Where Your Help Begins OnlineSM
About My Life & My Dream
clients often ask me how I can stand to sit and listen to people's
problems all day. Like the gardener who toils, cultivates and weeds in
the sun for joy of experiencing the growth and the harvest, my work as a
counselor brings me great joy and gratitude to have a part in
facilitating the recovery, growth, and development of human beings. Over
the years, this work has greatly enriched my own life and contributed to
my personal growth, as it has pushed me to face my own fears and
perceived limitations. And, at times, the road has been very difficult.
Having passed its 15th anniversary, TRANSITIONS represents the
fulfillment of an almost lifelong dream for me. During the Fall of 1990,
upon losing my counseling job after yet another round of
recession-driven cutbacks closed my agency down, I made a commitment. No
more bureaucracies. (Actually, after having the Hand of the Universe
yank the carpet out from under me so many times, it took a long time for
me to get the message.)
One of the
potential blessings of midlife is the realization that life is too short
to wait for everything to happen.
I have come to realize that our society, as it presently exists, will
never adequately fund human service programs and that most counseling
agencies — whether public or private — will continue to exist in noisy,
urban, hustle-and-bustle environments sorely lacking in privacy and the
serenity of the natural surroundings that are important for counseling
and inner work.
Dome - Spring, 2000
The challenge was to create an agency with a holistic
approach — one that is healing both in terms of environment and more
meaningful use of time and resources. By
development and recovery over pathology
in this setting,
people would become more empowered to discover and fulfill their own
potential: personally, in relation to others, and in society.
experience and observation have taught me that
both public and private mental health agencies
typically are not healthy environments for those who work in them.
Distressing work pressures, office costs and other overhead for those
typically urban settings are out-of-sight and "professional" competition
is grueling, if not downright unethical, in the healthcare delivery
battle. This battle now involves insurance companies, HMOs, PPOs, EAPs
and unsavory greed-driven politics that victimize both consumer
(previously referred to as client or patient) and provider (previously
referred to as caregiver). These are not fun places to work.
simple work in my field of helping others has become "big business" is
made obvious by the emergence of "big business" in almost every aspect
of the healthcare professions.
The sense of caring
and service has been replaced by the sense of greed and competition.
Many caring and competent professionals, distressed by threatened
livelihoods and loss of patients and clients, have allowed themselves to
be caught-up in this system. The challenging and often painful life
experiences I have encountered, endured and grown through over the years
have taught me that this system is not a healthy environment; not for
clients and not for this caregiver. For me, the only viable option has
been to take the road less traveled and
offer my clients a
counseling facility that represents every aspect of health and wellness
that I know to share.
increasingly complex and dysfunctional culture, the most obvious step
was to make every effort to
return to simplicity.
The first step had already been taken. Years ago, we had moved onto just
over eight, rolling and wooded, stream bounded acres. I designed and
helped build a passive-solar, semi-Earth-integrated house over the
course of time. The house, outbuildings and gardens were inspired by
Oriental design themes.
Though I had
been occasionally seeing clients, holding small retreats and teaching
classes on our land since the early eighties, the culmination of many
years of various influences came together to generate a powerful
spiritual realization that
this setting was
meant to be a place for healing — on all dimensions of human experience.
period of years, when I was not seeing clients, I used the construction
skills I had acquired while working myself through college. Beginning
with a 24' geodesic dome kit from Canterbury Domes, I built the
a state-of-the-art small counseling facility in a woodland garden
setting. It also features a small Reception and Media Therapy Building,
built on a garden house theme. It is
to optimize privacy,
yet it is adjacent to the modern office-dome -- an open, circular
facility capable of multiple family therapy or small scale retreat work,
as well as for working with individuals or couples.
Reception/Media Therapy Bldg. LEFT; Dome Office RIGHT
A short walk
across the hill from the front door of our house,
facility serves as a base for providing traditional and cutting-edge
counseling services to local communities, while pioneering cyber-based
helping services to the Internet community.
Finally, I can offer clients what they need, unencumbered — putting aside government- and
business-based bureaucracies to offer direct and
services to people local and world-wide!
Inside office dome, looking East.
Fall picture of office dome.
In addition to
counseling, I am able to
pursue my writing and publish direct to people; without reject slips from jaded
editors who return manuscripts unread because their publishing companies
decide what the people will read. Most of all, living this way provides
an opportunity to "walk the walk" in a hectic, out-of-control society
that is out of touch with Nature and the deeper Spiritual meaning of
life. Beyond my spiritual life, my family is the first priority, and our
home-based office allows us more time together: to share; to work in the
garden; to hike in the mountains.
The Making of a Counselor
question, often asked, pertains to how and why I chose to enter the
profession of counseling in the first place.
In the formal counseling setting, where clients are paying for our time
and attention to them, we therapists have a justifiable tradition of
avoiding undue personal disclosure. Traditionally, for those of us who
need it, this practice has allowed us a certain kind of professional
mystique. There is a kind of irony here, as we encourage our clients to
open up and "take risks" and have courage to be vulnerable in relating
to others, while we hide behind our professional front. This formality,
originated by Freud,
is said to provide an appropriate level of professional distance and
(If you believe you need this professional mystique, read no further —
this is about to get real. I promise not to sing, but if personal
background information may be useful to you in your choice of a
counselor, I'll offer some — if you want to take the time to read it.)
Those of us
who have been courageous enough to share our personal stories in our
published writings have helped our readers and clients significantly.
Others have felt encouraged to seek help, because they see how
therapist/authors have personally faced, survived and grown from life's
The challenges in my life led me to this profession,
and it is in this spirit that I shall share a few details in hopes of
answering the question of how I have come to embrace this work of
counseling. Beyond perhaps inspiring some potential clients to seek my
counseling services (and possibly chase-off a few who need professional
mystique), my intention is to encourage other professional care-givers
to open up and show our humanity. We are all in this (thing called life)
together folks! School can only take us so far. Beyond that, we have
true education: Only life can teach us wisdom. In the wonderful
"children's" book, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, the
Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit, about what is real:
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's
a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long
time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become
it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you
are real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It
takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who
break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved
off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very
shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real
you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
was punctuated by exciting adventures and frequent moves, as my father
was an Air Force Master Sergeant who took us to exotic Eastern settings
and through much of the United States. We finally settled in the South,
in Florida, where I finished my growing up years walking quiet beaches
at night while dreaming equally of psychology and being an airplane
school, I was a science prodigy and a dreamer. Frustrated teachers could
not reconcile my frequent State Science Fair Awards with the so-so
grades generated by what then was a misunderstood attention deficit
"problem". I wrote poetry on the beach and was too scared to chase the
girls who were so much on my mind. I would have been called an
"egghead," then; now defined as a nerd or geek. Still, as a Civil Air
Patrol Cadet, I won a flight scholarship and got my pilot's license
before my driver's license.
adolescence, my mother's drinking was my secret pain.
and powerfully sensitive, she was prisoner in a world that still drew
its gate-keepers, guards and wardens from the male gender population.
the key which gave her permission to feel in those days. She believed an
alcoholic drank his breakfast, so she never drank before five — except
for weekends. She loved us children; myself, my brother and our younger
sister, with total devotion and attention. But, then, there were times
her drinking turned her into a different person. Even in her affliction,
she sustained me.
Since I was
a first-born male in our culture, she dropped her prepackaged dreams on
me like a yoke, though I never doubted her love for me — for us. There
were times I had to be careful about inviting friends over late.
Drinking opened the floodgates of her frustration with the world. And I
listened. I didn't know it then, but I wonder if I may have been the
first male to embrace what became the Women's Movement. They didn't know
it at first, but my daughters share the artistic and creative dreams of
my mother's youth. As my wife and I live, nothing in this world will
block their path.
My father sparked my spirit for adventure. Like my mother, he was a
Depression child — and born into an awesomely dysfunctional family. He
swore he would be the father he never had. Considering what he started
with, he did quite well; though it took years for me to see through his
rage and come to that appreciation. Dad bought his first computer
when he was 80. It was his way of slowing down.
early retirement years, my parents sold or stored everything and traveled the
country in a travel trailer. They began life as childhood sweethearts
and they were together at Pearl Harbor the day the bombs fell. Though
Dad gave her a .45 and told her to stay in the apartment, Mom went down
to the hospital to help. She volunteered as an ambulance attendant and
helped to ferry the wounded and dying from the Harbor front to the
hospital. Though she was shattered by the experience, she rarely talked
about it unless she was drinking — and then, she didn't stop. You'd
think she would have inoculated me against ever going to war, but she
didn't. I did learn from her that no amount of alcohol will wash away
the pain of war.
It was a lesson I
remembered in Vietnam.
School was the most exciting adventure of my adolescent life.
a desire to serve, my
having no money for college at the time and facing possible draft, it
was the best option. The recruiter told me plenty of jobs would be
waiting for ex-Army helicopter pilots. (What a way to work through
college!) With their maneuverability, helicopters are so fun to fly!
About the time I neared graduation I applied for, and was granted, Army Aeromedical Evacuation training. Now, I was a pilot/medic: called a Medevac or
As I played
on the beach with my family the day I caught the jet for Vietnam, many carefree memories of youth came back to me. No one else shared my
naiveté. It was not until 20 years later that my veteran parents
confided that they seriously wondered if they would ever see me again. I
remember — when that old warrior shook my hand as I boarded the jet, I
was completely unaware my father's knees were about to buckle underneath
him. A year later, to my great surprise by then, I returned from
Vietnam — at
least I thought I did. It took 15 years before I began to discover parts
I left behind.
Without writing a book, I could not begin to describe my Vietnam
In 1969, I
returned from my tour in Vietnam as a helicopter ambulance pilot. It had
been a crushing experience for me. The memories of countless wounded
soldiers and broken babies, nightmares of the times I was shot down, the
scrambled politics, and the helpless horror of the experience of war
demanded a search for meaning that eventually led to my own process of
Beyond witnessing the ravages of war, my eyes had been opened to
dysfunctional, demoralizing processes in our society that have come to
bear on all of us in the present time.
I made a commitment to play my small part in helping to bring healing to
all of us, one individual or one family at a time.
It took some
time for me to realize how essential personal healing is in the process
of becoming a competent facilitator for the healing of others. Education
was a beginning. I studied
Psychology at the
University of Florida, graduating with
High Honors, Phi
But the day after I was initially turned down from graduate school
there, my first wife of three years moved out and vanished from my life.
In less than 24 hours I lost what was most important and meaningful in
my life. There I was, sitting penniless, in an empty campus apartment I
was required to vacate immediately. The first blessing was being turned
down from a graduate program then. It led to my learning a lot
about the meaning of commitment.
we had no children. The second blessing was having a professor like
Sidney Jourard tell me the abandonment experience would either kill me
or make me strong.
I vowed it
would make me strong; though I faced a year of intense grief,
depression, and conscious growth-directed activity that included
counseling, spiritual disciplines, karate, self-help literature and
service-oriented employment. Still wracked by the experience of Vietnam,
it seemed the pain of her abandonment and the way she did it would never
end for me.
Now, because of the growth and meaning that came out of it, the memories
of that pain-filled year are among the happiest of my life.
At the end
of that year, I applied for the Counselor Education graduate school
program at the University of Florida; was accepted, and went on to
Master and PhD) degrees in
University of Florida
Counselor Education Program was rated as the 1997
counseling program in the Nation
News & World Report. I have always felt deeply honored to be an
alumnus, largely due to the brilliant and truly noble human beings who
administer and teach in that program.)
graduate school, I met the beautiful woman who has come to share the
last 30 years of my life, to include birthing and raising our own pair
of magnificent children. Believe me, we have had our share of life
challenges over the years — more than space here would allow. There were
relationship struggles; years of financial struggles beginning with our
college years and beyond (and beyond the beyond); and years of struggle
in dysfunctional government-funded human service systems.
all, we have learned to be survivors and to appreciate how life prepares
us for the next step.
working my way through college, I developed construction skills that
were used in designing and building our home and office.
background led to my being able to build and fly my ultralight airplane
— an unexpectedly powerful healing process in my recovery from Vietnam.
In the 80's, when my wife could not find appropriate work with her Masters in
History, our little family pulled together to support her through her
completing a Master of Library Science. For years now, we have been financially
challenged by my choosing not to participate in the managed care
(mangled care) takeover of the healthcare delivery system. But, we have
the assurance we are doing the right thing.
Enduring and growing
through these struggles and transitions has brought us closer — to
ourselves and to each other — and to the Source behind our lives.
take me to places I have not already been. To have walked the path thus
far — to have found my way back on higher ground and to be able to
return as a guide is a sacred honor to me.
Years of working in those public human service systems did provide a
good foundation of clinical experience, but private practice became the
Life has taught me that we cannot maintain a harmonious and functional
balance while playing a role in a dysfunctional system.
And so, TRANSITIONS Personal & Family Counseling Services came
View inside office dome, looking Northwest.
going into counseling and eventually forming this private agency came
about as a
result of a culmination of powerful spiritual experiences in my personal
and professional life.
In all of the life
experiences described above, there has been an unceasing spiritual
teaching influence from earliest childhood, initially from personal
experiences as well as my Celtic, Native American and Christian
heritage; then through my my studies in Eastern and esoteric traditions. During the days
of my childhood, it was considered inappropriate to talk about those
processes of spiritual opening that, today, have come to enhance my
counseling practice as well as my personal life. Even now, to even
attempt to highlight such incredible experiences in a universally
understandable way in this brief document would not be possible in
words. My hope and prayer is that the fruition of these experiences will
be evident in my work.
spiritual issues and religious/spiritual trauma is one of my
specialties. However, in my counseling with clients, I am ethically
responsible and inspired to work with them within the domain of
levels of faith and spiritual experience,
if they choose to do
those who make that choice, exploration of clients' own spiritual
experience and needs is one important aspect of the counseling process.
All of us
develop ultimate questions — and how we answer those questions for
ourselves determines how we live our whole lives.
In a culture that forces so many of us into a continuum that may run the
gamut from spiritual denial through religious or spiritual abuse, a good
counseling setting provides an accepting atmosphere to explore and heal
these issues. Because of my own growth and spiritual development, in
addition to my professional training and experience, persons who come to
TRANSITIONS will find respect for, and support of, their own positive
personal faith and spiritual experience.
At this stage of my many years of practice, my primary specialty has
come to be helping people with spiritual issues, including victims of
spiritual trauma or religious abuse. (See
below.) Few realize that religious (or spiritual) abuse is the last type
of abuse routinely tolerated and generally accepted in our society.
Indeed, many victims of this type of abuse are not even aware of their
experiences as being abuse, yet their entire lives are impacted!
Entrance to Human Development Sanctuary (Taken from 9' elevation)
have just read represents an overview of my personal story and the
development of TRANSITIONS Personal & Family Counseling Services.
writing this was the most meaningful part of my web page — I guess
because it covers the real essential things that make my life and my
work most meaningful to me.
Because we are all
more alike than we are different, I hope this has connected with you on
some level where we are the same. I wish you inspiration to write your
own story, taking special note of how you have survived and grown from
your most difficult life experiences. And, if some process in your life
is blocked, or incomplete, or apparently broken altogether, I would be
honored to respond to
your call for help.
As a counselor — as
a caretaker in the garden of humanity — I have absolute faith in your
ability to recover and grow and flourish in the process of Life.
or not you contact me, I hope this web page — at least in some small way
— inspires you and provides hope and support.
Deepest Personal Regard,
Granville Angell, Ed.S., L.P.C., N.C.C.
DECEMBER, 2002 - THE PRESENT
Keeping the Dream Alive
We certainly live in interesting times! The economy has affected
TRANSITIONS, as it has affected the majority of us. EAP contract work
disappeared with closings of local mills.
State budget cutbacks have led to the process of disbanding area mental
health programs into what are called local management entities (LMEs).
This involved prior mental health center staff therapists
spinning off to open their own private practices in an economy that is
too fragile to support them. It's not that there is no need for
counseling and other mental health services. Considering the stresses we
face today, these services are needed more than ever - but less people
can afford them.
Somewhere in the
process of this melee, in 2004, I got the wild and crazy idea that I
could be of more service and more financially solvent if I joined
the staff of the local mental health center, fulltime, while doing my
private practice on the side. Well, that was a bad
decision! Remember above, where I said such agencies were not
healthy or fun places to work? What was I thinking?!! The
center divested and privatized not long after I joined, to be taken over
by corporate interests more devoted to the bottom line than client care.
I left to take on the challenge of rebuilding TRANSITIONS.
With 30 years
experience in the field, I am confident that traditional ethical
standards of offering privacy and service are paramount – even while
developing innovative therapies and service models that meet the needs
of clients during these times. I continuously look for ways to provide
counseling services in ways that are more cost-effective for all
concerned. Part of this has involved the decision to close the downtown
Lincolnton office, while continuing to develop the Northbrook center.
Not only was development and activity there having an impact on privacy
and quiet for clients, but the reduction of overhead allows me to
maintain affordable client fees.
way is the development of a sub practice specialty called
which represents a completely innovative approach for offering holistic,
intuition-enhanced counseling and clinical hypnotherapy.
I continue to
offer alternatives to paying for services within the not-so-confidential
realm of managed care and health insurance.
I know for certain that -
once they know the consequences - almost nobody wants the details of
their private, personal lives to go outside the counselor’s office.
Shortly after the tragedies of September 11, 2001, I took Disaster
Mental Health training with the Red Cross. The first two weeks of that
December, I volunteered as a Red Cross disaster mental health worker at
Ground Zero, the World Trade Center site. I also had the good fortune of
working with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina, on the Mississippi
In response to the
tragedies of September 11, and the issues of grief and loss/existential
angst in general, I have written a book. A healing-oriented allegory in
the genre of such books as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Little
Prince, The Prophet, and Hope for the Flowers, my book, The
God-Shaped Hole - A Story of Comfort for the Child In All of Us,
both enchants and offers powerful inspiration to move beyond grief and
loss. On a path from natural loss and conflict to overwhelming
tragedy, a child’s innocence and a grandmother’s wisdom bring answers to
the ultimate questions of life.
Hole - A Story of Comfort for the Child In All of Us
draws its inspirational power equally from universal spiritual themes
and the psychology of inner-child oriented grief work. Sandwiched
between an introduction and a self-help epilogue, it is a healing story
involving characters coming to terms with the 9/11 tragedy
by exploring the deeper questions of life. It is relatively short,
uncomplicated and powerful in the delivery of an inspirational message
for people of all ages, all faiths (or no faith) and all times. It is
available online at Amazon. COM,
and if it is not in stock at your local bookstore, it can be ordered. I
also maintain a stock of books in my office so a book will be available
if a client requests it.
May this year
unfold to be a fulfilling and meaningful one for you – in a peaceful
world. Please call or e-mail me if I can be of service to you.
Also, if you read my book, I would appreciate having your feedback.
Deepest Personal Regard,
Granville Angell, Ed.S., L.P.C., N.C.C.
If there is a universal source at the core of all human
suffering, perhaps there is a universal solution . . .
An inspirational story for
people of all ages and all faiths . . .
How Does This Dream Benefit
The Northbrook office of TRANSITIONS Personal and Family Counseling
is the Manifestation of my lifelong professional vision. Located on
eight acres in a beautiful, secluded woodland garden setting, it offers
you the perfect natural healing environment, including the privacy and peace
to meet your counseling needs.
Out of the rat race for all of
us, this setting allows a simple, sustainable, close-to-nature lifestyle
allowing me to focus my energies on service: to my clients – in-person
and online, and through my writing. Because my costs are lower and
sessions are longer,
you can reap the benefits
of receiving the most experienced help for the best price!
to this web site:
Does this web page inspire you to want to
drive maybe 20 minutes into the country to see a counselor?
Or, if you live too far away, or
don't feel ready for face-to-face counseling,
to seek help through
feel free to Email me.
schedule an office counseling session or a telephone consultation,
are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY to ensure privacy and convenience for all
All text and pictures ©1996 through 2005 by
Granville Angell. All rights reserved.
Authorized excerpt was from The Velveteen Rabbit, By Margery
Williams, published by Doubleday and Company, Inc. ISBN: 0-380-43257-9 …
"must" reading for all of us!
to go to
picture-poem, daughters' tribute, go to
Day's End On Table Rock - 1997