I have long felt fortunate to have studied at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto in the early ’60s. St. Mike’s in those days was the home of Marshall McLuhan and Gregory Baum — to name only two inspiring luminaries — and also had a wonderful English Department. (My chosen field was English language and literature.) There was an exciting feeling of intellectual ferment on the local (St. Mike’s) and larger (U of T) campuses. Unhappily, it was also a time of dreadful emotional crisis for me. My university days and nights truly were “the best of times and the worst of times.”
In 1965, I launched what I thought would be my career — high school teaching. In 1967, my earlier crisis having reached an intolerable level, I began therapy at Therafields. Soon after I joined my first group and in 1968 was invited into a ‘Learning’ (training) Group.
Though I loved teaching senior high-school students and was very dedicated, I began to realize that my passions were gradually shifting to the work of psychotherapy. I became more and more impressed with the degree of change that was possible in therapy, especially through my experience of group therapy. Consequently, in 1972 I left teaching and began full-time psychotherapy work, individual and group, under the auspices of Therafields.
The Therafields experience for me was largely very positive, and when it ended in the early ’80s, I was for a time rather ‘at sea,’ though my individual and group therapy practice continued.
I became greatly rejuvenated when I was invited to join the CTP faculty in 1986. The opportunity to work with dedicated, visionary colleagues, the great respect accorded to studying the major texts of our tradition, the special emphasis given to the experiential component in our training, the chance to teach again, and with eager students to be part of, in Joel Whitton’s felicitous phrase, “a community of learners” have all been nourishing, challenging and thrilling to me.
My work at CTP has included: conducting first and second-year academic seminars, lecturing, conducting a concentration on Winnicott, conducting training groups, leading supervision seminars and offering individual supervision.
There is more to come, I am sure. I look forward to broadening my horizons as we collectively continue our attempts to understand the art of psychotherapy and to plumb the mysteries of human nature, all the while, I hope, not taking ourselves too seriously. Adam Phillips (one of my favourite writers these days) says: “(Psychoanalysts) take themselves and their professionalization too seriously, something their theory should make them a bit suspicious of.” “In accepting the hat,” Owen Chadwick wrote of Cardinal Newman, “He lost nothing of his unpomp.” The unconscious, for which no one ever receives a hat, should be a continual (secular) reminder of “unpomp.”