John O’Donohue on the Therapist’s Task

John ODonohue

By Rich Simon By now, it’s a standard joke that most New Year’s resolutions made with great earnestness on January 1—often having to do with losing the weight we gained since last New Year’s—are usually history by January 2. Still, for therapists at least, it’s a natural impulse as the new year begins to reflect a bit on our lives, our relationships, and perhaps even the future of our profession.

As we struggle to adapt to the depersonalizing market forces shaping the mental health field today, many therapists feel that what we do is increasingly out of synch with the social zeitgeist of our era. We don’t need to be reminded of the horrible violence in Sandy Hook, the turmoil of our political system, the way that direct conversation has increasingly been co-opted by digital interaction, or the constant evidence of the runaway power of consumerism to question whether the qualities we cherish as healers—human connection, personal responsibility, maturity, and self mastery—are becoming more and more endangered in America today.

Nevertheless, at our best and most hopeful moments, most of us like to think that in some small way we as therapists contribute to the humanizing—or maybe we should say, re-humanizing—of society. At the same time, it’s hard to see how any of us can meet the challenge of therapeutic practice today in isolation. I think that’s why gatherings like the Networker Symposium are so important. To do the difficult work we do, we need to be regularly recharged with the inspiration, the sense of connection, and the feeling of passionate “rightness” that brought us into this profession in the first place. What makes the annual pilgrimage to the Symposium worth it for so many therapists over the decades is the possibility of reawakening the feeling of being part of something larger than most of us typically experience in the seclusion of our offices.

One remarkable moment that epitomizes why the Symposium serves as a beacon for so many came in an address delivered several years ago by John O’Donohueperhaps the most beloved Symposium presenter everon the essence of the therapist’s task. Poet, former priest, genius with words, magnificent and magical presence, John transported us just through his lilting voice and wild laughter. If ever anybody embodied the full range of healing qualities to which we all aspire, John was the one.

Over the past 35 years, there have been many such transcendent Symposium moments. They live on in the field’s collective memory and many of these highlightsincluding segments featuring Gloria Steinem, Tom Wolfe, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mary Pipher, Salvador Minuchin, along with John O’Donohue and othersare included in the 35th Networker Symposium Anniversary Video; a kind of crème de la crème of the Symposium at its most unforgettable.

You Can Watch the Entire Inspiring 35th Anniversary Video
Again and Again. It’s Absolutely Free When You
Register For Symposium 2013 Before Midnight, January 14.

Click here for details

Sign up before Midnight, January 14 and we’ll send you the video link. You can also order the video by going to Playback Now. Either way, you’ll have the pleasure of revisiting some of the most luminous memories of the Symposium and you can begin the new year with a renewed vision of the therapist you wish to be and a profession of which you can be proud.

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