I put most of this site up about 5 years ago and then moved to California and am just getting it back up again at the end of 2006.

Dick Olney was a great therapist who developed his own approach to Counseling called Self Acceptance Training and was also a great teacher of these techniques that often moved clients (and those observing) into altered states of deep learning and development of their human potential.

This web page mostly consists of transcripts of talks he gave and work with individual clients in workshops who generously gave permission to video or audio tape. There are about 200 pages here, which is part of 400 pages done at this point. If this is all new to you, I recommend reading Dick's opening talk first, and then moving to the client work to get an idea of what forms the work takes. If you are familiar with Dick, start wherever you are drawn. He touched many lives, hopefully this will lead you to some new experiences. My emphasis has been on understanding Self Acceptance Training (SAT) as a counselor, but if you are here out of personal interest, you may find much rich wisdom here for yourself. SAT can be used on yourself daily whether you are a counselor or not.

I am very aware of mistakes and incompleteness, but I wanted to get this site up and expect it to keep changing, so bookmark it and come back again.

In the bulk of this web site after this page, italics are editorial information and all regular print is transcripts of talks by Dick Olney or work with clients in workshops .

E-mail: (Thomas Biesanz)

Cherie McCoy continues Dick's Self Acceptance Training Work

Tom's site for Right Brain Math
and his MisterNumbers videos on Youtube
My wife Jan's EnlightenInk Blog Site for "Learning, Laughter, and Loving What IS"

I plan to continue to expand this web site with more transcripts. If you have any tapes to share with me, you would be helping greatly with this work. And also with:


Bob Wendlinger 20 Treasure Hill Oakland CA 94618 510-845-5551 E-mail:

You may also want to check out Bob's book, The Memory Triggering Book

Marcia Perlstein


DO Publishing

P.O. Box 103

Mendocino, CA 95460

Brandon House, Inc

555 Riverdale Station

New York, New York 10471


snailmail: 4025 State Street #9

Santa Barbara, California 93110

phone: 805-967-0469


I started doing workshops with Dick Olney on a personal basis. I tried to organize my notes into a booklet of thoughts and ideas. I did a few transcripts of his talks and sessions. I was in the practicum stage of a Master's degree in counseling and worked from the Self Acceptance Training perspective which brought up many questions for me. In the capstone part of the degree, we were required to do a research project. I started to do transcripts because Dick was so articulate about his theory and techniques but never wrote or published anything. My transcripts reached over 300 pages and are on file at Winona State University in Winona Minnesota. I have continued doing transcripts and hope to keep getting more tapes and doing more transcripts. Names and identifying information are left out, but I am still trying to get permission from the clients when I can. This may turn into a book or two at some point if enough people want it. This web page includes only some of the finished transcripts.


At age 19, Dick looked at a bouquet of narcissus flowers and said, "Let me see things just as they are, instead of through the smoked glass of my troubles." He felt everything stopped and felt an expansion and then an enormous light that he moved through. He had another merging experience and started reading Zen. "I read in pursuit of I don't know what, motivated by those two experiences. I had no system, but I did know how to use a library. That's when I started, when I was 19. I called it working on myself. Now people call it working on your consciousness. I didn't have that term in 1934." He graduated from college, taught high school, got married, earned a masters degree in English Literature, taught college, had two children, fought in W.W.II, started an advertising agency, and continued learning about consciousness.

His varied background served him well. "It is fashionable to talk about 'working on one's consciousness' as a great change happening in the universe. I'm enough of a historian of the development of culture to know that in every age there have been those who have said that: Victorians said it, the Edwardians, the Spiritualists at the turn of the century, and the followers of Gurdgieff, whose ideas I think highly of. I don't believe we are on the verge of a sudden transformation. I think we're plodding along, repeating history with enthusiasm. The eternal situation recurs again and again. Every generation has to learn the hard way."

Dick Olney was a teacher. He taught high school and college, and he taught clients and counselors. He said, "I think personally that literature has been a better preparation for my doing this work than psychology would have been. Far better. Literature deals directly with the experience of beauty, expression of the human drama, with all of those aspects that I'm working with all the time."

He let clients teach him and sincerely thanked them for it. He said, "It is ironic that the role I wanted to get away from 44 years ago is the role that really fits. I used to think of teachers pouring out information and students lapping it up. My view now is of the teacher who joins hands with another person and walks into the unknown together, hand in hand."

He taught the essentials of how to be a good counselor and not burn out doing it. He taught how to use the self as an instrument, the patience necessary for good work, how to keep from getting ego invested in the work, to be open to learning new techniques and awareness, and the willingness to throw out anything seen as not useful. He was able to clearly verbalize this knowledge, but more importantly, he used these techniques on himself daily and modeled what he taught. Yet there is almost a total lack of any written record of his lucid teachings. This paper has a goal of helping to correcting that. Recently, Walking in Beauty (A collection of the psychological insights and spiritual wisdom of Dick Olney) was published and edited by Rosyln Moore, available through DO Publishing (70¶-964-2630)

He taught Self Acceptance Training(SAT). He called it the Perennial Therapy that underlies all good therapy work regardless of the modality. I will let him describe it later in his own words. Because it is more than a theory of counseling and a way of approaching counseling, it is open to many techniques from many different theories. Dick had worked personally with Alan Watts (philosopher), Fritz Perls (Gestalt), Alexander Lowen (Bioenergetics), Charlotte Selver (Somatic awareness), Crooked Tail (Shamanism), Akhter Ahsen (Eidetic Imagery) and many many others. "I became a hypnotist because I was trying to improve my memory. I got into Gestalt therapy and it was very exciting because I began to see some doorways for myself." He read extensively and introduced new techniques even in his last months, always with the foundation of Self Acceptance Training, and always experimenting on himself first.

The source of this information are the transcripts of workshops where clients gave permission for audio or video taping and the tapes of a small group of which I was a member (the SAT in a van indigenous tribe). We did monthly sessions with Dick, usually of two days, that were more focused on professional instruction. I have also obtained some tapes and transcripts from other students of Dick Olney. Names and identifying details have been left out. Some are short segments and others are longer interactions with a client. I have arranged them in groupings but I attempted to introduce each transcript with a name and a description of modalities and techniques that are exhibited.

Using his own words as much as possible, I hope to create some resource in these transcripts for his important work. I spent many workshops aware of the importance of what I was hearing but unable to re-construct it later with the clarity with which it had been presented. What I offer is one clear view of these ideas, with an awareness that Dick looked with a beginner's mind and spoke with a freshness and a unique approach every time he presented them. I offer this work as a way of honoring Dick and as a consolation to myself and the many people who feel his loss. As I go back and forth from the tapes to the transcribed words and back to the tapes, I realize that some important aspects are lost: his trance-inducing presence, his rich deep voice, his slow pace with the long silences that opened paths, the immediacy that he worked with, his incredible timing, and the response to subtle body changes in the client. Yet I hope that you will experience Dick's compassion, his lucidity, his humor, and his essence in his words that continues on even though his body is gone. It may be easier for those who have worked with Dick to expand these images so that they can work in empathy with the person's work, but I don't think it was necessary to have known Dick personally to be affected by these transcripts. We will see what happens. Ahumdillyah!

Dick died in 1994 in his eightieth year. For more information about Dick, see Background of Dick Olney


I have a MS in Community Counseling and am a licensed Social Worker. My friend Gary Flynn and I did workshops with Dick all over the country. During Dick Olney's last year, I was a member of the SAT in a van indigenous tribe.


The SAT (Self Acceptance Training) in a Van Indigenous Tribe is a group of six students (with substitutions) of Dick Olney who traveled in a van once a month to spend two days with Dick. This gave the opportunity to have a mixture of Dick working with us, along with plenty of time for questions, explanations, and "ex cathedra" discourses.

Leaving each month for Milwaukee at 4:30 AM from Minnesota, we became a tribe as we rode, talked, sang, jammed, ate Michael's frozen custard, pulled tarot cards, dined with Dick, and empathized as each of us journeyed with the master in the "hot seat." We would then drive back drumming, singing, and sorting out what we had experienced. This group still gets together about every two months and I join them when I am visiting Minnesota.

Introductory talk on Self Acceptance Training by Dick Olney

Return to index