A Book Review of Nora Bateson’s “Combining”
How possibilities bring things together.
November 22, 2023
In the mid-seventies, I applied to the interdisciplinary department of Family and Community Studies doctoral program at Columbia University, intentionally submitting a poem in lieu of the formal application at the suggestion of the beat poet Allen Ginsberg. My soon-to-be mentor Paul Byers, (who had a working relationship with Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson) convinced admissions not to pass on me while my application was “not familiar" he urged them to accept me on probation.
How to Create New Relationship Possibilities
Personal Perspective: An ecological framework for mutual learning.
November 11, 2023
A recent press release from the U.S. Census Bureau (September 17, 2023) stated that 46.4 percent of U.S. adults are single and a 2021 Pew Research Center report that there is a decrease in those looking for meaningful relationships. The resulting media takeaway from these reports is that Americans are moving towards being more independent and less interested in relationships.
The "Win-Win Volley" in Relationships
Personal Perspective: An exercise to improve communication and connection.
September 11, 2023
I have found from working for the past forty years as a family therapist a simple but profound prerequisite to having a rewarding relational experience, one that is beyond what we are accustomed to and seldom recognize in our everyday interactions.
The Process of Change
Personal Perspective: Creating meaningful differences in your life.
July 07, 2023
We all think about making changes, whether it be dieting, new year’s resolutions, relationships or a myriad of desires to alter life's challenges. This brings up the proverbial question; how did the consequences of your efforts relate to what you wanted to change?
The Power of Storytelling
Personal Perspective: The key to improving relationships and resolving conflict.
June 06, 2023
Pushing back when one is pushed is a cultural habit that stops us from recognizing different ways to minimize conflict. Gregory Bateson described this process as "schismogenesis” which means creating a division. It can take a “complementary” form or behavioral one e.g., the arms race resulting in escalating outcomes as each side attempts to improve their advantage.
How to Sustain Happiness
A Personal Perspective: The answer lies in human relationships
May 07, 2023
We all agree that there are mental and physical benefits from attaining happiness. Don’t get me wrong, being happy, awestruck, optimistic and positive has real value. Yet, it is important to start by recognizing that the word e.g., "happiness" is not the "thing," like the map is not the territory. If this is not understood, it can lead to frustration or happiness interruptus.
The Value Of Poetic Expression
Personal Perspective: A path to understand, celebrate,
April 10, 2023
In honor of April's designation as Poetry Month, I would like to share what I have experienced using poetry for my own solace and with others in my practice of psychotherapy. Poetry is an aesthetic segue to sharing personal narratives beyond certain cultural constraints. There is always a tension between our natural abilities of intuitive thinking and how we are forced in many instances to deny that capability.
Steps to an Ecology of Self and Relational Fulfillment
How to make a difference in your life using a wider lens.
December 27, 2022
I would like to share a process from my forty years of practicing systemic therapy that has enabled me to help those who want to create “differences that make a difference,” as the late anthropologist Gregory Bateson would say. It is not a model or map, which lacks context, but a guide to better experiencing traveling your unique journey.
In Pursuit of a "Harmonizing" Relationship
A Personal Perspective.
November 1, 2022
Life is full of paradoxes, the source of humor, enlightenment, and, unfortunately, unenviable double binds. As an example, Partner A asks Partner B, "Do you love me,?" Partner B responds, "Yes," Partner A says, "Why do I have to ask you?"
The Purpose of Conflict
Conflict can serve as the grist for emerging interpersonal creativity.
September 12, 2022
A commonly held belief about being mindful in our relationships, attributed to Zen philosophy, is to have a "beginner's mind," especially when dealing with conflicts. This is no easy task, given that we are dealing with a multitude of increasingly adversarial standoffs threatening us and our world. Most individuals try to avoid conflict, or at the least view it negatively.
The Value of “Warm Data”
How to curtail the fear and anxiety that engulfs us.
July 22, 2022
My poem at the beginning of this article was motivated by the inspiring Unpsychology magazine’s summer 268-page issue about warm data. I highly recommend it (free download: https://www.unpsychology.org/). Included in this issue is an article of mine that is a response to the shared concerns of many families I am counseling, as well as my own social networks.* It addresses the many hurdles facing us regarding the intense polarization in our society, for which there seems to be little solution.
resolving injurious adaptations and encouraging awareness of our interdependencies
UNPSYCHOLOGY, Issue 8: An Anthology of Warm Data
"IF YOU CAN RELATE TO OUR WORLD being an ecological process, one
where we and all non-human entities are interdependent, then it makes sense
to view the totality of nature as more than the sum of its parts — all have a
role in supporting our planet. Yet at Public School in Paterson, NJ, I was
taught that the whole was merely equal to the sum of its parts."
Anyone who wishes to download (for free) the whole 268 page issue, please use the link below.
The Importance of the Aesthetic in Creativity
The aesthetic is the segue to being creative and well-being.
May 28, 2022
In the mid-1970s, when I was a doctoral student in Columbia University's graduate program of Family and Community Studies (Anthropology and Psychology), my original research proposal was on how mindfulness and creativity can enhance relationships.
Our Relationships as the Source of Improvisational Possibilities
That which is between us in an interdependent relationship.
Mar 31, 2022
After 50 years of facilitating communication as an educator, therapist, and community organizer, I have witnessed many contexts where people merely maintain and/or sabotage relationships. Being a systems thinker interested in helping make a difference, I look for the relationships between those in any social system that may be experiencing discord.
What Your Legacy Can Tell You
Implications for personal and community evolution.
Feb 6, 2022
I am currently seeing an increasing interest with friends and those I work with to revisit family narratives. In my practice for the past forty years (which I recently figured out consists of over 50,000 sessions with several thousand individuals), I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of facilitating many profound family narratives.
by Dr. Ken Silvestri, Cat Weaver and Natasha Rabin
Publisher: BookBaby (paperback)
Jan 26, 2022
In this collection of poems and images, Cat Weaver, Ken Silvestri, and Natasha Rabin explore the enchantment trains can bring. Trains share in the big and small events of people's lives, and remembered moments in them are depicted here as haunting, bittersweet, quietly nostalgic, and gently comic.