I was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in 1947, and moved shortly after that to St. Catharines, Ontario, where I grew up. I have always been interested in people, but my interest in books didn’t begin until I was in my early 20’s.
It’s still somewhat of a mystery to me how I found my way to university, and when I did, I soon learned that undergraduate psychology courses offered little to my interest in people (though you could learn quite a bit about rats at the time), so I switched majors and studied English literature.
After graduating, I worked at a number of jobs that had little to do with literature; factory work, truck driving, bartending…. then travelled quite extensively in Europe and Asia, before returning to do graduate work in religion and philosophy. My second graduate degree, in applied psychology, was attained a number of years later during my career as a college teacher. My psychotherapy training at the CTP began in the early 1980’s.
I believe that psychotherapy promotes change when the therapist is successful in becoming an ally and a trusted witness to the more troubled and shameful aspects of the client’s inner world. This is made possible through the gradual building of a specialized, but actual relationship between the two people. Psychoanalytic theory, which has been evolving for a century, is an invaluable guide to that process. However, it is a theory, and must be held lightly and not be used to obscure the person of the therapist.
The theorists who most actively inform my work at this point are the Intersubjective Group: Robert Stolorow, George Atwood, Bernard Brandchaft, Donna Orange et al., whose therapeutic sensibilities can be traced back all the way through Kohut, Guntrip, Winnicott, and Balint to Ferenczi.
As important as these and other thinkers are to my work as a therapist, the foundation of whatever skills I may bring to this work rests upon my own individual and group psychotherapeutic journey. The areas of our own personalities that remain unexamined are the places that we unconsciously avoid helping our clients explore. This is one of the truly interesting, and at the same time challenging things about this profession; we remain works-in-progress for as long as we do this work with integrity.