A Community of Heart Profile:Jack McCarthy & Peggy Bacon

Description

John J. McCarthy (Jack) and Margaret S. Bacon (Peggy) met in 1992, while participating on a consultation team. Both were psychologists who shared a passion for learning, understanding diversity, challenging situations and travel. Peggy was born in Washington D.C. to Margaret Hope Bacon and Samuel Allen Bacon. Her parents met at Antioch College and married. Her father, from an old Quaker family, was a conscientious objector in World War II, doing his military service at Schwenkesville Mental Hospital. Service was paramount in Peggy's family. Her father worked for the Friends' Service Committee and as a Social Work Administrator in Settlement Houses. Her mother was a writer, publishing numerous books about Quaker historical figures. Peggy lived in an affluent suburb that did not fit with her family's values. She learned early how important it was for children to have someone to talk to when they were having difficulty adjusting. She found a sense of community when she moved to Philadelphia to attend Germantown Friends School. In 1969, she completed college at the University of Pennsylvania. Shaped by the times, she grew interested in alternative lifestyles and volunteered for a Quaker sponsored work camp with Afro-American Activists in Los Angeles during her Junior Year and then later worked in a Czechoslavkian orphanage with students from Russia, Britain and the USA. They shared how they perceived the world and life resulting in the shattering of her worldview when her privileged American upbringing clashed with seeing the effect of American policy in the world. Consequently, the world got "bigger, complicated and nuanced." Earlier, she volunteered for the Friends Neighborhood Guild in North Philadelphia. She noted, "We all take for granted how people live. I felt like I was in boot camp." After college, she was a Case Worker in a North Philadelphia Mental Hospital, then, worked in the Philadelphia Public Assistance Department. She conducted house visits, talking to clients about their financial and social service needs. After Peggy married, she moved to Connecticut with her first husband. In 1972, she graduated with her MSW from the University of Connecticut. She worked in a community mental health setting with adolescents, adults and couples at the Griffin Hospital Outpatient Unit in Derby, CT. In 1979, she was a Post-Masters Fellow at the Child Development Center at Yale University and was influenced by their Object Relational perspective. She wrestled between her early training in bio-psychiatry and her later, more clinical, influences. Clinical work triumphed and she attended the University of Minnesota receiving a joint degree in Developmental and School Psychology in 1989. Her dissertation was in conjunction with a long-term study concerning the power of attachment in an at risk population from 3 months preterm to 9 years old. By 1990, she moved to New Bedford, MA and began her general psychology private practice. She was a Psychological Consultant at New Bedford's Regional Vocational and Technical High School. Peggy lived in an affluent suburb that did not fit with her family's values. She learned early how important it was for children to have someone to talk to when they were having difficulty adjusting. She found a sense of community when she moved to Philadelphia to attend Germantown Friends School. In 1969, she completed college at the University of Pennsylvania. Shaped by the times, she grew interested in alternative lifestyles and volunteered for a Quaker sponsored work camp with Afro-American Activists in Los Angeles during her Junior Year and then later worked in a Czechoslavkian orphanage with students from Russia, Britain and the USA. They shared how they perceived the world and life resulting in the shattering of her worldview when her privileged American upbringing clashed with seeing the effect of American policy in the world. Consequently, the world got "bigger, complicated and nuanced." Earlier, she volunteered for the Friends Neighborhood Guild in North Philadelphia. She noted, "We all take for granted how people live. I felt like I was in boot camp." After college, she was a Case Worker in a North Philadelphia Mental Hospital, then, worked in the Philadelphia Public Assistance Department. She conducted house visits, talking to clients about their financial and social service needs. After Peggy married, she moved to Connecticut with her first husband. In 1972, she graduated with her MSW from the University of Connecticut. She worked in a community mental health setting with adolescents, adults and couples at the Griffin Hospital Outpatient Unit in Derby, CT. In 1979, she was a Post-Masters Fellow at the Child Development Center at Yale University and was influenced by their Object Relational perspective. She wrestled between her early training in bio-psychiatry and her later, more clinical, influences. Clinical work triumphed and she attended the University of Minnesota receiving a joint degree in Developmental and School Psychology in 1989. Her dissertation was in conjunction with a long-term study concerning the power of attachment in an at risk population from 3 months preterm to 9 years old. By 1990, she moved to New Bedford, MA and began her general psychology private practice. She was a Psychological Consultant at New Bedford's Regional Vocational and Technical High School. By 1992, she became interested in trauma while dealing with very disturbed clients. Jack grew up in an entirely different setting. Jack was born in Sebring, Florida while his father was doing military service, and then moved back to South Boston with his family. Jack was part of the Irish Catholic community where people identified themselves by parish. His grandparents came from Ireland and his father, John McCarthy, was born in South Boston where he first became a liquor salesman and then the Assistant Register of Deeds in Boston. His mother, Katherine Goode, was an educated woman and became an elementary school teacher. She was the only one in both families who graduated college. She was a multifaceted teacher who enjoyed working with new immigrants and teaching people horticulture through her Victory Garden on the Fenway. John and Katherine met through her brother Joe. They had to wait for years to get married because of the economy. Jack is an only child and attended the oldest public high school in the country, Boston Latin School. He was a History major at the College of the Holy Cross (Worchester), graduating in 1967. He then went on to complete his MA in History. He taught and coached at Dartmouth High School in Southeastern, MA and became fascinated in the students who struggled and underperformed for no apparent reason. After 2 years, he became a Guidance Counselor and later an Adjustment Counselor at an alternative school with 20 of the most difficult students. To be better equipped for his students, Jack enrolled in Boston College's Counseling Psychology. Program and graduated in 1982. He was also a Clinical Supervisor for 4 years at New Bedford Area Center for Human Services, working with clients with thought disorders. In 1984, he began his private practice and learned that he needed training in family therapy to best serve the referrals he was receiving. He attended the Family Institute of Cambridge's Intensive Program meeting once a week for a year and continued Family Therapy Consultation with several supervisors, including David Treadway. It was then that Peggy and Jack met at their consultation team meeting. They were both in Private Practice working with individuals, couples and families. Jack was married and Peggy was single. In this team, they worked mostly with couples. One group member brought in a couple, another member would interview them and the 3rd and 4th members would reflect on what they saw, talking among themselves. Jack's first wife had died in 1993 after an ongoing illness. During this time, the team continued to meet. By the spring of 1994, Jack realized one day that Peggy was not just "my esteemed colleague" but that "she is a woman!" It turned out that Peggy had been thinking about him too and they married in 1995. They continued their interest in learning by training in Psychodrama (Robert Ginn, Richard Chasin), Dissociative Disorders (James Chu), Mindfulness Based Stress Disorders (John Kabat Zinn), Couples Therapy (Richard and Antra Borofsky), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy of Borderline Personality Disorder (Marsha Linehan). In 1997, they heard Bessel van der Kolk present on EMDR and took the EMDR training. At the time, it was "The Wild West of EMDR" with no cautions, so they went out, used it immediately and received supervision from Libby Call. Jack's youngest daughter went to Madagascar with the Peace Corps, and he and Peggy visited for 5 weeks in 1997. They wondered about bringing EMDR to remote places and also thought this when visiting a nephew in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. Their opportunity came when Libby got involved with the Burma Border Projects. She was asked to teach medics how to deal with mental health issues after, and asked Jack and Peggy if they wanted to come. They gave a wholehearted, "YES!" In January 2000, they went to the Burmese Border to teach about trauma and its effects. Libby did a great job and they were invited back. The medics told them of their horrifying experiences at the hands of the Burmese Army. Through businessman Michael Forhan, who had worked in Burma and wanted to do something for the people, Libby met Dr. Cynthia Maung, a Burmese physician who had created a clinic and resource center for the Karen Hill people on the border between Burma and Thailand. Jack and Peggy "fell in love" with the wonderful people there who transcended their own suffering to take on the demanding roles of medics and women's groups organizers. The situation was dire as the refugees were there without permission and had to choose life in the refugee camps or work as illegal aliens in Thailand. There was a great deal of domestic violence and addictive behaviors. There was also a need for financial help to provide for orphanages and schools. Michael, with the help of Libby, Peggy and Jack, founded Burma Border Projects, a non-profit organization, to raise money to help with these basic needs. Baptist missionaries came to their land in the 1900's, but the people felt they could not ask the preachers or monks to help cope with the breakdown of the family. Although the Karen were Christian, they were Christian within a Buddhist Culture and the ideas of compassion and experiencing were pivotal to understanding them. They had no tradition of mental health treatment. Accordingly, Peggy and Jack started with the basics such as motivational interviewing, how to relate with others, how to listen, and how to elicit problem solving in others. They also incorporated the Karen's cultural values and morals and validated the work the Karen were doing already. The women were the organizers and through "tend and befriend," they started schools and safe houses for women, often getting arrested by Thai police. The men had lost everything ??? their property, businesses, status and role as providers. Consequently, some drank and became abusive to the women and children. By 2001 -2007, three times a year, they closed their practices and went to the Border. They had hoped to work there fulltime but funding did not work out. They told their clients what they were doing and only one woman fired them. When they went, they made contacts through the Karen's Women's Organization and worked with the medics or leaders. They set up trainings along the border and did 3-4 day trainings teaching how to cope with trauma. They did some EMDR work, but because of the volatile political situation, it was impossible to track those trained. Before they left, they had trained 800 people and completed 35-40 trainings. The Burma Border Project continues to operate on the border supporting social projects and providing counseling training. By 2008, Jack became a Trainer for EMDRHAP. He has done trainings in Community Mental Health Centers in the Northeast US, Boise, Idaho and Ruston, Louisiana. He updated the "Traumatology and Stabilization" presentation, at the request of EMDRHAP staff, and has taught clinicians who are working with developmentally disabled populations. Recently, their youngest daughter moved to Zambia and works for the Clinton Foundation in Public Health and her husband is a Neurologist working in a hospital there. When Peggy and Jack visited last year they presented on trauma and stabilization. When they return this year, they plan to conduct the first of a series of EMDR trainings in Zambia through EMDRHAP. The hope is to help develop a self-sustaining EMDR community in Zambia that will address the impact of their devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic and collaborate with other EMDR programs throughout Africa. Besides their interest in their work, Peggy and Jack have found time to hike in the Italian Alps and the Canadian Rockies. They also enjoy reading, kayaking, gardening and their 7 grandchildren. We are lucky that Peggy and Jack have come together to make this mutual contribution to our EMDR community.

Citation

“A Community of Heart Profile:Jack McCarthy & Peggy Bacon,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 20, 2017, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/7673.