The seeds of ONTOS were sown over 25 years ago while I was finishing my undergraduate education in psychology, philosophy and the humanities. I had intuited, as many were at the time and continue to, a way of helping others through a more comprehensive, holistic and inclusive approach to health, wellness and personal growth. I was in love with the study of ontology, that is, the study of ‘Being’. Ontos is the Greek word for Being – the most inclusive word in our language and one of the cornerstones of philosophy. From the very beginning, it made sense to me that psychotherapy should first and foremost address the whole person – that is, the essence of their being – their inmost core. The only place in the U.S. at the time that was working from this same perspective in the area of clinical psychology was Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I spent the next five years working on my M.A. and Ph.D. at Duquesne steeped in the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Maslow, Rogers, Laing, Jung, Assagioli and the great wisdom traditions of the world. I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1987. The first chapter of Ever Flowing On is devoted to a detailed discussion of ‘Being’.
BUILDING A PRACTICE AND FAMILY
The next 5 years (1987 – 1992) saw me humbled by the responsibilities of making a living in the world, learning the skills of being a husband and a father and the sobering reality of working with abused children and their families. The day to day struggles of running a growing practice, making a living and continuing to learn how to be a husband and father, were a wonderful apprenticeship in how the nitty gritty details of life forge in us strength, endurance and patience. I continued to carry the vision of ONTOS in my deepest heart, however, it became increasingly clear it would be a long journey with many obstacles to overcome on the road toward making ONTOS a reality. As with all good apprenticeships, this one afforded me the opportunity to learn and practice organically on a daily basis what worked and what did not.
THE SEEDS GERMINATE
Slowly, but surely the seeds of ONTOS began germinating in tangible ways in the years from 1993-1996. I had a life changing experience called a vision quest (Chapter 5 of Ever Flowing On) which deepened
my understanding of indigenous healing practices. I began to see how nature, creativity and spirituality had continually woven themselves in and out of my life as long as I could remember and provided the hints of what ONTOS was to become. It was during this time that I began to share and integrate these ideas in workshops, presentations and my therapy practice.