How a life-long commitment to learning birthed a transformative model

How a life-long commitment to learning birthed a transformative model

written by: Melanie McGhee
by: Melanie McGhee
Melaniemcghee Melaniemcghee

One of the things that I've appreciated about our local Mental Health Professionals FB group is the lengthy honest introductions. So when I took up the clinical spotlight last week, I let myself self stretch out a little bit.

It has been awhile since I've introduced myself to new readers and followers, so I figured I'd share it with you all. Here's a little bit about me. I'd love to hear more about you.

My work has a definite spiritual bent so I thought I would start there. My grandparents were Christians of the Pentecostal Holiness variety. My mother was open-minded, wholly disinterested in church and completely willing to drop me at any church that garnered my attention. As an army brat who lived around the world, my curiosity and spiritual leanings took me to a wide variety of churches, temples and mosques.

While my earliest and most profound memories are of transcendent, spiritual states of being, close seconds are the run of the mill traumas and pains most therapists experience in childhood. It's no wonder that I have devoted my life to exploring the confluence of spirituality and psychotherapy, the play of bliss and grit.

My commitment to life-long learning was solidified when upon graduating from my MSW program in Salt Lake City, a favorite teacher said to me, "If you want to master this craft, find a master and study with them."

That fed a dedication that has taken me around the world. I found and studied with master therapists, for years. My primary teachers were Bob and Mary Goulding, the founders of Re-decision Therapy, a student of theirs, John McNeel, Dick Olney, Founder of Self-Acceptance Training and Zivorad Slavinski, founder of Spiritual Technology. Studying with Slavinski changed the game for me.

In 2007, a friend suggested I go to Louisville, Kentucky for a training with psychologist, Zivorad Slavinski. I told her I wasn't interested. I had looked for another mentor for years after one of my teachers died. I felt jaded and skeptical that this teacher would be any different. She laughed at me and told me that what Slavinksi was doing was like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) on steroids. I studied with Gary Craig, the founder of EFT and thought it was useful and had great potential. Her taunt got my attention.

Have you ever made what seemed like a simple decision and completely changed your life? I have.

I went to Louisville with the intention of only staying for three days. After the first morning, I cancelled my plans and arranged to stay for the full week Zivorad was in town. This week began what has become one of the most rewarding professional relationships of my life. Slavinski has mentored me for many years now. In 2014, he asked me to become a trainer of trainers, the ONLY one in the US.

After more than three decades of study and experience practicing psychotherapy, I developed Acceptance and Integration Training®, a paradigm that reliably walks people out of reactive distress into equilibrium. AAIT™ is a promising model and a method for transformation; a system that includes processes which can effectively take the emotional charge out of a problem we're experiencing while enriching spiritual wellbeing.

AAIT™ is founded on a set of principles, phases and practices that untether clients from their problems with surprising reliability and rapidity. This liberates practitioners and clients from laborious excavations into the past as clients naturally gain insight while easefully making changes.

My teaching history includes service as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee, the University of Utah and Maryville College. Serving as part of a teaching team for an international meditation and spiritual teaching organization, I developed and delivered courses and retreats related to meditation, contemplation and taking care of the body as a spiritual practice.

In addition to my award-winning book, An Illumined Life, I have written for local papers and Darshan Magazine. I'm the blogger behind AAIT.solutions and the guide for our online Facebook community.

My husband and best friend, David Patterson and I share a love of practice and our two daughters. Both of whom are artists. David and I will be hosting a retreat locally in October, Nourishing Presence. I hope you can join us.

These days, I play endless games of fetch with our poodle pup Willa while making sure Huxley the wonder dog doesn't feel neglected. I also facilitate learning in Acceptance and Integration Training® (AAIT), balance a small thriving psychotherapy practice serving other health care professionals and present at national and regional conferences. This year, I'll be presenting at the International Transactional Analysis Association, NASW – IL Conference, and our own Psychiatric Symposium.

There are now AAIT™ practitioners throughout the southeast. Studying with a seasoned practitioner can take years off the time it takes to hone your skills and set you apart. It fills my heart to share what I've learned.

The 2019-2020 AAIT™ Fellowship Training Group cohort has TWO openings. Though I offer this exclusive and intimate training yearly, it is most likely that next year's training groups will be taking place in Boulder and Chicago. If you want to make sure you can get this training locally, I urge you to consider applying this year. DM me and we can have a private conversation.