Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 171–176 | Cite as

On Yoda, Trouble, and Transformation: The Cultural Context of Therapy and Supervision

  • Vincent P. WardEmail author
Original Paper


In America, we miss the pivotal role of trouble in transformation, because our pursuit of a painless and trouble-free life aborts the process by which the psyche “gives birth” to change. As therapists, we know better: healing and growth require movement through, rather than avoidance of, troubling symptoms. Meanwhile our culture, in order to avoid facing the trouble of aging, sidelines and segregates our old people, which lets the Elder spirit waiting in each Old One wither from disuse. We do for our clients what Elders would do for the culture, carrying their accumulated weight of hope and despair, joy and sorrow, violence and peace. Eldering and therapy transform that troubling weight into “spiritual ballast,” providing the stable ground people need for the journey through life. So as therapists, we’ve been drafted, ready or not, and without our informed consent, into the role of Cultural Elder. We are midwives during the labor that births new beginnings. The supervisors among us can be seen as providing for apprentice therapists the final experience that initiates them into this crucial cultural role. In contributing to the reweaving of an unraveling world, our profession serves a function and carries a responsibility much broader than that defined by our credentials.


Role of trouble in transformation Fear of aging and death Withering of Elder spirit Wisdom Therapist and supervisor as cultural elder 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia Family Guidance Center, PAColumbiaUSA

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