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Karen Headshoot

I believe that we are ALL INCREDIBLE, exactly as we are, right now.

Hi, I'm Karen

 

and I work with women who are looking to learn how to be kinder to themselves, so that their dream life & recovery can actually become a reality.

 

As a social worker I’m a driving force for change, supporting society's most vulnerable and marginalised women, and working with local authorities to advocate for policies that provide  fast-track, responsive pathways to successful recovery. I have done this whilst seeking to reduce risk and the impact of trauma on both clients and professionals.

Karen headshot

 

I’ve been working with women in recovery for a while now, as a coach and as a social worker, and there’s some things I’ve noticed. Perhaps you’ll see yourself here:

  • You’re super-bright but find it hard to understand why you are still making unhelpful choices.

  • Maybe you’re trying to spend, work, eat, restrict or exercise your way out of feeling? 

  • You may have even given up. 

  • You thought that when you got sober or stopped self-medicating you’d be ok, but you’re exhausted and it all feels pretty joyless.

​ 
Whatever it is that’s going on for you, it feels horrible and you’ve tried to make it stop, but you feel stuck.

Well I’m here to tell you that there is hope. 

I know because I’ve been where you are.

Hengistbury Head

My Story

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I first got into recovery in 1996. I was promised that if I did the ‘work’, I would feel ‘happy, joyous and free’. But I then proceeded to spend many years ‘working on myself’ and I was constantly exhausted.

Over the next 15 years of therapy and attending every 12-step programme on the planet (almost), I continued to feel ashamed and embarrassed that I was still in a dark and lonely place. I was still causing myself harm and being so self-critical.

During this time, I was a social worker in frontline services, running award-winning projects, managing a team and fundraising for women exploited through their involvement in the sex industry. I’d become a single mum to two incredible boys and I was in my dream job. 

I was respected, I had a First-Class degree and a Masters, so I felt deep shame about not being able to work this out. I felt that I should have known how to do this recovery/sober life thing without feeling so stressed and overwhelmed. 

Then, in 2014, I reached an emotional rock-bottom in recovery and found myself in hospital following an infection that I had ignored. Being a workaholic at this point meant that I was completely unable to prioritise my needs, and I’d not made the time to go to the doctors and seek medical help. 

 

I was stressed out, scared, out of ideas, desperate, unsure and disappointed in myself for not getting this ‘right’. ​I wasn't being kind to myself in any way. My self-talk was critical and my self-care was non-existent.

Being hospitalised with an awful stress-related illness was a massive wake up call for me.

I had neglected myself whilst being out there, trying to save the world.

From that day onwards I made a commitment that I was going to support and encourage, reassure and comfort myself every single day, no matter what.

Once I was feeling better, I took a year out and I retrained to be a yoga teacher for addiction and mental health, and a coach working specifically with high-achieving women (but who still have a relentless inner critic).

I have found a way to always be in my own corner, especially when I get it 'wrong' or mess things up. I am such a huge advocate for self-compassion because it has stopped me worrying about whether or not I am liked. 

I have found freedom, not just from active addiction and anxiety but more importantly, from my own inner mean girl.

Believing in myself has led me to make seismic shifts in my work, advocating for vulnerable women not just in the red light districts but on a social policy level. I train local authorities across the UK on best practice guidance and I’m creating systems change. I’ve been a finalist in some National Awards simply for doing what I love.

 

Building a life beyond your wildest dreams (while also liking yourself in the process!) is entirely possible for you too. 

 

Because you deserve to fully thrive, to breathe, to take up space, to live with deep inner knowing and peace.

Please know that if you have found your way here: it is going to be ok and you are not alone. Maybe you’re ready to take your recovery and healing to the next level…

At the core of my work is a deep rooted commitment to helping you be kinder to yourself so you can create a life you love. 

Here’s how we can work together:

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Consultancy

Seeking a highly experienced, award-nominated, trauma-informed Consultant, Accredited Coach & Social Worker to deliver impactful training to your team?

Karen on the beach

Clinical Supervision

Looking for a safe space for you to talk about how things at work are affecting you on a personal level? I can support you with supervision.

Karen doing yoga

Retreats

Book in for a weekend of joyous self healing in the secluded Devon countryside, away from it all. Time to focus on YOU!

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Coaching

If you’re ready to do some life-changing work so you can live a life full of freedom, peace and abundance, step this way my lovely.

Karen-Marie-Johnston-Recovery-Coach-Web-129.jpg

Consultancy

Seeking a highly experienced, award-nominated, trauma-informed Consultant, Accredited Coach & Social Worker to deliver impactful training to your team?

Retreats

Book in for a weekend of joyous self healing in the secluded Devon countryside, away from it all. Time to focus on YOU!

Clinical Supervision

Looking for a safe space for you to talk about how things at work are affecting you on a personal level? I can support you with supervision.

Karen-Marie-Johnston-Recovery-Coach-Web-13.jpg

Coaching

If you’re ready to do some life-changing work so you can live a life full of freedom, peace and abundance, step this way my lovely.

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‘I’ve worked alongside Karen for ten years. In that time I’ve watched her grow from a woman with a big heart and big ideas to a phenomenal force for good. Karen walks her talk. She holds space beautifully and speaks from lived experience backed up by contemporary research. Karen has a keen intellect and desire for knowledge which supports her heart’s work. Karen has a profound understanding of the fundamental principles of how women are affected by trauma and how to create a map to move forward in this precious life. She has a phenomenal ability to present complex ideas with great kindness so everyone gets it. No woman left behind! I’m proud to call Karen my friend, sister and colleague. She’s a diamond.’
 

- Ali Woozley; midwife & trauma-informed yoga teacher

3 random facts about me:

My animal print obsession is out of hand, as is my trainer collection and essential oil collection.

My favourite film character is Alabama Worley in True Romance because she is all heart. I share her love of bright colours.

In 2020 we donated over £1500 to charities supporting women and girls who were in the care system and who had experienced sexual and domestic violence.

I believe passionately that:

  • ​We all deserve to love and be loved

  • Women in recovery deserve more peace & to feel deep joy 

  • Women in recovery deserve to like themselves

  • Women in recovery are some of the bravest people on the planet

  • Women in recovery need to have the time & space to rest and heal

  • Our ‘defects of character’ do not define us.

  • We should all be able to reach out and find a hand

  • Sex workers are incredible humans. They are harmed by The Nordic Model - #decrim now

  • Local authorities should be supporting society's most vulnerable and marginalised women

  • Fast-track, responsive pathways into recovery are necessary 

3 random facts about me:

My animal print obsession is out of hand, as is my trainer collection and essential oil collection.

My favourite film character is Alabama Worley in True Romance because she is all heart. I share her love of bright colours.

In 2020 we donated over £1500 to charities supporting women and girls who were in the care system and who had experienced sexual and domestic violence.

I believe passionately that:

  • ​We all deserve to love and be loved

  • Women in recovery deserve more peace & to feel deep joy 

  • Women in recovery deserve to like themselves

  • Women in recovery are some of the bravest people on the planet

  • Women in recovery need to have the time & space to rest and heal

  • Our ‘defects of character’ do not define us.

  • We should all be able to reach out and find a hand

  • Sex workers are incredible humans. They are harmed by The Nordic Model - #decrim now

  • Local authorities should be supporting society's most vulnerable and marginalised women

  • Fast-track, responsive pathways into recovery are necessary 

Women in recovery deserve to put their head down on their pillow at night, knowing that they have done their absolute best and that their best is MORE than enough.

New Forest Woodland

Qualifications

📄 A highly experienced, award-nominated, trauma-informed Consultant, Accredited Coach & Social Worker (registered since 2006). 

📄 Director at Self-Love Recovery Hub - an online community supporting women to access high quality, low-cost, trauma-informed interventions, modalities and holistic therapy.

📄 A “She Recovers” Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher.

📄 An ICF certified Coach with the Beautiful You Coaching Academy. 

📄 Creator of “The Co-dependency Code”, a group work programme for recovering women and “The Self-Love Retreat” an award nominated residential event that runs X times a year and is always fully booked. 

📄 2021-2022 Shine Award Winner - International Coaching Award 

📄 Finalist in the 2020 National Diversity Awards for Positive Role Model for Gender (Women).

📄 First-Class Honours Degree in Social Policy BSc from University of Bristol.

📄 An MSc Social Work from University of Bristol.

📄 ‘Holding Space’ facilitator – Sammie Flemming 2020

📄 ‘Beyond Anger and Violence’ Trauma-Informed Training with Stephanie Covington – 2016

📄 Practice Educator Social Work - Bristol University 2009

📄 Supervision Qualification – Managing Practice Learning Bristol University 2009

📄 ‘Anchored’ Nervous System Informed Care with Claire Rother – accredited 2022

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I want you to know that you deserve to not only live a life beyond your wildest dreams but also to like yourself in the process.

'Wow! Karen is one of the most powerful, courageous women I have ever met in my life. I honour her and her essence and passion. I know her presence on this planet inspires thousands of women. She is an incredible woman.'

- The Secret Millionaire, the late Dawn Gibbins MBE

Free 101 Resources

My 101 Resources for Women in Recovery E-book is brimming with book recommendations, podcasts, meditations, breath work & yoga, reiki, essential oils & so much more! You’ll also find listings of support groups for people in recovery from trauma, mental health, alcohol misuse, addiction, disordered eating & codependency. Used in the right way, this will be life-changing!  

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The Self Love Hub

Supporting each other. Together.

The Self Love Hub is a community created to give daily support & encouragement to women on a recovery pathway. 

 

It provides tools, tips and inspiration to all those who know they want to improve their relationship with themselves. 

We initially began offering support to women in recovery from addiction, alcoholism, disordered eating, trauma, grief, codependency or mental health. It’s transformed into a gorgeous community for all those who are looking to take care of themselves, in a more compassionate way.

 

You are incredibly welcome in this online haven of kindness. 

 

Join our FREE gorgeous community of supportive women. Providing you with daily resources on the journey to Self Love. Be the first to hear about upcoming events!

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