Like Bill Bruzy, owner of the Austin Men’s Center, I was born in Detroit, Michigan and enjoyed my formative childhood years in an integrated, artistically inclined school. However, my parents were from Alabama; they’d taken the Hillbilly Highway to work in the automobile factories after World War II, and when I was nine, that highway took us all back to Alabama.
I graduated high school in Tuscumbia, Alabama with a less-than-stellar record and headed straight to the local four-year college, the University of North Alabama, until I got kicked out for having a 0.02 GPA.
When I was 23, I went back to get my bachelor’s degree so I could go on to seminary to become, of all things, a Baptist preacher. It was there I ran into people like William Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Emerson, Thoreau, and Carl Jung. So much for seminary. I graduated with a double major in English and Sociology.
I packed up and went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to earn my Master’s degree in American Studies with a focus on Religious Studies and American Literature. I taught for two years as a graduate student and two more as an adjunct professor.
Ready to put Alabama in my rearview mirror, I headed to Austin, Texas with no money, a borrowed car, and the smallest U-Haul trailer you can rent. I got into the doctoral program at The University of Texas, my focus now on psychology and literature. I taught as a grad student at UT, and as an adjunct professor at Austin Community College, teaching religious studies, humanities, and literature for a total of eight years.
I discovered pretty quickly that although I loved being a teacher, I wasn’t the kind of student who could write an academic dissertation. Thanks to Dr. Bill Stott and Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, I abandoned my dissertation and wrote The Flying Boy: Healing the Wounded Man. With the help of Oprah Winfrey, John Bradshaw, and Robert Bly, it became a national bestseller. My second book, The Flying Boy 2: The Journey Continues, did the same.
I gave up on my doctorate and opened a private counseling and coaching practice and, in 1986, opened The Austin Men’s Center, one of the first men’s centers in the nation. Bill Bruzy became director in the early 90’s and has owned the center for 20-plus years and we have kept our friendship going throughout the years and all the changes.
My work placed me among the leaders of the Men’s Movement of the 1980s and 90s. Robert Bly and I became good friends and taught together for 20 years.
Over the next 30 years, I went on the road, speaking nationally and internationally in 40 to 50 cities a year, teaching and training men and women at workshops, clinical conferences, and numerous institutions including the Cleveland Clinic, the Betty Ford Clinic, Guy’s Hospital (London), the New York Open Center, and The Hanley Center.
During these years of teaching, I published more than 20 more books on men’s issues, emotional intelligence, anger management, codependency, drug and alcohol addiction recovery, adult children of alcoholics, relationship issues, and parent/adult child relationships. I also teach writing workshops and coach writers.
In my studies, career and, my own personal journey, I’ve been exposed to many, many different clinical counseling and coaching modalities. My primary interest has been in Jungian psychology and humanistic psychology led by Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, Abraham Maslow and many others. I’ve been trained in, and trained others in, body-centered psychology, implementing techniques including bioenergetics, Gestalt, psychodrama, and more.
Mix all of the above and what comes out is a somewhat rogue coach and unorthodox educator.
Currently, I live in Austin Texas and Mentone, Alabama, where clients come in to see me for two- and three-day coaching and educational intensives. I also do phone sessions, workshops on topics that my books cover, and speak at major clinical conferences. My cowriter, Kat Hrdina, and I are working on two new projects that we hope will be out in 2018.