The basis of the work is always experiential, one on one work with me, with the group participating by empathy, and then sharing by the group. The didactic things will be woven in here and there. Since half of you have never worked with me before, I would like to say a few things about myself, where I come from and what my background is. I come from Milwaukee Wisconsin, which is where I was born and I lived there all my life. I will be 79 years old in about two or three months, and the work I do, I call Self Acceptance Training. And I am going to explain that term to you because it is not self acceptance as many people think of self acceptance. I'll say something about that.
First of all, my background. I don't come totally from an ivory tower, although I have been in that ivory tower, the academic life. But that is not all, in 79 years. I graduated from college three days before my 21st birthday, and just in time so that I could sign the contract for the first job that I ever had. Which was teaching in a high school, and I was very nervous about that. I knew that I would be given the contract to sign, but I hadn't actually been handed a contract. In those days, 18 was not a legal age, you had to be 21. I was scared. This was 1936, and I was very anxious as to whether I would have to get my father as an adult to sign the contract for me. Well, I made it through to 21 with a couple days to spare. And I started out teaching literature in a high school and then I went to graduate school and got a Master's degree in English Literature. And I took almost no courses at all in Psychology. I had something called Educational Psychology and two semesters of General Psychology. And I had one semester of a course called Philosophy of Education and a year of Secondary Education which covered seven or eight different schools all the way to the Gestaltists. But I didn't have any experience of the stuff that you get if you get a degree in Psychology or Social Work. My work was all in Philosophy and History and Literature. That was my background.
I taught for six years and then I became a naval officer and I had nearly three years as a naval officer in Europe in WW II, in the amphibious force. When I left there, I was offered a job at the University but I turned it down, because I had left there and I wanted to get out of the academic life, out of the ivory tower, in where the action was. So I went into business without any prior experience. And at the end of five years, I started my own advertising agency, a Public Relations firm with another man who had a lot more experience than I had. And I did that for sixteen years. I was beginning to get it up to here (Dick motions his hand up to his eye level), because the idea of simply making money wasn't enough for me. And there is nothing wrong with that. And while I experienced the challenge in the early years, it was tremendously exciting, and it has given me a feeling for how things work from another point of view, that I think really fills me out, makes me much more real in everyday life. So there was that.
Then I went back to teaching. I was teaching at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. And I did that. And that was in 1969. Meanwhile I had been studying and learning with all kinds of people. In 1951, which is more than 40 years ago, I started to train as a hypnotist, and I became a practicing hypnotist, even while I was doing all these other things. Some of my teachers were Alan Watts, who some of you have read his books, maybe some of you met him, he died in 1973 I think. Alan was a very important person to me. Starting in about 1952, I spent a lot of time with him. I spent time not just in his seminars, but outside of his seminars, because when he came to Milwaukee, which he did regularly for a number of years, he always came as the house guest of my sister-in-law. So I would drop everything and just be with him for three meals a day plus all day long. And then help him kill his nightly bottle of vodka every night. He consumed quite a bit of it. So there was that. He led me to a lot of places. To Charlotte Selver, for example. I owe a tremendous debt to Charlotte Selver, because I said to Alan one day, "I feel wonderful after I have been listening to you and talking to you, but then you leave town and I am right back in a day or so. Is there some way of holding my thumb or holding my mouth or my eyebrows or something so that I can maintain that feeling?" And he understood exactly what I was saying and he said, "No, I can't help you but if ever you have the chance to work with a woman from New York called Charlotte Selver, do that because she can."
Well, A couple of years later, I found myself working with Charlotte Selver, and her late husband, Charles Brooks, and this was so important, because it led me into a whole field of body awareness. And out of the airy place, like blessedness and all that stuff and into this body that walks around on two feet and sweats and things like that.
And that led me to Fritz Perls. And I had been reading Gestalt Therapy for years before I met Fritz Perls. And he was in his sixties and going around the country setting up Gestalt Institutes and Chicago was one of his. So he started coming there on a regular basis for a number of years. First to get the institute started, then to keep it going. And he was still doing that. I saw him, just before he died, in the spring of 1970, he died in a hospital in Chicago. And so there was that.
Since those teachers, I have had a chance to work with some Native American medicine people. The late Ellis Chips of Pine Ridge. In 1986, with a shaman medicine man they called Niko Zip Zip, with whom I had a very opening kind of experience. and then very intensively with a man named Crooked Tail, whose English name was Don Perot, no relative to Ross Perot. And under his tutelage I made the vision quest where I had the vision of the green people and some other visions that have been tremendously important, that altered my way of working, my way of looking at life.
And I have also have studied over the last eight or ten years, with a man named Akhter Ahsen, who is a psychologist on the East Coast who has developed something called Eidetic Imagery and I do a great deal of eidetic work as some of you know. So that is sort of my background.
In 1969 I became officially connected with this work. There was a place in Milwaukee called Cambridge House which is like Esalen except that it is on a much smaller scale. However it is older, it was founded before Esalen. And they asked me to join them in 1969. which I did. I had been doing this work before that at the University in classes and for the Institute of Education and for other groups. it is a big University, 40,000, or something like that. But in 1969 I joined Cambridge House and I was there until they closed up because of financial problems. They couldn't make it, they closed in the spring of 1982. And since that time I have been unaffiliated and just going around doing this work which I do in different parts of the country. So, that is my background for the people who are new.
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