For more than 40 years I have been providing psychotherapeutic services to adults, families and children. Some of this has been with agencies; yet most has been in private practice. One such agency was Trinity School for Children, in Ukiah California. The photo to the right shows me sitting with a Junior Boy in the 70’s.
Over time I have become disillusioned with the profession of psychotherapy and its reliance on the Diagnostic Statistical Model (DSM III, IV and V) for labeling and defining behaviors and syndromes; and, treatment modalities The occurrences of labeling and treating by front line therapists (as I saw myself) increasingly seemed to be aligned with psychiatry and the drug industry for depending on prescription drugs for solutions. This seemed to simply be another way of judging and pigeon holing.
It no longer worked for me. Instead, as I matured as an individual and as a professional and as I increasingly saw the very strong connection between trauma, traumatic experiences and unresolved post-traumatic stress disorders as foundational to my clients frustrations and dysfunctional coping skills I’ve come to believe that:
the illness of our Culture is PostTraumaticStressDisorder: Unresolved Grieving!
I also became aware that my main job with clients was to appreciate them for who they are and how they have managed their stressful lives, staying present enough to function. My job became to guide clients into learning how to breathe and relax and express themselves to self and others confidently with respect to the stories of their lives. Their stories about who they are and what they have been through! And, significantly to guide clients through the grieving process such that they could find resolutions and healings.
Indeed, my goal has become to serve as an effective advocate, guide and healer as Scott Miller and Barry Duncan have shown in their work The Heroic Client. Their research shows that there are three variables predictive for healing: Does the client want to change Does the Therapist believe in their modality and selves, and; Does the client believe in the therapist!
My job changed, as so much of our collective healing experiences seem to have changed and evolved, to focus more and more on the “Present” and helping clients to learn how to return to the “Now” as a way of slow downing and more effectively untangling the grieving process. When I do so clients seem to become more involved in the process of healing.
Clients, even then, seemed to struggle. It became increasingly evident that even motivation, trust and competency were not enough. We also needed to appeal to a healing community to bring about a grand enough “safe container” such that wounded and traumatized individuals and communities could process losses. My work is now moving in the direction of community, ritual and spirituality. Somehow it is necessary to call on the Ancestors as well as our friends and family, to help us with the grieving process. And, to do so collectively. The pain and sorrow are just too great for us to carry as individuals.