What was your favorite experience while concentrating in the UM Psychology Department?
I enjoyed going to a Church Service and then listening to an audiotape of an exorcism with a Psychology of Religion professor and then discussing both as a small class from the perspective of psychology. The discussions stretched the boundaries of thinking in psychological terms to include a fuller range of human experience than was normally taught in classes, opening the way to begin thinking about the question I have addressed in one form or another ever since—the question of “what fulfills a human life?”
Favorite Psychology class & why
I established a Psychology Tutorial with a U of M Professor who was also interested in where the field of psychology was going. I read 35 books at the then front edge of psychology during quite an interesting time in the field’s expansion into new realms. We got together weekly to discuss them. I enjoyed the freedom and opportunity to explore fresh insights into the field and find my own interest directly from first and not second-hand sources.
What was your first step after undergraduate graduation & how did it impact your career path?
I interviewed and was accepted to Adelphi University’s Clinical Psychology PhD program. While the level of clinical education was quite high (at the time rated #1 for Clinical Psychology), I found the freedom to explore the place of high levels of psychological health to be the most interesting direction for me, and I was allowed to teach in that area while being a student. This freedom allowed me to continue to explore the question of “what fulfills a human life?”, and to research what was being done in that area, while still getting a solid foundation in abnormal psychology, psychodynamics, and clinical experience. I was able to set up a clinical internship in the California Bay Area and be close to the action of all of the new methodologies being explored regarding psychological health (est, Esalen, Eastern approaches to enlightenment and health, etc.). After completing my Ph.D., I went on to become an est Trainer working with hundreds of thousands of people, designing training programs for enlightenment and communication, and eventually went on to found my own approach to fulfilling life nearly 20 years ago called Contegrity that addresses living with a deep integrity regarding your strengths, others and their connection to life, Life and how it works, and also with what integrates and fulfills all of those.
What are you doing today?
Designing programs for and consulting to a development community called Contegrity as mentioned above, while having turned over the primary leading and consulting responsibilities to a partner and 20 other leaders who have been developed in my approach to fulfilling life.
What inspired you to enter that field/job/profession?
I had had an enlightenment experience and had read widely in both Eastern religious literature and in existential philosophy and thought that neither fit the American culture nor our times. I thought that psychology ought to rise to being able to provide guidance and insight into how to live well. The exploratory nature of the times (late 1960s and early 1970s) made plenty of room to experiment with large groups of people who were committed to a breakthrough beyond having a “normal” life be the top of the scale. I wanted to be both in on that, and an adventurer in seeing how far and how deep it could go.
How do you use your psychology undergraduate experience in your work?
I continue to honor the freedom to explore across fields, read widely, and bring a rigor to the work I do. I credit the quality of education I had as an environment that encouraged that approach. I also find that depth psychology and psychodynamics comes into play sooner or later no matter who you are dealing with and no matter how successful and happy. Having a background in psychodynamics let me be cognizant of unconscious factors at play in living and to design quicker and more powerful methods of resolving those issues than were available in the early days of psychology as a field.
What excites you most about the future of your profession?
I look forward to psychology breaking out of its early history and limits and taking on the job of integrating human development, neuroscience, high states of psychological health, and principles of living well. I say this while including in that direction developing a realistic approach to the challenges of addressing the weakness of community in our time, the demands of cross-cultural understanding, and the requirements of sufficient flexibility to live in an uncertain and fast changing world.
What advice do you have for students getting a Degree in the UM Psychology Department or considering your profession?
I am not sure my profession has a name as of yet. My advice for students getting a degree in psychology to look to your strengths and the areas of human living that have always interested you, and find a way to make an offer there. If you recognize the need for it, there is likely work to be done, and with a little inventiveness, you can likely find someplace where that offer will be taken seriously. The rest comes from making something worthwhile happen from the opportunities you are given. At the level of change currently happening in the economy, in globalization, in the mixing of fields and disciplines, I would think that it is less important to be able to picture what your job will look like, and more important to pick the direction in which you want to develop your talents and skills. If you hone those, you will likely have something tooffer of value that others will support and pay for.