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Opinion & Essays - Feb, 1993 Issue #20 

a new model for healing the whole person.
Anne Wilson Schaef, Harper Collins, 1992
A Review by Steve Cawdrey 406-827-4381

(Steve Cawdrey was founder and director of Spring Creek Community School in Western Montana for several years before taking a sabbatical to re-evaluate working with children. This book review is the first of a series Steve will write regarding what he has learned and concluded.)

I opened my long awaited copy outside the UC bookstore in Missoula and followed an old quirk of mine: I read the dedication. At that moment I knew that this book was really different and that I was in for one of those life changing experiences.

The dedication is an eloquent and humble amends to the author's former clients and workshop participants and others she has harmed in doing a very good job as a psychotherapist--using techniques, manipulations and information based on a system that isn't working to help people and is often destructive. And this is only the dedication. Did this ever ring bells for me.

The is a book about Schaef's work and journey over twenty-five years in her profession. For the last ten years she has compiled a powerful body of written and experiential work in the unfolding of what she calls Living In Process. And the entire book manifests this new paradigm! It is not another author writing and theorizing ad nauseam about holistic or New Age ideas while operating from the existing model. I feel included and invited to participate in this book--and that strikes me as indicative of the intimacy, trust and spirituality that Schaef describes as natural in living our process.

The book has three distinct sections. The first is a very engaging personal story of her life and career as a psychotherapist. She trained and learned from many of the "greats" in psychology and theology over the years. It was helpful and riveting to see these people in human terms. I found myself picking up the book at any spare moment as I would my favorite novel.

Here, Anne says it honestly, "Will I be too vulnerable if I expose myself this way? Will my attackers and detractors find fuel for their fires (which they will do anyway, regardless of what I say or do)?...Will it seem arrogant to share my development and the emergent threads in that process? ...The process is the participating fully in our part of the universe and is the information."

The middle section is the first time Anne has written about the actual work she has done at her Intensives and Trainings over the last ten years in the USA, Germany and New Zealand. I found this section very interesting to read since I have been in the Basic and Advanced Training these past 3 and 1/2 years. The description was accurate, thorough and clear. I felt myself right there watching, listening and participating at an Intensive.

The final section challenged me to the core: all my training, assumptions and theory on which I have operated in education and therapy. I have spent a career on developing alternative educational programs that would "fix" or "change" a teenager. All the approaches and systems that I have seen or used evolve from a modern science bias: objective, analytical, interpretative, cause and effect, measurable, mechanistic, reductionistic, dualistic. Yet, are our programs honestly working? The number of families and children needing help continues to escalate. And what about the parents who now seek help after their experience at one of our special purpose schools or alternative treatment centers? Time for us to consider we may be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. These are indicators of an underlying addictive process.

In short, the institutionalized co-dependence in our educational and therapy based programs doesn't bode well for the long term and we, as the administrators, teachers, counselors and consultants need to take an honest look if we are contributing to the problem. Are we too blinded by "success" or the demand to step back and do a searching appraisal?

This book could facilitate an opportunity for us to see a alternative view and even make a shift if needed. When I took a break 18 months ago, I needed a chance to truly find a different way and not just continue changing the content and keeping the processes the same. I highly recommend reading this book personally, professionally and organizationally.

Copyright 1993, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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