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Whitaker

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CONTACT: Chuck Lakin

                                                                                    (602) 956-6196

marnie@erickson-foundation.org

PROCESS, PRACTICE, AND MAGIC – CONTINUING THE EXPERIENTIAL APPROACH OF CARL WHITAKER EXPLORES AND CONTRASTS TODAY’S “EMPIRE OF OVERREGULATION” IN THE FIELD OF PSYCHOTHERAPY TO A WHITAKER PARADIGM.

As a case for re-humanizing family therapy, as opposed to numbly accepting its soulless “medicalization” in the name of safety and profitability, author David Keith scrutinizes an interview conducted more than 35 years ago by Carl Whitaker and highlights why Whitaker’s unconventional ways worked. Bravely challenging the status quo, Keith rallies for renewed freedom of language and developing a therapeutic Self, and explains how spending time with a “Crazyman” can be good for all concerned.

 

PHOENIX, Ariz. – June 12, 2014 – Carl Whitaker, one of the most influential family therapists of the 20th century, had his loyal following, including David Keith with whom he was a longtime friend, teacher, mentor, co-therapist and collaborator. He also had naysayers, such as one therapist who shortly after Whitaker’s death in 1995 called him a “Crazyman.” But, if a Crazyman means a “full-fledged human being: thoughtful, imaginative, down-to-earth, curious, spiritual, smart, playful, inconsistent, tough, tender, ironic, supportive, rebellious, self-deprecating, loving, and generous,” then a Crazyman is exactly who Keith had chosen to spend a 33-year relationship with – and, he recommends it for other therapists.

For Keith, Whitaker embodied therapeusis, “that elusive complex, energetic, and abstract core of psychotherapy.” And due to his relationship with Whitaker, Keith calls for a higher order — the reshaping of clinical minds. He proposes that therapists learn to listen more carefully, and that they playfully and energetically use language in all its forms — irony, syntax, metaphor, etc. — as opposed to relying on evidence-based methods. Irony, especially, commands Keith’s full attention because the Empire of Overregulation he states leads to a squelched spirit; spirits often high in ‘irony deficiency.” Keith instead champions semiotics, offering an analogy of a forest: “alive, recycling, blossoming, growing, consuming.” He considers semiotics the enigmatic soul of the art of psychotherapy, its heart being caring and empathy. If not for the evil Empire with its bloodless language of “business-eze,” bureaucracy, and bottom-lines, therapists could be free to pursue the passion of truly helping others.

Carl Whitaker took giant steps in this direction, and David Keith is in for the long-haul. Like a marathon runner, Keith has taken up the torch of therapeutic freedom, redefining what it means to really care for patients. Godspeed!

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