Topic of the Edition


Labour market and +50s - Q4 2014

Evolution - Q2 2014

Learning - Q1 2014

Women With a Dream - Q3 2013

Being fit for success - Q2 2013

Pushing Limits - Q1 2013

Women & Risks - Q4 2012

Women & Ideals - Q3 2012


Change is in the air - Q1 2012

PWI PROGRAM - Building the women pipeline to the board: Talent & Recruitment - Autumn 2011

Mentoring - Summer 2011

Women Under the Spotlight - Spring 2011

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   Next >  Last >> 
  • 05 May 2015 16:03 | Armelle Loghmanian

    POLL to PWI Magazine readership: The “PWI Hotel AWARD”
    A Pilot Project in Brussels  

    By Alessandra Zocca and Irene Personne

    Why a hotel award project?

    At PWI Brussels we have launched a pilot project to honour the most women-friendly hotel in town with the PWI Hotel Award.
    This is a pilot project and we have a twofold aim: 
    •  To renew yearly the appointment of this award to a hotel in Brussels 
    •  To support the other PWN Global city-networks who take on board this hotel award (in this case PWN Hotel Award) in their town/country.

    We want to raise the attention about the needs of women travelling either on a business or private basis, and to create awareness and pressure in the environment where we run our own PWN activities. If we are successful, then the improvements in hotels will be available to every guest, women and men too.

    What is the PWI Hotel Award about?

    The PWI Hotel Award is based on the level of the compliance to several criteria belonging to the following categories: Security & Safety, Comfort & Pampering, Networking Opportunities, Health & Food and Respectful Attitude to Women. Unfortunately some hotels – despite having wonderful premises and services – take the liberty to choose advertisements that is offensive towards women (1).


    The criteria for evaluation of the hotels will be weighted according to the indication coming out from the PWN Global Poll. Which can be found below.

    The next steps of the project

    1) April-May 2015 -The Poll – The PWI Hotel Award criteria will be validated and weighed on the basis of a poll where all the PWN Global members are invited to vote. 
    2) May 2015 - Based on the poll vote the criteria will be weighted
    3) March -/ May 2015 - The Brussels hotels (from four stars upwards) located in the city centre and in the office districts are being invited to take the assessment challenge
    4) May / June 2015 - Hotels will be scored and ranked upon the weighted criteria
    5) September 2015 -The finalists and the winner will be invited  to the event “PWI Hotel Award ceremony” together with local tourism institutions, with the PWI corporate members and the PWN global members willing to attend.

    The POLL – Why we ask for the PWI Brussels and the PWN Global Members’ opinion

    We kindly ask the collaboration of the PWI and PWN global Members in order to vote and weight the criteria on which hotels will be assessed in relation to the PWI Hotel Award. 
    The poll participants are invited to express their preferences on each criterion and are free to add additional criteria.

    The PWI Hotel Award project is run by a team led by Alessandra Zocca – Secretary-General of PWI Brussels. 
    If you are interested in info or you would like to support us, or you might like the idea to be the next city network to establish the PWN Global Award, please feel free to contact:
    Alessandra Zocca at
    Irene Personne at

    Follow up actions

    This project has also inspired Alessandra and Irene to initiate an association called Opportunalia in the area of tourism focusing on people traveling alone who like to meet new people in a safe and enjoyable setting facilitated by the hotel they are staying in. 
    Hotels that respect the criteria defined in the poll will be allowed to carry the label “Networking Masters”, created by Alessandra and Irene. 
    Their website will go live in a few weeks so please save the following link to keep track of their progress and activities:


    1) Who'd want to stay in a hotel that trendy? Gross-out ads …

    Thanks to everybody for participating in the poll!

  • 30 Jan 2015 19:39 | Armelle Loghmanian
     "NOW I KNOW I CAN!" 

    Ana Escarpenter


    Jean Luc Louis

    CEO and Mentor

    “Now I know I can!”, this is what 35 people over 50 years old have said after 6 months collaborating together to create their own professional future. How was this possible? What was it all about?

    “I was at a networking event with a friend of mine, Evelyn Gessler from Deciders, when a man, 53 years old, told us about his situation. He had already been made redundant at his work, a couple of weeks ago, but had not yet had the courage to tell his family. It was the end for him.” 

    We were shocked! How could that be? Something had to be done. How could we help the growing numbers of unemployed people over 50 overcome the situation and find a job? 

    After a few brainstorming sessions with friends, colleagues, and potential partners, we created 50s@work. This non-for-profit association exists since the beginning of 2014 and in its first round of projects, after 6 months (3h/week), it has helped 35 women and men find their way out of unemployment in Brussels.


    What is the general employment situation nowadays in Belgium in general? And with 50+ers? Are there any differences between women and men? Why is it difficult for 50+ers to find a job?

    The present situation is unacceptable: 50+ers are too young to be retired (true!), too old to work (not true!). Governments keep pushing retirement age higher and higher but there are no jobs in the market! And this situation is unique for Europe, in the USA and Asia there is no age limit to stop working. 

    In Belgium everybody, politicians, sociologists, economists, entrepreneurs, agree there is a problem but nobody sees how to solve it.

    The following figures speak for themselves… 


    And this is because:
    • International crisis: It is affecting everyone, the young and the not so young.
    • Costs for the employer: Belgian salaries are based on the age of the people. It means that for the same function, a 50+er is more expensive than a young person.
    • Modern culture: “Young is beautiful!”
    • Wrong, but strong belief in society, and particularly among HR staff: 50+ers are too old to work. They are not more able to grow any more, they are not flexible enough, they are often ill, they can’t learn any more, they are only thinking about their retirement, …
    • Real problem of the 50+ers (from the point of view of the unemployed people): lack of flexibility (it’s always better: “done the usual way”), not ready to learn (even if they can), too self-confident in their abilities (they think they can do any work thanks to their experience), they are “out of the market” if they are unemployed more than a year, …
    • Unemployment of young people (especially in Brussels) is so high that all the priorities of the government is given to them. Its means: investment, training, follow-up…
    • Attitude of the unions: For people above a certain age, unions do not prioritize finding a job, but “protecting their rights” (guarantee of the unemployment benefit, pre-pension, amount of the pension, social security, …)

    Tell us more about your initiative: what were your goals / objectives?

    So we decided to stop complaining and start acting! 
    The main goal was to start changing mental attitudes to take responsibility for the situation, to encourage the participants to put together a project and develop it with a team spirit, as in a daily working environment, and to run it internally as autonomously as possible. The challenge was theirs!

    Our role was to simply coach them and keep track of their evolution. It proved to be a bit too optimistic for a first ever test.

    In fact, 50s@work has been a total new initiative, new methodology, new target participants and new standards, and totally free for the participants, so defining its KPIs was not evident.

    What has been the outcome of this first round of 50s@work? How many participants? 

    Out of 180 people who attended the project presentation session, 70 followed the training session and 35 participated actively in the working groups. They were 1/3 women and 2/3 men from a wide variety of cultural, educational and financial backgrounds as well as motivations. In the end, 4 enrolled in a training program and 13 found a new job.

    Nevertheless, the most important outcome, that we are all extremely proud of, has been the change of mentality of the participants. They are active: they have changed their work dress code, their CV’s, they have a LinkedIn profile, they have created or reactivated their network, they now accept the necessity to adapt faster and, finally, they are ready to fight to get a job. I know I can!

    Testimonial from Mrs. J.S., a participant:
    “This activity allowed us to consider that unemployment can be something else rather than a stigmatizing period .... This may be an opportunity to act, to meet, to reflect and to reveal our own potential. This allowed us to meet new people, to share our respective situations, to work together. We must now, while waiting for a job opportunity, find practical solutions to implement daily to fight against the negative feelings one can experience and realize our own abilities, strengths, qualities and desires to create, innovate, etc.”

    What were the pros and cons in your findings?

    Let me summarize the pros and cons as the following:

     Pro’s  Con’s
    • Team spirit was a reality
    • Willingness to reach the goal was real but the “how” was not clear at all
    • Evolution of the mentality (from unemployed persons to member of a project team)
    • New network for all
    • Proud to be member of a project team
    • Achieved results
    • Not enough meetings (needed to change quicker mentality quicker)
    • Not enough training (needed to give or to upgrade competencies)
    • Not enough trainers (the follow-up was more important than what we had thought it would be necessary)
    • Not enough time (link to “not enough trainers”) 

     Success factors  Difficulties
    • The willingness of several people to reach a result at the end of the work
    • The spirit created in almost every team
    • The presence of someone from 50s@work to assume the continuation of the work and to give, from time to time, methodological support.
    • Time bounded project, even if the defined period was too short, the need to reach a result within a certain period of time was a plus
    •  People were free to participate, and also to leave. Some of them were only “tourists” and not real participants. They were only curious.
    • Quality level of some team “leaders”: was too low and they were not able to manage a team, even with the support of someone from the association.
    • Time management: link to the lack of experience;
    • We were too naïve. We have started with the idea that every 50+er without a job wants to find a one. It is not true. We have to be aware of that fact.

    What are the next steps for 50s@work?

    We have been able to prove that it is possible, therefore we would like to continue, but to do so we need first and foremost the support of the local authorities; among them Actiris –responsible for the unemployed people- and Bruxelles Formation –responsible for the training of unemployed people- as well as better financial support to have more trainers, trainings and meetings.

    Any recommendations for 50+ers looking for a job?

    Here are my suggestions:
    • Be aware from the beginning that it will not be easy, even if, from time to time, a quick success is possible.
    • Reactivate or rebuild your useful network.
    • Keep in touch with former colleagues, providers, customers and other professional relationships.
    • Stay active, even if it is without any salary (i.e. work for associations). Your biggest enemies are doing nothing, watching television the all day long, taking care of the children, cooking every day, staying in pajamas, sleeping late, gardening for yourself, …. It comes quicker than you think!
    • Use your time to learn something new or to update your knowledge in your own specialities.
    • Write your CV without mentioning your date of birth, but mentioning what you have done since you have lost your last job.
    • And, last but not least: join 50s@work!

    And for you? Are you planning more projects?

    Plenty! The day I will realise my last dream I will die!

    Do you know of any similar initiatives in Belgium or elsewhere?

    Take a look at this similar initiative from the Netherlands And you, do you know of any similar initiatives elsewhere? We would love to hear about it.

    Short Biography

    After a career of more than 30 years within the credit insurance industry, in Belgium and abroad, Jean Luc Louis decided to launch his own activities. Since 2009 he has been offering services to companies as a consultant in all aspect regarding "credit risk management". He also organizes events like fairs and congresses and he supports new businesses (search of investors, internal organization, respect of legal constraints, etc.). He is the Vice-president of 50s@work ASBLin Bruxelles (Helping people 50+ to find a job) and the owner of the company Sprl,

    During his career Jean Luc Louis has covered several positions as CEO at Euler Hermes Belgium (Information Company), Mondialis SA (Credit insurance), Euler Hermes Nederland NV (Credit Insurance), Dimensione Spa in Rome (Information Company). He also gained the positions of Member of the board at UCM Brussels (Organization of small enterprises), eDebex SA, Chamber of Commerce “Belgium-Luxemburg” in France, Chamber of Commerce of Brussels, CESCOB Pojistovna in Prague (Credit insurance) and COBAC Nederlands. He has been Vice President at EULER SIAC Spa in Rome (Credit Insurance), Deputy General Director at EULER COBAC SA and Advisor at KALARA ASBLin Bruxelles (Children education in Cameroon).

    Jean Luc Louis gained a post graduate degree in Management at Cepac Solvay Business School (Brussels, Belgium) and is a member of the INSEAD Entrepreneurship Club (IEC, Fontainebleau France). IEC serves to "funnel" INSEAD MBA students, regardless of their entrepreneurial experiences, from inspiration, all the way to starting their own business during or after the program.

    Jean Luc Louis is a fluent speaker of French, Dutch, English, Italian and basic German.


    Jean Luc LOUIS
    Sprl BXL.Net Bvba
    +32 (0) 474 990 520

    Disclaimer -     Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of 50s@work, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.

  • 16 Jun 2014 23:15 | Armelle Loghmanian


     Forensic Sciences and Graphology 

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Lidia Fogarolo

    Forensic Graphologist, Director of Morettian Graphology School in Padua (Italy) and Writer

    Graphology, this mysterious and intriguing word ... I guess there are still many biases, myths and confusion about graphology …
    Lidia, for example, what do you think about the dialogue (1) where Sherlock Holmes pontificates about the psychological analysis of handwriting (in Guy Ritchie’s movie “ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”)?

    Indeed, Alessandra, there is still ambiguity around graphology!
    Despite his elegant tone, what Sherlock explains are, in my opinion, only fanciful assertions because none of his sentences corresponds – not evenly slightly – to the
    graphology methods of which I am an expert. I wonder whether the scriptwriters gathered information about graphology upfront …and, if so, from which sources.

    Then, Lidia, what exactly is graphology? What is its purpose? What does it help explain?

    Graphology is that discipline which allows - through the analysis of an individual’s spontaneous handwriting - to insight to their personality in terms of intelligence, emotions, affective dimension and of the personality defense mechanisms that individuals adopt to protect themselves.
    In other words graphology permits us to discover somebody’s view of the world; for example if individuals have a positive vision of the world, if it is a hospitable environment rich in stimuli, then their handwriting shows spontaneous movements opening outwards.
    If individuals are convinced – due to their personal history – that the world is a very dangerous place, where everything has to be fought for, then their handwriting reflects their cautious attitude and the defense mechanism they activate to protect their personality.

    As you talk about “personality”, it sounds interesting to explore the connection between graphology and psychology ...

    Graphology is mainly a diagnostic method to investigate personality, actually we could compare graphology to a “complex and articulated set of personality tests”, which can be effective and correctly administered under two conditions:
    • The goal of the test is clear
    • The administrator of the test has a background in psychology and in test management, which provides them with the appropriate competencies to decode the personality aspects revealed by the test (such as: intelligence, feelings, emotions, affection) and with the appropriate knowledge of the psychological concepts (such as projection, suppression, dissociation, etc.).
    The graphology method created by Girolamo Moretti (which is one of the most important and diffused methods) satisfies the necessary psychometric requirements to fully enable graphology to be included in the category of psychological reactive tests. Indeed graphology complies with the following prerequisites:
    • Sensitivity, the capability to measure the differences between individuals
    • Reliability, meaning that the relevant test measurements are accurate
    • Effectiveness, meaning the capability to test exactly what the tests claims to assess.
    Based on my studies and hands-on expertise I truly believe that graphology can be considered as a “branch” of the personality assessment tests, which are commonly used by psychologists to investigate people’s personality in combination with other projective tests.

    Having said this, it would be logical to classify graphology in the domain of psychology, but unfortunately it’s not the case: even though psychology and graphology have a common period of origin – the 1800s –, the psychology has been broadly and successfully developed, building a body of knowledge which has been accepted as a science.
    The latter, on the contrary, is still struggling to be recognised as a scientific human discipline and I believe that in order to overcome this stalemate it would be necessary that graphologists gain a degree in psychology, which should represents the foundation of a graphologist’s education. If all graphologists were also psychologists, then there would be a tremendous benefit to the graphologist profession: first the frictions between psychologists and graphologists will have no reason to exist any longer; second graphologists would improve their training and increase their credibility.

    How can graphology concretely help people? Do you have any anecdote to share with our readership?

    Graphology reveals a great knowledge: this asset could be valuable in different fields in order to reveal the uniqueness of an individual and to detect the causes – even the most hidden – of psychological problems. Graphology also helps to clarify the relationship issues between two very different people, who struggle to understand each other due to their differences (for instance, a logical and rational individual connecting with a person driven by their feelings, or an intuitive person in a relationship with a person interested in their outward appearance).
    I am glad to share a concrete case: last week I was consulted to clarify a serious personality conflict between two sisters. Thanks to the analysis of their spontaneous handwriting I could immediately identify the differences in their personalities that were creating the conflict between these two high talented women, who were pursuing opposite life strategies. The first lady has identified herself in her professional role as a welfare worker, very professional, always striving for pragmatic solutions, but not too keen to listen to her inner being. The other sister, instead, is very focused on her inner being and her fears, always looking for new life visions, unable to enjoy any achievement because she is immediately pushing herself toward a further target. On the basis of these two different life visions the two sisters cannot understand each other.

    How has handwriting changed over the centuries? What phenomena and trends do the handwriting of young people reflect nowadays?

    Graphology allows comparison of handwritings from different centuries and countries, therefore across ages but also handwriting of individuals from various countries belonging to the same age.
    In the past handwriting was much more angular and more accentuated because this reflected harder life conditions: the necessity to overcome material difficulties forced people to develop higher physical strength and anger, characteristics that were eventually transferred to their handwriting.

    The same principle is valid for contemporary handwritings on a geographical level: handwriting reflects the hardness of the conditions in which individuals grow-up: in the Western countries the handwritings of young people show more softness than their peers from poor countries, who reflect a more rigid personality structure.
    I recall a consultancy case I was presented from a multinational corporation, who asked my opinion about the opportunity to recruit an Indian engineer for a managerial position in their Italian branch.
    Even though the engineer’s résumé was exceptionally good, it was clear from his hand-writing that his psychological profile was very distant from the typical profiles of Italian personalities. I am not saying he was better or worse than the target profile, but the psychological gap was so profound that it would inevitably end up in a lack of communication and poor understanding with the other employees, which would be perceived as poor leadership. This example reflects the intercultural issues of our era and how graphology makes it possible to detect them.

    Lidia, in general does the handwriting of an individual change during ageing?

    Alessandra, let me make an important premise: handwriting is analyzable only if the writing capability is a spontaneous movement showing that the individual has integrated this ability. A person’s handwriting ability does not just correspond to their schooling, but also to their overall evolution as human beings.
    In my seminars and classes I often tell the story of my uncle, a very successful entrepreneur, who had such a bad experience at school that he had to repeat his first elementary class three times. I have analysed his handwriting: although, as an adult, he did not spend much time writing, his traits were similar to the handwriting of many entrepreneurs who have the same qualities, such as intuition in business. This is an extreme case, but it illustrates a general principle: the handwriting traits reflect the physical and cerebral movement. The handwriting of older individuals appears more rigid probably due to the stiffening of their mental framework.

    In which fields is graphology applicable?

    Frankly the only “socially accepted” application of graphology nowadays is the area of the forensic sciences and forensic graphology. This is a necessity as courts need the contribution of experts able to discriminate signatures and to spot forgery in handwritten documents, or to identify the author in crimes when falsification is used to commit a crime.

    Much less diffused and not yet accepted at the social level is the profession of a graphologist, the expert able to compile the personality profile of individuals from different perspectives: for personal interests to know themselves better, for clinical reasons and for company recruitment.

    What is the relevance of a graphologist’s report in court?

    I believe that graphologists have a great responsibility in providing courts with their assessments and that they must demonstrate impeccable ethics …

    The forensic graphologist’s role, in my opinion, can be performed with serenity only in case of an adequate professional preparation, which results in objective truth. Based on my personal experience every time graphologists can demonstrate on a technical level the truthfulness of an signature, both sides in the lawsuit accept it in the majority cases.
    Of course ethics are fundamental, Alessandra, but the major responsibility of graphologists, I repeat, is their professional expertise and their ability to be more empiric than theoretical in their assessment of evidence. The professional background of a forensic graphologist must also include a number of other competencies and abilities such as:
    • The knowledge of the law (civil and penal)
    • The ability to interact with clients, judges and lawyers
    • The ability to observe with a scientific aptitude
    • The ability to argufy and debate
    • A balanced personality able to bear the high court stress, therefore emotional individuals are not recommended to join this profession.

    Lidia, what inspired you to become a graphologist? How has your career evolved?

    My interest in graphology started when I was a psychology student at the university, for me psychology and graphology walked hand in hand, though psychology was my main passion in all its aspects (social psychology, personality tests, clinical tests, etc.)
    I came to know the graphology system created by the Italian Girolamo Moretti in the 70s: it was a real brainwave due to its psychological depth (while before I had read something about graphology but without interest). This method is very complex, based on the interpretation of about 80 signs (described in my book Tratti di personalità nella scrittura) (2).
    Concurrently I met Giovanni Luisetto, director of the library of the Saint Anthony Cathedral in Padua and the main student of Moretti. Luisetto was very famous in Padua for being a man of great culture and for his astonishing graphology skills. Thanks to this encounter, crucial for my life, I was able to enjoy the best preparation and become a recognised expert in the Moretti method.

    What is the difference between the Moretti method and the other graphology methods? Why do you favour the Moretti one?

    The beauty of the Moretti method is due to its psychological complexity, each sign refers to a specific intellectual quality, which is reflected in an individual’s behaviour. Moretti’s genius lies in his ability to decode the personality traits in 80 handwriting signs and through the decoding of these signs to identify the core structure of a person’s personality. Additionally this method allows the detection of trends or the early signs of progressive psychological problems such as depression or the inability to manage interpersonal relationships in the family, at school or at work.

    You are the director of the Moretti graphology school of Padua, what types of courses do you provide and who are your pupils?

    The school has been founded to meet the requests of people who, after visiting my website (3), asked to learn the Moretti’s method of graphology.
    It is a three-year course for people who want to really know human nature and to see beyond appearances.
    Among our students, who are normally over thirty, I recall psychologists, lawyers, teachers and people employed in various companies and in the technology industry.

    You said that a degree in psychology should be part of a graphologist’s professional preparation. So, what about the students who follow graphology schools or courses without gaining a degree in psychology?

    You are right, Alessandra, graphology classes are open to everybody, but for the students who have not gained a degree in psychology, I do not see the possibility to practice as professional graphologists in the short term, mainly due to the following reasons:
    • It’s necessary an extensive and specialized knowledge to correctly and fully understand the complexity of the human personality
    • Graphology requires a type of knowledge, which cannot be acquired without a consolidated practical experience of life and of highly complex human behaviour.
    The training that is required to be a registered psychologist is long and complex, while people assume there are shortcuts for candidate professional graphologists. Therefore, the three-year graphology courses that promise an immediate professional solution, in reality they generate an inner blockage because students, though deeply fascinated by this discipline, realise by themselves that graphology is much more complicated than it looked like at the start…

    What impact has graphology had in your life?

    An enormous impact, because thanks to my knowledge of graphology, I learnt to see beyond appearances.
    Luisetto wrote in one of his books “The scandal or the wonder of people towards other people’s behaviour is the measure of misery”: if we do not understand the other, then we are scandalized or we wonder about what the other does. On the contrary, if we have a mind able to go beyond appearance, we would understand the weakness or the genius of his/her personality, which drove him/her to do what he/she has done.
    Let me make a practical but resounding example of what Moretti meant with “misery”: please see below a hand-writing sample by Eric Robert Rudolph (, the American terrorist, perpetrator of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, amongst other terrorist crimes in the States.

              Hand-writing di Eric Robert Rudolph, American terrorist

    With this handwriting we can identify his state of psychological dispersion, in which his mental and emotional vacuum prevails. Then, for him the only way to show his presence in the world is a strong and explosive action. When we think of a terrorist, it’s natural to imagine a violent and aggressive individual, while in this case we find a person psychologically empty and dissociated. Of course understanding all this about this terrorist does not mean justifying his actions.

    I have read and enjoyed some of your books; could you please share which topics you write about and what link they have with graphology.
    Please share with us something about your beautiful book I “Why opposites attract each other and why likes understand each other?”

    My books reflect my desire to share the graphology system created by Girolamo Moretti in order to highlight its areas of potential usage. For this reason I mention first my graphology manual (2012) (2), which suits graphology specialists and new beginners. Each chapter focuses on a specific dimensions of the psyche and it explains how each personality trait is analysed at graphological level (4).

    After the manual I started to write books on specific topics, for example a book about love bonds and the book you have just mentioned. A typical example is related to the extroverts and the introverts: most people have some traits of an introvert and some of an extrovert, but only a few are total introverts. In a similar way only a few individuals are so attracted by the external world that they ignore their inner voice: they are the extroverts. Every love relationship follows this principle: the other attracts us because he/she represents a challenge to our own kind of being.
    This book illustrates some gender differences that influence the laws of attraction and compensation. The first main difference – today validated by the neurological research – is the female ability to build relationships and connect, while men are more oriented to develop their uniqueness, a function called identification process. Relationship and identification are psychic opposites that produce a great mutual attraction, which is clearly identifiable in handwriting.

    What will your next book be about?

    I am about to publish a study about sexuality and graphology; it’s a psychological analysis of sexual attractions in its different forms, that go from passion to eroticism, to languid affection and to attraction to harmony of forms. This book explores through graphology the gender differences in sexual behaviour. I am glad to share what touched me most about my analysis results and some examples of the examined handwritings:
    • In our culture we consider that women are inclined to risk everything for love, but the handwriting that shows a total adherence to the passion impulse without any mental brake are all male … for instance Napoleon (5), Marcel Proust, Giacomo Puccini, men who personally experimented with passionate love in all its dimensions (physical, sentimental and emotional) without any protection of their personality
    • On the contrary the women who have lived intense physical passion show a concurrent high protection of their own interiority. This means that these women separate their sexual experience from their interiority as they become an internal distant observer. A good example of this behaviour is Anaïs Nin.
    With this book I try to demonstrate how powerful it is when the Moretti graphology is applied to such a complex subject as human sexual behaviour: it allows us to identify the different psychological and motivational hues belonging to human beings. I consider this research my homage to the magnificence of creation.

    Very interesting Lidia, I hope our readership doesn’t mind this long conversation ... One last question: which of your dreams have not yet come true?

    My greatest dream, from which all my desires originate, is that life surprises me again and again, like when I was young: feeling the enchantment of new discoveries and further inner development.
    At a professional level I am still fascinated by all the potential applications of graphology in other disciplines such as sociology and psycho-diagnosis (the latter in the field of the forensic sciences).
    I hope that one day graphology can be as respected as Freud and Jung are nowadays in psychology: can you believe, Alessandra, that Freud and Jung were not included in the psychology curriculum at Padua University (nor were they in the US universities curricula) because their hypothesis were not considered valid enough according to the scientific standards of that time (6)?


    1. Sherlock Holmes: Gioco di Ombre (2011), regia di Guy Ritchie

    Sherlock Holmes: Are you familiar with the study of graphology?
    Professor James Moriarty: I’ve never given it any serious thought, no.
    Sherlock Holmes: The psychological analysis of handwriting. The upward strokes on the ‘p’, the ‘j’, the ‘m’, indicate a genius level intellect, while the flourishes in the lower zone denote a highly creative, yet meticulous nature, but if one observers the overall slant and the pressure of the writing, there’s suggestion of acute narcissism, a complete lack of empathy, and a pronounced inclination toward moral insanity.

    2. Lidia Fogarolo’s books have been translated into English and the “Personality Traits in Handwriting” Manual will be published by the year end. Some chapters in English are available on her website:

    3. Website in Italian Website in English

    This manual is completed by another book (“Il segno grafologico come sintesi psicologica” - 2011), more detailed about the Moretti method. This is indicated for readers who already have some basic knowledge of graphology.

    4. Lidia Fogarolo’s book on sexuality and graphology ( “Grafologia e sessualità. Un’analisi psicologica, sociale e culturale del comportamento sessuale”). Napoleon. “Whoever has been in love, knows its effect of stupefaction, the feeling of lost borders and the insane obsession towards the qualities perceived in the other.”

    5. The concept of the unconscious – Freud’s great intuition – in the early 1900s was considered located in a specific area of the human brain. The unconscious has never been scientifically spotted and located, but it nevertheless became part of the official psychology when it was possible to demonstrate that the unconscious influences our behaviour.

    Short Biography

    Lidia Fogarolo graduated in psychology and specialised in graphology. She is an expert forensic graphologist and consultant in court. She is also the director of the graphology school in Padua.
    She has published many articles and books in Italian. Her books have been translated into English and she is looking for a publisher abroad.


    Lidia Fogarolo
    Psychologist, Graphologist
    Forensic Handwriting Expert and Questioned Document Examiner
    Director of Morettian Graphology School in Padua (Italy)
    http: //
    http: //

  • 08 Jun 2014 20:00 | Armelle Loghmanian

     The evolution of the gynaecology practice 
    The view of a highly valued woman gynaecologist

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Dr. Laura Pellò


    Dr. Pellò, how has women’s overall approach to their health changed in recent years?
    What might be the main reasons for this change?

    Everybody, not just women, is changing their approach to what we call today “health”. Health is seen as a global form of wellbeing, where medical sciences are only a contribution, and where life style, nutrition and psychological wellbeing are other important contributions.
    There are many reasons for this new holistic approach: a much wider diffusion of information, much closer interpersonal communications, and the inputs via the media.
    Medical and paramedical personnel have also changed their approach to their profession, and even their training is much more responsive to a global view of patients.

    You have been successfully working in several countries and are now practicing in Brussels: have you noticed many differences in women’s attitude to their health across countries? Can you provide some examples or anecdotes?

    Every day I continue to be confronted with great differences in the attitude of women to their health, depending on their culture and traditions and also increasingly on the generation to which they belong, but certainly the most evident differences I have noticed are related to women’s country of origin.

    I do not believe in stereotypes, however I remarked some common traits in behaviour among women coming from different geographical zones; for example my patients from North Europe seem less emotional than the ones from Southern Europe, ladies from Eastern Europe tend to follow my advice and the prescribed therapies more diligently, maybe because they have been used to respect “authority” in their country of origin and they attribute authority to competent professionals.
    Another difference resides in generations: amongst the younger generations I remarked that women belonging to generations 80s/90s are more self-confident in relation to their body and their health, therefore it’s easier to have a dialogue and to be on the same wavelength with them.
    Nationality and age are not the only elements that affect the attitude to health; culture and the relationship between the generations are also important factor. The dialogue between mothers and daughters, between teachers and pupils, often also between friends and colleagues, become important elements of change in attitude.
    In this context, Brussels offers a great variety of experiences, which are also opportunities to challenge and re-orient my own way of practicing gynaecology.

    Have men also changed their attitude to women’s health in your opinion?

    Yes, I would certainly say that men have also become more sensitive and caring about the health of women. They are more and more frequently involved, in a direct way, with the wellbeing of their partners, especially in the case of pregnancy, but also when serious problems arise, for example sterility or in the case of oncology related problems.
    At the same time, I believe that even my male colleagues are today much more attentive than a few years ago to the wider sphere of wellbeing of their patients.

    How has women’s approach to their health modified their attitude to their gynaecological well-being? Is it a mind-shift or?

    Today, in their relationship with a trusted gynaecologist, women address practically all their health problems. To a certain extent, a gynaecologist is seen as the medical doctor in charge of the overall wellbeing of a woman, almost as a general practitioner.

    In the past, women used to see a gynaecologist only in the case of a pregnancy or of serious pathologies. For other problems, there was more reluctance to open up to a gynaecologist. For instance women had a widespread idea that after menopause there was no longer a reason for check-ups. Moreover, the quasi totality of male gynaecologists meant that women would not discuss their more delicate, complex or intimate health problems.

    How has women’s relationship with their gynaecologist evolved? Do you see female patients of all ages?

    Indeed that relationship has changed because women have changed and because we, doctors, have changed too.
    I have started to work as a gynaecologist about thirty years ago. At the start of my activity, I would normally deal only with pregnancies, deliveries, fibroids, cancers, endocrinology related problems and birth control. The typical age of my patients ranged from eighteen to sixty years.
    Today I see women of all ages: from young girls of twelve, who wish to be reassured about their periods, to eighty year old ladies, who want to continue preventive care against cancer or against osteoporosis. All this could also be explained by the fact that today women have much longer lives, that contraception starts very early, and that the importance of preventive care is clearly understood.
    I would however like to point out once more that Brussels is a privileged place of observation. Belgium, in fact, has in my view a public health system of very high quality, together with easy access to medical assistance and relatively low costs. Clearly, in such conditions, patients are led to consult doctors more easily and regularly. This is not always the case in other countries, including many other European countries.

    In your experience do patients talk about sex and sex issues to their trusted gynaecologist or is this a topic for a psychologist?
    If so, how have women changed their attitude towards sex and their femininity?

    Sex and sexuality are still taboos, at least in my experience: it is very seldom that patients consult me about any sexual problems.
    It may happen that patients - during a consultation about contraception methods or menopause – mention sexual problems, but it’s mostly up to me to sense that behind their pathology there might be a latent sexual issue.
    I believe that women still consider sex/sexuality as a topic to face with psychologists or a psychotherapist.

    What are the main focus areas for a gynaecologist nowadays? How do you see the future evolution of the gynaecology?

    The main challenges which Gynaecology faces today are the treatment of sterility and the prevention and treatment of gynaecological cancers (especially the most aggressive forms of breast and ovarian cancer). It is in this context that I can see both continuity and evolution in my profession, without however losing sight of the overall vision of women, and of the global approach I was referring to before, regarding the multiplicity of problems that need to be faced in the wellbeing of women.

    Dr. Pellò, I have heard that (breast) cancer is increasing in the western countries, is it true?

    Recent statistics - available just for western countries - show that one woman in eight is affected by breast cancer in the course of her life. The latest figures from Italy (1), for example, show 48,000 cases of primary breast cancer in 2013.
    This pathology is however quite vast with a large variety of cellular typologies. We know today that genes and receptors play a fundamental role both in the development and in the treatment of these forms of disease, and that it will soon be possible to build a “personalised” therapy for each patient. By "personalised” medicine we mean a specific medical approach that proposes the customization of healthcare tailored to the individual patient and to the genetic information of their disease. This medical model includes all the aspects of healthcare, such as the pharmacological and surgical ones, prevention and follow-up. Personalised medicine is a modern reality, which will soon be widespread and widely accessible. Women are today well informed and strongly motivated in their relationship with preventive care.
    The statistical increase – globally - in the incidence of all types of gynaecological cancers should be read in the context of an earlier diagnosis and of a more effective preventive screening. The survival rate, five years after first diagnosis, is estimated today at 87%. Moreover, an early diagnosis allows a more conservative type of surgical intervention.

    Laura, what has inspired you to become a doctor and a gynaecologist? Tell us about your career.
    What do you like most about your profession and why?

    Once I made up my mind to become a physician, it was obvious to me that I should become a gynaecologist. My grandmother and great grandmother were midwives.I was also involved, from an early age, with women's movements in a social and political dimension, so I could not have taken a different orientation in my medical profession.
    In my career I can distinguish three phases so far:
    • The hospital and surgery phase at the beginning, where the relationship with women patients was very brief or non-existent
    • The second phase, in which I consolidated my competencies and I had the opportunity to teach at the university, was a very pleasant period
    • The third phase has been very difficult to accept because at first it seemed to me that clinical consultation was a boring and routine job … but now I have patients of various nationalities, “entire families” (grandmother, mother, daughter, aunt, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law), groups of friends or colleagues, patients whom I have treated for over twenty years and whom I have seen growing up and getting older: it’s fabulous and very enjoyable.
    Together with my patients I have developed professionally too, thanks also to the excellent team work enabled by the hospital in which I practice.

    In terms of career, is it still harder for a female doctor (than a male) to progress through the professional ranks of doctors in a hospital? Are the hospital boards still a man’s domain?
    I think that this form of (negative) discrimination has now become much less pronounced. The number of female doctors is constantly increasing and women's representation in medical boards has reached relatively high levels, which put them at the same level, practically, with men. As for combining a difficult job (and indeed the medical profession is difficult) with a family life, women in medicine face the same difficulties as many other modern women.

    What would you recommend to a young female doctor who wants to become a gynaecologist?

    I advise the young generations of practitioners to be strongly motivated to face the hardship of a very long training, and they are generally very well trained.
    I would recommend that they develop that subtle capacity for empathy that would distinguish them from their male colleagues: that "special touch" that makes them feel closer to fellow women. I think that this sense of female feeling, irrespective of the area they choose, for instance Obstetrics or Oncology, will make them go that extra mile that makes them good and successful professionals.

    What advice about health would you like to give to our readership?

    I would advise them to listen carefully to their doctor, and to build with him/her a relationship of mutual trust, avoiding the Internet, blogs, and social media (as sources of medical advice).
    To conclude, I would also recommend to readers to take good quality and regular preventive care!

    Short Biography

    Laura Pellò obtained her degree in General Medicine at the University of Milan (IT) in 1981. She then moved to the University of Oxford (UK) for her postgraduate studies in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. After a few years as a lecturer at the University of Leuven (BE), she has been practising as a gynaecologist in Brussels for more than twenty years. She has also been consultant for the World Health Organisation.
    Dr Pellò is married with two children.

    Contact Details
    Dr. Laura PELLÒ
    CHIREC Hospitals, Clinique du Parc Leopold
    Rue Froissart, 38
    1040 Bruxelles

    Disclaimer -    
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Chirec, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.


    (1) AIOM 2013 (Associazione Italiana di Oncologia Medica-Italian Association for Medical Oncology)

  • 18 Feb 2014 22:29 | Armelle Loghmanian

     The pragmatism of the Universities of the People

    - The Magna Carta University of the People -

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Alessandra Capelli

    President of the Magna Carta University of the People in Cremona (Italy)
    Vice-President Italy of the Magna Carta University of the People

    Alessandra, what are the so called “Universities of the People”?

    The Universities of the People are organisations created with the main goal of providing permanent training and education services, and to diffuse culture. Their cultural scope includes different domains of knowledge, science, sport and charity.

    When were they founded and how widespread are they?

    In Italy the first Universities of the People were founded at the end of the 1800s. In that period, the economic unfavorable situation made it difficult for the majority of the population to acquire that elementary knowledge that would permit them to live and work in better conditions. Education was a prerogative of very few people.
    The Universities of the People not only made a huge effort in teaching an increasing number of citizens of every age and status, but they also involved men of great culture and famous professors. These men wanted to offer part of their time and competencies in the cause of Universities of the People, which represented for them a sort of charming and “non-conformist” challenge. For example some of the most eminent Italian professors were: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Benedetto Croce, Giovanni Bovio, Ludovico Mortara, Gioacchino Volpe, Luigi Einaudi, Gaetano Salvemini, Francesco Pullè and many others.

    How do Universities of the People differ to other Universities, including the Universities of the Third Age?

    The nowadays Universities of the People share the same nineteenth century principles, which inspired of the first Universities of the People, i.e. they are: non-party, non-political and open to everyone.

    The Universities of the People must be distinguished from other kinds of Universities/ cultural institutions, named in a similar way (i.e. e. the University of the Third Age, the University of the Free Age, the University of the Free Time, etc.) because they have different objectives and they belong to different popular university associations. The Universities of the Third Age, for instance, address a specific audience, the senior people, referred to as “third age”.
    The Universities of the People shouldn’t be confused either with the Traditional Universities because they offer different disciplines, they have different access prerequisites and they issue different diplomas/ certificates at the end of their curricula.

    The Universities of the People, belonging to C.N.U.P.I. (1), like the Università Magna Carta (2), are institutions open to everybody, without distinction of age, sex, religion and ethnic group. They share the inspiring philosophy and the traditions of the first Italian Universities of the People, but they are adjusted to serve the current training needs and they adopt the most innovative education methods and technology.
    It is then up to C.N.U.P.I. to protect their associates’ reputation and name from other organisations who try to usurp the name and the history of the authentic Universities of the People.

    The Universities of the People offer a variety of education and professional training opportunities:
    Cultural curricula aiming to increase the participant’s general culture and disciplines related to areas neglected by the traditional universities
    Professional update
    Professional training focused on providing students with a specific expertise in order to help them become qualified to access the job market. These curricula are addressed to people who already have a university degree and who want to get a specialization, or/and to those who want to qualify for a specific profession.

    Which are the most famous ones?

    In Italy there are currently 85 Universities of the People with the appropriate requisites.
    Amongst the most famous Universities of the People we can count the University of the People of Milan, founded in 1901, the University of the People of Turin founded in 1900 and the University of the People of Florence established in 1901.

    The University of the People of Milan, whose opening speech was made by the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio on the 1st March 1901, founded the Milan Museum (3) of the Universities of the People, created with the goal of documenting the academic, social and cultural phenomenon of the birth and growth of these educational institutions.

    Alessandra, what is the mission of the Magna Carta University? When and where was the Magna Carta University of the People founded? How many locations does it have in Italy?
    How is it funded?

    The Magna Carta University of the People (Magna Carta UoP) is quite recent, created in 2011.
    Even if recently founded, we share the same mission as the first inspiring Universities of the People: through professional training curricula, business update courses and specific operative training we offer cultural growth to the highest possible number of people, and we help our students to get qualified for a new financial independence/profession. These are our primary goals.

    In Italy we have seven premises (Cremona, Verona, Mantua, Bergamo, Brescia, Milano and Monza) and two new premises are being setting up (Vicenza and Ferrara).

    The Magna Carta UoP is a self-funding institution through our tuition fees.

    Why is it called Magna Carta?

    This name was inspired by the Magna Carta declaration (also called Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England).
    The Magna Carta was the first document (originally issued in Latin ) forced onto a King of England – King John, also known as John Lackland, brother of King Richard the Lionheart - by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and to protect their rights. As you can see, King John is the icon of our university logo.

    The Magna Carta represents, though in the framework of the customs of feudal law, the first fundamental document which universally acknowledged the human rights of citizens.
    The natural consequence of human rights acknowledgement is freedom and, as far as our motto is “Only education and culture make a person free”, we thought that we could not select a better name than Magna Carta.

    What are the main disciplines which are taught? What is the average duration of courses? Does Magna Carta issue diplomas or certificates? How expensive are courses?

    Our Academic Curricula are reviewed and updated every year, the different courses change in order to avoid repeatedly preparing the same professional profiles, who could risk not to be absorbed/ employed by the local labour market.
    In order to satisfy the job market needs we also yearly expand the academic offer by including brand-new courses to help students fulfilling new professional profiles.

    The sectors and the disciplines covered by the Università Magna Carta curricula plan are the following:
    • New professions
    • The recovery of old artisanal jobs (for example: tailor, etc.)
    • Wellbeing and holistic disciplines
    • The architecture sector
    • Law and management disciplines
    • Information technology
    • Foreign languages
    • Italian for foreigners
    • Personal development disciplines.
    Our courses meet high quality standards and the vast majority of them have a medium/long term (i.e. e. annual or biennial courses).
    Students do not attend only theoretical lectures, but above all the emphasis is given to the practical part, performed during the courses or/and through traineeships. This learning method allows students to be ready to start their new profession after their final examination. In fact, immediately after their courses a lot of our students have found a job or they have decided to open their own business.

    No school prerequisite is required to access our courses.
    At the end of each course students receive a certificate of attendance including the mark obtained, the number of hours attended and the curriculum program/content.

    The Magna Carta University fees are – according to our mission - intentionally low and competitively priced because we want to make it easy for everybody to attend, and grow culturally and professionally.

    Who are the teachers? Who are the students?

    Our teachers are highly motivated professionals and professors, with a strong expertise in the subject they teach. They share fully the values and the principles of the authentic universities of the people. 

    Students are comprise all those people who are really motivated to learn, to follow their passions, to reinvent themselves, to build their new profession or to increase their  employment opportunities.

    In our classrooms you can find people from sixteen to seventy years old, everybody engaged for different reasons, and it’s great, because this allows diverse generations  to meet, new synergies to take place and life experiences to be shared. 

    Regarding the number of the students, I can tell you some of our annual figures, for example 400 students in Cremona, 350 in Mantua and 300 in Verona.

    What are your future plans for Magna Carta?

    Our priority project is to expand the national coverage of the Università Popolare Magna Carta, especially in those areas where no C.N.U.P.I. (1) associated university is present or close by.
    Then, the second objective is to increase our curriculum offered by responding to the needs of the different local job markets.

    Is the Magna Carta University of the People acknowledged by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) (4) whose purpose is to link and represent European organisations directly involved in adult learning?

    The Università Popolare Magna Carta - being a member of the C.N.U.P.I. (1) association - is acknowledged by the European Association for Educations of Adults (EAEA), who co-operates with UNESCO and the European Parliament to stimulate, steer and concretize policies to increase and disseminate culture.

    Alessandra, what inspired you to become the Dean of the University of the People in Cremona and the vice-president of Magna Carta University?

    I accepted the role of dean and vice-president because I fully share the mission and the principles of the universities of the people, my aim is to provide learning and growth opportunities to everybody and at an accessible price.

    I have been professionally involved in education and training for over sixteen years, and apart from some work experiences in the construction industry and in the quality certification practice, my work has always dealt with the development of education curricula. My current work with the Magna Carta University has proven to be the most rewarding professional experience for me because we put people, and not profits, at the centre of our concerns.

    What are the dreams that have not yet come true in your life? Do you have “a dream” you would like to share?

    I have got a lot of dreams, a long list! A dream that I have already made into a reality is to become more and more a reference point for professional education at the national level, to increase the reputation of the Magna Carta University and also to expand our services abroad.

    I am glad to share my enthusiasm, which grows every day, with the readership of the PWI Magazine, my intense passion for my work, and my will to continue this great project, because I truly believe that “only culture make individuals free”. Knowledge and education are eye-openers, which allow us to see the opportunities and options of many possible developments in our lives. They also help us make choices upon our own principles built over time and to refuse imposed choices. They give us intellectual independence which permits us to believe in what is better for ourselves.

    Short Biography

    Alessandra Capelli was born in Cremona in 1976.
    After her commercial and law studies, she worked in the construction industry and in the area of ISO 9000 quality standards.

    After professional experiences in private schools Alessandra joined the world of the Universities of the People. Rapidly she became the President of the University of the People of Cremona and the Vice-President of Magna Carta University of the People at national level.

    Contact Details

    Alessandra Capelli
    President of the Magna Carta University of the People in Cremona (Italy)
    Vice-President Italy of the Magna Carta University of the People


    (1) C.N.U.P.I. Confederazione Nazionale Università Popolari Italiane

    (2) Università Popolare Magna Carta

    (3) Museo dell' Università Popolare di Milano

    (4) European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), whose purpose is to link and represent European organisations directly involved in adult learning

    Disclaimer -      
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Università Popolare Magna Carta, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
  • 18 Feb 2014 22:28 | Armelle Loghmanian

     Gaelic culture as a lifestyle choice

    An interview by Rita Nasini


    Aideen O’Malley

    Member of Court, Board Member of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

    Aideen, how and why have you adopted the Gaelic culture?

    When I married my husband, Neil, I realised I would very quickly have to learn Scottish Gaelic (1) to be able to fully share in the circle of friends in which I found myself in Inverness in the north of Scotland. I didn't want our friends to have to turn to English just because I was present.

    So I set myself to learning the language. I had the big advantage of already having learnt Irish Gaelic (2) which is a closely related language, like Italian and Spanish or Dutch and German so I soon started to understand quite well but it took me a lot longer to actually speak correctly. My learning tactic was to stay quiet show that I was following what was being said and just add what little I could to the conversation. In that way, the Gaelic speakers around me didn't automatically switch to English as they normally would in the presence of a non-Gaelic speaker and so I had a chance to learn.

    When our first child was born, in Inverness, we naturally decided to make Gaelic the language of the home and bring him up bilingually.
    We continued to maintain Gaelic as the family language when we moved abroad, first to Belgium then later to Italy where we lived for eighteen years.

    How did you get involved in the Academic world of Gaelic culture?

    We returned to Scotland in 2006 and have lived ever since in Edinburgh, a fascinating city full of architectural and cultural interest.

    In 2008 a friend of ours who was Chairman of the board of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (3) asked me if I would be interested in joining the board. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on the Isle of Skye, is the national centre for Gaelic language and culture. It is an extraordinary institution, part cultural icon, part university, and I was delighted to accept. I have been involved ever since. The following year I was asked to represent the college on the Court of the University of the Highlands and Islands, the brand new university of the north of Scotland. This university is unique in Britain, being made up of 13 separate colleges and research institutes, spread over a vast area extending from the Shetland Islands in the north to the Outer Hebrides in the west, south to the Mull of Kintyre and east to the city of Perth.

    Aideen, specifically what is your job and explain your role at the University of the Highlands and Islands?

    My role as member of the board of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and of the Court of the university is similar to the role of member of the board of any publicly funded institution - we are answerable to the government for our use of public funds, and the good governance and management of the institution. It is a difficult task, give the inevitable stresses and strains of a complex federal organisation, and keeping up to speed on the many issues that arise takes a lot of time and mental energy!
    Though we are not paid for what we do, it is a challenge I enjoy and, I feel, a very worthwhile use of my time.

    What are the goals of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)? How many students attend the courses and what nationalities are they?

    The University currently has 7000 students enrolled in the 13 colleges and research institutions that constitute it. Much of the impetus for the development of the UHI comes from the long history of emigration from the Highland area. The young go away to study in the cities and few return. The UHI hopes to reverse that trend by giving young people the chance to stay and continue their studies locally.

    As you would expect from such an unusual institution, it offers an unusual and interesting range of courses, arising out of the natural landscape and culture of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

    Besides all the usual courses in accountancy, computing, business studies etc, at the UHI you can study Gaelic language and culture, traditional music, marine biology, textiles, Viking archaeology, aircraft maintenance, alternative energies.
    You could find yourself on a student placement at the University of the Arctic in Svalbard (4), where the student induction includes learning how to defend yourself from polar bears with a rifle or in Dubai as a golf professional after graduating from the UHI's three year Golf Studies course.

    Aideen, you lived some years in continental Europe, what impact did this have on you when you returned to Scotland? Was it a culture shock?

    I lived in Belgium and Italy for twenty years. Each time I moved, first from Ireland to Scotland then on to Belgium and Italy, there was a new language to learn. I have always been fascinated by languages so I saw this as a wonderful opportunity. With five young children, however, there was very little time for attending classes so I learnt from the people around me as I had done with Gaelic years before.

    Returning to Scotland I thought to myself that this was the time to put my language skills to good use and started looking for jobs that required languages.
    To my astonishment, in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, no one was looking for language skills, they were regarded as irrelevant in the job market. In the schools few children take language studies seriously and the numbers studying languages at school and university are dropping steadily. Although as a nation the Scots are far more pro-EU than the English, still the links with Europe are commercial and political rather than linguistic or cultural and European languages are regarded as unimportant.

    By contrast, the numbers of children enrolled in Gaelic medium education are rising year by year. The Gaelic primary school in Edinburgh is full, as are the schools in Glasgow and Inverness. Other Gaelic schools are opening up or are planned for other areas of the country. Scotland is rediscovering its Highland heritage, strongly supported by a nationalist government who hope to win a 'Yes' vote for independence in September's referendum.

    Short Biography

    I was born and raised in Dublin. I attended University College Dublin where I graduated in 1975 with an honours degree in Celtic Studies. I followed this with a National Teaching Diploma and then taught for some years in a Dublin school.
    When I married Neil I moved to Inverness in the North of Scotland where he was working as a radio producer for the BBC Gaelic service. After a few years he joined the European Commission and we moved to Brussels. Three years later we moved again, to the EU Joint Research Centre in Ispra, on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, where we lived for the next eighteen years and raised our five children.
    In 2006 Neil was appointed EU representative in Scotland and we moved to Edinburgh. At the time of the move our two youngest children were still at school, one son with learning difficulties was in sheltered training, and the two eldest were at university.
    I retrained and found work with a small Edinburgh property company while also doing voluntary work for a charity and sitting on the boards of the Gaelic College and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
    Now my husband has returned to Ispra in a new role and I divide my time between Italy and Scotland.

    Contact Details

    Aideen O’Malley
    Member of Court, Board Member of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

    University of the Highlands and Islands
    12b Ness Walk, Inverness,
    Scotland IV3 5SQ


    (1) Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig)

    (2) Irish (Gaeilge)

    (3) Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

    (4) Svalbard

    Disclaimer -     
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of University of the Highlands and Islands, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.

  • 16 Feb 2014 17:46 | Armelle Loghmanian

     What is Business English all about? 

    By Beverly Sinton


    Alex Morgan

    Director at Abbey Communication

    Alex, what are the necessary competences to teach Business English?

    Firstly we are trainers and facilitators rather than teachers. We use professional training and coaching skills to encourage the maximum input from the course participant. We understand the business environment in which the participant operates and what their language needs are in relation to that. We are also professionals in the field of management development and business training, so we combine this expertise with our language development knowledge, this combined with a full immersion experience develops language skills faster than anything else we know.

    When teaching business English to people, do your try and have all the HR people (for example) meeting in the same room, or do you vary the disciplines? Do students need to have a knowledge of specialised vocabulary (e.g. finance) or do they learn it from you?

    Participants usually opt for 1:1 or group courses, or a combination of both. Groups are always very small i.e. a maximum of 4 people. When working in a group we usually match clients based on language level, rather than professional background, because sharing different experiences is very useful for language development. Trying to explain what you do, to someone who is not familiar with your field is a language challenge in itself, and provides an excellent opportunity to hone your message! We have experts from all disciplines on the team, so the 1:1 sessions are usually where the language for their specific work area is covered. We are able to develop the vocabulary required for all business disciplines.

    What is the difference between teaching general English and teaching business English? People spend years learning and practicing a new language, do you use a special method to teach people so quickly?

    Business English is the language required to function capably in one’s job and profession. Clearly there are many overlaps with General English, for example when socialising after work, making conversation at conferences, dinner table conversation etc. This is why it’s important to have a full immersion experience, where the participant stays with a host family every evening. This way they are also developing their social and general English too. Our method is very focused on the participants needs, and each course is designed to meet their personal needs, we work with what they already know, and build on that, to create confident communicators quickly. We work with “frameworks” which provide the catalyst for conversation, and then give feedback and further development based on what the participant is able to produce in that context. Every session results in consolidating what language the participant already has, and adding layers of new vocabulary, phrases and expressions which can be used in the same context. The method gives clients confidence and a broader language base immediately.

    Why is the method so effective? How does it fit with the human learning process?

    We all know that you have to put into practice what you’ve learned as soon as possible in order for it to “stick”. Our method is focused on language production, we see what language the participant can produce and add layers that they can re-use immediately.
    We also help them focus on the language that they really need for their working lives, and language that will be useful to them immediately. That way it is recycled very quickly and “sticks” immediately.
    The feedback we provide to the course participant is usually in “blocks” of language – words or phrases that regularly go together, rather than individual pieces of vocabulary. The blocks of language are easier to remember in the context.

    How much can a person learn in a week? How long do students normally stay?

    Many of our course participants come for 1 week, some come for 2 and our Japanese clients come for longer, sometimes up to 6 weeks. The clients who stay longer tend to have more in depth language and cultural appreciation objectives.

    A great deal can be achieved in just one week, for example we can help a lower-intermediate participant deliver a very effective presentation, lead a meeting, participate in a negotiation and build confidence in social situations. In an immersion situation the participant is surrounded by the target language 24/7, which “tunes” their ear in, and they become much more competent listeners and their understanding increases as a consequence.

    I have noticed that you are based in a small country town, and that you encourage your students to stay with host families. Are ‘business skills’ a criteria in selecting the host families? Do you try to match students and host families with similar interests?

    We are based in Malmesbury, a small and beautiful town, based in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is a range of hills in the south west of England, and stretches from Bath up to Cheltenham and on towards Warwick. The towns and villages in the area are very typically English in their look and atmosphere. Malmesbury also has a very strong community and provides a genuinely “English” experience.
    Our host families are all known to us personally and most work in business or corporate environments, or are retired from active business lives. We know their interests and professional backgrounds and we match the participants accordingly.

    I realise you stress the cross-cultural aspects of learning English. Are most of your students European or do they come from further afield? Are their cross-cultural experiences similar or do they vary quite widely?

    We have clients both from Europe and Japan. There are many interesting exchanges during the group sessions where participants compare their cultural contexts. We facilitate these sensitively and the discussions are always fruitful. We also provide the British cultural context, as many of our participants are interested in cultural differences. Most clients work for international businesses, so have a great deal of experience to share with us. A lot of our clients work for organisations that are led from a different country to the one in which they live, so they often have to juggle many cultural expectations, both national and organisational.

    Is it possible to learn English without the cultural context?

    Yes, it is possible to learn a foreign language in your own environment; in fact this is how most of us do learn a language, either at school or in private language lessons. This is still an excellent way to progress.
    However a full immersion experience helps you experience how English is used in real life, rather than just in a classroom or text book. The cultural context also gives you some insight into the values of that culture and as a consequence can help you identify what is important to others in communication and business practice.

    Alex, I understand that many global organisations send their staff to Abbey Communication for training, but I wondered if you also have students from smaller organisations hoping to gain a share of the English market and possibly even entrepreneurs with a new business venture.

    Yes, we have all kinds of clients. You are right that many of our clients come from global corporations, but we also have individuals who are sponsoring themselves (often in the context of trying to achieve a career change), and we have entrepreneurs and small business owners and staff who are wanting to use English in their sales process.

    What is the range of age and business background of your clients? Are they in the management training programme or are they already heads of department or even CEO’s?

    Again, we have all kinds of participants, ranging from those in their mid 20s on graduate training programmes, to senior managers, directors and CEO’s. As we focus on an individual’s specific needs we are able to accommodate people at all levels in an organisation.

    Are business courses also a valuable networking tool with students keeping in touch afterwards? Do you find that the same students will return for a second or third course? Do many people combine time at your school with a holiday in the UK, possibly visiting London, Oxford or Bristol?

    Yes many stay in touch afterwards, though as discussed earlier our groups are small, so the participants benefit from an intensive training experience. One of our 2014 plans is to create a LinkedIn group of our past participants so people can continue to “meet” and share, and develop their language skills. We are very proud to say we’ve had many returners and hope to see more in 2014.

    Malmesbury is ideally placed to go to cities like London, Oxford, Bristol, Bath, and Cardiff for the day or the weekend. Some of our Japanese clients even take a Friday night flight from Bristol to Edinburgh to check out the whiskey! Of course the beautiful Cotswolds is right on our doorstep too.

    Alex, what do you find most satisfying about the experience of teaching English?

    For me personally, it is watching clients grow in confidence before our very eyes, and of course being lucky enough to meet new people from different countries every week. I am also very proud of our team and love to see them enjoy their work with really interesting clients.

    Do you have any plans for the future that you would like to share with us?

    One of our most important strategies for 2014 is to extend our reach into countries and companies that don’t know Abbey Communication yet. 
    We are very interested in building relationships in Belgium with international companies and colleagues who do similar work to us.

    We are also developing a cross-cultural communication tool, which will be launched this year, and designing more courses aimed at improving communication in an international context.

    Short Biography

    Alex Morgan has over 15 years' experience in HR, Leadership & Management Development, in industry, the health service and pharmaceuticals.
    She brings this wealth of experience into the language immersion arena, and creates real value added training contributing to both the professional and language development of the individual.

    She has a European Business Degree and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development, Certificate in International Business English Training (distinction), and a Masters in Management.
    Alex is also an executive coach for international executives and a leadership development expert.

    She is a member of both the British Institute of Learning and Development and a Fellow of the International Management Centres Association (FIMCA).

    Alex has also lived and worked in Germany and Belgium and has worked with many international colleagues. Alex enjoys living locally to Abbey Communication in Malmesbury with her husband and two daughters.

    Contact details

    Alex Morgan

    Director of Abbey Communication


    Telephone: +44(0)1666 825060

    Olivers Lane, 17 High Street, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9AF


    (1) Malmesbury – We are based in the West of England in the medieval hill town of Malmesbury in the southern Cotswolds, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

    Historically, Malmesbury was a centre for learning focused on and around Malmesbury Abbey, a sizeable part of which survives today.

    Malmesbury is conveniently located within easy travelling distance from London, Oxford, Birmingham, Bath and Bristol.

    Disclaimer -     
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Abbey communication, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
  • 29 Oct 2013 18:07 | Armelle Loghmanian

     A Woman with a Dream  

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Francesca del Nero
    Founder and Managing Director of “School for Dreamers”
    Francesca, I would like to ask you about two books you have published which are written by Prof. Stefano D’Anna: “The School for Gods” and “A Dream for the World”.
    What are the similarities between the two books and what are their key messages?

    There are two seemingly different stories, but the subjects covered are the same in both books by Stefano D' Anna, i.e. responsibility, mea culpa, fear, "Dream ". These are just some of the topics analyzed under the lens of two different lives, the lives of two different men, but both pursuing their own Dream.

    Here are the main similarities and differences between these two books:

    It is a philosophical novel that triggers a thought shift. A book that has literally changed the lives of many readers from every corner of the planet. We have several extraordinary stories from people who have read the book.
    • The second book by Prof. Stefano D’Anna << A Dream for the World >> is the biography of a great entrepreneur - George Koukis ( who has shown in practice that the success of a large firm is related to the ethics and Integrity of the leader. 
    The longevity and prosperity of a company are inextricably linked to the Integrity of the leader, indeed the "ROI, the financial indicator, has to be seen as Return on Integrity rather than Return on Investment."
    This book is wrapped around the metaphor of a “Dream for Humanity”, which is the core of the book. Prof. Stefano D’Anna sounds very inspiring in his statement (scheme below):

     <<… If we could penetrate into an atom of lead and remove three protons from its nucleus, it would turn into an atom of gold. 
    The difference between an atom of lead and an atom of gold, in their respective atomic number, is only three protons. One is 82, the other is 79. There is a “humanity 82”, heavy, dark, unworthy like an atom of lead and there is a “humanity 7”9, shiny, incorruptible like an atom of gold. 
    An atom of lead is already an atom of gold. It's only three protons heavier. The transmutation of lead into gold, the epic transition from mass to individual: that's what the Dream for the World is all about. 
    This is the solution, the healing from all evil. It could appear light years away from us but this Dream is only three protons away.

    A “Dream for the World” is the vision of a psychological revolution
    capable of freeing humanity from fear, negative emotions and
    destructive thinking
     – the three protons in excess we need to get rid of.
    The evolution of man is only three protons away.
    We can make it…
    Prof. Stefano D’Anna
     I truly invite you to watch the video illustrating the metaphor of the book << A Dream for the World >>:

    Francesca, what do you mean with the word “Dream”? I see that you called your educational system a “School for Dreamers”.

    What is the Dream? It would be better to call it the “Art of Dreaming”. Alessandra, I will make an example for you where you can recognize patterns or phases which characterize the art of dreaming:

    • Phase one - If you express a powerful idea, a dream and people laugh at it, declaring it’s impossible and you’ll never succeed, just rub your hands in glee. This is the first indicator that you are on the right path and your dreamer’s career just took off. 

    • Phase two - When people see that you are serious, that you trust yourself enough to bet your life on your dream, they will begin to place obstacles on your path. Once again rub your hands. It means you are on the right path, getting closer to your goal.

    • Phase three - The last phase starts when people say ironically: “Great deal! What does he/she think he/she has achieved? Anybody could have done that and better than he/she has”. 
      At this stage a dreamer knows that the paradigm is complete and the time has come for him to dream the next impossible dream.

    Francesca, you're managing a major international project <<The School for Dreamers>> that has radically changed your professional life. Can you please tell us how you came to this decision?

    After a career full of satisfaction and success in a merchant bank, it may look strange that I launched myself into this challenge. Actually I did not take this decision rationally, I felt as if I had prepared all my life for this mission, so when it came, I embraced it and it has become my whole professional life.

    Please, tell us a little more about your project “the School for Dreamers”: what is the Dream? How have you conceived this initiative and what is its mission? What is the goal you aim to achieve?
    Francesca, why do you believe that there is a need for a project like this one?

    I have been inspired by the ideas and principles expressed by Prof. Stefano D' Anna, the author of the two books that I published. These principles are at the root of the philosophical concept of the School for Dreamers. Since December 2010 Prof D' Anna has reduced all his commitments in order to devote himself to preparing a new generation of leaders, whom he considers to be the most important strategic resource for the human and economic development of every nation. I was close to him when he carried out a program lasting two months, with 35 young people from 8 different countries.

    After that first experience that was crucial for me, I saw the change taking place in those young lives, I fell in love with this transformation and I decided to take the project into my own hands and to create the School for Dreamers project.
    I bear the full responsibility for this school which has opened its doors to other dreamers who share the same principles and beliefs. In other words I implement the concepts of Prof. D' Anna through an educational system that has specific and high objectives:
    •  The training approach is based on "removing" (from the Latin "ex - duco ") instead of adding. Removing everything that is superfluous in us, which prevents us from getting rid of the slavery of fear, time and division.

    • The focus is on awareness, awareness of our evolutionary mechanism. The era of complaint, victimization and self-pity is over and the era of responsibility, joy and prosperity has begun.

    • Helping individuals to go off a path already traced where the mechanical nature of thoughts, emotions and actions have acquired a prominent place and where the joy, creativity, intuition and the art of Dreaming have unfortunately been forgotten. It means a turning upside down of the ordinary paradigms. 

    Francesca, who is the target audience for the School of Dreamers?

    Potentially the School for Dreamers is beneficial to everybody. The target audience of our education program includes:
    • Young people, teenagers and young adults who want to discover their talents and what they are uniquely born for. Young people who are brave enough to do what they love and who develop Integrity as a central quality of their leadership. Have you ever seen, Alessandra, someone succeeding without doing what he/she loves?

    • Adults aiming to develop themselves at a personal level

    • Corporations who look for fresh blood/thinking. Companies and their leaders must begin to become aware of how important it is that the employees who collaborate with them are happy. Every company and organisation is made up of women and men: they are the only real asset, but too often they are ignored and undervalued.

    Francesca, what were your first steps in putting in place the School for Dreamers?

    To do this I left everything I had built before. With a huge gratitude I left behind me the corporate world where I knew the dynamics, the challenges, the enormous commitment and the success. I left an executive position to start a new professional life as an entrepreneur.

    It was not easy to start again after 25 years within a corporation. I can only say that I'd do it again. 

    In terms of first steps I asked Prof. D' Anna to become the publisher for Italy. Actually I did not know where to start because my previous experience was in completely different areas of business, but I did it.

    If you may disclose them, what are the future plans for your project?

    The main plan is the expansion, the enlargement of the School for Dreamers at an international level.
    We are now dealing with a small number of people, but I aim to see this number becoming much larger. Diffusing the project means offering a gradually increasing number of individuals the chance to participate in this great adventure: regaining their integrity. The only trip which it is worthwhile to make: the one inside ourselves.
    Imagine, Alessandra, a new ruling class led by people with Ethics and Integrity who can “move mountains”, who are able to change the world, this is the essence of the Dream.
    I also intend encourage different generations to talk to each other, to make sure that both parents and their children can participate in this training program for Dreamers, so that they reach a higher level of awareness and freedom, and at home they can all speak the same language. This makes me happy. All of this is already happening, it is wonderful!
    Last but not least I encourage corporations, entrepreneurs, bankers and opinion leaders to join and support this education program.

    What impact has this project had, and is still having, on your personal life?
    How different is the way you see things, how have you yourself changed?

    After reading the book “The School for Gods”, my life has changed dramatically. I thank Prof D’Anna for having written this masterpiece which I read, I studied and I loved. His messages have entered into my being and I cannot abandon this vision any more. This is the reason why in the very first page of the book you find the inscription "this book is forever".

    For a long time I was unconsciously preparing myself for this project. I could say that, since I was an adolescent, I have loved spending time on my own.. Then through the readings and experiences of life I came to this book in which I found all the answers to my questions. I realized that my dream is to make this project happen and to serve humanity.

    You have a very active life and three daughters: what is your secret for a work / life balance?

    I have three wonderful daughters, I desired three girls and miraculously they arrived. I dreamt them one by one, beautiful and with such a beautiful soul.
    I've brought them up as independent and free individuals, and I nurtured them with confidence and gratitude. It has been wonderful to see them growing more and more aware, strong, cheerful and happy. 

    I’ve brought them up on my own as many women do, and I am happy to have a good relationship with their father and that they cultivate a healthy relationship with him, with no barriers. I thank my ex-husband who has allowed the development of this intelligent relationship. None of us suffered, on the contrary we have all gained in serenity. A success!

    Now they are adults, they have their freedom and I have mine. We love and respect each other deeply. In every crucial moment of their existence I am there for them, always, this is the wealth of our relationship. What is the secret? Love, gratitude and trust.

    Is there anything else, Francesca, you would like to share with our readership?

    Yes, two years ago I had an operation. This event has not been just the beginning of my inner healing, in fact it was the source of strength to identify my mission. After two years I dare to say that without that experience I would not be here now to carry on this important project of the School for Dreamers.

    When we find out what is the “red path” that continues through all of our existence, then there is no longer negativity in any event, everything is what we might need. Of course we must develop awareness in order to understand that any apparent adversity might turn into an opportunity to serve our evolution.

    Short Biography

    Francesca Romana Del Nero is the founder and Managing Director of School for Dreamers.
    Francesca graduated in Law, has expertise in banking marketing. As a Manager in the financial field, she worked in the corporate world for many years and she understands the dynamics and challenges that characterize it.

    She left GE Capital in 2010 to gather at her side a team of enthusiastic people around this project aimed at spreading a message of renewal for the individual and for a new economic and social reality.
    For a period she also worked for GE Capital Interbanca as a consultant for the Health Ahead program.

    She has 3 daughters.

    Contact Details

    Francesca Del Nero

    Founder and Managing Director of “School for Dreamers”

    Mob. +39 335247197

    Disclaimer -     
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of School for Dreamers nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.

  • 12 Oct 2013 15:29 | Armelle Loghmanian

     Interested in Biofeedback?

    Interview by Rita Nasini


    Laura Di Biagio
    JAYA Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Therapy
    M.A. Transpersonal Psychology BCIA-EEG Certified

     Laura at work, recording QEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram) to gather information about brain functioning.

    Laura, you are a specialist in Biofeedback EEG and you work as a Neurofeedback (NFB) therapist, what exactly is Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Therapy?

    Neurofeedback is biofeedback applied to neuronal activity of the brain. Biofeedback is a therapeutic tratement focusing on restoring balance in one’s self-regulation processes.
    With Biofeedback we learn to regulate blood flow, peripheral temperature, skin humidity, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration patterns and brain waves activity.

    Sensors are applied to the skin to monitor the variations of our physiological processes, like heart beat or brain waves or temperature. The data are then elaborated digitally and presented back (feedback) to the client in form of audiovisual stimuli.

    In this process we have the opportunity to observe our own physiological activities that are controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS or visceral nervous system), those are mostly running in the background of our consciousness.
    Once we become aware of them, we can willingly alter their behavior for more efficient functioning.For example if we connect our finger to a thermometer, we can practice increasing our peripheral temperature, which is directly correlated to a general state of relaxation, therefore resolving symptoms of anxiety and stress.

    Or we can optimize performance by knowing the intensity of muscle contraction: the sensors read the electrical emission from the muscle, so we learn to use just the right amount of tension needed in different positions.
    For athletes, this is valuable in order to maintain enough tension for prompt action without wasting energy.

    What is a Neurofeedback session like? What issues can Neurofeedback improve?

    In Neurofeedback we use sensors applied on the scalp to read the electrical activity of the brain.

    The data are elaborated in real time and used to generate music or guide computer games or alter the brightness of a video.

    During the session, the patient sits comfortably, sensors are applied and bio-information is read.
    Sessions last about 30’/60’

    He/She listens to music or watches movies or gets more entertained playing games, relaxing and allowing the brain to intake the information and change the behavior of the autonomic nervous system processes.

    Neurofeedback is effective for mood disorders like anxiety, depression, addiction, brain injury, cognitive issues like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and memory loss.

    In 1954, scientist W.R. Hess identified states of arousal in brainwaves and noted the impact on humans. In the late 1960s, lab researcher Barry Sterman measured the EEG (Electroencephalography) of a cat and discovered it was generating a brainwave which (he identified and named "Sensory Motor Rhythm" (SMR) that is associated with decreased muscle tension; an alert yet relaxed state.

    Sterman used SMR brainwaves to “train” cats to relax, reinforcing their behavior by providing a reward when they produced more activity in the SMR range.

    In continued experiments, it was revealed that the cats were more resistant to seizures then cats that had not been trained. The idea of modulating EEG for “operant conditioning” purposes was applied to humans, leading to the discovery that the brain can “train” itself to improve many conditions.

    Laura, who are the patients that come to you for Neurofeedback Therapy? What are the pros and cons of Neurofeedback Therapy?

    We have very varied patients, from people with severe brain damage and cognitive impairment to optimization of athletes and artists looking to optimise their output.. Many are people who want help in withdrawing from transition from prescription drugs or who want to overcome addictions. The most important benefit is that biofeedback is not invasive.

    Nothing is done to change someone’s physiology but information is offered to be used by the autonomic nervous system for better regulation. The cons are that the learning process requires repetition and practice. We usually look at 20’ sessions to obtain some stable results, though we have often had patients who feel treatment is successful in 10 sessions.

    Laura, how did you become so passionate about Neurofeedback that you decided to become a therapist?

    I personally experienced the power of getting involved in one’s own health and the innate intelligence of self-healing. We need the attention and the information. When I was a teenager yoga, which is a self–regulation system, helped me to overcome a severe chronic condition. In my twenties I had the fortune to receive extended healing during a course of psychotherapy sessions. Later I studied psychology and my interest in the relationship between body and mind brought me to specialize in psychophysiology, which is the branch of psychology that studies the responses of the body to emotional and mental states.

    What have been the Neuro-feedback effects on your life?

    I am happy and excited to offer this treatmenr, which is pain free and non-invasive to my patients.
    It is quite a challenge though to keep up with the research and the continuous innovation in the technology takes time and significant financial investment. Meanwhile the specific therapeutic relationship with clients requires personal work in order to be able to stay present and keep the focus centered on the them.
    In my practice the session is a fully engaged interaction between the client, the therapist and the instruments, which in real time are giving us information on the client’s physiology.

    Laura, in your job experience, what has been the success of this treatment on your patients?

    I have many happy clients, adult or kids that in few sessions, sometime even in 8 or 10 find their symptoms disappeared or become less of a problem. I have clients who have been training regularly for a few years, for them neurofeedback is necessary to keep up with life, maybe they had a severe brain injury or are impaired by a trauma suffered at a young age. Sometime the process doesn’t work and the client doesn’t experience significant improvement. Also I have seen occasional relapses. In any case, maybe unconsciously, clients had the opportunity to learn something about themselves.

    Laura, you are working in California USA and occasionally in Italy, what advice can you give to members of PWI who want to learn more about Neurofeedback Therapy? Can you recommend centers in Belgium or Europe?

    A good start is to read “Symphony in the Brain” by Jim Robbins, then:
    • The BFE Biofeedback Europe organization has a yearly conference with a rich didactic program, panels, lectures and vendors area with latest technological products. 
    • ISNR is the international research institute. They publish a magazine, fund studies and organize the world yearly conference. On their website there is an extended bibliography.
    • BCIA is Biofeedback Accreditation International Alliance which provides trainings and certification programs in the field.

    • Biofeedback Federation CIC in Europe is: 10 John Street
London, England WC1N 2EB Tel: +44 (0) 1753 55 1111 Fax: +44 (0) 1753 55 0544

    Short Biography

    Laura Di Biagio is a Biofeedback and Neurofeedback therapist who specialized in applied psychophysiology.
    She offers brainwave training sessions based on EEG patterns of activation, integrated with heart rate modulation and enhanced by magnetic/visual stimulation.

    She is experienced in Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG), Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Neuromodulation, and certified by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance in EEG. She has been a yoga practitioner for over 20 years and has taught traditional Sivananda yoga at the Advaita Yoga Ashram.

    As a graduate of the ‘School for the Work’ of Byron Katie, she is a facilitator of the self-inquiry process for groups and individuals.

    Contact Details

    Laura Di Biagio
    JAYA Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Therapy
    M.A. Transpersonal Psychology BCIA-EEG Certified

    EEGym Self Regulation Center 
    12304 Santa Monica Blvd. #210 Los Angeles 90025 USA
    Tel: +1 310 2073337


    2923 Beach Avenue, Venice, CA 90291, USA

    Via Ripandelli 45, Roma 00149, Italia

    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of JAYA / EEGym Self Regulation Center, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement..
  • 12 Oct 2013 12:59 | Armelle Loghmanian

     Bees, Art and Science – an urban story

    Interview by Lena Wietheger


    Christina Stadlbauer

    City Beekeeper combining Art and Science, shiatsu practitioner and scientist

    Christina, you are Austrian and you hold a PhD in chemistry. How did you end up becoming a beekeeper in Brussels and what other roles do bees play in your life nowadays?

    I used to be very afraid of flying, stinging insects that cannot be controlled.
    When a friend took me to see his hives, the situation forced me to stand still and look - just to observe what was going on in this box with many thousands of animals. When concentrating on the detail, I suddenly became curious and what I saw triggered my interest to discover more. So I followed a beekeeping course and my fascination for bees has not stopped ever since.

    When I moved to Brussels I opted to follow a second beekeeping course - as that was the condition for placing my own hives.
    This is now my fifth year as a bee keeper in Brussels.
    My bee colonies are placed in two different locations in Brussels and I have started marketing my bees’ honey, which is called  ‘Le Schaerbeekois’.

    Besides, today, most of my professional life revolves around beekeeping in urban environments, and I explore this topic at the interstices of art and science.

    Can you describe the activities and challenges of your bee-related jobs?

    From the beginning I considered city beekeeping as a communal cooperative endeavor. I have always looked for ways to introduce my bees to my fellow citizens and to share with them my fascination about bees. Bee keeping is something very archaic and there are many tales and stories about bees in various different cultures.
    In 2010 I invited the citizens of Brussels to come and tell me one of their stories related to bees. In exchange for their story they would receive my Schaerbeekois honey (see here:

    Moreover I have had school classes visiting and I have given various presentations about my bees. In one of these presentations I met a curator and coordinator who invited me to propose a project. I accepted and since 2012 I am on a research grant from the Kone foundation working with the Finnish university Aalto: It’s a 3 year project that was launched by the city of Helsinki, as part of BiophiliA-Base for Biological arts, a platform working with projects between arts and biological sciences. Every other month I am now in Finland, combining and exploring the various aspects of urban bees and their use as bio monitors as well as their inspiration for artistic expression.
    The activities span workshops, installations and interventions in public spaces, as well as lectures and (public) debate. See more here:
    My work is very inspiring and takes me in all kinds of directions and to various locations. Maybe the most difficult challenge has to do with the fact that some people are allergic to bees. It is only a small percentage of the population, but in the city, as space is very limited, it can become an issue.

    Comparing your office-based jobs to your current outdoor job and travelling around Europe – has your step into self-employment paid off for you?

    Most definitely! I would not trade back. However, reinventing your life every day anew can be exhausting and challenging as well. It demands discipline as well as structure, and sometimes lots of energy to motivate yourself! Collaborations are essential, because I cannot do everything alone!

    And regarding the working life of a bee colony- can we humans learn anything from the bees to use in our professional behaviour? Are there any gender-related observations that you can share?

    I think we can learn a lot from bees in many different ways. Somehow in a bee colony each individual knows what to do. Although there is no hierarchy and no management in the sense a company would define it, the tasks are divided amongst all the workers. Communication, as well as decision taking, works smoothly and swiftly. That is amazing if compared to some human work situations, and unimaginable in a human context when looking at the scale of approximately 20.000 (sometimes more) individual bees living together in one hive.

    Drones, the male bees, have only one function in the hive, and that is fertilizing the queen. This happens once in their lives, as the act means certain death for the drone. Otherwise, they hang out in the hive and get fed, without having any work to do. In August, when the “mating season” is over, a massacre happens in the bee world, where all drones are killed and kicked out of the hive. They would be too much of a burden in the winter, when resources are scarce and the queen with some of the worker bees have to make it through the winter on eating what they have collected and stored as honey.
    But, then again, a bee colony has to be seen as one entity, one animal called Der Bien, rather than seeing the individuals as separate entities. Because of that, we have to abstain from concepts like male and female, work division and tasks – it is rather an entity consisting of seemingly disconnected bees, which function well together in order to enable the species “honeybee” to survive.

    Short Biography

    Christina holds a PhD in chemistry and has been working with bees in city environments for years. She is busy with interdisciplinary projects around bees, urban eco-systems, wild plants and herbal medicine.
    Christina currently lives in Brussels, Belgium and has collaborations with FoAM, Brussels and the University of Natural Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna.
    More on bees in urban contexts:,

    Christina Stadlbauer
    Beekeeper, shiatsu practitioner and scientist
    tel: +32 488 171 062

    Disclaimer -     
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of <company name>, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   Next >  Last >> 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software