I have been practicing psychotherapy and personal growth work through private practice in San Francisco since 1978. My work is eclectic, informed by a variety of approaches including Gestalt, Modern Analytic, Psychodynamic, Humanistic, and the Transpersonal. I am licensed by the state of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). I have been a member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association for over 30 years. Today I lead some spiritual and personal development classes through Unity of San Francisco.
Perhaps as much as approaches to psychotherapy, my work is also informed by both the practice and study of Buddhist meditation, mostly from the Zen, Tibetan and Vipassana traditions. No I don't wear saffron robes or have a shaved head--although my natural hair loss is leading that way.
Buddhist silent meditation practice teaches being fully present with all that is present, both within ourselves as well as in the external world. But we rarely are simply present. Consciously or unconsciously we are often either rejecting or grasping onto whatever we encounter, distorting our ability to perceive things just as they are.
As we understand how our feelings, judgments and projections can distort our perceptions of things and people, we can also learn to step back from them. Without losing our values, we become more aware of them in ways that they don't interfere with our ability to perceive things as they are. In addition, understanding our own limitations helps us be more compassionate when we perceive similar limitations in others.
Ultimately honest self-examination and learning to be more present in our actual lives, enables us to appreciate the abundance that life offers us. The more we choose to live from our highest instincts and understanding, the better life is for us and those around us. Which has led me to Unity.
Unity San Francisco has been my spiritual home since around 2010. While mediation practice has provided the grounding for living a more conscious life, Unity, perhaps ironically, brought God back into my life. Unity stresses our inner connection with the Divine (God) as a practical way for us to recognize and live life from our highest values and potential. We are all one at core. From recognizing this Oneness, appreciation and compassion and wisdom flow naturally .
In terms of my work, Unity has helped me further emphasize recognizing the good in life and each other. Good is always present, but too often we are so focused on fixing what seems wrong, we lose perspective. Developing our abilities to find the gifts life offer, especially in trying situations both deepens and expands our appreciation of life and ourselves.
Originally from a New York City suburb, I lived through, enjoyed and survived the 1960s, before moving to California in 1971. I received my BA from New York University in 1971, and my MA in Psychology from University of California, Sonoma in 1977. I was a bit of a hippie, a dishwasher and then a baker in the interim. I also worked in a nursery school while doing my Masters. Moving to San Francisco, I worked in Berkeley Mental Health's Day Treatment Program for people just out of, or trying to avoid going into a mental hospital, from 1973 to 1978.
I now reside in the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco, where I have lived with my husband Allen, since 1980. I helped him raise his daughter from age 12. (And, of course, she also raised us.) Cheerios joined us in June, 2011 as an 8 weeks old, energetic puppy. She doesn't run everything ;)
Two chapters I wrote were published in 101 Interventions in Group Psychotherapy, edited by Scott Simon Fehr, PhD, Taylor & Francis Group, New York & London, 2008, entitled: "Using Humor to Advance Group Work," and "To Err Is Human: Turning Our Mistakes into Useful Interventions." I publish an intermittent blog entitled Truth & Compassion https://davecooperberg.wordpress.com sharing ideas of developing appreciation for the gifts of life while not denying the struggles along the road.
I also organize a small, yearly, mostly silent meditation retreat.
Since 2010 I have been active with Unity San Francisco, a spiritual center and community based on the theme of recognizing that each person is an individualized expression of the Divine. In 2013 I become a prayer chaplain, practicing Affirmative Prayer. Affirmative Prayer is a central Unity practice that helps us remember and appreciate our Divine nature, particularly at stressful times. My study of Unity metaphysics and practices has enhanced my appreciation of life. I become certified as a Licensed Unity Teacher in 2018 to further my opportunities to share these uplifting practices.