Barbara R. Findeisen, M.F.T. Recipient of the 2011 Verny Award
By Kenny Ball, Ph.D.
Barbara is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Thomas Verny Award for her extensive contributions to the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. Barbara’s career spans four decades of tireless efforts to bring the importance of our earliest experiences to the forefront of our thinking. She founded several organizations, trained numerous therapists and helped countless individuals to heal their early traumatic experiences and step into their fullest potential. The Verny Award will be presented to her at the APPPAH Congress in San Francisco November 17-20.
I first met Barbara in 1988 while attending a workshop at that year’s APPPAH conference. What struck me immediately was how grounded and authentic she was. Simply put, she struck me as a person with integrity and good will. I felt she knew, at a very deep level, that people needed to feel safe in order to show up and be real—to feel their feelings and find their own truths. The STAR process wasn’t about Barbara or what she knew or thought. She had a unique ability to create an environment that was safe to do one’s healing work and this drew me to her.
Being full of apprehension and distrust, I had stayed away from anything therapeutic for about eight years having been in what became a therapeutic cult, however, when meeting Barbara, her lack of pretense spoke to me. She did not need status or accolades nor was she self-aggrandizing. She was just about doing the work—helping people by making it safe enough to go where they needed to go and do and feel what they needed to heal. She refused to get lost in the defenses, masks and noise. She understood all of that came from early pain and trauma and the loss of one’s true self. She knew that underneath all the defenses there were goodness, innocence and love. And, she knew it was an inside job, one that consisted of experiencing one’s own feelings and reconnecting to one’s own heart.
My first perception of her many years ago is still true today. Barbara is real and heartfelt. She comes from a place of love and authenticity. She has an intellectual and theoretical base for her work, but the true foundation of her work is the heart. She does not try to give anyone his/her answers. She makes healing safe and is present with an open heart so that people can go inside and find their answers—connect to their own hearts. She often says, “We are all the walking wounded.” With Barbara, it’s okay to feel and to be human. It’s okay to live from one’s own inner truth, feelings and experience.
Barbara has worked for many years to help others on their healing journey—helping those not yet born, infants, children, and adults with prenatal and/or perinatal trauma. She understands that the prenatal and perinatal experience has a critical influence on health and consciousness. She understands that sometimes there are no words, only feelings or sensations. She gently and respectfully provides the space and tools that people need to begin to heal the wounds that have left them scared, hurt or angry so that they can find the truth in their own hearts. She has no dogma or formula or right way—no outside answers. She recognizes and listens to the heart that often gets lost or buried or crushed in one’s early life. To me, she is truly a warrior—one of the heart and love.
I, for one, feel blessed to know her and to have been influenced by her good will and humanity. Think I can speak for many when saying a deeply felt and sincere thank you Barbara and congratulations on receiving the Thomas R. Verny Award for 2011.
Kenny Ball was an entrepreneur and businessman who attended STAR in 1989. He has been on the STAR staff since 1996. He recently received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute.