bush camps and retreats, and community development projects.  Lucy is interested in exploring passages to well-being through mutually respectful relationships and collaboration with her Indigenous comrades.  Her work brings together the best of Western science and knowledge, whilst respecting and engaging with Indigenous perspectives and world views.  She also volunteers as a therapist with Therapy4Refugees, a professional trauma counselling service for refugees and asylum seekers, provided by Gifts for Manus and Nauru Incorporated.

Lucy and her Aboriginal colleagues have presented their collaborative work and resources at the FRSA National Conference 2012, the 2013 Childhood Trauma Forum hosted by the NT Children’s Commissioner and SNAICC Conferences in 2013 and 2017.   It Takes A Forest to Raise a Tree:  Healing Our Children from the Storms in their Lives” is the first metaphorical, therapeutic resource Lucy developed in partnership with Aboriginal communities while working at Relationships Australia.  Lucy also co-wrote and directed ‘The Seed of Life’ in Tiwi and Yolngu Matha, and acted in ‘One Family Tree’, video stories which engage women in a conversation about the effects of violence on children.  In 2017, Lucy self-published The Life of Tree, a children’s therapeutic picture book aimed at assisting Aboriginal children to communicate about their experience of domestic and family violence or other trauma.  Lucy is passionate about advancing the profession of social work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, producing a podcast of good news stories from around Australia and sharing her own practice experience on the blog.

Lucy is the Founder of …metaphorically speaking and an accredited member of the Australian Association of Social Workers, the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs and Nature and Wellbeing Australia collaborative.  She has a current Working With Children Check (No. WWC1564166E).  She receives professional supervision from Barry Sullivan (MAASW) and George Burns (Clinical Psychologist).

View Lucy Van Sambeek's profile on LinkedIn


Jane Phillips grew up on the beautiful Coffs Coast enjoying a strong connection with nature. As a young person she became increasingly interested in developing this connection and spent time in the Bellinger Valley living off grid whilst studying Naturopathy.

In the late 90’s after the loss of two much loved friends, Jane took the opportunity to explore new directions in life, travelling the world, which eventually led her to base herself in London for the next 18 years. Seeing the world through a new lens Jane became interested in community, connection and social justice issues, which led her to complete her BA in Social Work at the University of London. Working predominantly as a frontline Social Worker in busy London hospitals Jane saw just how much alienation from community and our natural environment impacted on our mental and physical wellbeing. So, after having her first child in 2016 Jane returned, with her family, to Coffs Harbour to find again that important connection to place, community and nature. Jane began working at Coffs Harbour Hospital in 2017 where her experience spans from working in the Emergency Department with crisis and trauma support, through to Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol support.


Christine Burarrwanga is a Yolŋu woman from Yirrkala in NE Arnhemland.  Christine made the hard decision to move away from her homeland to seek safety and refuge in Darwin and grow her independence. Despite this, she remains deeply connected to culture and country at Birang Birang in NE Arnhemland. The deeply spiritual and beautiful art of painting Christine inherited from her mother, along with knowledge, lore and stories, keep her strongly connected to her family and memories of country.

Christine’s priorities are to be a strong leader and role model for her children, giving them the best opportunity to access quality education whilst also fulfilling cultural responsibilities and traditions, by sending them back for regular visits with family at Galiwinku on Elcho Island and Yirrkala.

In 2017, Christine collaborated with Lucy to illustrate her first ever children’s therapeutic picture book, “The Life of Tree” to assist Aboriginal children to give voice to their experience of violence.

If you would like to know more about us or how we might work collaboratively together, please contact us.