I have wanted to interview Neill for a long time now. It is not just his work that is interesting, it is also his life story that fascinates me. I am always in awe of those who overcome adversity and achieve a balanced success through their own efforts and work. Neill is one such person. It is with great pleasure I introduce to you, Dr. Neill Neill.
Aneeta: Hello Neill. At last, I get to do this interview with you.
Neill: Well, Aneeta, I too have been looking forward to this. Someday we will meet in person.
Aneeta: I understand that you have recently revamped your website. We will get back to that later. For now though, please explain to me a little about yourself and your background.
Neill: I could tell you 101 stories about my childhood — oldest of four boys, poor, abducted and tortured at four, starting my first paying jobs at six, father dying in plane crash when I was seven, building a boat at age 11, working in a factory at age 11, learning to hunt and ski, extreme difficulty with reading, being hungry, mother inspiring me to get education, mother killed in car crash when I was 16, youngest brother sent away– I had the many adventures as a child and youth.
For as long as I can remember people came to me for help. I went to university after high school and eventually got my Ph.D. in psychology. I taught psychology at university level for 12 years. Then I went back to university to study business administration. Among other things I started and ran a profitable real estate brokerage firm. I crashed and burned when I got involved with a tropical forest products venture.
After working in a mental health centre and an aboriginal health centre and addictions treatment centre, I got back into private practice in Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada. My home office overlooks the ocean.
Aneeta: Why psychology?
Neill: As I said before, people have always come to me for help. So I think psychology was a natural fit. And besides, I love people. Connecting with people has been my greatest lifelong adventure.
Aneeta: I am sure that in your practice you have come across some very interesting stories. Please share with us the stories of three of your clients and how their lives have changed as a result of your help.
Neill: One client was a counsellor who took on her client’s stuff. For example, if a client came to her with a headache, the client would get better but the counsellor would get the headache. Furthermore she got sick every time she travelled. She now travels without getting sick and she does not take on her clients’ pain. This of has been very freeing for her.
Another client was obliged to go to a family reunion in a distant city, but was terrified of flying. She would have to be heavily drugged and fly with a family member on each side of her squeezing her hand. She had to keep her eyes closed from before boarding until she was off the plane. We met the day before her scheduled flight. She e-mailed me the following week to tell me she was completely relaxed during the flight in both directions. In fact she even asked for a window seat and enjoyed the scenery.
The third client was a man who was rather rigid and emotionally unavailable. In desperation his wife sent them to me. They had been together 20 years. She told me afterwards that the changes in her husband were miraculous: “He is everything I ever could have wanted in a husband.” Then she added, “But I don’t want to be with him.” With this couple I came to understand more fully the fact that change is unpredictable in its unfolding. Be careful what you wish for.
Aneeta: You say that you use some of the new energy therapies in helping people heal and grow. What are these ‘energy therapies’?
Neill: Energy psychology takes a lot of different forms. Some work with the energy field or aura of the client, some with the Meridian system from Chinese medicine and some with the energy centres or chakras from yogic traditions. I work in all three modes.
When a person thinks about a traumatic event in their life, the disturbance shows up in their subtle energy system. If they hold the disturbing thought while at the same time calming and balancing their subtle energy system, the disturbance around the thought reduces or disappears. The “calming and balancing” is usually done with the hands — holding, tapping or smoothing.
I like energy therapy because it is non-invasive, not disturbing, and is relatively fast.
Aneeta: You also say that you write two regular newspaper columns. Please, tell us more about these columns. How did you come to be involved with these and what do you write about?
Neill: About five years ago I went to the editor of our local paper and told him I wanted to write a column. I didn’t know if I could do it and he refused anyway. Then, probably just to get rid of me, he told me to write three columns with a very strict word limit and he would take a look. I think he was surprised when I showed up with the three columns. He liked them…
Then two years ago the editor of another paper invited me to write a column for their new section, Today’s Woman. Three weeks ago a magazine editor asked me to write a regular column. As to content, I write on anything and everything to do with psycho-spiritual healing and growth. Most of it has a self-help flavour.
I have written articles on child-rearing, reducing stress, growing old, happiness, suicide, grieving, meditation, divorce, and on it goes. In the last few days I wrote two articles related to marriage and one article on consuming alcohol as a form of voluntary dissociation. So far all of my writing has been for free — I love doing it.
Aneeta: Some of your articles have a spiritual ring to them. Why is that?
Neill: First of all, I consider myself to a holistic practitioner. I help clients with issues of life, death, purpose and meaning — these are spiritual issues. To help people towards wholeness is to work, not only with the psychological, but also with the physical and spiritual. The principle remains, whether I am working with an aboriginal, a Buddhist, a Christian or an atheist. So of course the spiritual element is present in my writing.
Aneeta: I also like the invitation to visit for a working holiday – do explain this in a little more detail.
Neill: Qualicum Beach is a small community in an idyllic setting — on the ocean, safe and peaceful, moderate climate, and having six nearby year-round golf courses for those who like golf. In fact, 100 years ago or so European royalty would travel by steamship from Europe to eastern Canada, by train 7000 km across Canada and then by boat to Qualicum Beach for an extended golfing holiday. In short it’s a great place to come for a vacation.
But many people go on vacation to reduce stress or to attempt to get their marriage back on track, or to get away from alcohol. So my question is, why not combine some good therapy with a great vacation? Some busy people would never be able to get away for therapy sessions during their normal workweek, but they could on a “working holiday.” Others’ lives are so much under public scrutiny they could never comfortably go to a therapist in their home territory.
Aneeta: Why did you revamp your web site?
Neill: The old web site had good information, but was tired. There was nothing to do but read what was there. The new one is more interactive, inviting visitors to receive my twice monthly newsletter, Dr. Neill Neill’s Practical Psychology. I write a new article for each issue.
Aneeta: Finally, do you have anything new and exciting on the horizon.
Neill: I thought you would never ask. I am in the editing stages of my book. I have written it to help the many women who find themselves in a particularly troubling situation, one that cuts across many cultures. The working title is Alcoholism: Separating the Facts from the Myths / A Survival Manual for the Woman Living with a Problem Drinker. The expected launch date is mid November. I’ll keep you informed via my newsletter.
This has been fun, Aneeta.
Aneeta: Yes, please do. I have had fun too. Thank you.
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