As life and technology would have it, a few months ago, my guest’s interview got short circuited and so I was glad to bring David Bedrick back on. He is the author of Talking Back To Dr. Phil which offers alternatives to mainstream psychology without dissing the television icon. A valuable conversation can ensue when we challenge commonly held beliefs. “Dr. Phil is not an enemy, not someone I want to take down. On his show, he is a ‘strawman’ for mainstream psychology. He says “How’s it working for you?” as if thinking that if we know what isn’t in our best interest, (such as eating too much ice cream) we will stop doing it.” Instead, David finds that going deeper, moving into inquiry about their relationship with the ice cream can yield treasures. Simply telling people what to do doesn’t work, since most resist being directed in that way.
We were clearly on a sweetness roll as early on, he spoke about a client he had who had a dream about giving out candy, with the idea that superficiality isn’t completely nourishing. “Psychology itself has gotten a little bit candy like. You’re feeling depressed, let me lift you up.” with simple solution orientation.
We shared the concept of ‘walking with clients’ through their pain and challenges and being with them where they are, joining with them temporarily and “finding the gold” in the midst of the muck. He has become, in a sense, a ‘professional miner’. He had a powerful query for a client who has had multiple surgeries and a great deal of pain. “What’s it like being you?” which is one of the most profound therapeutic and intimate questions we can ask anyone. Their shared journey opened doors for her and she truly felt heard and seen.
“The question of ‘what is healing?’ asks if that is the removal or relief of something we don’t like or is it finding some kind of gold or healing? Sometimes pain goes away, sometimes as a result of the pain, their life will flower. Depression is a downward motion and sometimes in that downward motion, there is a dream that could help one’s life unfold.” He added that the word psyche’ is from the same root as the word soul. Tending to a garden is what we may be doing. Quoting poet Antonio Machado, David asked “What have I done with the garden entrusted to me?”
“People are as diverse and cultured as nature. As therapists we found that we are “soul gardeners” so that they (clients)look like that unique piece of nature that they really are.”
He is writing a new book on dreams (as yet untitled), having been trained by a Jungian analyst. He says “Dreams fill in all the stuff we leave out.” On Facebook, he has requested that people share their dreams and offers commentary and from that, he will compile chapters. I suggested that he may hear the title in a dream.
Throughout our time together, we touched on loss and grief, death and dying. In his perspective, the AIDS epidemic has invited people to open the door to discussing how to care for someone who is in the end stage of disease. “Love helps to ease the pain. Love is walking with the person, rather than just helping them feel better. Living in their world a little bit ,” is part of it as well. It seems that much of David’s work is picking up the thread of what the person is saying and using it as a jumping off point to move more deeply using the ‘language’ with which the person is most comfortable. “Most people don’t know how to die. Who teaches us?” Perhaps life itself is the teacher.
David Bedrick, J.D., Dipl. PW, is an educator, counselor, attorney, organizational consultant, and writer. His broad range of knowledge is apparent in the scope of topics he taught while on the faculty of the University of Phoenix, including courses on philosophy (critical thinking and ethics) and psychology (addictions and dependencies, negotiation and mediation, clinical interviewing, cultural diversity, ethics in human services, and group work), as well as employment law and conflict management in the MBA program. As a practitioner of process-oriented psychology, a branch of Jungian psychology, he has worked with groups, couples, and individuals for nearly twenty years. His graduate work in psychology at the University of Minnesota and clinical training at the Process Work Institute, where he is a diplomate and teacher as well as serving on the ethics committee and on the advisory board for the master’s program in conflict resolution, provided the basis for the “love-based psychology” he advocates in this book, Talking Back To Dr. Phil: Alternatives To Mainstream Psychology.