Three of Houston’s foremost family therapists -- Leslye Mize Ph.D., George Pulliam MSSW, and Lee Winderman Ph.D. -- will present at the May workshop and discuss two intricately intertwined issues affecting marriage and family therapists: politics and practice. The panel will discuss what they have experienced and learned during their long careers and how it has shaped their view of field, the issues impacted, and their vision of the future. They will also talk about where they stand now regarding the way they practice marriage and family therapy and their evolution as therapists.
Below are their thoughts on some of the topics to be discussed at the workshop.
What do you wish you knew when starting out?
Lee: I think what I would have liked to know most is that everything was going to work out ok. erhaps that is not the most helpful answer for other therapists. So let me answer another question; looking back, what has been most useful and helpful in your development as a therapist? Three things stand out: mentors, colleagues and personal therapy.
First, affiliating with senior experienced therapists whom I respect and admire, who are smart and generative, has helped me learn the art of the therapeutic process. Continuing to open my work to scrutiny has helped me gain maturity as a therapist and helped me continue to learn. Perhaps most importantly, it has kept me humble.
Second, I have been lucky, or perhaps skilled, at having a career in which I work with colleagues I respect and trust. My work environment has been stable and collaborative. That security has freed me to do my best work.
Third, I have been in therapy a few different times; all were extremely helpful. My first experience, while I was in graduate school, was perhaps the most significant. It both affirmed me as a young man struggling to find my way, and provided me with a personal experience of the value and importance of the psychotherapeutic process.
What is the most important advice you have for new therapists?
Leslye: Keep involved with mentors and peers while you practice your profession. Never stay too isolated and know that you never become too much of an expert. Hold on to those who make sense to you.
Why do therapists need to know about politics as they navigate their careers?
George: One can not avoid politics, and to wade through them in an agency or an or ganization one needs to use the same tools one develops as a therapist while maintaining one’s values and ethics--sometimes a difficult task. Politics, from one perspective, is involved in every relationship, in every system. It is not necessarily a nasty word.
Leslye: Our profession needs our commitment and leadership. It is vulnerable and needs our time. Your professional life could change for the best if we just put in some of our energy and have fun working with our peers. To me, politics is the development of our leadership in good ways.
How did you decide you wanted to be a family therapist?
George: I never made a conscious decision. I just evolved into it as I bumped into problems that needed a different approach, which began early in my career and picked up speed when I moved to Galveston in 1969.