I was raised an Army Brat, with no home town. Vienna, Austria was my home from 1958-62, when I was in middle school. After high school in Columbus, Georgia I attended The Citadel (Military College of South Carolina) and graduated with a bachelors degree in English and an Army commission. After four years of active duty – three of them in Germany – I attended graduate school at the University of West Georgia on the GI Bill and earned a masters degree in psychology. Although I couldn’t be licensed as a clinical psychologist, not having a doctoral degree, my masters degree has enabled me to work as a clinical psychologist in the public sector for over thirty years. I was licensed as a Professional Counselor in South Carolina.
Most of my career was spent in community mental health settings, but I’ve also worked in maximum security juvenile and adult correctional institutions, and run a housing program for homeless mentally ill people. My wife, Maria Madeo, and I served at the University Hospital of the West Indies, in Jamaica, as Peace Corps Volunteers (1991-93). I was assigned as the ward psychologist on the Detox/Rehab Ward. I spent two years working in a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program, working with persons who had been diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder. For most of my career I served as a Designated Examiner in the Probate Court, testifying as to whether or not people met the legal criteria for involuntary commitment to psychiatric facilities. For the last nine years of my career I served as a ward psychologist on locked wards at South Carolina’s largest psychiatric hospital. In addition, I served as a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer at Ground Zero in Manhattan, after 9-11.
Although retired, I remain an advocate for the rights of mentally ill people, and have written numerous letters to the editor and op-ed columns on mental health issues. I’ve written two published books (available online): Two Years in Kingston Town: A Peace Corps Memoir, and Ad Nauseam: How Advertising and Public Relations Changed Everything. Maria and I have attended five of the six Evolution of Psychotherapy conferences – the world’s largest convocation of therapists – and I’ve attended presentations by some of the acknowledged masters in the field. I’ve even met a few of them, and will recount these meetings in future posts.
You can find out more about me, view samples of my artwork, and link to Amazon, to preview or purchase my books, at jeffkoob.com.
ABOUT MY BLOG
My father liked both my fiction and non-fiction writing, but especially liked my “You and Mental Health” columns in various newspapers. He told me that what he thought I was best at as a writer was explaining complex psychological and therapeutic topics in language that most people could understand. This blog will be about how language and culture shape our experiences, and about human growth and potential. I’ll be writing about psychotherapy, and concepts related to it. I’ll write about skills I’ve taught in my many years of leading psycho-educational (as opposed to psychodynamic) therapy groups, and about the consolations of philosophy. Two of the groups I led were “Skills for Growth” and “Skills for Recovery.”
Rational thinking – a component of cognitive behavioral therapy – is a topic I expect to come back to from time to time. I’ll be writing about mental illness and the slow death of our national mental health system. I’ll explore different approaches to treating mental illness, sharing things I’ve learned as a therapist, such as emotion regulation and mindfulness. I expect to eventually address the concept of Recovery – from trauma, substance abuse and mental illness.
But I’ve long believed that “you don’t have to be sick to get better.” I won’t just be examining psychopathology, but also healthy psychological functioning, and factors that impede or promote growth. A major focus of this blog will be growth, development of our unique individual potentials, and the process of self-actualizing. I invite your questions and comments, and look forward to a dialogue with you about what it means to be human – from universal to personal behaviors – and how we can change ourselves in ways that we choose.