Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Acceptance: An SPR Life

As the preceding entry indicates, on 18 June 2008, at the opening of the SPR conference last week in Barcelona, Spain, I was awarded SPR’s Distinguished Research Career Award. Les Greenberg gave the laudatio (a short speech explaining the rationale for the award). I met Les Greenberg in 1976, and since then he has been a close friend and the strongest influence on me as a researcher and therapist. While he gave this speech, I stood at the foot of the steps leading up to the podium, feeling a complicated mix of pride and humility, joy and embarrassment. It was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. Then, I went up to the podium, looked out at the sea of faces in the room, and read the following poem, which is dedicated to him to all my SPR friends and colleagues, and especially David Orlinsky and Bill Stiles.

For me, SPR has been a large, rambling, magical house.
In 1976, in San Diego, I slipped in nervously
Through the front door of the Hotel del Coronado,
And found myself in this place:

Suddenly, like Don Quixote, I was in the world
Of the books and articles I had been reading,
Full of familiar characters,
Their names rolling off my tongue:
Orlinsky & Howard;
Strupp, Bergin & Garfield;
Waskow (now Elkin) & Parloff;
Lambert & Gurman;
Luborsky & Auerbach;
Rice, Klein & Bordin.
And new characters, like Greenberg & Horowitz,
Unrolling new stories.

At first I scuttled about, like a small child,
Hiding behind the house plants,
Holed up with my researcher cousins,
Dreams of therapy change processes
Dancing in our heads.
But each time I went back to this magical house—
Madison, Toronto, Oxford, Asilomar,
And so on, down the line –
I grew a bit, as it filled me with wonders.

For the past 32 years,
From bushy youth to grey age,
SPR has taken me on many journeys,
Through many wonderful rooms:
Process – outcome;
Quantitative – qualitative;
Psychodynamic – CBT – experiential;
Descriptive – interpretive;
Group – single-case;
RCT – practice-based.
In SPR, we are always making new rooms,
Remodeling old ones,
Or rediscovering forgotten spaces.

Now, it seems, I am a character in these stories, too.
And so I address you:
My fellow characters, present and past,
Too numerous to mention,
Many thanks for the stories we have shared.
I would gladly roam these rooms with you
For as long as there are doors to open
And pages to turn in our stories.

-18 June 2008

No comments: