Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Ben Culhane.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Dr. Culhane. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have always been interested in relationships and how people connect or don’t connect with one another. When I started university, I majored in Psychology and English: I wanted to be counselor. After I graduated, I moved from the Midwest, where I grew up most of my life, to California.
I started that counseling journey at a resident treatment home for abused boys who were removed from incredibly abusive homes. Our work was in some cases to reunify the families and perhaps for some of the older boys, teach them life skills and help them become sovereign and independent young men. This is likely the basis for the current work that I do with men and men’s issues.
Through a twist of fate, I became involved at the on-site school and eventually went back to school myself. I earned to teaching credentials and a MA in Education and took a job as a public school teacher, a bit of a detour from my original plan; but, that’s how some of the best journey are. I was open to the opportunities and possibilities that were happening around me. That was a 15 years journey that included both middle school and high school students and four years overseas teaching English to high school students,
I knew my energy was waning and I could feel the pullback to psychology and therapy, specifically relationship. I’ve learned that the question isn’t whether we are in a relationship, but what relationship are we in. It could be personal, self, friendship, romantic, parent/child. There are so many dynamics. I went back to school. This time for my doctorate in psychology.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Is any journey or story worth telling if it was easy the whole way?
One of the big decisions I made early on was not to go to grad school while working at the residential program. Instead, I chose to continue working and eventually supervise over the 40-bed facility. I turned down counseling programs and sometimes wonder what would have happened if I started earlier.
Both times I went back to school (my MA and my PsyD.) I was taking full-time classes and working full time. It required quite a bit of discipline.
I lived in Abu Dhabi, UAE, for four years as high school teacher. I’d never been outside of North America, let alone living across the Atlantic as a minority. That was an experience, I’ll never forget–The Good, the Bad and The Ugly,
Trying to manage 30+ kids in one room day after day exercises one patience and forces us to find our resilience. I would go home mentally exhausted from the day teaching and have a pile of homework, chapters to reach and papers to write and evening classes. I look back and honestly, don’t know how I did it.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I work mostly with people who are struggling in one way or another because of a current or past relationship. I work with married and dating couples. I work with people who have felt stuck in the life because of how one or more than one relationship experiences have affected them. Our relationship experiences are incredibly powerful. Sometimes our experiences traumatize us or perhaps leave us from moving on or going after what we really want. I help people overcome their negative past experiences so they can live the future they want.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There are a number of proud moments. I guess the highlights are just being a business owner and doing what it takes to make it work. There are a number of behind the scenes that I had to learn just to own and operate the business side of helping and mentoring others.
Also, I’m proud of the work that my clients put in day in a day out. They’re doing the work; I’m blessed and honored to facilitate. There are quite a few moments like that.
Passing the psychologist exam. That was no joke!
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