June 24, 2024

My friend Andy Kuczmierczyk, who has died aged 68 of cancer, was professor of clinical psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, and also a life coach and a poet.

Starting out on his career in the late-1970s, he studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) at Middlesex hospital in central London, under Victor Meyer, a founding father of CBT. Andy deployed adventurous techniques including “flooding”, which involves people with phobias being exposed immediately and directly to the things they fear most.

Moving to the US in 1981, he completed a doctorate at the University of Athens, Georgia, and taught in various medical schools, becoming professor of clinical psychology at the University of New Orleans. On his return to London in 1995, Andy lectured at City University and served the NHS as a consultant clinical psychologist. Appointed professor at the University of Hertfordshire in 2013, he had many academic publications to his name, as well as an unfinished book about the healing power of forgiveness.

He was born in London to Polish parents, Irma (nee Zembrzuska) and Antoni Kuczmierczyk, who had been wartime refugees. Irma was awarded Poland’s Cross of Valour for her heroic role in the Warsaw uprising of 1944. In 1957 they moved with their two small children, Andy and his sister, Hania, to Munich to join Radio Free Europe, broadcasting to communist Poland.

However, Andy and Hania returned to Britain for their education, staying with their grandparents in Highgate, north London. The siblings remained a close, unbreakable unit. During school holidays in Munich, they spoke Polish with their parents, German in the street and English with friends. At St Aloysius’ college in Highgate, a Catholic grammar school where most pupils were of Polish, Irish or Italian origin, he met several lifelong friends, including me. Andy went on to study psychology and sociology at Keele University, graduating in 1976.

His Christian faith remained strong, and he believed passionately in social justice. Intensely proud of his heritage, he was saddened by the rise of populism in Poland and the divisions of Brexit.

Andy was a total romantic at heart, and a talented musician, linguist and songwriter. He wrote four collections of poetry in English and Polish, including Transitions of Love, Hope and Faith (2009). A keen tennis player, in his youth he looked like Björn Borg.

Immensely popular, he lived life with an infectious enthusiasm, and threw memorable parties at his home in St Albans.

He was a great listener, at his happiest helping patients, friends and family face life’s challenges. His work continued right up until he went into hospital in August after his cancer diagnosis.

While working in the US, he met and in 1988 married Jola Pasikowska. They divorced in 2003. Andy is survived by their two children, Ala and Alex, Hania and his nephew, Danny.


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