Bob Hempel, TAP, is USATAA’s Facebook host and has created a space where members and interested individuals can connect. He recently launched a new FB group: Where in The World is TA. This interview reveals how he expanded the USATAA community on social media
Cheryl: Tell us more about you and how you use TA professionally.
Bob: I discovered TA two years before I was ordained as a Christian minister. When David Kupfer and Bob Goulding introduced me to TA in 1967, I immediately understood that I could use TA as a psychological tool in my ministry. Between then and now, TA poses no conflict with my Christian values. Human life is valuable for both disciplines — I am valuable, OK, and you are valuable, OK. TA has been helpful model in moving me though the mazes of human relationships. I learned now to use intuition to discover how to respond to a grieving spouse and make a precise comment to ease their discomfort. (To a young member whose husband suddenly died, “You two were madly in love.” To which Beth nodded her head after a hug.) How to listen to a phone call from an angry, drunken parishioner. (Bob would drink and unload his pent-up anger in a phone call about once a year.) To discover when a game was occurring within a group or with an individual. Then, I would figure out how to respond appropriately. (I say, “My gut says our discussion is stuck. I hear everyone saying, “Yes, but ..,” in their responses to each other.”)
Cheryl: What has it been like applying TA to your work?
Bob: Frankly Cheryl, TA has been resource in order to keep my sanity, especially in times of crisis. A woman angrily attacked me for voting for Marriage Equality at a national church governing body. She argued with me that that I couldn’t vote on a matter that her church didn’t approve. I reminded her I represented her church and a hundred more churches plus my personal theological conscious. Later, I performed a “spiritual” wedding (non-legal) for her and her long-time boyfriend. Also she read her daughter’s diary after her death. She thanked me for my TA therapy with her deceased child. I use this case study to say TA has been a “blessing”.
Cheryl: What motivated you to start the USATAA FB group?
Bob: I have used the internet and was editing websites for many years. When I first started on the Council (2012), I was managing another FaceBook page for my church group reaching hundreds. At my first Council meeting, I asked the how come we didn’t have a FB page. I heard some “waffling” and comments, “I don’t how to start one.” Catherine OBrien asked me if I would create a FB page. I said, “I will have one up before the day is over”. They agreed. And, I created the page that afternoon. As I write this, the USAATA FaceBook page has 681 members from around the world.
Cheryl: What motivated you to start the Where in The World is TA FB Group?
Bob: Family, friends and others told me that TA was dead. Many church people said that TA was a ’60’s fad. They were once in a book study for Berne’s Games People Play or Harris’ I am OK, You’re Ok. I knew that those clergy and church people who had bothered to train themselves as a TA therapist remained. These folk knew TA was much more than a “self-help fad” or a “flash in the pan” psychology. I am still angered by the psychiatrist who told me to “watch out for third-degree burns.” Thus, those experiences were my motivation to create the page. The final motivation came from my work at the USATAA Council meeting in Tucson, AZ, USA, this past April. I chose this FB page as a way to “grow” TA by locating the people in world who are using TA. In one month, we have 51 members from around the world, including Arizona; California; Colorado; Illinois; New York; and, North Carolina in the USA. In other countries, members included are from Canada; United Kingdom; Pula, Croatia; Bucharest, Romania; Germany; Poznań, Poland; Helsinki, Finland; France; Switzerland; and Scotland. My goal is to to develop a world-wide TA support community where we can meet and greet one another. Where we can share our “brags” and come to the aid when one needs help. Thus far, we are off to a good start.
Cheryl: What can you tell USATAA members about Facebook connections. What are your observations/thoughts/feelings?
Bob: FaceBook is like any another social arena. The heaviest thing I know is—it is not the circumstances in life that are important, it is how I chose to respond. FB may be used as a tool for communication—positive or negative. It is the responsibility of the user to govern its input and output. The recent FB miss-uses where human life is at stake is scary. I believe FB management should take them down as a matter of public safety within reason. Our TA pages have had minor problems. Advertisers (the “sun shade” ads–anger me the most) and people not promoting TA have been removed. More of these problems came in the past while most new members are legitimate people who want to support TA.
Cheryl: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Bob: If you are not a member of either page. Join ASAP. You will find a welcome community on both pages. I would add a “shout out” from my shameless commerce department. I offer three workshops: “Recover your Joy”; “Love Yourself; Use Your Devices” (social media); “Joyful Pastoral Care”; and, custom designed workshops. For detailed information, visit the link: resurrectionpastoralcare.org for dates and fees for the workshop of your choice.
Robert L. Hempel, M.Th. T.A.P. , La Grange Park, Illinois, U.S.A.