There are many influences that have impacted my path and training in integrative work. First I have devoted myself to self-study since my teenage years, when I first began to explore meditation and yoga. I have read voraciously about Eastern philosophy and my thirst for knowledge lead me to find teachers and inspiration in unlikely places. My first psychotherapist also had a profound affect on me. She was well versed in contemplative therapy with a deep personal practice. She applied a multi-modal perspective that integrated other therapeutic models with a baseline contemplative approach. She taught me the difference between having an intellectual understanding of contemplative principals and a personal transformative experience. After a 30-year career in the music business I have made a change and realized a lifelong dream of devoting myself to the service of others seeking mental health care and applying my ongoing inquiry into integrative contemplative work.
For me, the word “contemplative” as it applies to psychotherapy refers to the healing aspects of Eastern philosophy. I have made a lifelong study of yoga and Buddhism and have been drawn to them for their honest and direct approach to the human condition. Without the need for often stigmatizing diagnoses, contemplative medicine assumes the system is holistically sound and has the capacity to find and maintain integrity. Without an agenda replete in morality and proselytism, contemplative medicine identifies the psychological traps that lead to suffering and offers practical and meaningful solutions. While yoga philosophy dates as far back as 5,000 years or more, Western psychology is a very new science. Recently it has seen marvelous advances and discoveries particularly as they pertain to the study of trauma and neuroscience. New therapy models have arisen such as EMDR and Internal Family Systems, which offer exciting and effective new approaches. It is an exciting time to work in the field of psychotherapy as the integration of Western advances and Eastern tradition arm the therapist and researcher with powerful and innovative possibilities.
Collaboration on many levels offers opportunities for mental health care that is effective, efficient, and innovative, and my practice benefits from all of them. At the systematic health-care level, the sharing of medical history and consultation with primary medical care practitioners enables me to meet my clients’ needs holistically and comprehensively. Collaboration between therapists and researchers expands my opportunities for learning about other modalities, such as MDMA-assisted therapy and trans magnetic cranial stimulation, that can yield promising results, thus enabling me to expand the scope of my resources as a caregiver. Collaboration with therapists outside the field of psychotherapy has shown the benefit of “bottom-up” treatments such as martial arts, yoga, cranial-sacral therapy, and sensorimotor psychotherapy, and facilitates my ability to offer my clients additional viable alternatives. My practice has and will continue to benefit from all the aforementioned forms of collaboration, but perhaps the most important and necessary collaboration for me takes place with other mental health practitioners. There is no understating the benefits I reap from liaising with them to share ideas, seek guidance, and gather insights about the issues my clients face, as well as address my own vicarious trauma as it arises.
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