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I have learned from and been shaped as a therapist and as a man by the times in which I’ve lived, by the cultural shifts and waves of change that have influenced us all. And they keep coming.

I have been influenced by many psychological theories and approaches, by meeting with many skilled clinicians and mentors and most importantly, by the clients I’ve worked with over the years. They have taught me varieties and potentials of life experience that have deepened my understanding and appreciation for how we adapt to and shape the worlds we live in. And build on them.

I worked in public health clinics, ran programs and provided front-line services for 22 years for marginalized populations, often multi-problemed and just about always living with the effects of trauma. I started my work as a therapist during the AIDS epidemic, times of personal and collective intensity that taught me – perhaps galvanized – an understanding of the depths of stigma, marginalization, grief and resilience that people under stress live with. Also that people can accomplish big things when we come together.
Canyon de Chelly, Arizona © Peter Goetz
Ghost Forest © Peter Goetz
I have taught, primarily through UC Berkeley extension, many courses in dissociation, trauma, substance abuse and harm reduction and the intersection of them all. I loved working with the therapists, counselors and students in those classes who were eager to learn new ways of working with clients with multiple layers of complexity.

My work has been informed by psychodynamic perspectives of the many confluences that shape our development as people. I have studied and been influenced by Gestalt therapy, James Masterson’s work, trauma theory, Sensorimotor psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, the harm reduction movement and Buddhist thought.

I’ve long been interested in the impact, both nuanced and direct, that complex trauma has on our body-mind system. The study of dissociation has challenged and overridden any assumptions I had that we live with a unitary consciousness. Walt Whitman said “I contain multitudes” and he was right. I’ve come to see how we adaptively form parts of ourselves to respond to the traumas, curveballs and stresses that life presents to us. The neurobiological, somatic and psychological perspectives of all of this have all been and continue to be influences for me.
Some of my teachers, mentors and inspirational figures include Allen Schore, Bessel van der Kolk, Francine Shapiro, Pat Odgen, Issan Dorsey, Patt Denning, Janina Fisher, Jeb Berkeley, Maggie Phillips, Jakusho Kwong and Leonard Cohen, just to name a few.

A bow to them all!