As part of the application requirements for the graduate program with Sofia University in California (previously the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology), I had to prepare a “Goal Statement”. This was an enjoyable exercise which clearly articulated where I have come from and where I am going. I only hope the universe, and my health, cooperate to allow me to fulfill at least some of these goals.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” (Joseph Campbell)
Throughout my life, since entering the work-force at 16 as a foundry worker, I have always pursued every single task, job, career and educational opportunity with a singular passion and unwavering commitment to excellence. I have never subscribed to any of the economic or socially determined motivations such as the attainment of a high salary or social/professional prestige. I have always been motivated by an internal driving passion or personal interest, rather than external expectations. Ever since I decided that contracting work was not satisfying enough around 1985, I have been on a steady path towards self-development, formal (and informal) education and for at least the past decade, finding that “right” opportunity which will enable me to contribute my education and interests to a greater good. The two driving forces behind all of my choices are now determined by opportunities for personal/spiritual/educational development; and what I can give back to my community, family or the world of human psychological and spiritual evolution.
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” (Abraham Lincoln)
What are your personal and professional goals?
My personal goals have been fairly consistent for most of my adult life. Continue acquiring and exploring knowledge of psychological and spiritual development/practices, and to give back something of value to the world. Since starting university in 1986 I was hooked on the drug of knowledge. Since I had already made a good living in the past, and possessed the self-confidence to know that I would never have any difficulties earning a living, my pursuit of a formal education was based not on getting a good job, but pursuing areas of knowledge which interested me. Twenty-five years later I am still educating myself, taking on new challenges and finding new ways to explore knowledge, psychology, spirituality and hopefully contribute something of value to the world.
My professional goals have changed (slightly) over the years to accommodate changes, or the evolution of my educational goals and interests. While still an undergrad at SFU, or a grad student at UNBC pursuing experimental psychology and statistics, my long-term goals were to remain in academics as a teacher and researcher in some area of psychology. However, during this same period I was also actively involved with violent and sexual offending youth, had developed various programs and was recognized for the success I was having with many high-profile and at-risk youth. However, the (formal) clinical side of psychology never really peaked my interest as I was often disappointed by what I perceived were incomplete models of human psychology. Throughout the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s I have supplemented my academic or business interests with a great deal of reading in philosophy, comparative religion, mythology, spirituality and Buddhism. Western psychology’s lack of recognition or acceptance of these age-old traditions of human spirituality, religious beliefs, mental discipline and shamanistic practices created a dissonance within me, as well as a distrust of the Western psychological sciences.
For the past 5 years or so I have been aware of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and have always placed it on the back-burner as something I might pursue in the future. Having recently reached 50, I have made the decision that NOW is the time to make what will be my final career and educational transition. Although I have not fully confirmed the specific areas in transpersonal psychology I would like to pursue, I am beginning to lean towards the counselling, education and engagement of the young and the old, as well as research. Ideally, I would like to find some way to teach, write, counsel and carry out research in transpersonal psychology.
What role will earning a degree at ITP play in achieving these goals?
Although I believe I possess a reasonable understanding of various aspects of traditional Western psychology, as well as numerous areas of comparative religion, consciousness studies and Eastern philosophical and meditative practices, how these areas might integrate into a cohesive research or counselling practice are a mystery to me. I am confident that the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, with the flexibility of the “Global Distance Program” is the ONLY program in North America which can provide me with the education, networking and research opportunities which will allow my to fulfill my personal and professional goals.
What do you want and need from the ITP program?
My first expectation for the ITP program is that I will be able to obtain comprehensive coverage of the core, foundational elements required either for research or clinical practice in Transpersonal Psychology.
My second expectation is around community and resources. I have not been involved in the academic world for a decade and so will need to build new connections with students, researchers, educators, institutions and of course practitioners of transpersonal methods. Since I have not yet made the decision between research or practical/clinical applications of transpersonal psychology, I am hoping for broad access to, and communication with, professionals in both areas. I am hoping that along with the formal educational and research aspects of the program, there will be many opportunities to meet and engage with transpersonal psychology practitioners from around the world, particularly in Western Canada.
What are your expectations of the program with respect to academic requirements, experiential work, community environment?
Speaking strictly about academic and professional expectations, I am hoping that the ITP program, and subsequent credentials, will be fully recognized around the world in research, teaching and clinical applications/practice. Although not a specific requirement or expectation, I may have an interest in registering as a clinical psychologist in Canada (BC) through the Canadian Psychological Association so I am hoping that the PhD from the ITP is an accepted program for registration as a psychologist in Canada (BC). The more widely accepted and recognized ITP credentials are around the world, the greater the number of research and/or clinical opportunities the program will offer.
What do you have to contribute to the program?
I believe I bring to the ITP program, an extensive education, and at least a decade of research design and statistical knowledge in many areas of psychological research. The other component I believe I bring to the ITP program is my self-directed learning, extensive reading and some practice in meditation, spiritual development and comparative religion. I firmly believe that this combination of Western scientific research practice in psychology, with Eastern spiritual traditions and philosophy, fit perfectly with the inclusive, multidimensional and humanistic model of psychology supported by the field of Transpersonal Psychology.
I also believe that I may bring a couple of unique skills to the ITP program. Along with a diverse formal education in psychology and research, I also have a broad and self-directed education in many areas of philosophy including philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. My interests in philosophy (and research) have also provided me with a predisposition towards critical thinking. For the past decade I have also obtained various business and technology credentials. I believe that this experience with technology, database development, social media, information management as well as knowledge of, and interest in, global trends towards new models of open and collaborative science/knowledge, will supplement the skills I develop in Transpersonal Psychology through the ITP.
On a more personal note, I have a deep conviction in the value of universal compassion and the need for individual spiritual development as the basis for global transformation. Over the years I have also had the good fortune of playing a mentorship role to troubled youth, as well as young students. I sincerely look forward to more opportunities to mentor young people in the exploration of their own personal, academic or spiritual development.
How do you see yourself using your ITP education to contribute to the greater community after graduation?
As I previously indicated, I am still uncertain as to whether I will pursue strictly research and teaching opportunities in a academic environment, or a professional and community-focused counselling service. Ideally both. I continue to have a strong interest in making contributions to the research and publication side of transpersonal psychology. However, I also have a desire to make a direct and personal contribution to the spiritual and psychological well-being of both the young and older members of my community. I have tried to follow the encouraging research into mindfulness training for youth and I also have a relatively new interest in spiritual counselling in palliative care and preparations for death. As I stated previously, my ideal position would be where I could pursue opportunities to teach, write, counsel and carry out research in transpersonal psychology.
Have you done any independent research or projects?
Most of my research experience has been either in the form of providing research design or statistical consulting services, or assisting in and carrying out the research of other scientists or graduate students. Below are a few of the research projects I have been involved with, along with a couple of recent articles or blog posts on topics which interest me:
- Squamish Philosopher’s Café (September 24 2011 – Squamish Reporter)
- Why We Need Evidence Based Solutions to Bullying (October 2010 – Squamish Reporter)
- Are Confidence Intervals Useful?: Looking Beyond the Simple Cases (1997. Zumbo, Pope, Stork)
- Numerous Statistical Sampling, Research Design and Pine Beetle Research Projects for the BC Forest Industry (Statistical Consultant, Prince George BC)
- Section 9 of the Child, Family and Community Services Act: Implications for Youth Services in Prince George (Project Manager, Prince George BC)
- Developed, implemented or proposed various treatment programs for adolescent sexual and/or violent offenders. (Yarrow, BC, Prince George BC)
- The Effect of EMG Biofeedback on Cerebral Palsy Muscle Activity (R.D. Isobe, 1989) (SFU, Research Assistant)