As a child I wondered a lot. Why does the world exist? Why don't people care about each other more? Why aren't there scores of teachers and leaders in every community to help us develop the most precious asset we have, our human potential?
Around the age of ten I decided to become someone who could help people become better human beings. In high school I learned about "shrinks" but quickly ruled out that career path because they all seemed such transparent frauds. In college I read about great thinkers like Carl Jung who tried to help people "grow" without forcing a lot of academic mumbo-jumbo and tranquilizers down their throats. Then I met a practicing psychotherapist, Paul Rosenfels, who believed in the same things I did but who had started out 37 years earlier. I learned more from him than I'd ever learned from my own bumbling efforts to help my friends.
In 1970 I opened the East Village Counseling Service. This evolved into the Ninth Street Center, which helped hundreds of people for many years.
The people I try to help aren't sick, so I call them students and not patients. My approach is to be totally open and honest, and to talk about anything you want to talk about — including any and all details of my own life. You may not need much more from me except to be a springboard for your own ideas. Or you may want more direct guidance. I have lots of ideas about how and why people get into trouble with their lives, and we can try out any number of them over time.
I see life as a laboratory where an experiment that fails can teach you as much as an experiment that succeeds. Unlike mental health professionals who need your situation to conform to something they once read about in a textbook, I want your life to unfold in a natural and inner-directed way. Many people I see are new and original demonstrations of what an exemplary life looks like. It's not my job to dumb them down and make them conform to something written in an ivory tower 50 years ago. But if possible I will open doors for them they didn't know were in their way.
Psychology is still in its infancy, yet shrinks often think they "know it all" simply because they've read the current literature. I don't have that problem. I know that human nature is something we're just starting to understand. I'd be delighted if you were among the many people who are changing the world and setting a new standard for what "human nature" can accomplish. And if you're comfortable with it, you may find yourself counseling me, too.
But aside from my respect for the individual and my refusal to categorize you according to symptoms you display, I feel fully competent to address all the commonplace interpersonal issues that we all face. Bosses, landlords, friends and lovers all add to and detract from the quality of our lives, and deserve to be dealt with as serious subjects.
Not everyone thinks about their lives in grand philosophical terms. But whether your problem is not knowing what contribution you want to make to civilization, or not knowing if you can stand your roommate for one more day, I believe I can help you gain new insight into your past, and get better control over your future. I know from long experience that counseling can be a valuable and rewarding experience for us both.
I help people only because it seems the right thing to do. I don't
think of myself as a "professional" for the simple reason that I don't
need to take your money. But if you find something in yourself that
you want to give me in return you're welcome to do so. I'll be glad to
meet you in some public place if that makes you feel more comfortable,
like a coffee shop or an inexpensive restaurant. If this interests
you, just jot me an email and I'll respond within a day or two. And
you're welcome to learn more about my various interests and hobbies at