Monday, April 24, 2017


Having had a great experience at Syracuse U. doing telephone crisis counseling, I joined a similar organization when I got to grad school.  I started the Masters in Psychology program at SUNY Geneseo in 1973.  Upstate New York was the home of the suffragettes and Susan B. Anthony.  At that time, our culture seemed at the height of liberalism and feminism.  Char was an undergraduate but the Director of the Telephone Crisis Counseling program at the school.  She and I worked together to teach the skills needed to be on the phones.  She was pretty, petite, insightful with beautiful long brown hair.  
Char gave me my first lesson in systems therapy.   After a training seminar a number of us went out to eat.  Char and I had barely started our conversation when she turned to me, her eyes got thin and almost accusingly she said:  “You’re the younger brother of a brother, aren’t you?”  She had a confidence and an authority in her presentation.  I had no idea how she knew this.  She proceeded to give me my first lesson in family therapy.  She explained how my personality signaled my placement in my family.  She showed me how behavior is tied to the family of origin.  This may have been the beginning of my love for family therapy.    
Char was in an open relationship when I knew her.  On a couple of occasions we ran into each other when we were both single.  It was a time of romance and love without the necessity of trying to maintain a relationship.  The morning after our second encounter she sent me a bouquet of flowers.  It was the one and only time that someone sent me flowers.  It was a very loving thing to do.  Initially, I was confused by the gesture, being that I’m a guy.  It seemed upside down, that she was sending me flowers.   But I quickly came to accept her message.  

Char taught me about the family and how the dynamics affect the people.  She taught me that feminism meant I didn’t have to follow gender stereotypes, I could define for myself who I am and who I want to be.  Finally, she gave me a lesson in love.