14th August 2020 
Tributes to Anita Canter, and Ken Tyllsen

Tributes #01Anita Canter

Anita Canter – the life-affirming, charming and gentle powerhouse who founded and coordinated the Liverpool Adlerian Society for nearly 25 years – died on 11 October 2015, only weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. She leaves behind a loving family in Liverpool, her husband Philip, son Jan, daughter Nina, son-in-law Jonathan Kersh, daughter-in-law Irene and 6 grandchildren – Benjamin, Samuel and Rachel Kersh, and Sophie, Hannah and Reuben Canter – and her brother Bent in Denmark.

Anita’s two books, Tailors on Both Sides (2012), about her families of origin and close relatives in Sweden and Denmark, and Threads of My Life (2014), her autobiography, attest to her devotion to her family, friends, colleagues and communities – in Denmark, England and Israel – and to peace, social equality and human rights for all.

Anita’s first career was as a creative nursery school teacher, and her second was as an innovative college teacher of prospective nursery teachers. She embarked on her third career in 1979 when she began studying to be a counsellor at Liverpool Compass. She then went on to become an Adlerian counsellor and psychotherapist, studying in London from 1984-86. Anita relished her final profession, which she described as bringing together all of her other work and creative interests, and as combining Individual Psychology with Inner Child work. Her social interest was immense, evidenced in her capacity for forming and sustaining relationships and her social and work commitments to improve and enrich the lives of others. Those who were privileged to know her will have experienced her warmth, sense of humour and depth of understanding.

Shortly before she died, Philip told me that, despite being in discomfort, Anita was entertaining the nurses in the hospital with her stories, that everyone loved her. She will be sorely missed.

Karen John

Tributes #02I first met Anita at a Residential Weekend at St Hilda’s College, Oxford in 1990 or thereabout. I felt her to be someone I had an affinity with from our first meeting and that continued to the present day. She often came to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival, but unfortunately we never managed to meet while she was here, although one year we had a go at finding a time. In my copy of Tailors on Both Sides she wrote: “To Margaret with all my love Anita —remember your inner child”.

Anita brought a very special quality to the Adlerian Society. She was an Adlerian through and through, expressing her dedication to sharing Adler's concepts in a very practical way as a doer, sharing and portraying the magic of Individual Psychology to get her message across. Her energy was amazing, particularly when it came to making sure that the good folk of Liverpool and environs were able to train as Adlerian Counsellors and share her passion for Adler's work.

As a faithful and loyal member of the Adlerian Society, Anita lived and breathed the values and principles of Adler’s amazing psychology of use, expressing her passion for the growth and well-being of people from every walk of life. She provided an encouraging presence and wherever she went and her energising force led to the creation of an amazing community of Adlerians in Liverpool. She also had a wonderful capacity for enabling others to build the courage to take responsibility for their lives while discovering their inner strengths and compassion for their 'inner child'. She expressed that compassion with great conviction.

Looking through past ASIIP Newsletters, I found a number of year on year examples of Anita’s tireless work in sharing the knowledge, understanding and practice of Individual Psychology in Liverpool. What I found could be the tip of the iceberg. In 2000 she and Pat Chatterton set up a new counselling course. The write-up states that the course incorporated inner-child work. In 2004 the ASIIP Newsletter declared: “Liverpool, City of Adler”. In that contribution Anita described her latest success in the programme of events including her first workshop facilitated by Ken Tyllsen: “Creating Your Own Personality”.

Her style was informal and it succeeded in drawing people in. In 2005 Adler was alive in Liverpool again in the form of a workshop to discuss adolescence. The meetings that took place were said to be full of warmth and humour — in the style typical of Liverpool. In 2006 Anthea Millar was invited there to lead a workshop on “Punishment by Rewards” — yet another success story to add to those described experienced so far.

Then in 2009 Anita joined a newly formed ASIIP Council, committed to taking Adler out to more regions of the UK. Once she stepped away from her commitment to Council she continued her contribution to ASIIP by attending AGMs whenever she could. She was also an IIP Assessor for many years.

What I remember Anita for most is her love and compassion for the inner child — the part of us where our private logic dwells, bringing many a challenge to relationships and the tasks of life, yet in need of our compassion and care. In her 2007 lecture at the Oxford Residential Weekend called “Life Was Created For my Sake”, Anita spoke of her own inner child, its vulnerability and need for relationship with her, on her journey throughout life. The enduring results of her work will no doubt remain in the hearts of all those who met and learned from her.

Anita was one of the most special people I have ever known, surviving the Holocaust, her story told in print in her book Tailors on Both Sides. This tribute would not be complete without acknowledging Anita’s devotion to her roots and the heritage of her Jewish ancestry. She so miraculously survived the Holocaust alongside her brother Bent (seen above in the cover photo of her book). As she said: “My brother Bent and I should not be here today”. They owed their survival to a last minute reprieve from the deportation of Danish Jews because her mother was of Swedish nationality and not Danish like her father.

Anita leaves behind a lasting legacy of hope and optimism, not only to her husband and family but also to the people of Liverpool. The world has been blessed for having been privileged to experience Anita’s presence for 75 years.

Margaret Wadsley

I knew Anita for many years. She was bright, vibrant, a bit of a rebel and we clicked instantly! She set up ASIIP in Liverpool with great gusto and plenty of enthusiasm and it grew and grew! She was a continuous and loyal support to me when I was Chair and I will miss her warmth, insight, glitz and glamour. Another true Adlerian and I will miss her greatly.

Kim Harries

Tributes #03Tributes to Ken Tyllsen

A longstanding member of the Adlerian Society and Vice President for many years, Ken Tyllsen died at his home in Cumbria on 11 June 2014, aged 75. Friends and family were with him at the end. Ken was a deeply caring man and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Ken and his dog Samson

The Adlerian family in the UK has lost a loyal friend.

Ken Tyllsen was a good man to know and be with, and a respectful, honest ambassador for Individual Psychology. Those who knew him will remember his care and understanding and genuine interest in enabling the wellbeing of those around him. He could also speak his mind when thought necessary. He endeavoured to live what he believed.

He worked tirelessly for MIND (Barrow in Furness) and Kendal Hydrotherapy Pool in Cumbria where he lived. He was a long serving member of Council and a Vice President of the Adlerian Society and Institute for Individual Psychology.

He was a good friend. He shared with me, as a student, that it was Rita Udall who had initially enabled him to believe in himself and deal successfully with his concerns. He felt that Individual Psychology provided a sound and creative method of offering guidance and encouragement and now wanted to find a way of making his own contribution. So when the opportunity arose he chose to work alongside her in support of her valuable work within the Adlerian movement as well as initiating systems of support and education in his own right.

He will be remembered with fondness and gratitude by many whose lives he touched, and I trust that others will join in making their own personal contributions and sharing of memories to honour the life of a man who gave of his very best.

We send sincere condolences to Colin Wilson for what must be a deep loss and wish him well.

Lilian Beattie (Oxfordshire)

Ken was a very special person with so many talents. He was a ballet dancer, a wonderful teacher and facilitator of groups, and he combined body work with intellectual learning.

Ken was a true Adlerian and he was very close to Rita Udall. They formed a great team, and what I learned from them was both significant and unforgettable. He did a lovely workshop for the Liverpool Adlerian group some years back and we had plans to ask him again, but sadly it became too late.

His humour was a great asset, linked as it was with sensitivity, sincerity and real depth.Ken and I took the Adlerian counselling course in 1984-1986 and we had many meaningful conversations and deep sharing. He will be sadly missed and I can still hear his laughter and see his lovely smile.

Anita Canter (Liverpool)

Echoing Lilian’s words above: Ken Tyllsen was, indeed, a good man to know.

Characteristics perhaps honed in his earlier careers in dancing, acting and art, he was astute, perceptive and insightful. He also had courage in spades – both moral and physical (he lived with severe pain for many years). He had a knack of eliciting the strengths in everyone.

I recall if he had a problem with someone he would address it by appealing to the person’s instinct to co-operate and connect. For instance, once, when he was troubled by the way his mother was being cared for during one hospital admission he tackled the situation by saying “Both you and I want the best for my mother so how about...”.

He was a true Adlerian, contributing enormously to the Society and to his local community and was a great encourager of people. Whenever I needed 'an ear' he was there at the end of the phone. I could always count on him to make me laugh - at myself and the 'problem'. I would laugh through the conversation and find that I could find my way through after all.

Along with many others I will miss him tremendously.

Gwyneth Evans-Patel (Surrey)

Ken began his career as a dancer at the Royal Ballet and then as an actor at the National Theatre. He did five years of Art before getting involved with the Adlerian Society at the behest of Rita Udall. His first foray was at an Oxford weekend some 35 years ago, and I guess you could say that was life changing for him and he was hooked!

Ken then combined all these creativities into forging a career as a counsellor and supervisor and then qualified as an Adlerian. This of course marked the start of Ken’s career as a trainer and of the beginning of the great working partnership that was Rita and Ken, which would last some 20 years.

During that time, with Helen Anderson, they spearheaded the development of the Society working as trainers, Council members and counsellors -- bringing Adler to the people.

I joined in the late 1980s and to me, Rita, Ken and Helen were the Society. They ran the six-month 'Introduction to Counselling' as a personal development course for 13 years, with Ken simultaneously running the course in Cumbria. Between them, they created 15 workshops, running some in Cumbria and some in London. Ken then established two counselling centres in Cumbria for MIND, against much opposition. As he said: "They finally saw the common sense of having me there!"

On a personal note, Ken was not only a gifted teacher and a great support to me when I was Chair on Council, but he lived Adlerian psychology. He was one of the few people who was able to sum up an early recollection in one brilliant, insightful, simple sentence, followed up by a crystal clear suggestion on problem solving the issue. I admired him for this. Like Rita and Helen, he simply changed lives. We would speak fortnightly and he would have me in hysterics with his acerbic wit and great humour. I will miss him greatly.

Kim Harries (Hertfordshire)

I find it hard to write about Ken in the past tense and harder still to contemplate his absence from my life. From my first Oxford Weekend over 20 years ago until the last days of his life, he was there for me, a phone call away. The one exception was last winter when BT disconnected the telephone line to his and Colin’s house and failed to reconnect it – about which, when we finally spoke, Ken entertained me with his exasperation and sense of the ridiculous.

I was the privileged recipient of Ken’s quick intelligence, wisdom, empathy and encouragement over the 16 years he supervised my clinical work. I could count on him to identify core issues – my own as well as my clients’ – always full of compassion and grace in suggesting antidotes for less than healthy behaviour.

As he prepared for death, Ken expressed gratitude towards his loved ones, those caring for him, for the life he was still enjoying – the beauty of the view from his bed. He talked of kindness being undervalued, and cherishing friends who were like family. He suggested I write a book about that. He made me laugh!

Karen John (Bath)

Ken was an inspiration to so many. He gave unstintingly of his time and skill to those with severe mental health challenges, as well as making a major contribution to Adlerian training, working closely with Rita Udall, and representing the Society for many years as a Vice President. With loving memories of Ken's remarkable life.

Anthea Millar (Cambridge)

When I think of Ken, I immediately see his smile, a particularly sweet smile, and ready laugh. For he had a delicious and sometimes wicked sense of humour. I contrast this with his seriousness, his indignation at cant and injustice, and over-intellectualism. Also, his seriousness in helping others and in setting up opportunities for others to be enabled and creative in their lives. Ken always brings to mind his love of his mother, of Rita and, of course, of Colin.

Paola Prina (London)

I first met Ken in the early 1990s at the Community Rooms, Millman Street, London. There had been an event he had co-hosted with Rita Udall followed by a fabulous community potluck lunch. He was such a marvellous conversationalist and an enthusiastic supporter of Adlerian thought and practice.

Many years later he attended an all day workshop I was at and I recall he was dressed, like the rest of us, comfortable and in sensible, casual attire. At the end of the day, all of us were rather tired. I wanted to say goodbye to Ken thinking that he might be travelling back to Cumbria from London but he had disappeared. Just as I was about to leave the building he reappeared, dressed in a fabulous and gorgeous tux! The kind with a hand tied bow tie (which I could never fathom the mechanics thereof and marvelled at how great it looked). He was all ready for a swank night out. He didn’t seem the least bit tired, but rather shone. It was the last time I saw him and I shall always remember his remarkable transformation into shining elegance. And off he went, no doubt turning all the handsome heads of London in his wake.

Chris Shelley (Vancouver)

My memories of Ken are of his vibrancy at the Society’s residential conferences at St Hilda’s in Oxford. I only met Ken three times but I remember him vividly. Such energy, and humour. I have missed seeing him in recent years. For me Ken was a real pleasure to know. He had a gift for intimacy, and I loved sharing quiet time in between sessions at conferences with him -- both of us smoking! I enjoyed his blend of wit and wisdom, and valued his integrity. The world feels a poorer place without him in it.

Alison Still (Cambridge)