Wong and McKeen


Wong and McKeen

Wong and McKeen is an unusual teamwork between two physicians, Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen. Trained as medical doctors, they participated in the Human Potential movement, and ultimately collaborated to develop the Haven Institute Harv |Fewster|2001| p=338.

The Wong-McKeen Partnership

Wong McKeen Individual Careers

Their individual career paths before they met are detailed in the individual biographies of Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen.

Early Period: A Friendship Between Two Seekers

Wong and McKeen met in 1970. By this time, McKeen had graduated from medical school, and was investigating a career in psychiatry. Wong had trained at the Menninger School of Psychiatry, and had been in private practice of adolescent psychiatry for nine years. Their early career paths are described on the individual pages for Jock McKeen and Bennet Wong. Both were interested the art of medicine. They were both seeking to expand the horizons of their medical practices, focusing on the issues of adolescence. They both had a strong feeling for the dignity and potential of human beings.

Both had already diverged from the conventional career path. Wong had been questioning the relevance of psychotherapy which was based on an objective scientific model; he objected to the remoteness that this therapeutic stance entailed. McKeen on his own had been questioning the role of the physician in a healing encounter, and was formulating a thesis that a clinical distance operated against healing in psychological issues.

When they met, they both were enlivened to discover in each other another medical practitioner who shared this non-objectifying viewpoint. They agreed to explore and discuss ideas concerning a "new medicine" that was more egalitarian, with doctor and client being co-operatives, rather than one being the "expert" and the other the passive recipient of the advice and counsel of the practitioner.

McKeen became an emergency physician, and continued to meet with Wong to explore ideas about this "new medicine." McKeen studied classical Chinese acupuncture in England, and upon his return, left the practice of emergency medicine, and set up an acupuncture practice in the same office building as Wong. Harv |Fewster|2001| p=119

The "Experiment" in Intimacy

In the interest of learning together, they would meet each morning at the office at 6:30 am, to discuss their clients, to theorize and philosophize, and to explore their own relationship.In the spirit of the times, they wanted to learn more about themselves, each other, and about human motivation and meaning. They wanted to research a basic notion in traditional Chinese medicine: in the classical Asian view, all illness is an expression of some blockage in life force. In order to investigage blockages, they determined to remove the social blocks to interpersonal communication. Theorizing that psychological defences would interrupt access to each other (mentally, physically, emotionally), they agreed to be completely honest with each other, to "give access" to the inner workings of their individual worlds and experience. They were leading encounter groups, and they were willing to offer this level of honest and open communication to each other. Harv |Fewster|2001| p=119.

The result was that their morning meetings quickly transformed from traditional interactions between two practitioners discussing their patients, and became a dynamic flux of unexpected discoveries. As they would share with each other, they would find defences and blockages that interfered with their interaction. They would methodically work through these defences with candour and often lots of anxiety. They were on a path of individual and mutual discovery, using a method of honest communication as the vehicle. They learned more about themselves, and each other.

Then they began to notice something remarkable to them. When they would have a "break-through" in their morning meeting, they would often gain some insight about their personal motivations and feelings which they had previously not known. Then, as they went through their day of practice, they noticed over and over that they could see the same issues occurring in the lives of their clients.

They theorized that a practitioner was better equipped to help another person once that practitioner had faced the same issue within himself or herself. As "Ben and Jock" (as they were often called) discovered themselves and each other in their morning meetings, they found their patients benefitted. Harv |Fewster|2001| p=158

Two Individual Practices, One Waiting Room

Wong continued his individual practice of adolescent psychiatry, seeing young people hour after hour to discuss their problems and concerns. His patients were mostly teenagers, dealing with issues of adolescents, school, family problems and the social stresses of the young.

McKeen was one of the first individual practitioners offering acupuncture in the context of a western medical practice; so, he had many referrals from other practitioners who were curious about the efficacy of the Asian approach to some intractable and chronic medical conditions. McKeen's patients were mostly elderly folk with deep-rooted difficulties, mostly of a physical nature. Some patients had severe arthritis; many others had chronic pain.

Their two patient populations were together in the same waiting room as they waited for their appointments with either of the doctors.

elf-Awareness Groups

Wong and McKeen began to lead self-awareness encounter groups together at the Cold Mountain Institute, a residential growth centre in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. They were pioneers in co-leading; usually groups were conducted by a single leader, and their "team teaching" was a novel phenomenon. They were willing to share their own personal experiences and insights that had come from their "relationship laboratory; this teamwork and use of their relationship in teaching became a hallmark of their work during their entire career together Harv |Fewster|2001| p=298. They used a blend of encounter, counselling, psychology, energy theories and body work to engage with the growth process of the group participants. They also utilized gestalt, psychodrama, acupuncture, and dance therapy in their eclectic developing approach. They were the subject of a syndicated article written in Canadian newspapers, with the writer John Aitken experiencing first-hand the Wong/McKeen approach (Aitken, 1976). They were spokespersons for humanistic medicine Harv |Shand|1978, Harv |Johnson|1980.

They were intrigued with the dynamics of group process, and were impressed that the group members of a five-day residential growth group seemed to make larger shifts in themselves than ever seemed to happen in the "fifty-minute hour" of the individual practice. Wong and McKeen would return from one of these five-day experiential workshops full of energy and enthusiasm for human growth, and their office clients were eager to participate in the phenomenon. Their offices were in a different part of the large medical complex, and their was frequently laughter and outpourings of enjoyment and energy from this part. The other more traditional partners in the practice looked askance at the happenings around these two unusual practitioners.

Wong and McKeen gradually realized that their clients were coming early to their appointments and were befriending each other in the waiting room. This crossed the age barrier, and many of the lonely older patients of McKeen would become close with the uncertain teenager whom they met over and over in the waiting room. It was a kind of "happening" to use a phrase from the day. Then, clients began to invite each other to their individual sessions with Wong and McKeen. By the end of the day, there would be increasing numbers in each office, and the same group dynamic that Wong and McKeen noted in the residential retreats was occurring right there in their own offices.

Wong and McKeen began to think about the role of the practitioner in this dynamic. They observed that the traditional form of the patient coming to the practitioner for advice set up a fixated dynamic wherein the practitioner was cast in the parental role of expert, and the patient became a passive recipient of the practitioner's wisdom; the client could either follow the advice, or resist it ... but in any case, they were stuck in these roles. They could only "talk about" the issues the client faced outside the room. But they were in some ways editorializings of real life.

With more than their individual client in the consulting room, Wong and McKeen could observe the dyamics between the other people and "get out of the way" so they could comment, facilitate and encourage. The group process seemed to move far beyond the limitations of the one-on-one psychotherapeutic hour. Ben and Jock wanted to explore this further. They fantasized about acquiring a farm near Vancouver, so that they could bus their patients out for the day. In their imagination, this rural setting could offer to a day client many of the features that they saw were beneficial to the participants in the residential encounter groups. They wanted to extend "the waiting room" phenomenon into a structured approach to interpersonal communication and healing. They imagined that they could see each client at some period in the day, and for the rest of the time, the clients could interact with each other without fixating on the doctor. Harv |Fewster|2001| p=162

Perspectives on Western Medicine

Wong and McKeen were frequent presenters at professional meetings, and their ideas brought attention from the public media as well as professional journals. They wrote papers about their experiences with growth groups, and continued to formulate their ideas concerning health, healing, psychological medicine and relationships. They questioned the medical model, where the physician was placed at the top of a hierarchy above the patient. They encouraged physicians to be less objectifying, and to develop more self-awareness themselves. They urged the medical profession to adopt a more holistic approach to patient care Harv |Moser|1979, Harv |Times Colonist|1979, Harv |The Albertan|1979, Harv |The Courier|1979. To the public, they recommended personal responsibility and self-awareness in health and life style Harv |The Citizen|1979.

Quotation| "Jock and Bennet's courageous decision to study their relationship with complete honesty has given us a whole new outlook on relationships. I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a new era for humankind and for medicine"."
Ian McWhinney, O.C., M.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Family Medicine, The University of Western Ontario (McWhinney, 2005)

From Medical Practice to Residential Growth Programs

In the spring of 1975, they closed their practices temporarily to lead a three-month program at the Cold Mountain Institute on Cortes Island, entitled "The Resident Fellow Program." They never returned to the city, or to private practice. Wong and McKeen were impressed with the results they achieved with their long term experiential groups. They embarked upon studies to test the efficacy of the group process, comparing it to their experiences in private practice. They published articles in professional journals, and presented to medical and psychiatric associations. Harv |Fewster|2001| p=163

After the demise of the Cold Mountain Institute in 1980, Wong and McKeen helped to establish the Cortes Centre for Human Development, and led groups organized by this nonprofit society until 1983. In 1983, they co-founded PD Seminars at Haven By-the-Sea on a residential setting on Gabriola Island, BC Harv |Burke|1984. This later became known as "The Haven Institute for Personal and Professional Development". Wong and McKeen were the sole owners. Others became interested in their work, and they developed an internship training program to teach their approaches to group and individual counselling and education. Increasingly, they recognized that they were moving away from the medical model, and were embracing an educational model of heuristic learning. Teachers' groups invited them give addresses and trainings Harv |Littleton|1982.

East-West Medicine

Wong and McKeen studied and practiced the methods of both east and west medicine. They pondered the relationship between these seemingly disparate approaches. They recognized many similarities in the two systems, and realized that each side of the debate was blind to the benefits of the other. They proposed a harmonious blending of eastern and western medical approaches, to professional associations, and to the public Harv |Gomori|2002| p=206. They began to travel to the orient in 1977, and led numerous seminars and workshops for over two decades in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and mainland China Harv |Daswani|1989, Harv |Macdonald|1989, Harv |Pearce|1992, Harv |Cornish|1993.

They dialogued with writers and practitioners of both eastern and western traditions, in the areas of medicine, psychology, religion and philosophy. Zen master Paul Reps was a frequent visitor to their school, and spent much of the last two years of his life at their learning centre. They had a mutual respect with Jack Schwarz, with whom they discussed the integration of science and spirituality.

They continue to write and lecture about east-west integration, in North America, Latin America and Asia Harv |Wellburn|2005|month=September, Harv |Niosi|2005, Harv |Bulletin|2004.

Relationships, Love and Intimacy

Wong and McKeen were interviewed on many topics. They were featured guests on CTV's "The Alan Thicke" talk show in the early 1980s, and were interviewed by radio, television, newspapers and magazines, giving their distinctive social commentary on human behaviour and motivation Harv |Aird|1992, Harv |Pearce|1993, Harv |Raspberry|1993.

They continued to study their own relationship, and the relationships of those around them. By the early 1980s they had formulated a core thesis of their living philosophy, namely that people become ill when they hold back from each other, and they can become healthier in the revelation of an intimate relationship Harv |Hackel|1980, Harv |Jager|1980, Harv |Wellburn|2005.

They have lectured about child and adolescent development for four decades, urging families to share more openly with each other. They taught seminars on the art of relationships, and developed tools for relationships partners to deepen their intimacy with each other Harv |Fewster|2001, Harv |Niosi|2002, Harv |Bulletin|2002. They wrote and lectured about human sexuality, and spoke at conferences about the differences between love and sexuality Harv |Vesely|2004. A video series entitled "Couples" that documents their relationship work has been featured on PBS Harv |Yim|2001.

A Living Philosophy

Not so much critics as questioners, Wong and McKeen have been at work for their entire relationship on building and enunciating a practical cosmology of life, love and relationships, grounded in existentialism, zen and individual responsibility. They have shared this with their students and colleagues, and continue to work on this project, compiling the results of their intimacy experiment Harv |Currie|2002, Harv |Gomori|2002| p=208, Harv |Allen|2005| p=xi, Harv |Allen|2005| p=20-24, Harv |Allen|2005| p=91.

Management and Leadership Training

Wong and McKeen have been seen as inspiring leaders Harv |Irvine|Reger|2006| p=158. ln recent years, they have been consultants to Hua Wei Corporation in mainland China, and have been involved in management training in many of the countries where Hua Wei operates. They believe that business can be a vehicle for relationship development, and thus a way to enhance health and life fulfillment Harv |Hao|2007.

The Haven Institute

In 1983, Wong and McKeen purchased the "Taylor Bay Lodge", and it was renamed to "Haven By-the-Sea Resort and Conference Centre". Later, it became known as "The Haven Institute for Personal and Professional Development". They transformed a small rural lodge into a resort and conference centre with accommodation for over 100 people. For the first ten years of the operation, they built a new building every year, pouring all the extra revenue back into the facility Harv |Niosi|2005.

As their training program developed, Wong and McKeen attracted a faculty of like-minded students and teachers to the residential experiential learning centre on Gabriola Island. By the 1990s, there were fifty visiting faculty members from numerous disciplines, coming to Haven to teach in this nontraditional, open atmosphere of learning and growth. Some notable people who have taught there include Erv and Miriam Polster, Virginia Satir, Paul Reps, Carl Whitaker, James Bugental, Bruce Lipton, Thomas Szasz, Lee Pulos, Joseph Chilton Pearce, Norm Shealy, Margaret Wheatley, Bill O'Hanlon, Dan Millman, and Maria Gomori Harv |Gomori|2002| p=210.

The Core Programs for the Haven Institute were the modular "Phase Programs" and the "Come Alive" program. As time passed, there were more programs led by visiting faculty, and increasingly by the individuals who had trained with Wong and McKeen. The building projects continued.

Joann Peterson became the Director of Education, and oversaw the training of many interns and assistants in group and individual counselling until her death in 2007. The programs have developed and broadened Harv |Peterson|2006| p=107, Harv |Raithby|McCartney|2006| p=24.

The development of the facility and the school is outlined on the pages for The Haven Institute Harv |Wellburn|2005, Harv |Wilson|2008, Harv |Nat|2008, Harv |Davey|2008.

In 2004, The "Haven Foundation" was established, a federally recognized Canadian charity. Wong and McKeen and their three sons, the owners of "Haven", passed the ownership of "The Haven Institute" into the "Haven Foundation" so that the facility and their work could continue in perpetuity Harv |Bulletin|2004, Harv |The Daily News|2004, Harv |Tafler|2007. The Haven Institute celebrated twenty-five years of operation in 2008 Harv |Bowers|2008.

Quotation| "In the work of their own lives, Wong and McKeen have simply moved beyond the tedious debates that have separated the various schools of thought. Through their courage to confront the 'isnness' of their own experience they have detached themselves from the closed world views of philosophical prescriptions and, in their commitment to the integrity of their own truth, they have avoided the 'rightness' and 'wrongness' of academic psychologizing. Above all, within their own relationship, they have created a living experimental laboratory with standards of discipline and rigour capable of intimidating even the most zealous scientist-practitioner"."
Gerry Fewster, Ph.D. Editor, Journal of Child and Youth Care (Fewster, 1992,,p. xi)

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Wong/McKeen Publications

Books

* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J.(1992). "A Manual For Life", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN 0-9696755-0-X
* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J.(1993). "The Haven By-the-Sea and PD Seminars Experience", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(1993). "As It Is In Heaven: Selected Poems of Jock McKeen," Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN 0-9696755-1-X
* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J.(1995). "In and Out Of Our Own Way", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN 0-9696755-2-6
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(1996). "The Relationship Garden", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN 0-9696755-3-4
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(1998). "The (New) Manual For Life," Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN 0-9696755-4-2
* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J., illustrated by Peter Joyes.(2004). "Waiting At the Station", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2005). "A Book about Health and Happiness", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN 0-9696755-6-9

Book Translations

* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2000). "The (New) Manual For Life - Chinese Translation", Taipei: Psychological Publishing. ISBN 957-702-408-4
* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J.(2005). "The Relationship Garden - Complex Chinese Translation", Taipei: PsyGarden Publishers. ISBN 986-7574-37-0
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2006). "Health and Happiness - Complex Chinese Translation", Taipei: PsyGarden Publishers. ISBN 986-7574-73-7
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2007). "The (New) Manual For Life - Complex Chinese Translation", Taipei: PsyGarden Publishers. ISBN 978-986-7574-94-7
* McKeen, Jock (2007). "Selected Poems of Jock McKeen (English & Chinese)", commentary by Bennet Wong, translated by Gloria Sol, Feng Zheng, Paul Wang, Helen Li. Shen Zhen, China: Hua Wei University Publication, 2007.
* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J.(2007). "The Relationship Garden - Simplified Chinese Translation", Beijing: Lipin Publishing. ISBN 978-7-80709-132-5
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2007). "Health and Happiness - Simplified Chinese Translation", Beijing: Lipin Publishing. ISBN 978-7-80709-133-2
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2007). "The (New) Manual For Life - Simplified Chinese Translation", Beijing: Lipin Publishing. ISBN 978-7-80709-134-9
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2007). "Health and Happiness - Spanish Translation", ShenZhen, China: Hua Wei Company.

Book Chapters

* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J. (1980). "The Transpersonal Experience Through Body Approaches", a chapter in "Transpersonal Psychotherapy", edited by S. Boorstein. Palo Alto: Science and Behavior Press. ISBN 0-8314-0060-9
* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J. 1994). "Healing the Human Potential: A Haven for Personal Development on the Canadian West Coast", a chapter in "Justice and Reform", Kayleen Hazlehurst, ed. Queensland, Australia: Queensland University Press.
* McKeen, J., Wong, B.R., Schipper, H. and Carol Shields. (1999). "Facing Breast Cancer", contributions for "Living and Learning: Breast Cancer Patient Workbook". Toronto: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.
* McKeen, J., Wong, B.R., and Mardun J.(2001). "Facing Colorectal Cancer", contributions for "Living and Learning: Colorectal Cancer Patient Workbook". Toronto: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.

elected Papers

* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. "Body Work," "Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium on Nonverbal Aspects and Techniques of Psychotherapy", University of British Columbia, 1974.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "Individual Responsibility in Illness and Health", Cold Mountain Journal, Spring 1977
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "Residential Encounter Groups: A Followup Study", "Proceedings of the VI World Congress of Psychiatry", Honolulu, 1977.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "Resident Fellow Followup Studies: A Preliminary Report", "Cold Mountain Journal", Fall 1978.
* Sulzbacher, Wong, McKeen et al. "Long Term Therapeutic Effects of a Three Month Intensive Growth Group", "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry", vol.42, no.4, April 1981.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. "Energy - What Is It?", "Bodywork", Summer 1981.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "The Doctor-Patient Relationship: Current Challenges", "B.C. Medical Association Journal", vol.23, no.8, Aug. 1981.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "Eden Two: Perspectives on Guilt and Shame", "Association for Transpersonal Psychology Newsletter", Spring 1982.
* Wong, B.R, McKeen, J., and Satir, Virginia. "A Question of Ethics", "Heartwood", vol.2, no.1, Spring 1983.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. "Energy: What Is It?", "Journal of Traditional Acupuncture", vol.VII, no.2, Fall 1983.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J."To Be ... Loving ... To Be", "Journal of Child Care", vol.3, no.3, 1987, pp. 43-55.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and the Personality", "Proceedings of the First World Congress of Natural Medicine", Beijing, China, November 1987.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "East Meets West: Illness and Health", "Proceedings of the 4th Scientific Meeting of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists", December 1988, Hong Kong.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "If The Student Is the Subject, What is the Object?", "Journal of Child and Youth Care", vol 4, no.5, 1990, pp. 35-45.
* Wong, B.R and McKeen, J. "A Case of Multiple Life Threatening Illnesses Related to Early Ritual Abuse", "Journal of Child and Youth Care", Special Issue, 1990, pp. 1-26.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. "Paul Reps - A Remembrance", "Journal of Humanistic Psychology", vol. 31, no. 2, Spring 1991, pp.44-48.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. “To Be ... Love-ing ... To Be”, "Journal of Child and Youth Care", Vol 6, No.4, 1991, pp. 73-83.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. “The Walking Wounded”, "Association for Humanistic Psychology Perspective", March/April 1993, pp. 12,13.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. "The Walking Wounded: A Way of Life," "Journal of Child and Youth Care", vol.7, no.3, 1992, pp. 79-89.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. “Memories of Abuse: A Call For A Balanced Perspective”, "Journal of Child and Youth Care", vol. 10, no. 3, 1996, pp. 67-81.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. “The Needles Are Not The Point: A Proposal for a Dialogical Understanding of Acupuncture Therapy,” "Shen", #20, Fall 1997.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. “Needles Are Not The Point,” "Journal of Family Life", vol. 4, no. 4, 1998, p. 56.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R. “Therapy and Education,” "Association For Humanistic Psychology Perspective", Sept 1999, pp. 28-29.

Audio

*(1997) "In and Out of Our Own Way: Teaching Stories of Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen (Two Compact Disks)", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing.

Video

* Wong, B.R. and McKeen, J.(1996). "The Relationship Garden—Chaos, Boundaries and Intimacy", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing.
*(1999). "Couples" (Five Video Set), produced by Jennifer Sass. Portland, OR:Letting Go Foundation.
* McKeen, J. and Wong, B.R.(2000). "The Pleasure and the Price of Remaining Unaware", Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing.

External links

* [http://www.haven.ca The Haven Institute]
* [http://haven.ca/us/founders.html Curricula Vitae (downloadable PDF) for Jock McKeen & Bennet Wong]
* [http://www.havenfoundation.org/index.html The Haven Foundation]
* [http://www.couplesvideoseries.com/ Couples Video Series: A Wong-McKeen Relationship Seminar]
* [http://haven.ca/us/articles/index.html Selected Articles and Presentations of Wong/McKeen]
* [http://www.cyc-net.org/quote2/quote-972.html Relationships quotation by Wong & McKeen]
* [http://book.sohu.com/s2007/1456/s249821506/ Beijing Lecture on "Relationships" by Wong & McKeen (Chinese language)]
* [http://book.sohu.com/20070514/n250006783.shtml/ Beijing Launch of 3 Books by Wong & McKeen (Chinese language)]
* [http://benjock.blogspot.com/ Blog Honouring Wong and McKeen]


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