Poetry, Dance, and Art: The Power of Creativity in Counseling

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Podcast Transcripts

Mike Shook:
All right, everyone, welcome back to the podcast. Today, I’m here with Dr. Samuel Gladding, professor of counseling at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina. And just a real major figure in the field of counseling, so Sam, thank you so much for joining me today on the Thoughtful Counselor.

Sam Gladding:
My pleasure, I thank you for having me.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, this is a real honor to have you on here. I’ve been following your work for a while and it’s really neat to be able to engage you with some questions. As I was preparing for this interview, I came across a paper in 1985, the Mental Health Counsel of Association Journal entitled Poetry, Computers and Positive Mental Health and I thought that was somewhat of a prophetic paper talking about how counselors need to not air too much on the arts without engaging technology or too much on technology without gauging the arts. And I thought I’m hoping that’s what we’re trying to do today. So, I thought that’s a bit of a prophetic paper for this project.

Sam Gladding:
Right

Mike Shook:
Yeah, so I just wanted to start by learning how you got into the counseling profession.

Sam Gladding:
Well, I didn’t start out to be a counselor, I started out to be a minister. And I was a history major in college and then I went to divinity school and I went to Yale and the long and short of all of that is at the time as I was in my studies, I realized more and more I was not going to be a minister. That that world wasn’t my profession. And at the time, Yale only gave three grades, pass, fail or exceptional. And the only course I ever made an exceptional in was in counseling. And I figured, this shall be a sign. And so after I finished my studies there and got that degree, I entered a counseling program and the rest is history. I’ve loved it ever since.

Mike Shook:
That’s great. Were you at Yale, do you recall, was that when Hans Fry was there?

Sam Gladding:
He was, yes, yes.

Mike Shook:
I’ve read a lot of Hans Fry and George Linbeck, so I’m familiar with that – the Yale School. And would you mind telling the story, if you’re open to it – you tell a story in one of your books about how, as you were just saying, you were working towards being a minister, and then you weren’t sure that that was the right thing and you go home and talk to I believe it was a former advisor.

Sam Gladding:
Yes.

Mike Shook:
I love this story.

Sam Gladding:
Oh, well I was in that 20-something angst where I knew I wasn’t going to be a minister, but I didn’t know what I was going to be. And as I sent home from New Haven to my home in Atlanta where my parents lived, I stopped by Wake Forest Roadtrips for my undergraduate college. And I saw the former dean, who was my advisor. And I confessed to him all of my anxiety and he said to me just five simple words that kind of changed my life. He said why don’t you try counseling? And what he meant was why don’t you try some career counseling, and I thought he meant why don’t you try that as a profession. And so I did.

Mike Shook:
That’s great, I love that. It was advise by side hints. That’s pretty awesome.

Sam Gladding:
Kind of serendipitous.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah.

Sam Gladding:
In a great way.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s really great. And so, one of the things you are known for extremely well in the field of counseling is for introducing creativity into the process. And so I wondered what drew you specifically into creativity in its role in counseling?

Sam Gladding:
That’s a great question. I never planned to really do that, to be creative. I think it was the experience that I had with my clients that I realized that while I could and did practice theories and techniques that are mainstream in counseling, that there were other times where I needed to do something different and that was often something that we would consider creative, that it was something because creativity is useful and new and socially appropriate, it was something that I would do that was unplanned often, but practical. And I began to look at people who were doing things in creativity and reading on that area and implementing it as I a lot of people.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, and during that time, who were the people doing things with creativities, those influences on you at those early stages?

Sam Gladding:
There weren’t a lot of people into creativity at that time. Robert Sternberg is a person who I really like to read and he was doing some work in the area. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was another. But basically there was very, very little in the area. And so I kind of had to fly by the seat of my pants.

Mike Shook:
Yeah. Well, you’ve done a really good job of that and filling in that void in the counseling profession.

Sam Gladding:
Thanks.

Mike Shook:
As we get going, I wanted to read something from your own writing. I think it’s just a really beautiful way to set the stage for this conversation. I came across this in – let’s see, it’s the first chapter, History Of In Trends and Counseling. It’s your book on the counseling profession. And it’s actually a reprint from In the Midst of the Puzzling in Counseling Journey from 1978. So this is your poem – it actually doesn’t have a title. There’s a quietness that comes in the awareness of presenting names and recalling places in the history of persons who come seeking help. Confusion and direction are a part of the process wherein trying to sort out tracks. That parallel into life, a person’s past has traveled. Counseling is a complex riddle where the mind’s lines are joined are scrambling and precision to make sense out of nonsense. A tedious process, like piecing fragments of a puzzle together until a picture is formed. I think that’s such a beautiful, obviously poetic way to describe what we’re doing in counseling. So, I appreciate that you kind of putting this kind of stuff out there for us as counselors.

Sam Gladding:
Thank you. I felt like there was more to what was happening in sessions than just doing clinical notes. And so many times I would reflect afterwards and then write reflections or poems, as you’ve read, trying to respect the person and persons that I was writing about. But also trying to look at the dynamics and the process that was occurring during our sessions.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s beautiful. This is probably getting ahead of ourselves just a bit, but it strikes me that part of creativity, at least in your work, isn’t simply creativity within the session, but it’s engaging yourself in creativity to improve yourself as a counselor. Is that right?

Sam Gladding:
I think very much so. I always believed that you should not try to preach, if you will, what you don’t practice, or try to teach what you’re not willing to do yourself. And so I really do try to look at life as best I can as creative of a way as I can, divergent thinking in terms of what else could we do here? And I think it’s a way that I’ve kept up with the field and been able to teach my students something about creativity, and my clients as well.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah, that’s great. Okay, so in the beginning of the creative arts and counseling you say, “creativity is an overused word that is sometimes talked about without being defined.” So, it sounds like that’s a good place to start. When you say creativity, what do you mean?

Sam Gladding:
I think Robert Sternberg has defined it very well and I like his definition and kind of abide by it. And he basically says that creativity is doing something new or novel that’s useful and practical in a social environment. And so it’s not just doing something new, it’s doing something useful too, and it’s socially appropriate. So, I think that’s how I would best define creativity.

Mike Shook:
And you also talk about divergent thinking and the two parts of creativity. Can you speak a little bit to those?

Sam Gladding:
Sure. I think the best thing about creativity or one of the things that we need to remember most is that a person, in order to be creative, needs to have a lot of ideas. Not every idea that we have is good and it’s important that we filter out of the good ideas from the bad ideas. But, I think just like people that we admire who’ve been creative, most of them are cited for two or three things, but not for 20 or 30 or 40 things. So, if we think of Pablo Picasso, for instance, his art is well respected, but we focus in on a few pieces and not all of the work that he did. So, yeah.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. How about the little C and big C creativity? I really like that distinction.

Sam Gladding:
Yeah. I think big C creativity is something that we all wish for, but most of us don’t have. It’s the Edisons and the Einsteins and the Twyla Thropes in dance or Picassos or Rembrandts or whatever. Anyway, it’s making a major impact on the field or the domain that one lives in, whether it be art or science or literature. Bob Dylan just receiving the Nobel Prize for literature, what an interesting aspect, but certainly he made an impact on people’s lives.

So, most of us don’t get that, but all of us have little C creativity. So, little C creativity has to do with doing something that’s creative maybe on a minor level, a new recipe, a new technique in counseling, planting a garden in a certain way, dressing in a different style. Those are little C creative aspects of our lives. And all of us are privy to that, but we, of course, have to be focused on doing that too.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, I think that is a really helpful distinction because in a sense it encourages everybody to engage their creativity, whether it’s little C or big C. I think some of us, including myself get wrapped up in trying to produce big C types of creativity. And in so doing that, I end up being handcuffed to do little C stuff. So, making that distinction is helpful for me to say not everything I do that’s creative has to be profound in the sense of the big C creativity. It can also be small.

Sam Gladding:
Right, and I think small makes a difference in people’s lives because, again most of us while we love using products or ideas that big C people have produced, most of us we get by with a little help from our friends if I can quote the Beatles.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, great.

Sam Gladding:
And that’s little C, creativity, rather than mostly big C creativity.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah. And so, you spent a huge part of your career doing, among other things, speaking about creativity. And you talk about, there’s reasons why counselors should be interested in using creativity in their work. So, can you speak to some of those reasons?

Sam Gladding:
Well, I think there are a number of reasons counselors should be interested in using creativity. One is that it helps people who are stuck get unstuck without becoming unglued. In other words, I think more people are – when they come to us in counseling are in a rut, rather than in a groove. And if we can help them see life from a different perspective, than their world view is going to change and they’re going to probably do better than they’ve ever done before because they see the world differently. So, I think creativity and whether it’s big or little, but creativity in general can help people see things differently, do things differently and feel things differently.

So, again while I believe in the diagnostic and statistical manual and all the diagnosis you can have, I don’t think that most people are in that category of when they’re having difficulties in life, but they’re more stuck in doing ways that they’ve always done them. And again, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten, and it can help people do something different. Or in the words of the late Michael Jackson, ease on down, ease on down the road. Something that is productive.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s great. And you know as you’ve used a couple lyrics already from different groups and there is something – I have found that music often provides words for how people feel, including myself, words that we can’t find ourselves. So, even using creativity often offers a voice for our clients to speak or communicate in the way that they can’t grasp simply in every day words.

Sam Gladding:
I think you’re exactly right that reason some singers or groups are popular is because they’re saying things that have meaning for us and that we identify with. And sometimes, clients will want to use those words. Sometimes we as counselors will use those words. I always think of clients making decisions that were not very good and sometimes they’ll be talking about it and I’ll just reflect and say like in the words of Linda Ronstandt, it’s no good, it’s no good, it’s no good baby, it’s no good.

Mike Shook:
Nice.

Sam Gladding:
And that’s what they’re saying too, but we’ve got that straight. So, what can be done? And so we move on.

Mike Shook:
Yeah. And as you were saying that, I think that’s another piece of it too is that music can provide a little comedic relief or playfulness, but still communicate really deep, some often dark feelings.

Sam Gladding:
Yeah, I agree. And music – the most dramatic example I can think of music having a powerful effect on someone was the writer, William Styron, who wrote Sophie’s Choice. And Styron was very depressed, was thinking of even taking his own life. And he walks into this hotel just by accident and he hears this piece of music that his mother used to play that brought good memories from childhood. And he decides at that moment, I’m not gonna take my life. The music – there was something there, something that made him want to continue to live, even though he was struggling greatly with depression.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s very beautiful. And what of your articles – I believe it’s entitled the Impact of Creativity and Counseling from 2008. You talk about the longitudinal nature of creativity. And I found that to be a really helpful and fascinating topic. So, do you mind speaking to that a little bit?

Sam Gladding:
Sure. I think creativity is something that continues in one’s life. So, if you can get the ball rolling, we can use the laws of physics here, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. And so if we can begin to think in a creative way, it helps us to become even more creative. But even if we only have the time or two of being creative, we can look back on that and see a change in our lives. And I think the two book ends of counseling, if you will, where all the theories are in between are start with C. One is choice, the other is change. And we have some choices that we know we can make. We can make some changes that we want to make, and so creativity, it’s like looking back on our lives and remembering when we did something well. That is so gratifying and so satisfying for most people that it, again, leads to much better mental health and the realization that if I did it once, I can do it again. And it tenders hope. And if people have hope, they’re much better able to cope with those events that are happening in their lives.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, it is as it were, the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak.

Sam Gladding:
It is.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, as you were saying you can reach back into times of creativity to help provide you with hope and even motivation in the present.

Sam Gladding:
Definitely, definitely.

Mike Shook:
so, we’ve touched on the use of music and then a little bit of poetry by reading some of your work. But there’s also a lot of different mediums that counselors can use in their work to engage creativity. And some of the different things you’ve talked about in your work are music and dance imagery, visual arts, literature, drama, play and humor and more recently the outdoors. So, I was wondering if you don’t mind if you could elaborate on a few of these and how you’ve seen those be used effectively in counseling?

Sam Gladding:
Sure. Well, I think if we look at drama, for instance, people acting as if as Alfred Adler would have written about. If you are quoting Madanes when she uses the pretend technique, when people begin to be something they were not, even though it might be pretend or even though it might be acting, they begin to take on those qualities at times because they’ve acted them out. And once you go there, i.e. that you’ve acted something out, you can’t go back and pretend that you never were there. So, it’s really therapeutic. We know with movement you can be depressed and be exhausted. So, dancing, moving. I used to take adolescence out to a basketball court and we would be moving, obviously shooting baskets. But I’d also say to them is there more than one way to get the ball in the goal? And they would say, well like duh, yeah there is. And so we use that analogy to say is there more than one way that you could handle this situation or that situation? So it became a metaphor that became alive for them. The last thing I’ll say, I’ll stop on this, is with the wilderness or with green spaces, it’s been a lot of really good work, especially in Great Britain on the calming effect of the outdoors and how nature has a way of helping us reflect and calm down. And so I think that’s especially useful for clients who may be anxious or even clients who might be depressed a bit to begin to feel a rejuvenation because they see things growing and they see life is more tranquil.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah, you know that last one for me personally is huge. When I start to feel a little bit itchy in my skin, so to speak, I need to get out doors. I need to get out into a place of openness into the wilderness. And I know that I can probably say the same for some of my younger clients, my older clients as well. One of the things I notice as you’re talking is that one of the ways, I guess something we have to think about as counselors as we’re engaging creativity is that it doesn’t always look like the traditional idea of counseling where it’s just me and my client sitting in a room using tried and true techniques. And so we need to be able to step outside of those kind of old paradigms and engage with new ideas, whether that’s in the room or outside the room like you’re saying. Like taking our clients to the basketball court.

Sam Gladding:
Right. I think there’s nothing wrong with talk therapy in an office with certain people. That’s really therapeutic. That’s really, really good, good counseling. A lot of people, they don’t have the words. And so if we help them have an experience, than many times they’ll find words, or they’ll see the world differently, or behave differently, or feel differently. And then we can discuss that, rather than just going back historically on what’s happened in their lives. Or even trying to project ahead without having any new experiences. I think that’s one of the best things we can do for clients and one of the things that creativity does is give them a new perspective, a new experience they haven’t had.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, it almost sounds like taking our client’s world from 2D to 3D insomuch as we’re adding a different dimension. Or maybe it’s not us, it’s them engaging the creativity, but it extends their experience in a new direction providing a new space to think about their life and their experience.

Sam Gladding:
Right. I think that’s one reason that certain films like Star Wars or Harry Potter have been so popular. They give us a kind of a different way of seeing the world or the worlds that we live in. We live in multiple words, family friends, work, social, you name it. And they also give us a way of seeing how people we can identify with can solve problems that come up in their lives and give us hope again that oh, I can do something like that, even though it won’t be the same type of experience. We all face dragons, so to speak. And we all face difficulties. But most of them are solvable and resolvable, but it takes some courage and it takes some effort to get through them and get around them and move on in life.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so so far we’ve defined creativity. We’ve shown a bit of how it can be useful and talked about ways in which counselors can engage creativity in their work. But the question arises, what if I’m not particularly creative? What if I as a counselor don’t consider myself that creative? How do counselors who don’t necessarily call themselves creative tap into this creativity in their work?

Sam Gladding:
Yeah. And I think the one great thing about creativity or one of the great things, there are many things, is that it can be taught. So, most of us don’t come into the world as basically creative beings. But we can learn to be creative. For instance, a SCAMPER model comes to my mind where you substitute, combine, adapt or adopt, modify what you’re doing, eliminate or reverse and rearrange. Those things can make a huge difference.

I’ll give you a quick example. Rearranging the last letter in the SCAMPER model is something that we can do without that much difficulty. For example, if you have a room, the chairs may be arranged one way, but you can rearrange them and you get a different dynamic from the people who are sitting there. Or, you can modify the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you relate to other people by either emphasizing something that you like, and we all have models for people who we think are pretty good out there that we would like to imitate. Or we can minify a lesson what we’re doing. People who might be using hand motions for it, might not be that appropriate for them and learn to put their hands by their side or behind their back or something and do better yet in their relationship with others.

Mike Shook:
I like what you said about learning creativity. I think that that’s one of those – almost like a myth, at least in the western world that you’re either kind of just born creative or you’re not really creative. And I know from my own experience, the best products, or I don’t know would you say creative endeavors I’ve worked on are after long periods of pretty mediocre or even not particularly good work. But it’s taken time to learn the different traits or techniques of doing whatever it was I was doing, whether that be music or painting or dance. It’s taken time to actually learn the process to do good creative work. So, I find that to be kind of liberating that we don’t – it’s not an either or or you’re either born with it or you’re not. And the SCAMPER model is really helpful in providing a more straightforward framework for people who don’t consider themselves creative to think about, like you said, reverse or rearrange or combine. I think there’s so many different ways counselors can use simple things like combining in their work, even if they don’t think they’re creative. Simple things like combining different ideas is actually part of the creative endeavor.

Sam Gladding:
Very much so. And, I’m reminded of the poet William Butler Yates, the Irish poet, who when he was talking about writing poetry, he said it’s harder than breaking stone. And I think being creative is harder than breaking stone, if you will, that it takes work, enough to put ourselves in a mindset that says I’m going to try to do something different today. And we have to do, as you were saying, when we faced a kind of a time of a more mediocrity in our lives, which all of us face, none of us are immune from that, by trying to say no, I want to do a little more than that.

And walking away, giving ourselves some time to reflect – I tell me students and tell my clients at times, you may not believe in the unconscious, but it believes in you. And that is if we give ourselves a little time away from a problem or a situation, a lot of times that answer will come because if we prepare to look at it, many times the unconscious will resolve it for us. So, that’s why so many good ideas come when people just waking up or when they are in the shower or when they’re just walking and not particularly focusing on a problem or situation.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s great. I’m curious, in your opinion, are there different theories or particular theories that are more conducive to engaging creativity or counseling theories in your opinion?

Sam Gladding:
I think there are some theories that are more conducive to creativity than others. I think Adlerian theory is one, again acting as if. I think Cloe Madanes said her approach to strategic family or for just strategic therapy is a good one because again she uses pretend technique. Pretend you are this or pretend this is happening. Solution focus worked. I think is also very much in line with being creative. And finally, I think narrative work where you’re writing things down. James Pennybaker at the University of Texas has shown that if you write four days a week, 20 minutes a day on things that stress you, you become much less stressed by the end of a month and you also are physically stronger, better, your immune system has picked up. So, those four theories, I think especially, or five theories, are very helpful.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah. I’ve also found the narrative theory, at least the literature that comes out of it, it’s a very creative literature. It’s not your typical writing that’s sitting mainly in journal articles, but there’s a lot of stuff being produced within communities and really interesting and creative techniques to engage clients and I’ve found that to be really – for me, it’s been helpful in my work because if I feel stuck in the work, finding theories that do offer more creativity help me, myself, not necessarily my client, to get my feet back on the ground and rejuvenate the work a little bit. And hopes to rejuvenate it for them as well.

Sam Gladding:
Right, yeah. Again, I think if you write things down and I urge people to literally write rather than type, there’s something about the movement of the pencil, pen, whatever, that nets us in a flow kind of state.

Mike Shook:
That’s the difference. I see you quote, I can’t never pronounce the name of the author but you quote Flow quite a bit in your work, the book.

Sam Gladding:
Yeah, Csikszentmihalyi is not the easiest name to pronounce.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah.

Sam Gladding:
But, he said a lot of good things and he’s done a lot of good research in this area.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, well that kind of segues into a question I had as well as books like Flow are really helpful for counselors and people in general trying to engage new ways of thinking, new ways of working. In your experience, outside of your wonderful book The Creative Arts of Counseling, what would be some resources that counselors could look to, to engage in order to move toward this topic of creativity?

Sam Gladding:
Well, I think the place I would go first is to the journal to creativity and mental health. It is published by the Association for Creativity & Counseling. And it has a lot of good articles on a lot of different ways of thinking creatively and doing creative work in counseling. So, that would be the first place I would go because the articles are right there, they’re not long, they’re usually pragmatic and that’s really, really good. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as I said, Robert Sternberg. There are a number of really good writers in the field of creativity, and a place that I would go often is Google Scholar and just put in the word creativity and see what comes up because creativity now has become something that has been much more in fashion than out of fashion and it’s in a lot of different journals and in a lot of different books.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s helpful. So, there’s this really beautiful quote in the opening chapter of the Creative Arts of Counseling by Lucretius, the Roman philosopher, where he says that poetry can disburse the terrors of souls. So, when I wrote you, I put in here it seems like at this point in our interview we’ve been talking a lot about creativity, but maybe we need to put our money where our mouth is. And so I thought we could share a poem, we could each share a poem that’s been helpful in our work as counselors.

Sam Gladding:
Sure, sure.

Mike Shook:
I can go first if you want.

Sam Gladding:
Okay, great.

Mike Shook:
Okay, so I choose, I have this book here, this is Rilke’s Book of Hours, Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite poets and this is a poem called I Love The Dark Hours of My Being. So, I’ll read this one first. I love the dark hours of my being. My mind deepens into them. There, I can find, as in old letters, the days of my life, already lived, and held like a legend and understood. Then the knowing comes. I can open to another life that’s wide and timeless. So, I often sometimes, like a tree rustling over a grave site – I’m sorry. So I am sometimes like a tree rustling over a grave site and making real the dream of the one it’s living roots embrace. A dream once lost amongst sorrows and songs.

So, I was given this poem in my own counseling. This is a while back, maybe four years ago. And a counselor who was counseling me offered this poem as a way to help describe what I was describing. And I found it particularly poignant in my work, especially with people struggling with a low mood. I’m a reader of poetry, not necessarily an interpreter. So, I can’t claim to be a good interpreter of poetry, but this poem, to me, seems to touch on that, even though we experience hours of darkness, there is some type of redemption alive in that darkness as Rilke was talking about, a tree and looking at the dreams that are lost in its roots.

And so it’s like a psalm, so to speak, or in a sense where it offers – it describes reality well that we experience deep and dark places in our heart, but that often those can be the most generative places that we live. And so for me, personally, and for clients, I found that poem to be pretty powerful.

Sam Gladding:
And so it’s like a psalm, so to speak, or in a sense where it offers – it describes reality well that we experience deep and dark places in our heart, but that often those can be the most generative places that we live. And so for me, personally, and for clients, I found that poem to be pretty powerful.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, St. John of the Cross.

Sam Gladding:
Right, exactly, exactly.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah.

Sam Gladding:
Wow, wow. And so if you’ve known darkness, you can also know light.

Mike Shook:
Yeah. I guess that type of language I find really helpful because it can make a lot of sense of darkness as a place that is both scary, but also ripe for creativity and newness.

Sam Gladding:
Right, right. Yeah, so I think if you’ve known one thing, you can also know the nature of something else. I mean, life is not necessarily dichotomous, they’re shares. So, over in this shade, I can move through that shade.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, yeah, that’s great. Okay, did you happen to have a poem?

Sam Gladding:
I do. I was really debating between two of ‘em, but I think I’m going to go with Maya Angelou, Human Family. And I’m not going to try to read it all because it’s a long poem, but I’m going to read excerpts from it and.

Mike Shook:
Great.

Sam Gladding:
I know the obvious differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy. Some declare their lives are lived as true profundity, and others claim they really live the real reality. The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight, brown and pink and beige and purple, tan and blue and white. I’ve sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land, I’ve seen the wonders of the world not yet one common man. I know ten thousand women called Jane and Mary Jane, but I’ve never seen any two who really were the same. Mirror twins are different although their features jib, and lovers think quite different thoughts while lying side by side. We love and lose in China, we weep on England’s moors, and laugh and moan in Guinea, and thrive on Spanish shores. We seek success in Finland, are born and die in Maine. In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same. I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.

And I like that poem because I think it’s optimistic and relational and bringing us together in the unity that we have in being human beings regardless of where we are on the planet, regardless of cultural or ethnic heritage that there’s something within us that is the same and that spot is what I need to recognize in my clients and others that I interact with and that I hope they recognize in me. And so I like that poem, especially the last line that we’re more alike than we are unalike.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s really powerful. I like that line, I don’t know what that line was, but it talked about minoring – I think minoring in the minor and majoring in the major or something of that sort.

Sam Gladding:
Yeah, I’m trying to find that as we speak and nope, I’m not.

Mike Shook:
That’s okay. I think it touches what you said on the last line that we’re more alike than different. So, let’s spend time thinking about how we’re alike as opposed to how we’re different.

Sam Gladding:
Yeah, and I actually did find the line and it says in minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same. So, yeah.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, I love that, thank you for sharing that. What was the title again?

Sam Gladding:
It’s called Human Family –

Mike Shook:
Okay.

Sam Gladding:
– by Maya Angelou. And actually it’s a book, but you can also find it on the internet.

Mike Shook:
Okay, great. And I’ll put a link to that on the liner notes for this. Okay, well I wish that we could talk for another two hours, but we are running out of time. Before we finish, I would love to hear – so I know that your work has brought you all over the world. I’ve seen you written articles and journals in Turkey, among other places. But one of the places that you have traveled to is here in China to, I believe it was Menanyu University is that right?

Sam Gladding:
Right.

Mike Shook:
And if you don’t mind, just spend a minute or two talking about what brought you here for that work and how was your experience?

Sam Gladding:
Well, let me start with the experience, it was fantastic. I loved my time at the university and I love the students and the professors that I met. They were so good. Hungry for knowledge, are respectful. Willing to take chances and I probably did a few things differently than maybe most professors do. I engage them in experiences as much as I engage them in many lectures. It’s why I expected them to do some things and also to converse with one another and converse with me.

What brought me to China was a Fulbright specialist program. So, I had been a Fulbright scholar in Turkey and you can have two experiences. And so after Turkey, I kept applying to do this again and was fortunate enough to be selected for China. And again, this is just one of the most remarkable experiences I’ve ever had. I think I sent you a little –

Mike Shook:
Yeah, beautiful video.

Sam Gladding:
– on it. And that was my way of saying thank you China and thank you to the students and professors because they were really engaged.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, that’s great. And you can tell in that video, the movie that you sent it, the student seemed to enjoy you as much as you enjoyed the students.

Sam Gladding:
I think it was a two-way street. And I think when you have two-way streets as opposed to one-way streets, traffic moves better.

Mike Shook:
Good point. That’s a great – I’ve never heard that, that’s great. All right, well we are running out of time. You know, I wanted to say something really quick and hopefully this isn’t too embarrassing. But I have seen pictures of you in magazines and there’s different conferences and I’ve always thought that your – you know you can’t judge somebody by a picture, but your picture is always – your face – it always struck me a deeply friendly and genuinely kind person. And this conversation only reiterates or makes reality what the picture seems to suggest. So, I appreciate you taking the time to do this. It’s been a great conversation.

Sam Gladding:
I’ve enjoyed it immensely and I think you Michael for making this possible. I’m very pleased.

Mike Shook:
Yeah, thank you again for joining me on the podcast. It is a real honor to have you on today.

Sam Gladding:
Thank you and I wish you just the best and I hope those who listen gleam something from our conversation today.

Mike Shook:
And listeners, thanks again for listening to this episode of Thoughtful Counselor. You can like it on Facebook, that would be very helpful, or give a rating on iTunes, the old five-star rating is very coveted. Or reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter or email, thethoughtfulcounselor@gmail.com. We will see you next week.