In these posts, I am exploring the impact of retirement, that of being a resource looking for a need. Potentially, retirement (re-attire-ment) is a change to a new direction in my life. It is an interesting exploration, but because of the difficulty of finding a new way to be a resource, it is not very satisfying. However, as always, life is in evolution.
In the last post, I indicated that up until the 1980s, therapy was a field that varied from brilliance to abusive. In my own work, I strived to practice the brilliance. Therapy itself is about risking — the client was/is generally seeking resolution of major life issues, wherein there is no set pattern or protocol. At the same time, the client is always intent (at an other-than-conscious level) on avoiding this life issues — because of the pain they represent.
My job as therapist was often to be supportive while at the same time, in metaphoric fashion, I was setting a trap that reproduced the difficulty with which the client struggled. The traps challenged the client to be authentic, and to find creative resolution to the issues. Sometimes the work was very gentle, but at other times, it could be very confronting. Yet always I was seeking authenticity of experience. As therapist, I would often risk as much as the client, wherein the traps I set could have been misinterpreted by an outside observer. But I worked well, and many people wanted to work with me.
Overall, I practiced under the radar. The field of therapy was becoming much more regulated, and risk aversive. On several occasions, the ways in which I worked with people were challenged by hierarchies, and I was able to successfully defend myself. But I was aware that I was gradually restricting the ways in which I worked with people. Still good work, but … (defensive driving is generally a good thing, but defensive therapy is not).
I actually wrote my first book Blowing Out The Darkness as a result of this. One day, I received an unsolicited email advertisement from someone who claimed that they had the best anger management program in North America. But in the body of the text, it also said that the methodology was not effective for the “more hardened characters.” I took offense at this, and said to myself “Bull. My process is effective!” I was also aware of the arrogance of the email, discounting the “more hardened characters” because the program was ineffective. Hence, my book.
Thus, I was able to contribute in ways that were very satisfying to me. In many respects, these years were the happiest and most satisfying of any in my life.
As well, during my career as therapist, I attempted on a number of occasions to take my work to a higher level, to a larger audience, but for reasons that still elude me, I was unsuccessful. Opportunities arose to work with the Canadian Army, the American Army, Air Canada, and a number of other organizations but always they faded. People said they liked my work and my book, and that they would get back to me, but somehow they didn’t. Perhaps someone criticized me in the background, or perhaps people wanted more of a quick fix. And again, people have busy lives — that was the explanation given in a few cases.
I also did my PhD from this perspective. Again, I wanted to take my work to a higher level, and I thought that by getting back into an academic environment, I would find a way to network more effectively. I also wanted to research the issues that had limited me as a therapist, those of laziness and fearfulness.
To be continued.