Why "Therapist in the Wild"? [66]

Dr. Keith WittCultural Commentary

TIWYou’ve probably seen one or two of the Therapist in the Wild episodes that my son Ethan and I are producing for our website. You might have asked yourself, “Why are they doing this?”

Well, first of all, Ethan and I are having so much fun that the pure pleasure of the process is an end in itself.

Dig a little deeper, and the origins of Therapist in the Wild go back almost ten years to the first Integral Psychotherapy conference just outside of Boulder, Co.

I was excited about the conference for different reasons. I was totally in love with Integral Psychology, was stoked to finally meet Ken Wilber (the philosopher/originator of Integral), and had brought a manuscript entitled Integral Sex Therapy that I was quite proud of. It combined my own knowledge of couples and sexuality with David Deida’s teachings about the masculine and feminine, expanded through the Integral model of Quadrants, Levels, Lines, States, and Types. I naively thought this synthesis would instantly inspire other theorist/practitioners and make me a central part of the Integral Psychotherapy conversation. It didn’t. My own immaturities and lack of social connections with the Integral movement were clearly problems I needed to address, and yet–despite these humbling discoveries–I left the conference even more excited and enthused than when I arrived.

Throughout the five days we spent together I was lit up by the presenters and attendees–especially Ken Wilber–and challenged to grow and put my own ideas about love, spirituality, science, and psychotherapy out into the world. I went home, began weekly sessions with counselor/spiritual teacher Patricia Albere (founder of the Evolutionary Collective which I joined for four years), and wrote two books, Waking Up: Psychotherapy as art, spirituality, and science, and Sessions: all therapy supports relationships integrating toward unity. Both were practical operationalizations of Integrally Informed Psychotherapy, which to this day I believe is the future of psychotherapy.

I found that I had a passion for teaching ideas and techniques that support love and healing, and so I continued to write books–The Attuned Family, and The Gift of Shame are available on Amazon.com, and I have several unpublished manuscripts looking for publishing homes–and began teaching at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute and lecturing around the country. During this process I became more and more interested in how people learn and grow, and what forms of input maximize health, love, and development. Integral is all about multiple perspectives and optimal solutions, and I kept experimenting with different combinations to inspire and guide. In my classes I told jokes, sang songs with my students, practiced yogas and meditations, encouraged them to find their own channels of inner wisdom, and kept reaching for new messages and activities to support learning and transformation. I also accelerated my own studies of development, neurobiology, cultural anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and intimacy–all of which yielded new insights and opinions.

I got a lot better at asking for feedback and direction, and friends and guides helped me create www.drkeithwitt.com, The School of Love, The School of Love Lecture series, and the other blogs, articles, and videos you can find on YouTube and the website.

This all led to a particular conundrum of how to use who you are to encourage the evolutionary impulse in modern culture. The perspectives I’ve integrated into an inclusive epistemology of existence are beautiful to me–and have led me to strongly believe that we all yearn to individually and collectively evolve towards unity with everything and service to each other–but the whole structure is too big and complex to describe easily to anybody, no matter how engaging I make lectures or accessible I make my books and blogs.

Also, there is the problem of modern brains. Starting with advent of TV, and accelerating through our current screen-dominated culture, human brains have changed. Looked at as a group, people born from the 1970’s onward have brains that require more stimulation to keep focused, have shorter attention spans, and are less curious about inner paradoxes–are literally less able to engage in critical thinking. One telling statistic is that in the 1970’s 70% of Republican men trusted and relied on science. That figure is 30% today. It seems that the Age of Reason that began with the Enlightenment in Europe in the 17th century, has been changing into the Age of Stimulation, Compartmentalization, and Effective Marketing in the current era.

Enter Therapist in the Wild. I wanted a channel into the popular culture that would be stimulating and enjoyable to modern brains, and perhaps magnetize people into the dynamic evolutionary processes of human love and development that have increasingly consumed me throughout my life.

Also, like Bill O’Hanlon, one of my favorite lecturers on Positive Psychology, I believe the human gift of laughter makes everything better and more interesting. We all enjoy teachers with a sense of humor. The Therapist in the Wild speaks to that part of us who looks with total amazement at the human condition in all its countless forms, and finds the whole dance completely amazing and often hilarious.

So, that’s why “Therapist in the Wild.”