Toward a New Vision of Healing: The Dance of Science, Intuition and Psychotherapy

By Sandmaier, Marian | Family Therapy Networker, November/December 1998 | Go to article overview

Toward a New Vision of Healing: The Dance of Science, Intuition and Psychotherapy


Sandmaier, Marian, Family Therapy Networker


These days, many of us teeter on the edge of information overload. Who can hope to make wise choices among the endless clinical possibilities now screaming for our attention? What we need now and what this year's Family Therapy Network Symposium is designed to provide is a coherent way to understand, assess and act on the extraordinary ferment in our field.

Never before have clinicians been bombarded with so many disparate new research findings and promising clinical methods. On the one hand, we are confronted almost weekly with new data from the hard sciences genetics, biochemistry, neurobiology that persuasively suggest that DNA and brain hormones profoundly influence a huge slice of human behavior. At the other end of the empirical spectrum, some clinicians have begun to explore the power of the unseen call it the spirit, the soul, the quiet genius of intuition to heal emotional wounds and help clients experience a deeper connection to their innermost selves.

The 22nd annual Family Therapy Network Symposium in Washington, B.C., on March 18-21,1999, is an opportunity to consider how these motley strands of new knowledge explorations of the critical connections that exist between brain architecture, the care of the soul, larger social systems and a well-functioning family can possibly be joined with systems practice and other therapy models. A special aim of this year's conference is to show participants, up-close and experientially, the process of transforming the field's most promising, visionary concepts into hardheaded clinical practice. To that end, master practitioners from a wide range of healing approaches including liana Rubenfeld, Thomas Szasz, Monica McGoldrick, Ernest Rossi, Peggy Papp, Sam Keen and Michael White will guide participants through the real-world practicalities of delivering services to clients in more penetrating and effective ways.

For four days, attendees can dive deeply into the waters of professional and personal renewal. Part intellectual salon, part street festival and part nonstop community picnic, this year's Symposium will explore the most vital innovations in today's therapy practice and extend an invitation to participants several invitations, actually to throw off their clinical mantles and spend some quality time with their own personal muses.

At a conference devoted to new visions of healing, it is entirely fitting that Friday morning's keynote speaker will be psychologist Paul Pearsall, one of the nation's foremost practitioners and proponents of health-sustaining collaborations between mind, body and spirit. A licensed clinical psychoneuroimmunologist, Pearsall is author of the bestselling The Pleasure Prescription, The Heart's Code and nine other books. Pearsall is a highly entertaining speaker with a passionately serious message: Our work-obsessed, consumer-bewitched culture is, literally, killing us and our only salvation lies in radically rebalancing our lives. A resident of Hawaii who has deeply immersed himself in Polynesian culture, Pearsall will demonstrate how the latest scientific findings on the psyche-soma connection point unequivocally to the wisdom of the ancient Hawaiian principle of "pono" a gentle, life-sustaining balance between love, work and play.

In the Saturday morning plenary, strategic family therapy pioneer and world-renowned therapist Cloe Madanes will speak of the ways in which her own deepening awareness of multiple healing sources mind, body, spirit, community has informed and transformed her work during a 35-year career. Currently director of the Family Therapy Institute of Washington, D.C., and author of Behind the One-Way Mirror and four other books, Madanes will discuss how her extensive work with trauma victims and socially disenfranchised groups has influenced her understanding of the complex requirements of emotional recovery and growth. …

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