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Joseph C. O'Rourke, LCSW February 16th, 2007 11:25 AM

Passing of Jay Haley
Yesterday, I learned of the death of Jay Haley on Tuesday. His contribution to the field of therapy and mental health spans decades and has touched thousands of lives. The field has lost a remarkable man and teacher.

Joe O'Rourke
Joseph C. O'Rourke, LCSW, BCD

Randolph Fiery February 19th, 2007 10:37 AM

Re: Passing of Jay Haley
Over 25 years ago, I was working as a therapist with a troubled 14-year-old girl. She was failing in school, promiscuous, abusing alcohol/drugs and in most ways out of control. Regardless of these troubles, she attended therapy and worked with me in a co-operative manner. After several months, I noticed a pattern: she came to therapy in a depressed mood and left cheerful and happy. It was clear that she liked seeing me and working with me. I recognized that regardless of the relationship, her behaviors did not change. My assessment was that, even though I had extensive training, I did not know how to change people! I could talk to people, I was a good listener, I was charismatic and yet I could not change a troubled teen.

I decided to seek out a supervisor. I located a seasoned therapist with a good reputation as a therapy trainer. I started the supervision process, explaining my case to the supervisor. During our supervision sessions, he repeatedly complemented me on my insight, work, and occasional brilliance in the case. Rather than feel good, I left thinking "he doesn't know any more than I do". I stopped supervision and within the next three months found a second supervisor. Unfortunately, the same scenario repeated itself.

At this point in my career, I spent a great deal of time considering whether I should leave the field of therapy. In some ways I did not doubt my abilities; instead I wondered if the field of therapy truly contained real logic and science.

Days passed and I stumbled upon a book entitled, Uncommon Therapy by Jay Haley. The book read like science-fiction, yet parts of the manuscript made perfect sense. By accident, I learned that Jay Haley provided live supervision in the Washington D.C. area. I attended a two day training, followed by a one-week training and then began a one year training, that included both observing and treating difficult families in front of a one-way mirror. For seven years I worked for a small nonprofit, counseling agency that served the poor, the violent, criminals, and the sexually abused. Intermittently, I would phone Jay to consult on a particularly dangerous case. In his patient manner, he would say "bring them up and I'll take a look at them ". Note: I lived four and a half hours from the Washington area.

In this manner, on a Saturday or Sunday, a great originator in the field of systems thinking, without charging a fee, would sometimes spend 5-8 hours behind a mirror helping me to navigate the dangerous waters of violence, sexual abuse and suicide. Our mission was to stop the abuse and violence. Our mission was to prevent psychiatric hospitalizations and to help these troubled people to live in the outside world. Jay Haley taught me how to think in a helpful and therapeutic manner. He taught me to organize families and systems in a logical manner that was based on the observation of sequential interpersonal patterns. He quite simply taught me how to change people! Rather than debate the philosophy and values of therapy, Jay led me to action. Philosophy and strategy were only meaningful if they made positive changes in a family's life.

Today I received a phone call from a friend who informed me that Jay had died. I was not ready for that phone call. I was not ready for that news.

To many people in the field, Jay was an icon. To me he was a wonderful man whose kind spirit and gentle nature greatly influenced my life. I am thankful to have experienced his wise counsel and generous, quiet charity. On many days, I can hear his voice and hope that my actions do justice to his wisdom. The books that Jay wrote continue to be therapeutic compasses in my life but they pale in comparison to the simple acts of kindness that he provided to me over a number of years. His seemingly random phone calls to the small counseling agency where I was employed, receiving several books in the mail that contained cases we had worked on together, or receiving a phone call from a publisher asking me to review one of Jay's books were examples of his indirect manner of complementing and supporting my professional efforts and me.

He is known for his brilliance. Yet each day I remember his kindness.

Randolph Fiery Chesapeake, Virginia

Stephen Lankton June 8th, 2007 03:02 AM

Re: Passing of Jay Haley
Brilliant. Thanks.

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