Mar 20

How I Became A Psychotherapist

I remember sitting with a group of people at a workshop in Fairmount Park, in a house owned by the park, located in Philadelphia. In the early 1970’s. I had finished a master’s degree in education form the Urban Teacher Preparation Program at Syracuse University and had come to Philadelphia to work in an inner city environment. I found myself excited by the work I did in the schools bringing a humanistic perspective to inner city children. I harbored a desire to raise self-esteem as well as teach. The air smelled of spring and the windows were open. It was delicious. I looked at the facilitator who had a Gestalt Psychology background, and I had a strong inner jolt: “I want to be doing that.”
Certainly part of that jolt was ego, maybe part was envy, even jealousy, but the strongest part lived beyond words. It pulled up from my essence saying this is my life path, what I am meant to do, want I want to do.
John Pierrakos told me he felt the same thing when we first met. We stood in the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia 10 years later, 1983. He had just presented a seminar on body reading and bowled over by its content I went up to where he was standing to ask if I could study with him. Later he told me that he knew right then that we would work closely together in the future.
When I was 16, my English teacher asked my class to write autobiographies. I wrote that I planned to be a psychologist in the future. Although this was1964 and I had never met a psychologist, I knew it intuitively. It became my dream and I never wavered.
I began my BA degree at Carnegie Mellon with the intention of studying psychology as an undergraduate. But it did not come to pass. I knew what I wanted to study, I knew it in my heart, I knew that I wanted to help people be more authentic, true to themselves. I also knew that I could not bring myself to accept the behavioral curriculum advanced by the psychology department and their emphasis on Skinner. So I changed my major to literature and I have no regrets. Because Camus, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky taught me what I need to learn about life and people.