|William Doherty Anxiety Symposium 2012 Ethics Attachment Mindfulness Attachment Theory CE Comments Clinical Excellence Alan Sroufe Clinical Mastery Etienne Wenger Mind/Body Community of Excellence Men in Therapy Mary Jo Barrett Brain Science David Schnarch Diets Linda Bacon Trauma Couples Gender Issues Great Attachment Debate Narcissistic Clients Couples Therapy Future of Psychotherapy The Future of Psychotherapy Wendy Behary Challenging Cases|
|The Tribe Gathers - Page 2|
Comparing the disorienting everyday experience of 21st-century life to a supersonic version of a giant salad spinner set at warp speed, Simon declared, "Our so-called civilization has become far too big, too fast, too overwhelming, too technical, too busy—too complicated for our poor Stone Age brains to handle." The issue facing us, he proposed, is nothing less than "the need to find a new way to live our lives." Then in a moment of mock grandiosity, he went on to say, "We guarantee that this year's Networker Symposium will give you The Answer, solve the most taxing problems of 21st-century life—and give you a year's worth of CE credits to boot!"
So what exactly was the "answer" that the Symposium offered? For some, no doubt, answers came in the traditional form of the addresses delivered by the Symposium headliners. But, as therapists well know, the realm of ideas and cognitive understanding represents only the tip of the iceberg of human experience. As much as the content of their talks, it was what different speakers embodied for the audience that accounted for much of their impact.
In his opening keynote, Dan Goleman, author of the groundbreaking Emotional Intelligence, led off by addressing what he referred to as "the ultimate bummer," the prospect of continuing global warming and the destruction of the planet. He walked the fine line between sounding like a grim prophet of impending doom and a reassuring voice of empowerment, encouraging therapists to find their role in leading a consumer movement to break through mass denial and usher in a new era of corporate environmentalism. In a wry put-down of the Positive Psychology movement, celebrated journalist Barbara Erhrenreich underscored the danger of parochial therapeutic fashions that emphasize self-absorbed "personal growth," blinding people to the impact of the larger social and political forces shaping our collective lives. "It's not positive thinking but courage that changes things," she proclaimed. In a strikingly different tone, Buddhist psychologist Tara Brach evoked the healing mission of the therapist in a world in which so many people feel alienated, bereft, alone, and cut off from both nature and the human community. And in what many considered the conference highlight, psychiatrist Dan Siegel quoted Albert Einstein in describing how the burgeoning study of interpersonal neurobiology can move us beyond a preoccupation with the bounded self to "widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
But as much as it's a festival of ideas, at its heart, the Symposium is a tribal experience of collective self-discovery and a search for common purpose. The secret of what draws so many regulars back to the Symposium year after year is its special alchemy, its ability to mix festivity with carefully footnoted professional debate, to throw its audience off-balance, to get attendees to check their constricted everyday professional demeanor at the door, to actually bring to life what we as therapists are supposed to know about relationship, creativity, community, and the liberating fluidity of identity. Coming to the Symposium for many is a rite of renewal, a chance to rediscover why they became therapists in the first place, a time to recapture a sense of professional vision and solidarity so often lacking in our work settings today.