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William P. Ryan, PhD


Thursday, December 22, 2011, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain, Noon Central, 1 pm EST, 2 pm Atlantic, 7 pm Zurich, 8 pm Istanbul

A Septuagenarian Who Works from the Heart


As a septuagenarian, I feel increasingly free to go beyond the limitations of theory, techniques and the emphasis upon maintaining professional distance to be a more open-hearted, loving human being with my clients. In a heart-centered approach to counseling, clients learn how to engage their own inner Wise Elder and their Big Heart to resolve career questions and other major life dilemmas. Counselors learn how we can continue to be an open-hearted, compassionate presence when we are confronted with the suffering and emotional struggles of our clients hour after hour, day after day for years. Clients also learn how time spent in nature can be a place of sanctuary and psychological recharging during the difficult periods of their lives.




William P. Ryan, PhD, has been a licensed psychologist in private practice for over thirty-five years in both Huntington, NY and Shelburne Falls, MA. He has taught college at both graduate and undergraduate levels and been a consultant in drug prevention, agencies for children and law enforcement. As an elder in the field, Dr. Ryan's fourth book, Working From the Heart: A Therapist's Guide to Heart-Centered Psychotherapy, is his effort to pass on what he has learned to the next generations of psychotherapists and counselors.





Exercise Tapping into the Big Heart

In the Small Heart, Big Heart chapter of Working From the Heart, counselors can learn how to go beyond the limitations of the small heart of everyday consciousness and tap into the Big Heart of their personal higher consciousness.

Set aside about 30 mintues where you are able to sit quietly in your favorite setting.

1.  Close your eyes and do several minutes of relaxational or meditational breathing.

2.  Imagine that you are sitting peacefully in some favorite nature setting.

3.  Imagine that you are asking your own personal higher consciousness for some image of your Big Heart - the part of you that is capable of loving in a very deep way.

4. Trust whatever image shows up. It may have a visual form or it may take an auditory or energetic or kinesthetic form.

5.  Just sit with this image and feel what it is like for you to be in the presence of this image of your Big Heart. Imagine what it might feel like for your clients to be in the presence of this part of you.

6.  Open your eyes. Begin to reflect on how you might bring your Big Heart into your work more. For example, you might spend a few moments doing relaxational breathing and connecting to your image before talking to each client.

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Title: Working From the Heart: A Therapist's Guide to Heart-Centered Psychotherapy


Description: Working From the Heart advocates that a therapist's expressions of non-sexual, non-romantic love are a core ingredient in effective psychotherapy. It addresses self-forgiveness, resolving major life dilemmas, love blocks and the notion of our big hearts from a heart-centered perspective.


How to order: Amazon.com


Publisher: Jason Aronson Publishing, a division of Rowman and Littlefield Books, Lanham MD


Other titles; Love Blocks: Breaking the Patterns That Undermine Relationships (co-author, Mary Ellen Donovan); In the Woods, At the Water: Healing Journeys Into Nature(co-author Jeanne Lightfoot); The Bench, The Council and The Prayer

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Bill Ryan, who presented at the Poetics of Aging Conference last month, and who is a therapist in Western Massachusetts, wrote a beautiful book called Working from the Heart:  A Therapist's Guide to Heart-Centered Psychotherapy.  In the book, he talks about how theories, techniques, and ways of maintaining professional objectivity and distance are emphasized in most therapy training.  The underlying message is that our natural inclinations to care for clients is unhelpful, perhaps even harmful. In this interview, he will address the question, "How do we do our work from a place of heart/mind - where heart and mind are not at odds with each other but act in unison?  Whether we are psychotherapists or counselors or other helping professionals, this questions is worthy of being explored. Welcome Bill!

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Interview Questions


  1. What is heart-centered psychotherapy?
  2. What inspired you to develop this concept?
  3. You wrote a book entitled "Working from the Heart."  Is that what you do? What does "Working from the Heart" mean?
  4. How do we do our work from a place of heart/mind - where heart and mind are not at odds with each other?
  5. You also wrote books about nature.  What part does nature play in your work and life?
  6. What are the benefits and challenges of being a working Septegenarian?
  7. Most of Careerwell's listeners are career and counseling professionals.  How could they incorporate your teachings into their work (and lives)?
  8. How could listeners contact you if they wanted to learn more about working from the heart?


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