I guess, it’s a little self-indulgent to write about own life and I would like to be a little self-indulgent here. Also, my Clients trust me with some of their most private experiences. The least I can do to reciprocate is to have a little openness of my own. This is where I came from and below are some of the experiences that shaped who I am today. Reading to the end, there’s a little treat about… spoiler alert… where I’m going with this life as well.
I was born in the Communist USSR. Eldest son of my Father, a Jewish theatre actor, and my Mother, a Ukrainian violinist. Their own harsh histories left them cut off from the support of their own families. My parents were raising the 4 of us kids and struggling to make ends meet in what was then an aggressively antisemitic country, where reporting race was mandatory.
Being poor meant that we lived in a (very) working class neighbourhood and at times were missing out on even the basic necessities like food and clothing. Being ‘the creative’ family meant being very different from the working class families. Being Jews meant that I was taught to hide since I was very young. Safety, belonging, and self worth were hard to come by.
Dad remained working and Mum returned to full-time work when I was only 7mths old, leaving me alone for the duration of their working days. Later, Mum described this as a success because my initial distress was replaced with indifference. Eventually, I learnt the name for this attachment style was ‘avoidant’.
I was 16, when my family and I escaped Jewish persecution in the Soviet Siberia during the Russian Perestroika. It was hard to find safety, belonging, and self-worth.
Then again, in Israel, starting from scratch in a new language, in a new land, which very quickly became the site of Gulf War bombings by the Iraqi Scud missiles. I remember vividly the initial panic waking up to the wailing of sirens in the middle of the night, huddling in the safety room wearing gas masks. Mum, Dad, and the 4 of us kids listening to the nearby explosions. The initial panic subsided, and I remember becoming quite blasé about the sirens.
On one occasion, my brother and I were working at the veggie shop and at the sound of the siren, were offered to go home, rather than take space at the safety room with the shoppers. On the way home, we looked up, prompted by another man looking.What we saw was a Scud missile being shot mid flight by a Patriot missile. At the time, we didn’t understand what we saw until it was explained to us.
Mandatory military conscription meant that I spent just over 4 years progressing through the ranks as a Combat soldier of the Israeli Defence Forces. I discharged a Staff Sergeant and after working, saving, and looking for a home on this planet, found myself in Australia, still struggling to find safety, self-worth, and belonging. By this time, I was wondering whether this life was worth living.
To cross items off the bucket list, I started skydiving and studying at University. Later, I realised that university was my attempt to understand my own humanity, experiences, and suffering. This resulted in completing 3 University Degrees in Behavioural Science, Criminology, and Psychological Science. A father of four wonderful kids, I have created and work in my Private Practice – Mind Zone Psychology (ME), which has been serving people for well over a decade. None of which could be happening without the help of my community, and importantly my Partner. I am enjoying the found sense of safety, self-worth, and belonging.
On my journey, I’ve worn many hats: truck driver, armed security detail, veggie shop attendant, combat soldier, delivery guy, cleaner, theatre stage-hand, bouncer, trainer, skydiving photographer, father of 4, actor, musician, therapist, presenter… I found a way to use the struggle for self worth, safety, and belonging to help me grow stronger, rather than let it pull me down.
As a registered Psychologist I have helped literally thousands of suffering people. Witnessed thousands of individual, workplace, community, family, and relationship struggles. My approach to therapy is informed by the advanced form of CBT called Functional Contextual Behavioural Science that has recently become the dominant platform for all Psychological interventions. In my work, I aim to help people get out of their own way, free from struggle with their pain, and focus their efforts on pursuing the life they’re yearning for.
Watching people improve helped me better understand humanity and what works for us and what doesn’t. But most enlightening, is watching my kids grow and their responses to me – together with an open account of my own experiences, past learning, and vulnerabilities. In my efforts to leave a better world for my kids, I started delivering talks, workshops, group treatments. It seemed that the best approaches to helping people must also be fun as well.
So, I have developed an experiential based program called WYL Power – the Power of doing What You Love. You can find more here: Training and Coaching I have taken acting lessons and am gaining experience as an actor. Also, I started writing, performing, recording, and spreading songs that contain some helpful piece. I am called Dr Carrot and you can find my music here www.drcarrot.com.au
Currently, I am working toward incorporating musical performances into a wellness workshop. A psychologically informed experiential event, where live concert merges with active personal growth.