The Key Component to a Successful Professional Working Relationship

It has been over forty years now that Mary Simon, Howie Lambert and I have been working together. In 1973, I joined Mary and Howie at Gilpin House, a community mental health center that was an outreach of Denver General Hospital. We formed strong bonds in the ensuing years that would lead to our forming Enrichment Resources and later, with Roz Cantrell, The Relationship Resource Center, a wonderful coming together of therapists and clients.

joined handsI think the core psychotherapists have stayed deeply connected with one another for so long, longer indeed than most marriages, in part because we are committed to telling the truth with love to one another on an ongoing basis. This is the essential condition for evolutionary or integral love to grow. What integral love means is that we work to transcend and include personal love and invite and give feedback to one another to recognize, integrate, and move beyond our ego and personality structures.

This demands that we challenge each other to delve even deeper than what our ongoing commitment to professional growth and development requires. The nearest equivalent I know is the Buddhist “sangha,” although we do not come together in any specifically religious context. Our connection at its deepest level might be called psychospiritual in nature, and we work to support our own evolution, as well as the others that we come in contact with, in our lives and in our practice.

The Relationship Resource Center is an amazing place to live and work. I am deeply grateful for what we have created and delighted to be part of its ongoing evolution. The wonderful and challenging practice of what I am calling integral love demands that we continue to grow and show up more and more in our lives. It is immensely helpful to have a context like RRC that supports this essential development in each of us.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Holding the Gold: Claiming Your Inherent Value

Sometimes a person comes in for counseling and needs us to “hold their gold” for them.

doubt vs. beliefI am indebted to Robert Johnson, the famous Jungian analyst, for turning me on to this important realization. It is not uncommon, as counseling progresses, that a person may not be able to claim his/her own inherent value.

What this means is that initially they are not ready to see the treasure that they are, and they unconsciously project their “gold” or their wonderful qualities onto their therapist. They may be caught in the vise of self-hatred, and no amount of trying to convince them of their own worth can initially dissuade them from their negative self image.


The challenge for the therapist is to “hold this gold” until the rightful owner is ready to claim it.

It can be tempting to hold on to the disowned gold of the other. The therapist must be ready to make the transfer back to its owner as soon as he/she is ready. It is extremely helpful, indeed necessary, for the therapist to have a deep sense of their own inherent worth so they are not tempted to keep the other person’s gold as their own.

That, indeed, would be stealing.

Share your thoughts below.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Perspective on Adult Definition of Play: A Balance of Energy

Play is fine for children, but what about us adults?

I think our culture needs an adult definition of play.

The perspective on adult play that I like the best is the following:

Pretty simple and extremely important!

Unless we experience a balance of energy in our lives, coming in as well as going out, we are likely to feel pretty unhappy. I think most of us experience more energy going out than coming in on a regular basis, and the expectations that we put on ourselves and others tend to not help matters. It is well known that on average, adults in the U.S. work more hours and take less vacation time than most people in the developed world. The demands of daily life can be extremely draining, and addictive behaviors do not really address this energy imbalance that many people experience in their lives.

So I recommend that we look at simple, healthy behaviors that we are already doing in our daily lives that give us more energy than they take.

having fun

This is our play, and we might want to be really subversive of the dominant culture and decide to play even more!

Take some time out of your day to go and play!

Let us know your thoughts – share comments below.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Nurture First, Then Work is Essential

The Protestant Ethic is strong on work before play. Get your work and tasks done first, and then relax if there is any time left.

Much that is useful has come from following this maxim, and there are times when work must precede more pleasurable activities.

Unfortunately the ethic itself is based on the belief that people are inherently lazy, and unless they drive themselves or are driven by someone else, they will succumb to their lower nature or some such gobbledygook. Also, there frequently isn’t any time left when all the work is done.

While it is important to learn how to delay gratification, this works best if it is a conscious process on the part of the individual rather than a rule that is bound up with fear and survival energy.

nurturing environmentMy own experience is that when I am well nurtured in mind, body and spirit, I work at my best. Enough sleep, healthy food, exercise and a meditative or journaling practice seem to be important for my optimal functioning at whatever work I need or choose to do.

If work before play is sometimes necessary, self-nurturing before work is often essential if we are wanting to move beyond a strongly entrenched survival ethic that frequently took a dim view of human nature.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

How Entitlements Are Destructive to the Entitlement Holders

I have long pondered the question of how entitlements may be destructive to the entitlement holders themselves. It is clear to others that your entitled positions are painful to them if they are wanting a relationship with you. There is also the piece about how for every hour of entitlement you take in a relationship, you get about an hour and a half of resentment from your partner. But there is something else that happens as well. When I take entitled positions, I am discounting my own needs, wants and feelings as well as those of others, and I may not even be aware that I am doing that or of the consequences.


I recently wrote about my retirement entitlement. Clearly as an entitled position, it was not respectful of the needs or wants of my wife or daughter. (Again, it’s not that I don’t have the right to retire, it’s the entitlement that’s not relational). What I gradually got in touch with was that in taking an entitled position, I was discounting my financial situation, my desire and want to keep doing work that I love that is of real service to others, and my feelings of deep connection and joy that I find in my work. In my entitled position, I was riding roughshod over myself as well as others that I care about.

Sadly, one of the first lessons most men learn in guy school is to put away their own needs, wants and feelings. In replacement for the richness that is taken from them, they pick up the barren mantle, the stone shirt of entitlements. In the Men’s Journey Work at RRC, we help men recover their birthright of owning their needs, wants and feelings and put down the entitled positions that are hurtful to others and themselves.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker