Focus: Aesthetics, Existentialism.
MA. Dance/Movement Therapy
(New York University).
Focus: Therapy, Somatic Psychology,
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
(UNC Chapel Hill, Davie Hall).
Focus: Psychotherapy, Marital Counseling,
Dissertation: Regressive States of
12 Years, Solo International Travel, Multilingual
42 Years, Yoga Practice.
21 Years, Teaching at UNC Chapel Hill,
Psych Dept, Davie Hall.
31 Years, Experience as Therapist,
Began working with patients in 1980.
For an elaboration of the above, continue reading…
My philosophy studies provoked many questions which served as a foundation for my contemplations and reflections during my twelve years of travel after college. A good portion of these deliberations were related to the nature of being a person and the seemingly universal issues that we deal with in our lives, both individually and collectively. As a general statement, I can say that I love philosophy and view some of my work as a therapist as “Clinical Philosophy or Applied Philosophy” (conversations about the client’s life philosophies aimed at helping him or her to clarify, understand, and broaden attitudes and beliefs). In academic psychology this approach could be perceived as a branch of cognitive psychology.
MA: Dance/Movement Therapy (New York University)
At 34 years of age and after twelve years of international travel, I had developed an informed sense of the world and its diverse inhabitants. I felt motivated to integrate my experiences and articulate them in a more focused manner. I decided to attend graduate school in a program that coalesced my humanistic inclinations with my affinity for dance and psychology.
The Dance/Movement Therapy program at NYU was wonderful : gutsy, visceral, conceptual, alternative yet grounded. We observed and analyzed bodies and movement and interacted with each other, and with patients, on a tangible level that felt sincere and straightforward. When I did a full time, six month internship as a Dance/Movement Therapist at The Payne Whitney Clinic at New York Hospital, I was astonished at the disregard for the body and its relevance to mental health. To me this was preposterous. It was at this time that I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Perhaps I could integrate my life experience, philosophy, somatics, and sensitivity into a profession that had cultural validity and gave me the intrinsic satisfaction in helping others.
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Focus: Psychotherapy, Couples Counseling, Abnormal Psychology
Dissertation: Regressive States of Consciousness
I worked full time for eight years to earn this degree. I was 39 years old when I started and viewed myself as an international man with a vision of the spaciousness and possibilities of life. The focus, concentration, self-restraint, and time it took to earn this degree brought me to my knees. I felt surrounded by intelligent, supportive, and well-intended people, but the personal sacrifices and the oppression of my spirit were almost unbearable. Fortunately, I prevailed with the help of loved ones, friends, and grace. Perhaps I should add ‘perseverance’ to give myself some credit.
I could begin by saying that I am educated and reasonably intelligent. I’ve always been a “thinker” and continue to take great pleasure in contemplation and reflection. Perhaps this is a requisite for being a good “therapist” but not the essential quality…“necessary but not sufficient.”
The ‘Heart’… One can be as smart as a rocket scientist (meant to be funny), but without an open heart, one cannot be a good therapist. Compassion is about “opening up” without fear or hesitation to life’s inevitable challenges and heartbreaks, in oneself and others. Feel it, fall down, cry. The sleeplessness, torment, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, finances, health, inferiority, loneliness, obsessions, failure, and self doubt are here to stay…the endless problems in living.
Strong therapists have open hearts and are ready to see, feel, and help. A therapist needs to be smart and have a heart.
I traveled for twelve years, from 1968 to 1980, with little money and mostly alone. As you can imagine, the story is a long one, one that cannot be fully honored here. My travels enhanced my ability to communicate with others and taught me to accept without judgment the enormous diversity that exists within the human race. When one is traveling, there is a constant deconstruction and reconsolidation of one’s perceptual and conceptual constructs. This hopefully creates a freedom and spaciousness that enables the individual to adapt and connect intuitively to a broad range of people and places.
For eight of these years I did not speak English. I spoke French, Portuguese and German. For most of the three years I spent in Brazil, I lived in a black fishing village in Bahia. I lived in a mud hut with a roof made of palm leaves, with no running water, bathroom, or electricity for thirty miles. My hut was located on a long stretch of sand and coconut trees between the ocean and a wide fresh water lagoon. The natural beauty and silence filled me with awe; the children in the village were full of life and spontaneity. I played guitar and flute, ran, swam, collected shells, and did yoga.
I also lived two years in Paris and spent time in Germany, Switzerland, The Canary Islands, Ibiza Spain, and a year each in the Caribbean and Senegal. I also traveled within the United States.
I see my travels as my primary qualification for being a psychotherapist. As some of you know and some of you can imagine, traveling can open up the mind, heart, and spirit.
I have practiced yoga for 42 years. I first studied yoga at a “Maison des Jeunes” in Villejuif, a poor suburb three kilometers south of Paris. This was in 1969. The teacher, an old and gentle man, arrived in what the French would consider a poor man’s car, a deuxchevaux, grey and tank-like. He moved more slowly than his car with an ease and grace that left me with a beautiful impression of yoga. Since then, most of my practice has been done alone, often on beaches or near water. Yoga has no destination point; there is constant change and variation. The practice grows; the practitioner grows. At this point in my personal practice my body tells me what to do next…“move here“…“breath here“…“make this sound.” Yoga is one of many practices that we can choose to do for our general well-being. I know it has been incredibly helpful to me.
I taught at UNC-Chapel Hill for twenty-one years… and loved it. For six of those years I was a graduate student. For fifteen years I was an adjunct faculty member and an Adjunct Assistant Professor. It was an honor and a privilege to do this work. I taught mostly personality theory, abnormal psychology, and psychotherapy (also some existentialism and Eastern philosophy). I received five teacher of the year awards, two as a graduate student and three as an adjunct faculty. For seventeen years, I team taught large classes with over 300 students. For six years I taught two of these large classes a semester, which means that I had (including summer school) over 1,300 students a year. During each spring semester, there were 5,200 students at the school who had had me for a teacher. I had a great connection my students, many of whom later came to me for therapy. I enjoyed my time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I miss the students, my colleagues, the trees, and the distinctive energy of the college community.
I currently live with my wife (together now for 31 years) in the woods on a clean, five acre pond. I have an office with a separate entrance and restroom. It is private and very quiet here. My three dogs sometimes interrupt the silence, but only upon first arrival. I do keep them in the house when clients arrive.
I am confident in my abilities as a therapist and feel fortunate to be a part of this profession. My clients seem to be satisfied with the work we do together. I spend a great a great deal of time thinking about their concerns and problems outside of our formal sessions.
I look forward to meeting every new client because of the one-on-one human connection. In addition, work also affords me the opportunity to possibly help someone, something that gives me great satisfaction at this point in my life.
The therapy process is hard to describe. No two people are the same, and no two sessions are the same. We communicate honestly, openly, and without pretense. The intention is clear: to establish safety, authenticity and focus, and to work hard for sixty minutes.
Education and Qualifications