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Stephen Buehler, theorist & consultant for emotive⚡energy

  • 20,000+ hours of consulting with healthcare leaders, teams and providers over 15 years
  • 20+ years of study and practice in psychology of groups, families & relationships
  • 300+ critical incidents,  community disasters leading emotional support to teams
  • Stephen helps leaders, teams and organizations build emotional capacity and flexibility to meet the demanding and unrelenting challenges of our time
Stephen's ideas and practices have emerged directly from his life, work, education and growth experiences. The individuals, ideas and circumstances described below have been formative to Stephen and the concepts of emotive⚡energy.  Please note, Stephen does not necessarily agree with everything expressed by the individuals below, nor do they likely agree with everything Stephen has expressed. 

Somatic Psychology, Movement & Body Awareness

Key influences & experiences
  • Gestalt Psychotherapy - phenomenological inquiry , contact, field theory, organismic self-regulation
  • Formative Psychology® - pulsatory continuum, somatic dialogues, primary experience, layers
  • Feldenkrais Method® - slow movement, deep sensing, whole body dynamics, integrating emotion 
  • Rosen Method, movement, breath integration, energy practices; discernment in collective spaces

During his graduate education at CIIS, Stephen received didactic instruction, clinical supervision and experiential learning in Gestalt Psychotherapy from Lu Grey from 2000 - 2003. Stephen's experience with Gestalt also grew in the learning community known as Church St, where Stephen trained for over a year.

Stephen also attended many hours of interpersonal and experiential groups through the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco from 2001 to 2003, which included extended training experiences with Serge Ginger, PhD (founder of the École Parisienne de Gestalt), David Schiffman (led Gestalt workshops at Esalen for over forty years) and Joseph Zinker, PhD (who trained with Fritz Perls in the 1960’s).

After finishing his master's in counseling psychology, Stephen engaged in personal development work, consultation groups and practice retreats with Peter Wright, regularly and extensively. Stephen’s close association with Peter lasted for a decade, and Peter has significant influence in Stephen’s awareness & ideas. Peter describes his work ... "My primary focus is to help you know yourself better, to know your behaviors and your beliefs, so that you can take steps toward creating new possibilities and a more satisfying life. We do this by engaging in a process of tuning into actions, gestures and sensations, what I refer to as your Somatic Dialogues. These dialogues are the basis of your sense of identity or self-narrative, and the frame of your experience. Recognizing and engaging the actions that generate these internal dialogues offers an opportunity for you to introduce variations. With practice these variations become new behaviors, offering more choice and the possibility of greater satisfaction." 

Peter’s lengthy association with Stanley Keleman, a pioneer in body-mind awareness practices and somatic theory, also profoundly impacted Stephen. In Stanley's Formative Psychology® model he describes that "Changing anatomical shapes are the continuity of human existence. These shapes give rise to emotions, thoughts, and experiences; feeling follows form ... When we influence our body shape, we influence how we are present in the world."  

After two years attending programs with Stanley at the Center for Energetic Studies in Berkeley, CA from 2013-2015, including experiences of personal consultation with Stanley, Stephen learned to more deeply feel and influence the organizing patterns of his own experience. And from those insights, he also learned the importance of helping people to identify patterns of self-use, and to learn to modify and regulate their experiences. To learn more about Stanley and his work, please go to https://www.stanleykeleman.com/

Stephen also learned from other body, movement and awareness teachers. A student of yoga for over twenty years, Stephen's awareness of breath, body and subtle energy has grown through experience with Christy Brown, Nikki Estrada, James Higgins and many others. 

The slow, mindful movement of the Feldenkrais Method® has also supported Stephen’s awareness and embodied inquiry. Working with Sonja Sutherland, an Assistant Trainer in the Feldenkrais Method® who studied extensively with Stanley Keleman, as well as working with Feldenkrais Trainer® Carol Kress for years was also extremely valuable. Also many years prior, extensive Rosen Method bodywork offered Stephen very impactful experiences with Theresa Garcia.  

Also helpful were many years of mediation and inquiry in the zen, vipassana and nondual streams … and periods of study with archetype, qigong, energy medicine, prayer, play, ritual, breathwork and yogic grounding teachers.

Psychodynamic Theory, Group Dynamics, Communication Practices

Key influences & experiences
  • Modern psychodynamic theory - psychological theory from Ogden, Winnicott, Bion, Stern
  • Couples & family therapists - methods and ideas from Schnarch, Whitaker, Satir, Tatkin, Wallin
  • T-Groups (Kurt Lewin "training" groups) practice over years in very diverse communities
  • Balint groups facilitation for physicians, inspired by psychoanalyst Michael Balint. MD
  • Compassion-based communication models from Marshall Rosenberg and his students of Non-Violent Communication
Stephen's education in counseling psychology was very oriented to modern psychodynamic theory. Students read and discussed core tenets of psychological theory from Sigmund Freud, Heinz Kohut, Melanie Klein, Robert Stolorow, Donald Winnicott, John Bowlby, Margaret Mahler, Daniel Stern, and others. The program also taught the practice and perspectives of couples and family therapists Virginia Satir, Murray Bowen, David Schnarch and Carl Whitaker, all deeply influencing Stephen. Later personal study in attachment-based ideas suggested by Stan Tatkin was impactful for Stephen.

Stephen's appreciation for a psychoanalytic framework of human psychology fully bloomed when his professor and former clinical supervisor highlighted the relational, communicative power of projective identification, as described by psychoanalyst and author Thomas Ogden. Much later, Stephen facilitated a form of Balint Group with dozens of physicians over many years. These social-emotional process groups were the invention of psychoanalyst and physician Michael Balint, where "group members may gradually reach a deeper level of understanding of their patients’ feelings and their own. They may realise that certain patients or emotions may resonate with what is going on in the own inner and outer lives. This may be causing problems which the doctor can learn to avoid or even to turn to therapeutic advantage," according to the UK Balint Society.

Also impactful were Stephen’s experiences as a participant in T-Group from 2014 to 2016. The format and goals of these experiences were modeled after the Stanford MBA class known by the students as “Touchy Feely” … and the impact on Stephen’s interpersonal framework was profound, especially in having authentic, vulnerable and humble dialogue with people from very different backgrounds and perspectives.

Stephen has also benefited from many years of exposure, use and training in Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication model. Stephen has learned a great deal from John Kinyon and Robert Gonzales.

Social Science, Biology, Anthropology, Systems Theory

Key influences & experiences

    For 30 years, Stephen has cultivated a "lay" study of many areas of scientific and academic inquiry. In particular Stephen has enjoyed learning about mammalian biology, systems theory, neuroscience, cultural anthropology, social psychology, human development and many other related topics. Click words in the graphic below to learn more about these ideas that inspire Stephen and emotive.energy ...

    Personal Context, Bias & Learning Path

    Key influences & experiences
    • Childhood in Midwestern US & Texas; most of adulthood in California 
    • Cisgendered, US-born, heterosexual white male, unearned privilege
    • High adverse childhood experiences (ACE's) score 
    • Autoimmune disorders 25+ yrs,  mental health frailties since childhood
    • Chronic pain (degenerative arthritis) for 25+ yrs, functional impairment in many joints
    • Interpersonal violence, boundary problems in maternal & paternal families-of-origin
    • Alcoholism, mental illness, suicide in maternal & paternal families-of-origin 

    Stephen was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA not long after the Detroit Riot of 1967, and lived in the midwest as a child before moving to Texas in the 1970’s. He lived there with his younger sister and parents for many years, enjoying a social and kinetic boyhood of bikes, boy scouts and tackle football.

    With his parents divorcing when he was 12, Stephen, his mother and sister moved to suburban Detroit, Michigan. There Stephen attended a prominent all-boys Catholic high school and then went to college at the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor. Stephen’s father stayed in Texas, remarried and enjoyed a joyful life with his wife and daughter over the next decades.

    Stephen’s mother’s family in Michigan held privilege and wealth in the 1930’s-60’s as they owned a manufacturing company that produced supplies to the pre- and post-war booming automobile companies. In the 80's Stephen’s mother, however, was an oft-worried provider for her two children. Stephen’s father’s family in Indiana were engineers and blue-collar tradesman, working with their hands to build machines, furniture and houses. 

    After graduating from U of M, with a general studies degree, Stephen worked in advertising for some years, then moved to Los Angeles to work for a large management consulting firm that specialized in HR solutions for the Fortune 500.  Stephen sold projects worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to executives, created precisely analytical reports, presented to Boards of Directors, rewrote the valuation model for stock options equity compensation, and other ego-affirming activities. Stephen left consulting in 1999, however, very disappointed with the industry. He entered graduate school at CIIS in the Fall of 2000 to obtain a master’s degree in counseling psychology.

    After graduate school, Stephen worked for many years with severely abused children. As their psychotherapist in the residential treatment facility (a “group home”) Stephen offered weekly play therapy to his clients (the children), and regular family therapy with their prospective foster or adoptive families. 

    With such a unique set of professional experiences, Stephen then began working in employee assistance programs, the last fifteen years of which at Kaiser Permanente.  Stephen provided short-term individual, couples and family therapeutic support; leadership coaching and consultation; team, group and facility-wide events and workshops. Healthcare workers in general suffer from very high levels of burnout, trauma and empathic distress, so Stephen's work as an EAP focused on the systemic causes of these conditions. Stephen deployed to over 300 critical incidents and disasters. Stephen's last five years in the role included widespread trauma from wildfires, floods and COVID.

    Stephen launched emotive.energy on May 26, 2023. Stephen is committed to helping individuals, teams, and organizations understand their emotional patterns, to improve personal & systemic wellness. He helps individual, leaders, teams and organizations build emotional capacity and flexibility needed in today's volatile environment.

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