Iwas born in Iowa in 1942, the oldest of six children. In the fall of 1960 I moved to Chicago, following my girlfriend (later to be first wife) who attended the University there. Myself a high school dropout at that point, I quickly became active in the peace, civil rights and civil liberties movements that were just burgeoning at that time. While my contemporaries were attending colleges and universities, I was touring them, organizing for, among other things, a march on Washington in February of 1962 that culminated with a gathering of 10,000 students for a peace demonstration outside Kennedy’s White House. I was among a small group of event organizers ushered into a White House basement office, where we met with McGeorge Bundy, Ted Sorenson and Jerome Weisner. These Presidential advisors offered us reassurances that we found unpersuasive, and that history proved untenable. 1962 was eventful for me; a month after the White House excursion I married (first of four marriages), and before the year was out became father to an exquisite daughter.
I spent the rest of that decade and into the early years of the next alternating between jobs saving the world, and blue collar work as a printer, machinist, bulk-mail handler, construction laborer, etc. Most of this time I was drinking alcohol all day every day. This compromised my integrity in all of the settings of my life; two marriages suffered gravely, as did my parenting of my daughter, and a jewel of a son from my second marriage. In 1973 I hit bottom in my alcoholism while working for the Environmental Defense Fund in New York City as Assistant Program Support Officer, and Director of Public Information. My boss there, a good friend, drove me to a drunk farm in Western CT, wisely fired me while I was there, and when I got out 19 days later put me up in his finished basement for a couple months until I found employment with an environmental organization in Glastonbury, CT. After about a year I got clear-headed enough to realize how muddled I was; I needed to allow myself to be the person with questions, rather than the person with answers. So I resigned my white-collar job, and spent the next five years in a state of creative cluelessness, unemployed or working in various blue-collar positions, writing poetry and playing music, and courting my third wife.
In 1979, feeling that I might be ready to begin helping people find answers, I started working in the field of addictions treatment as a counselor at a thirty-bed detoxification center in Springfield, MA, assuming the position of Director of Counseling Services after ten months. My detox career spanned seven years at two facilities, during which I completed a “University Without Walls” undergraduate program at Charter Oak College in Hartford, then an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From the detox setting I segued into positions as an outpatient counselor at clinics in Greenfield and Northampton, MA, and was hired at the latter as Director of Family Treatment. I opened a private practice in Northampton in 1987, where I work with individuals, couples and families. I don’t limit my practice to addictions-related work, but the largest share of my caseload deals with those issues.
In the course of my agency and private work I have made presentations on understanding and treating addictions before high school, college and university classes; police cadet groups; court personnel and officers; conducted in-service programs for numerous mental health agencies; and presented at various family-therapy and addictions-treatment workshops. I have been keynote speaker at a variety of professional conferences over the years, and a guest lecturer at the Smith School of Social Work since 1993. I have developed and presented workshops on spirituality in the workplace and on personal authenticity for human service providers, and in the summer of ’08 I presented a one-day workshop on addiction at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn — the New York City branch of Zen Mountain Monastery. Since 1989 I have served as clinical consultant and supervisor for the Holyoke/Chicopee Dual-Diagnosis Project in Western Massachusetts. I served on the Advisory Board of Triad Treatment Center for Co-dependent and Adult Child Disorders in Middletown, CT, and was a member of the founding Board of Directors of the Mass. Assoc. of Alcoholism Counselors (MAAC), and Co-Chairman of the MAAC Standing Committee for Voluntary Certification of Alcoholism Counselors (MCVCAC).
I finally got the hang of marriage, and have been with my beloved wife since 1984. Together we have imperfectly parented our five children, and are more wisely grandparenting four off-sprouts ages eighteen through seven. I enjoy spending time with family, friends, music, Taichi, and mulling over the many mysteries of this precious and perplexing life.