No, I wasn't always a psychotherapist. I was a hippie, I lived out on the streets, was active in the anti-Vietnam war movement (SDS), took lots of those famous drugs, and all that—the factors that created the present day Progressive movement (I'm not a member of any of the tribes these days). But, I was always inclusive. I counted engineers and laborers among my friends, a lifetime member of the NRA and the president of Planned Parenthood. I always looked for the good all along the political spectrum.
I went on to get my PhD in English, fortunate to write and work under a great scholar and a great man. I taught English, but then drifted into trial consulting, helping lawyers prepare for civil litigation where the consequences were high. In mid-life my ex-wife was diagnosed with cancer and I did what I could to support her and my son, as they made that long painful, final journey. Over the years of her care, the thought grew in me that dying was hard and I should help people die. So I went back to school to get a second Master's degree at what I would call the only accredited Buddhist university in the US, Naropa. I chose that school because they required you to meditate every semester, they had the longer three-year program, and clinical work was foremost, rather than the primary focus on experimental psychology found in university psychology departments. I don't think there is any other discipline that has both research-based university programs that run a couple of years and accredited stand-alone clinically focused programs that run three years. I have a PhD and I certainly think research has its place, but therapy requires a different skill set.
Upon graduation, I left Boulder for Austin, where I did hospice work. (Now in Portland I am working in my fourth hospice, each in a different city.) Gradually I segued into working with indigent breast cancer patients. These were poor women who had always worked at manual labor of some kind. Their lives were ongoing train wrecks of poor health, addiction, poverty, violence, crime, and children they could not raise and could not let go of. And now they had cancer. At some point I was asked to start a center in Austin for the treatment of psychosis. I had interned at Naropa in an approach called Windhorse, a Buddhist-inspired, recovery-oriented, team-based service delivered in people's homes. When I moved to Portland, I helped start a Windhorse here. Today I am in private practice in Portland and nationally via the Internet. Along the way, I have studied with many great teachers--Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and more. I respect all paths, and no path.