The influences that have resulted in the Pellin school of thought and practice being where it is today are vast.
A major influence that is perhaps not well known is Sol Alinsky, whose name resurfaced recently in American presidential political debates.
Sol Alinsky has been used by the Republican Newt Gingrich to attack Barack Obama’s values, which in part come from his work as a community organiser. Sol was the father of community organization in America.
Sol Alinsky fundamentally helped me develop, ‘Transparency’, which is a defining edge of the Pellin counselling, psychotherapy and coaching. I trained with him in Canada. He would gaze over a group of social workers and counsellors and say, “you have as many problems as the people you are helping”. He was a wild charismatic guy like David Pellin.
The National Film Board of Canada made a documentary about him at the same time they made, “Activator One” about David.
That is on the Pellin web site. I met Sol Alinsky in 1968 when he trained a group of us at a prison in Canada. His challenge to professionals
was that we had problems and were ineffective in our work because those problems were always hidden, had to be covered up and that placed an
element of doubt on our integrity. One of his challenges was, “Don’t you think they know? Don’t you think they know? Do you think your clients
and patients are dumb? Do you really believe that the inmates of this prison can’t see some of your hidden faults?” He used a more vulgar word
as he did when he asked, again, “Do you think the inmates here are dumb?”
His belief in the intellect of the uneducated was passionate.
He wanted us all to quit social work and become community organisers. I did not have the confidence, in our jargon today,
‘Performance Life Force’, to be a community organiser.
I challenged him that we did good work and not everyone had the talent to be a
community organiser. He came back, “And you don’t have problems? You don’t have problems? And they all have to be hidden.” I wrestled with that.
His challenge backed up by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous); Martin Buber’s, “I -Thou”; my dad’s Australian leftish values; Carl Rogers’ last work on,
‘Person-To-Person’, amongst others, resulted in our revolution of the nature of the professional relationship, ‘Transparency’. The professional
can be open. The professional can be trained to be safely open and that enhances integrity and trust in ways Freud could not even contemplate.
Sol never knew of this influence. Or the history he influenced with the election decades later of a community organiser with a strange name to
the presidency of his country. Sol died in 1972.