Friday, June 05, 2020

To A Sky Searcher: Robert Elliott on his 70th (Poem by Art Bohart)

Note: Art Bohart, a long-time friend and fellow Californian, made my day last Sunday by writing a poem for me on the occasion of my 70th birthday.  He has kindly given permission for me to present it here on my blog. 

To A Sky Searcher: Robert Elliott on his 70th

May there always be chocolate;
May the sky continue to open as you move on
And look;
May there always be stars to find
Words to uncover
Ideas to mine
And treasures to bring back and share with others

May you continue to encourage others
As you encouraged me that long ago time In Leuven
May you, Diane, Karen and I share more times.
Like the times I’ve shared with you
Through Chicago, to eating French fries with peanut sauce in Egmund
To exploring the catacombs of Rome
To sweltering among the ruins near the Colosseum.

May there be more time for meta-analyses
That help keep an important point of view alive
That help keep alive a door into healing for clients
A unique door,
Which you have helped find and create.

And may there always be things
To plant and grow.

Happy birthday on your 70th!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Turning 70: Cum Gratis


Numbers are nice but words are wonderful
Filling us with wonder ‘til we overflow

As kids, my brother Willy and I
Spent many Lodi summer nights
Sleeping outside in our backyard
Among the stars and almond trees. 

Those were the days before light pollution
Washed out the night sky.
Laying there we looked up into the field of stars
So bright and deep, sometimes it felt
As if we were falling into them.

Now as then, my head was filled
With science fiction dreams:
I wanted to go there, out to the stars.

The closest star, I knew, was Proxima Centauri:
Red dwarf star, a bit more than 4 light years away,
About 40 trillion kilometres.

By now I’ve taken seventy trips
On planet Terra around our local star, 
At more than 100,000 kilometres per hour.

If you do the math (which I did)
That’s almost 66 billion kilometres, a lot.
But still only about a 600th of the distance
to Proxima Centauri.
To get there at this rate, I must accept,
Would take 600 of these lifetimes,
more than 40,000 years,
The amount of time since people first painted caves.

And if I got there, what I’d find, I now know,
Would be one possibly habitable planet,
Hugging its star, tidally locked and shocked
By random stellar flares. 
I now wonder:
Why would I want to go there?


I’ve always felt lucky to have been born
in such a round numbered year as 1950.

But even so, when I was a kid,
in the dangerous ‘50’s and ‘60’s
I certainly didn’t think I’d make it to the age of 70:
If nuclear Armageddon didn’t get us first,
then pollution would. 

Of course, each of these might still get us.
But here we are:
We have somehow muddled through.

In my hypervigilance I’ve consistently
Pessimised our future, sold us short;
I’ve underestimated us, me and my fellow humans:
Our folly is not complete
But balanced at times by wisdom;
So far, it’s not been great,
But it has been enough to keep us going.

I see now, after years of studying anxiety
In myself and my clients:
My vision of darkness and doom
has always been a search for light


So help me celebrate 70 years, and
The good we’ve done together,
The people we’ve helped:
The children, students, clients, patients.

The light we’ve shined in the darkness,
Dispelling misery, hatred, despair
(And not just ours).
Our drifting apart, our reconnecting,
The times of crisis, injury and recovery,

The connections made,
The love we’ve found, and made, and gave,
The happiness, the good-natured jokes,
The stories told and heard, and told again.

The passing from one generation to the next:
What our parents, and grandparents, gave us,
What we in turn have given
To our children and grandchildren.

And celebrate the space we’ve been given
to be ourselves.
I know we could do better
But we are striving to give this space
To those who follow us.

So let us celebrate these things and more.
Friends, family, universe: Thank you.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Spring 2020 EFT Glasgow Network meeting, Saturday, 23 May 2020

We are excited to announce the first online Scottish EFT Network meeting!  Using Zoom technology (Skype as back up), we will be trying out a new 3-hour format for the Age of COVID19. 

Date: Saturday, 23 May 2020Time: 13.00 – 16.00 (UK time)

Place: Zoom (Back up: Skype): Please email Robert to request an invitation (please include your Skype address in case of Zoom outage)

Timetable/Approximate Timings:
13.00: Brief check-in/update on your practice, plus Scottish EFT Institute update
13.30: Video: New EFT video from Les Greenberg
14.30: Social time/networking: Have a cup of tea/coffee and a snack while you talk with others in the community; we can open break-out rooms for smaller conversation if it gets too chaotic
15.00: Skill practice or small group supervision (in Break-out rooms) (45 min)
15.45: Processing (15 min)

We've also scheduled the next two EFT Glasgow Quarterly Network Meetings using the same format:
• Late Summer: 5 September 2020
• Autumn: 7 November 2020

Scottish EFT Network Meetings are sponsored by the Scottish Institute for Emotion-Focused Therapy (SI-EFT).  They are currently free and open to everyone who has completed at least one level of EFT training and is interested in developing their EFT practice.  They meet five times each year.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Remembering Leonard M. Horowitz, 1937 – 2019, Psychotherapy/Interpersonal Psychology Researcher Extraordinaire

Entry for 22 December 2019:

Len Horowitz, my friend and fellow psychotherapy researcher died on 11 November 2019, at the age of 82, in Portola Valley, California. However, my fellow psychotherapy researchers and I didn’t hear about his death until a few days ago, when George Silberschatz sent out an email on the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) list.

Personal reflections.  I met Len in 1976 when as a very green grad student I attended my very first SPR conference, in San Diego.  I have this vivid memory of hanging around with him talking by some large plants in the entryway of the Hotel del Coronado. The conference was over but I delayed leaving because I fell into long and fascinating conversation with him about how the Spearman-Brown prophecy formula could be used to increase the reliability of therapy process ratings.  It seemed like magic at the time and impressed the heck out of me.  From then on he was, to quote T.S. Eliot il miglior fabbro, “the better maker”: the psychotherapy research methodologist who I, as a psychotherapy research methodologist, looked to for inspiration.  Without him it would have been years before I discovered Spearman-Brown, and it would never have occurred to me to use to cluster analysis/multidimensional scaling for my 1985 significant events taxonomy paper.  Like many of my colleagues in SPR I was an early adopter of his wonderful Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP), the items for which he constructed from transcripts of intake sessions with psychotherapy clients, a lovely example of phenomenological test construction.  His case study research on the emergence of previously warded-off mental contents, with the Mount Zion Group in San Francisco, was a revelation for me when I first read it. And so on.    

Here are a few facts about Len:  Len was born 28 Feb 1937. He received his PhD in Experimental Psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 1960.  He started out in Experimental Psychology, landed a job at Stanford University right out of grad school at the age of 23 (no mean feat that, even in those days), and then later did clinical training, working with the Mount Zion Group during the 1970’s, as I mentioned above.  He was president of SPR 1992-93 and president of the Society for Interpersonal Theory and Research (which he helped found) 1999-2000. He received SPR’s Distinguished Career Award in 2010.  He wrote at least two books, including an undergrad statistics textbook (Elements of Statistics for Psychology & Education,1974), and Interpersonal Foundations of Psychopathology (2004).  He is also famous for his work with Hans Strupp and Michael Lambert on a 1990’s APA task force on creating a core battery of standardized measures for evaluating the outcome of psychotherapy (published as Measuring Patient Changes in Mood, Anxiety, and Personality Disorders: Toward a Core Battery, 1997) and for editing (with Stephen Strack), the Handbook of Interpersonal Psychology: Theory, Research, Assessment, and Therapeutic Interventions (2010).  According the Scopus, his most frequently-cited publication (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) has been cited 3758 times; it is one of the key publications in the modern attachment theory literature.

Since word of his death reached the SPR list, there has been an amazing outpouring from a wide range of well-known psychotherapy researchers honouring his many contributions.  What I have found most striking about these testimonials, however, is the portrait of Len that emerges from them: Over and over again, people have written about how Len made them feel welcome from their first SPR conference, how he was gentle, approachable, humble, enthusiastic, generous, warm, creative, throughtful and thought-provoking, wise, inspiring… and brilliant. He clearly felt a calling to support early career psychotherapy researchers and in this has provided a great service to the field and an important role model for the rest of us. I think Les Greenberg summed Len up about right when he described him as an “all round mensch”.

And here is a collection of some of my favourite Len Horowitz references (others will have other suggestions):
            Horowitz, L.M., Sampson, H., Siegelman, E.Y., Wolfson, A., & Weiss, J. (1975).  On the identification of warded off mental contents.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84, 545-558.
            Horowitz, L.M. (1979).  On the cognitive structure of interpersonal problems treated in psychotherapy.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47, 5-15.
            Horowitz, L.M., Inouye, D., & Siegelman, E.Y. (1979).  On averaging judges' ratings to increase their correlation with an external criterion.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47, 453-458.
            Horowitz, L.M., Rosenberg, S.E., Baer, B.A., Ureño, G., Villaseñor, V.S. (1988). Inventory of interpersonal problems: psychometric properties and clinical applications.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 885-892.
            Horowitz, L.M., Rosenberg, S.E., Ureño, G., Kalehzan, B.M., & O'Halloran, P. (1989).  Psychodynamic formulation, consensual response method, and interpersonal problems.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 599-606.
            Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244.
            Horowitz, L. M., & Malle, B.F. (1993).  Fuzzy concepts in psychotherapy research.  Psychotherapy Research, 3, 131-148.

I think that an excellent way to honor Len's memory would be to go back an look at some of these wonderful papers. Just a couple of weeks ago, as part of reviewing an article submitted for publication, I was pleased to be able to recommend the 1975 study to an author. Len was truly one of a kind and certainly a major inspiration for me over the course my career as a psychotherapy researcher.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Entry for 8 Dec 2019:

I’ve been in east Asia for the past two weeks: First, 6 days of EFT training in Shanghai (empathy, Module 4 & an intense day of group supervision). Then, I flew to Singapore for another 5 days of training (empathy & Module 1).  It’s been intense and hard work, and I was getting pretty tired by today, my last day.  This morning as I arrived Eng Chuan, who is in charge of CaperSpring, the local EFT institute, asked me if I wanted to go see the Singapore Chinese Orchestra tonight.  You bet, I said, since I’d always wanted to see a Chinese Orchestra performance. 

So tonight we grabbed a quick dinner and headed off for the Chinese Cultural Centre, where the concert hall is.  I was almost the only westerner at the concert. I had a blast.

The SCO is a large orchestra, consisting of about 50 people, playing mostly traditional Chinese folk instruments, with a sprinkling of cellos, bass fiddles, and on this occasion a western concert harp, all organised into sections very like a western symphony orchestra. For example, instead of violins, there were three classes of 1- and 2-stringed instruments: gaohus, zhonghus and erhus.  There were Chinese flutes and weird wind instruments.  There are large and small lute-like instruments and many others that I couldn’t make out but could only hear from time to time in the music because they were in back rows.

The concert started with a rousing overture, Continuous Prosperity, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This was followed by a more serious piece called The Memory, from a dance score entitled The Desert Smoke.  This was an intense piece about grief, as the composer mourned for his wife, consisting of a sad melody played on various Chinese 1- and 2-string violin-like instruments such as the erhu, punctuated by loud outbursts of emotion pain.  

After this, we were treated to a series of brief orchestral songs of varying moods, mostly based on Mongolian and Uighur folk music and featuring a young Chinese tenor, Wang Zenan.  The finale was a sublimely ridiculous rendition of the orchestral chestnut O Sole Mio; I can only say that you haven’t really lived until you’ve heard a full Chinese orchestra and tenor ham their way through this piece!

After an intermission, we heard an amazing piece of 21st century Chinese music called Dream Interpretation; this was really a 10-movement concerto or suite for Chinese orchestra and erhu. Each section a particular kind of dream.  The soloist, Xu Wenjing, appeared in a striking white dress, and attacked her two stringed instrument which virtuosity through the series of wildly distinct movements. 

The final piece was a colourful celebration of Singapore’s Dragon Dance ceremony and included an extended section in which eight percussionists banged on a large array of different drums, cymbals and so on, in complex polyrhythms and with great gusto. It felt like a rock concert, and was really loud, to the extent that I found myself hoping that the players were using hearing protection.  

In all, I found the whole experience exhilarating, intense and fun.  I often found myself laughing out loud at the sheer outrageous exuberance of it, and hoping that no one around me would think that I was making fun of their culture.  The sight of 20 or 30 members of the orchestra vigorously sawing away at 1 and 2-stringed instruments to produce such a beautifully raucous and joyful racket carried me away into another world of music and experience, a world both familiar (a large symphony orchestra with a conductor and sections of instruments) and strange at the same time, ful of shifting dissonances and sudden contrasts in volume, tempo.

I haven’t enjoyed a concert so much since I saw Osmo Vanska conduct the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in the Sibelius 2nd Symphony at Glasgow City Halls some
years ago. This might seem like a strange comparison, but on both cases the music was authentic, intense, soaring, heartfelt and deeply grounded in folk traditions, played by musicians who truly identify with the music, have great passion for it, and aren;t afraid to show it.  This was the high point for the past two weeks I’ve spent in east Asia, and I’m very grateful to Eng Chuan for treating me to it.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Extended Family

Right now I’m sitting at a table in a restaurant 
on Sentosa Island in Singapore 
Looking out over the tropical treetops
At the incongruous fleets of ships and refinery towers in the distance,
Listening to babies crying in the languid heat of the afternoon
While Christmas songs play in the background.

And right now I’m thinking of Diane just waking up
On a cold frosty morning in Glasgow,
Or maybe dreaming one last dream before she wakes for church.

And I’m also thinking of our son Kenneth not quite as cold,
In the middle of the night, 
Waiting at the Cedar Rapids airport in Iowa in America
to give his roommate a ride home on his return 
From his Thanksgiving trip home.

And right now I extend my mind to our other son Brendan, 
Closest of them all, in Tokyo 
In his study sneaking in some programming on a late Sunday afternoon 
While Mayumi and our granddaughter Mizuki have a girls' shopping afternoon
And Yuki plays a video game.
Right now, thinking of you all,
My scattered family, around the world: 
many places, many times, all interconnected.

                                         -1 Dec 2019, Singapore

Sunday, September 01, 2019

ISEFT 2019 Glasgow

 Entry for 31 August

It was a rainy Friday night in Glasgow.  After the conference ended we said our good-byes and hurried home to get changed for the conference dinner.  It had been several years since I last wore my kilt, so it took me a while to sort out all the different bits; as a result we didn’t call the taxi until quarter to seven.  Bad idea!  It took almost exactly 45 minutes for the taxi to arrive.  Lorna had warned the staff at the Kelvingrove Museum that I was running late, so they were waiting for us just inside the backdoor to the place as we arrived.  We rushed in and upstairs, my not-fully-broken-in ghillie brogues clacking on the stone flagging.  I felt rather foolish and embarrassed for being so late to arrive at what was in effect my own party, and also for having forgotten an essential fact about taxi travel in Glasgow in busy Friday nights.  Lorna met us on the stairs, to direct us to our table.  Fortunately, she had held down the fort in my absence, done a welcome speech, and told the venue to start the dinner service.
The large atrium of the Kelvingrove Museum was full of tables, and the tables were full of most of the attendees of the Third Conference of the International Society for Emotion-Focused Therapy (ISEFT), finishing off their starter courses. Suddenly the room erupted in cheers.  It was overwhelming.  It turned out later that many of them had somehow gotten the impression that I had taken ill, so the whole thing had become a kind of drama. 

There was then nothing for it but for me to clack up onto the stage and make up my own welcome speech on the spot, which was enthusiastically received.  

*                      *                      *

It had been an intense and exhausting week: Tuesday and Wednesday there was the ISEFT Trainer Meeting, at Renfield-St. Stephen’s Centre here in Glasgow.  In attendance were 100 EFT trainers, institute heads and facilitators.  We spent a very fruitful two days exploring key issues in EFT training, with a particular focus on training in interpersonal processes such as empathy and work with interpersonal difficulties. The Tuesday evening social programme featured the now-traditional Trainer Dinner, which we held at the Scottish Piping Centre.

This was followed by the two-day main ISEFT conference, at the University of Strathclyde’s shiny new Technological Innovation Centre (TIC).  There were 235 attendees from throughout the world: the UK, Europe, North America, the Middle East, East Asia, Australia and South America.  This time we were able to offer three plenary sessions and five parallel tracks. 

At the end of Day 1 the attendees were treated to a civic drinks reception at Glasgow City Chambers (=City Hall) which faces onto George Square and is an ornate Victorian building featuring a marvellous marble staircase and a large reception hall with impressive murals depicting key episodes from the history of Glasgow.  The Deputy Lord Provost (=vice mayor) of Glasgow was there to give a welcome speech in which he charmed the conferees with classic Glaswegian humour and warmth.  

Both Trainer Meeting and ISEFT Main Conference were a great success, with presentations that were both highly relevant to practice and also cutting edge developments within EFT. Both trainer meeting and main conference were able to combine research, theory and practice in ways that felt useful and well-grounded empirically and theoretically. The experience was exciting and uplifting.  There has been a noticeable step change since the first ISEFT conference in Veldhoven four years ago, with promising new research appearing or in progress.  The overall effect was highly stimulating and inspiring, as we were told repeatedly by the attendees.
*                      *                      *

Finishing my belated welcome speech, we sat down to eat our starters, which the kitchen had kept warm for us.  Part of the Turkish EFT delegation was at our table, as well as part of the Strathclyde contingent. The atrium echoed with the voices of our EFT friends and colleagues from all over the world.  Between courses, I got up and wandered over to Les’s table, which provoked one of a series of picture-taking episodes. 

I took several groups of folks around to some of my favourite things in the museum: Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, the Scottish 20th century painters, the French impressionists.   Later, as the ceilidh band set up, Les and I had a wee ramble through an eclectic series of galleries (such as Scottish pre-history, armour & weapons).  We reflected on the strange, unpredictable paths that life can lead us into.  Then the band started up, and the dancing commenced. The earlier emotions of anxiety (what would go wrong?), sadness (at ending and too soon parting) and embarrassment (at being late and various minor gaffes) were gone, and in their place was pride (about the achievement), gratitude (at the good things that had taken place), hope (for the future of EFT), love (for a great group of good people whom I know, respect and care about). 

Onward to the next ISEFT conference: Chicago 2021!