Doug Anderson Interview

A Few Words with Doug Anderson

Standing on the shoulders of giants. To many in our community, Doug Anderson is a giant who has mentored an entire generation of systems-oriented therapists in the Pacific Northwest. Family Systems Family Northwest is proud to bring Doug, along with FSTNW’s own Julie Wood, as the speakers at our first annual Spring Conference.

Doug was gracious to share a few words with us.

What are some things you have learned about yourself through your career as a therapist?

I learned that I began my career with a sense of responsibility to heal others and only gradually over the years learned to let go with a stance of humility—which I trust in the healing resources within clients and the Divine Presence in both of us.  I’ve learned that therapy is not about doing techniques but being present.

How have you grown in your personal life through your work?

Fifty years of accompanying other persons on their journeys has taught me a great deal about my own life journey.  Through coming to know others in their depths and diversity, I have grown in both knowing and accepting myself, both my strengths and my limitations.  My current edge is learning to live with chronic illness, guided by Stephen Cope’s invitation to embrace illness as part of our unique life vocation.

What is your advice on tending to your Self as a therapist (meaning self-care)?

Tending to one’s own self as a therapist is essential to being able to sustain a long career in this profession.  Having relationship characterized by mutual openness with both colleagues and close friends/family members has been the heart of this for me.

How did your therapy change as you went through life?

I became less active verbally and learned to listen with curiosity and receptivity.  I have become increasingly aware of personal and cultural differences and the importance of practicing and coaching acceptance of difference in our polarized culture.

What are some ways to create community in this isolating line of work?

Structuring regular time of meeting together with colleagues friends and family has been an antidote to the danger of isolation.  For me community is friendship.  I treasure friendship especially with close colleagues and most of all with my two sons in their fifties, and with my fifty-four year marriage with Joan.