Bill O’Herron is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (License #006370) who has been studying, teaching, and counseling for the last 16 years. His work is currently focused on couples, trying to help clients better understand the challenges and work involved with being in a mature relationship.
Bill has been married to his exceedingly patient wife Linda for 21 years. They have 3 teenage daughters and 2 male dogs. After living in Wilton, CT for 15 years, Bill and his family moved to Austin, TX in 2013.
He graduated from Middlebury College, VT in ’86 with a BA in English, and earned a Master of Science degree from Columbia University School of Social Work, NY in ’03.
More Background on Bill
- Bill believes that working on yourself, which will automatically improve the dynamics of your relationship, is the most important thing in life. He writes, “What we do right now in our relationship echoes down through posterity, changes who our grandchildren’s children become.”
- Bill’s career spans 30+ years in the financial field as a research sales and capital markets executive, having worked in New York, London, Stamford, CT and now Austin, TX. Back in 1997 while living in London, England, after having spent 11 years in the financial field, Bill took a work hiatus and enrolled in a language immersion program in Merida, Venezuela. His goal was to learn Spanish, and to continue studying and researching the customs, ethnology, and psychology of local communities
- Using this experience of living and working with locals, Bill began developing a basic model for applying universal and holistic approaches to human development and self-awareness. It was simple; slow down and relax the rational, left part of the brain to gain access to the emotional, right side of the brain. The right, feeling-based limbic side of the body and mind hold all the answers to why we feel and behave the way we do
- In 2002, as part of his Social Work curriculum, Bill became a member of the social services staff at North Haven, CT’s Veterans Hospital where he worked with WW2, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans and their families. This experience catalyzed his desire to further research the science and physiology behind more all-inclusive interventions that address and reduce the deleterious effects of PTSD and stress–related symptoms surrounding trauma. Most of the conventional interventions he witnessed were not positively improving our veteran’s lives
- After earning his MSW in ’03 he became a director at Domus, one of Connecticut’s most progressive youth focused, human services non-profits. He led their juvenile justice program called Avenues. With the help of his colleagues, he introduced practices and curriculum that incorporated a more integrated approach to educating and supporting students, families, and program staff
- This program earned the State of Connecticut’s highest marks in youth retention and development. With this practical and clinical experience, Bill then launched an evenings and weekend counseling practice, working with youth, adults and couples
- The basic principle underlying his work is compassionately direct: create an environment for clients to go much deeper into their feelings so that they can fully understand what these emotions are trying to teach them. The wisdom and guidance we all seek is stored within our feelings. ”Emotion is the key to and the driving force underlying every thought and action in human existence” (Robert Monroe, Far Journeys)
Major Theme of Bill’s Approach to Counseling
None of us really understand the unconscious patterns of behaviors and reactions that we bring to our relationships.
Developmentally, we all enter marriage as teenagers (or younger) even though we are 20 or 30 something years old. Our current rational, self-concept is unfamiliar with our true, deeper, unconscious sensibilities, the desires, longings, and forgotten world of our younger self. The 8 and 14-year old’s inside of us, just to use those two ages as examples, are driving most of our responses in our marriage. The impulses, sensibilities, desires, and needs of these younger parts of us are not understood and been made conscious yet to and by our adult self.
Whether we believe it or not, the frustration, love. and displeasure your partner incites and stirs up in you have their archaeology in what you witnessed and absorbed at home, how your dad treated your mother, or how you learned and reacted in the interactions with your father. You soaked in your parent’s silent stream of feelings growing up.
The longings, joys, interrupted dreams, loves and aches of our parents and grandparents are ours too. And these are the foundation of our reactions to our partner.
How do great marriages work, why do so many fail?
In great, mature relationships, we learn to embrace the friction of marriage, and all the emotional challenges naturally generated in partnership. To be mature simply means to own your life, to take responsibility for every single feeling and reaction you have.
Marriages fail because we are convinced our partner is making us feel the way we do. We blame and resist. We pine for something or someone else. Our partner though, and all the friction in our interactions with him/her, are simply waking up these old, imbedded emotions.
Spending so much time with another person is going to create friction, period. The key is to turn towards this friction, towards the fire, to use your discomfort as a catalyst to allow your old feelings and memories to surface to be understood.
By going inside ourselves we will come to understand, accept, and undo the patterns of behavior we absorbed growing up.
Eventually, we all must go back inside, back into our feelings and revisit those often intense and unruly emotions. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby).
Our logically focused, adult mind needs to learn the language of our feelings. The challenge is that the foundation of all our feelings and reactions were created when we were young, before the executive functions of our brains developed. This is why we are unconscious of these old feelings and patterns. This is why there is a naturally occurring, physiological, electromagnetic, and actual battle between our left and right brain, between our adult mind and youthful heart and emotional body sensibilities.
Our analytical mind is actually designed to shut down the feeling messages traveling up our mid-brain. We eventually have to bring these two sides together. That is what emotional intelligence is. Your marriage is a reflection of this inner conflict between your emotional and rational sides.
We/you have to stand in the fire of your relationship. It is about learning how to get quiet, to sit alone and listen to the world of experiences stored inside.
By spending more time turning inward, by using the disquiet of your marriage as a siren call to work on yourself, and to focus less on your partner’s behavior, you will realize that working on your marriage is really about working on yourself.