Lou was born and brought up in south London. When she was 11 her family moved down to Devon where her father became pastor of an evangelical church. At 16 she won a music scholarship to the Dartington College of Arts, two years later moving on to gain a music degree at the Royal School of Music. She rebelled wholehearted from her initial fundamental Christian roots feeling it to be restrictive and irrelevant and it wasn’t until a time of real crisis that she tested out the reality of whether God existed and could bring much needed help and change. The result of that first meeting with God had a huge impact on the way she viewed spiritual things, causing her to recalibrate and re-assess much of what the Christian faith was truly about: a relationship with a God who loved her, understood her and wanted to bring His healing, grace and joy (the greatest revelation of all!!!)
For many years she was a singer songwriter performing both in the UK and abroad, has recorded five albums and has both sung and ‘presented’ on national and local TV. Her songs are highly personal and as she shared her testimony and some of her struggles and traumas on stage, people’s responses and disclosures motivated her to get training as a therapist so that she could more powerfully and knowledgeably help them. She has had her own private practise for over 30 years working with many issues both individually and with couples. Many of these clients were wanting to explore spiritual as well as therapeutic interventions and has led her to the firm and tested conclusion that knowing the God of love can have a huge and helpful impact on our healing journey.
Lou and John McMahon, her husband, founded and still run an online therapeutic website called Bottled Up as one of the traumas intimated above was that her first husband was an alcoholic.
This painful circumstance further tested her faith and belief that God was good and cared about her and her family. She can truthfully say that God turned up in this situation, deepening her belief and understanding of His love, faithfulness and presence but also revealing to her the nature of Redemption and the transforming stream of healing that Jesus accomplished for us all.
She can say in absolute truthfulness that the issues covered in this website are anchored in reality and experience both for her and the many many clients she has come alongside over the last 3 decades.
For most of my life I have believed there was a God, although who or what I believed He was has changed over the years. I was raised as a catholic in the West of Scotland during a time of religious bigotry and intolerance. Despite that, I felt a call from God to train for the priesthood when I was 13. However, aged 16 after 3 years in a seminary, I realised that a celibate life was not something that I wanted and left the seminary. Although it seems ridiculous today, at the time I felt that my life was now meaningless, and I had no ambition left.
When I returned to secondary school, people ridiculed me about being ‘holy’ and I set out to prove them wrong and just fit in with the rest of my schoolmates. Therefore, God was not a good fit for my lifestyle at that time. So, we did not talk much over the next few years. Nevertheless, I did feel a hole in my life that I tried to fill with substances, mysticism and/or assorted religions including a spell in a Christian commune.
In 1984 I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital to be detoxed from alcohol. During that time the psychiatrist told me I had liver damage, brain damage and would be dead in 6 months if I continued to drink or take drugs. I have been clean and sober since.
I returned to education and gained an honours degree in psychology. Was awarded a fellowship from the Scottish Office and completed a PhD. I was a research fellow at Glasgow University for a couple of years before becoming senior lecturer at the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Studies teaching GPs, psychologists and substance abuse counsellors.
All during these years I had a belief in God in a rather impersonal sort of way. If I was in difficulty or really wanting something, I would fire off the occasional prayer, but we had no real contact beyond that. Certainly nothing like the personal relationship I have with God today. If you want to find out what changed and how it happened you can hear me talk about it here.