Opportunities for healing, change and growth emerge when we listen to the earth….to Indigenous 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 climate conscious, trauma-informed, narrative, eco-therapist.  What a mouth

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 a decade.  From 2018 to 2022, she worked in private practice on the Mid North Coast of NSW, before moving back to her birthplace in Gippsland in late 2022.  Lucy is also a Certified Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, a registered Wayapa® Wuurrk practitioner 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 eco-therapy and climate-aware practice, narrative therapy, nature therapy, earth mindfulness, suicide intervention, the neurobiology of trauma, mental health, nutrition, domestic and family violence, restorative practices, cultural safety 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, suicide, alcohol and drugs, family conflict and separation, relationship issues, extreme climate events and other traumas.  She promotes healing and recovery through counselling in outdoor spaces, group work, bush camps 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 volunteered 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.  In 2020, she co-presented the results of on-line ‘Tree of Life’ group work at Borroloola during COVID at the AASW National Symposium.  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.  She has provided professional supervisory placement to 3 students of Social Work over her career.

Lucy is an accredited member of the Australian Association of Social Workers and the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, a member of Psychology For a Safe Climate, Permaculture Australia, Nature and Wellbeing Australia, and the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy and a registered practitioner with Wayapa® Wuurrk.  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


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.