Everything in Dale Mather’s work circles back to his incredible fascination with story. The Jungian Analyst is fascinated by how we use narration to tell deeper truths, and fallacies, about others and ourselves. Dale grew up on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Living in the Iona community, a Christian Socialist commune taught him to pay attention to the subtleties of communication. During the winter, their population was less than forty and access to transportation, electricity, and outside news was scarce. This context taught Dale how to walk into another’s house, literally and metaphorically, and realize whether or not he was intruding or not. While the author, public speaker, and Jungian analyst underwent decades of training later on, his ability to analyze, empathize, and unlock doors was learnt early. He uses those skills to help patients share and deconstruct their complexes and patterns. Dale’s curiosity and lack of judgment is why others feel comfortable exploring their pain with him.
How do you prompt your patients to open up?
DM: I try to remember how my analyst put up with me for 15 years, three or four times a week. Everyone wants their story heard and to hear themselves. That only happens if someone is very patient, really listens, and isn’t pushing. When you are listened to deeply then you start to listen to yourself.
What is the best compliment a client has ever given you?
DM: I ran a group for heroin addicts at St. George’s Hospital. They were all in their mid-twenties and nothing had worked for them as far as getting off drugs. One day, the leader of the group said, “We’re not going to treat them anymore. We’re just here to keep them alive.” We had one memorable night where we were talking about knife crime and they all brought their weapons out. Each person was telling me their knife stories and finally said, “You don’t have a knife.” When I left, they gave me a Swiss army knife. I could join the gang as well. It was very moving.