A brief bio

I was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1986, and my family migrated to Australia in the early 1990s when I was about four years old. Although I struggled to engage in school academic and social life growing up in Brisbane, I found my bearing when studying subjects closer to my heart at university level. I graduated from my first degree in IT from Notre Dame University in 2007. Throughout the following years, I completed a number of graduate and postgraduate qualifications in counselling and psychology, leading up to a PhD in Psychology, which I was earned at Monash University in 2016. At present, I live in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne with my partner, Izabela.

In terms of my personal philosophy, whether working with clients or students, I generally advocate for a model of personal responsibility. I believe it is our duty to find and own our personal meaning rather than internalising convenient social, political, and religious frames to inform the roots of our identity and self-hood. My view is that transformative education must go beyond didactic learning and instead teach students to question inherent presumptions, while striving towards a deeper mental, emotional, and spiritual understanding. It is from this stance of inner empowerment, that we can rise towards the height of all of our worldly pursuits…

List of qualifications: PhD (2016), PGDip Psy (2011), GradCert in DV Counselling (2011), Master in Counselling (2010), Diploma in Counselling (2009), Bachelor of ICT (2007)

As a researcher…

My passion for research first arose from personal observations of what could be termed ‘boundary phenomena’ on the fringe of perception that could not always easily be explained

My main interest in studying human perception arose from numerous personal experiences with what could be termed anomalistic or out-of-the-ordinary perceptual and consciousness phenomena. I often recount childhood experiences of having Jungian synchronicities, somatically transformative states, out-of-body experiences (OBEs), and even more seemingly far-fetched altered states — many of which are not openly discussed in our society.

Prior to completing my research training at Monash University, I took an interest in OBEs as a subject of inquiry. OBEs were particularly fascinating to me for numerous reasons, including their relationship to our sense of body integration, the phenomenal experience of self-hood, as well as the philosophical dimensions of these fascinating accounts. As part of my initial curiosity, I wanted to examine what causes OBEs, as well as their characteristics. I worked with local teachers and authors in Perth, Western Australia, such as Robert Bruce, who demonstrated a capacity to induce OBEs on a consistent basis. This original interest set the foundation for my later honours, PhD, and post-doctoral work.

In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it – John Wheeler

Throughout my formal work into OBEs, my research has won numerous national and international funding grants. I was awarded an Alex Tanous Foundation for Scientific Research Scholarship during my PhD, and a number of grants as part of my post-doctoral work into OBEs, including:

  • The Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research Cardigan Grant, Australia
  • The Parapsychological Association Research Endowment, United States
  • The Society for Psychical Research Survival Fund Grant, United Kingdom
The topic of embodiment is at the heart of the dualism debate; it traces back to accounts in classical Greek philosophy and certain even older religious texts

During my research track at Monash University, I have also developed a broader interest in other whole-body perceptual phenomena, focusing on the role that feature-specific cues have in our sense of embodiment and self-hood. I’ve also researched and written on the phenomenological issue of global states of consciousness and the hard problem, as well as theories in psycho-spiritual development and counselling, in addition to numerous adjunct topics. As a Psychology Fellow at RMIT University, I took a focus towards applying and implementing these research topics to translate them into practical health-centred outcomes and social change.

I have discussed a number of the above topics on local and state radio, as well as in online and written interviews. I have also served on scientific panels as an expert on these and related subjects.

As a teacher…

At the beginning of my PhD studies I commenced a casual teaching role in pathways education and psychology. I taught into Monash University’s Diploma of Tertiary Studies program, which was offered as a foundational program for university studies, especially where students encountered academic or social barriers to higher education. Students had the option of selecting from a broad range of specialisations, including psychology. The program was highly successful, demonstrating that ATAR scores and prior high school success were far from good predictor of one’s achievement in university and life. In 2012, the DoTS Program was awarded Federal Office of Learning and Teaching recognition for broadening equitable access to education.

Abraham Maslow’s ‘final human need’ of self-transcendence is often excluded from psychology textbooks, even though his work on peak and plateau states of consciousness is instrumental to understanding personality and lifespan development

Towards the end of my PhD, I took up numerous casual teaching roles outside of Monash, which included a Lecturer post at Phoenix Institute in the Bachelor of Holistic Counselling. As part of this role, I introduced a course on eastern and western theories of self-construct and personality development. The course was one of the most intriguing I have had the fortune of developing — it offered students an alternative view of self to that often taught in mainstream psychology programs. Students were asked to synthesise the philosophies from psychoanalysis, phenomenology, humanism, and existentialism, as well as psycho-spiritual representations of self in Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, and Kabbalistic traditions.

After graduating from my PhD, I was appointed to an Industry Fellow role at RMIT University, with a focus on teaching into the 2nd year Psychology program. My main contribution involved developing teaching material and assessment that focused on encouraging student application of theories related to human developmental and cognition.

  • Overall, I have taught over 20 various courses in psychology, counselling, and foundational education at VET, undergraduate, and postgraduate level
  • I have developed and coordinated numerous courses, with a main focus on personality/development and cognitive science
  • I have also developed my own short courses which have run in Melbourne and online

As a clinician…

During my time at the Tonic Tree clinic in Berwick, I refined a ‘light journeying’ approach, working with hypnagogic states of consciousness using the PandoraStar light entrainment device

As an undergraduate student I took an interest in a range of personal development approaches and completed training in techniques such as solution-focused counselling, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Quantum-Touch, and other modalities which eventually sparked my interest towards formal training as a counsellor.

My masters clinical specialisations were in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, as well as domestic and family violence counselling. I have worked as a counsellor in these contexts, as well as a general practitioner at a number of clinics in the south-east of Melbourne. More recently, I’ve honed my training to work with clients who wish to explore the existential aspects of life, as well as altered states of consciousness to make meaning and come to a greater understanding of self. I also work with individuals who have had troubling or disorienting spontaneous experiences with altered states.

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