I have been interested in psychology since I was about 10 years old. My dad was a psychoanalyst in New York City and his office was in our house. I saw his patients every day and was curious about what he did with them once they went into the office. It seemed like a mystery that people were being helped just by lying on a couch and talking.
As we grew up, my sister and I both took a strong interest in psychology and have both become clinical psychologists. So you might say, it was “all in the family”. However, the idea of talking to someone one- on-one about their relationships with people who weren’t in the room, struck me as kind of strange.
Once in graduate school at the University of Rhode Island back in the early 70’s, I learned about something called Family Therapy where you saw the whole family at once. Then, instead of talking to someone about someone else, you could have the people talk to each other right in front of you. That made a lot more sense to me and turned out to be a lot more fun. And besides, it was exciting to do something so different from what my sister and father did.
In 1984, I began teaching Family Dynamics and Couples Therapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where I soon became a member of the Core Faculty. In my Family Dynamics class, the students brought in their families of origin and I worked with them doing family therapy right there in the classroom.We continue to do this with with powerful results that cannot be called anything but transformational. In the couples class, students brought in their partners for an in-class session as well. I am still at CIIS and feel so honored to be able to do what is clearly my life’s work.
I began my private practice in 1980 and soon realized that I only wanted to do only Relationship Therapy, to work with couples and families and run groups. I began my Interpersonal Therapy Group in Berkeley and San Francisco, and later began teaching Group Dynamics at CIIS. Group Therapy is very near and dear to my heart. It is so satisfying to see strangers begin to connect and develop their own”family”, often a healthier one than the one they had growing up.
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