How I Got Here

Michael Samsel Age 4

I began working with people in 1980 when I got a job as a nursing assistant. In many ways I was unprepared for the sheer amount of seeming misery I encountered. I worked as a registered nurse from 1986 until 2021. Into my forties I wrestled with the question of what role we all play in our own health and happiness. I came to accept the idea that while pain is inevitable in life, suffering is optional. Our culture seems to have largely lost sight of health as the capacity for joy, wonder, and challenge. Instead we seem to focus on survival to the exclusion of all else. It’s not surprising that most of our health care system now carefully sidesteps questions of happiness. While happiness is hard to define most of us know it when we see it or have it.

Michael Samsel Age 48

I completed a master’s degree in Child, Couple, and Family Therapy at Antioch University in 2004. I spent a year working in the schools-based counseling service of Seattle Mental Health. My emphasis was on emotional development, and on making the parent-teacher-child ‘system’ more flexible and less adversarial. I’ve also worked with Family Preservation Services, teaching conflict management and parenting skills, and providing family, child, and individual therapy to high risk families. I’ve completed advanced training in domestic violence, and I continue to work both with survivors and with perpetrators in certified treatment groups. From July 2006 until July 2009, I provided therapy to low income individuals and couples through the Samaritan Center.