The core of Mark's psychotherapeutic orientation can be described as psychodynamic and humanistic with a central spiritual foundation, but over his many years of practice and teaching he has developed a multimodal, integrative model of psychological assessment and treatment called Streams of Aliveness Psychotherapy (Stream Psychotherapy) which weaves together cognitive, behavioral, somatic, relational, sociocultural, ecopsychological, existential, and other dimensions of lived human experience. As a systemic and spiritual approach, it is well-suited to his therapy work with couples and families as well as individuals.
In addition to spirituality, the other thread which has run through Mark's professional and personal interests has been that of creativity. He has written and lectured about psychotherapy as a creative process which, though it utilizes understandings from science and research, has many of the same considerations and challenges as any other art form. This view of psychotherapy leads Mark to teach in a way which regards every practitioner and student as a unique artist engaged in discovering and cultivating her and his own "therapeutic instrument" That instrument will not be exactly like anyone else's, as it is an expression and maturation of the therapist’s own being. Creatively supporting couples and individuals to develop their most fulfilling relationship and lives is one of Mark’s greatest joys.
Mark Fromm has been working with couples, individuals, and families as a licensed psychologist in California since 1986. He taught Masters and Doctoral courses such as Couples Counseling, Psychology of Relationships, Family Therapy, Therapeutic Communication, The Clinical Relationship, Human Development, and Law and Ethics as an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, John F. Kennedy University, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, The Wright Institute, Santa Clara University, and other psychology and counseling programs as an adjunct professor beginning in the mid-1990s. In 2012, Mark became a Full Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, one of a small number hired there immediately at that top rank.
Mark served as Expert Consultant to the California Board of Psychology around legal and ethical issues for many years, and worked for the Board of Behavioral Sciences for a time in a similar capacity. He has offered continuing education courses for licensed professionals in such areas as Child Abuse Assessment and Treatment, Law and Ethics, and Psychotherapy With Male Clients. He has been published in Psychology Today Magazine, was Vice-President of PsychologyToday.com, and was Executive Director there of Ask Our Therapist, one of the first major mental health online information and support services. Mark has served as a guest psychologist on KQED-FM on several occasions, and has been interviewed on KRON-TV and for the San Francisco Chronicle. He has been an editor and columnist on the arts and cultural issues for a number of publications over many years, including the Colorado Daily, the Pacific Sun, and others. He continues to be interested in the use of the Internet and other media and technology to provide psychological and educational services to the community. In recent years, Mark has studied and practiced theatre improvisation, weaving it into classroom activities at times to enhance the learning process.
Mark was born in Queens, New York and grew up in the New York area in a world of bagels, Broadway, books, and baseball (sometimes Yankees, sometimes Mets). After gaining his undergraduate degree in 1973 at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he gradually made his way west to Colorado for his Ph.D. before heading for California on graduation day in 1981. Perhaps he will retire someday in Hawaii.
Although he always had an inherent sense of the mystery and wonder of the universe, his spiritual curiosity was formally piqued through reading books by Alan Watts and attending talks by Ram Dass. This gradually flowered into the pursuit of Buddhist Vipassana and Shamatha meditation practices, and then studying the Diamond Approach with A.H. Almaas over the past nearly thirty years. Mark has utilized these and other approaches to develop empathy, presence, awareness, openness, and other capacities essential to the effective practice of psychotherapy. His view of psychotherapy as a service to the larger community as well as individuals has drawn him to teaching and writing about the challenging, exciting, and vital intersection of what he calls “diversity, unity, and mystery.”
Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder
M.A., State University of New York at Plattsburgh
B.A., Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
How I work
I am generally experienced by clients as personable and genuine, and share everything from humor to sadness with them as it arises naturally.
I leave a lot of room for clients to talk and explore, but I am not a blank slate. I believe in being actively supportive and offering input at times as part of helping a client find their own truth.
Freud said the goal of therapy was to make the unconscious conscious, and many who came after him echoed that in different ways. We all have elements of ourselves we are conscious of: our thoughts, our feelings, our sensations, our actions. These are what I call overground stream elements. And then we have our underground streams: the thoughts we are unconscious of, the feelings we have pushed away, the sensations we have numbed to or avoided, the behaviors we are capable of but don’t do, or even know we can try. In Stream Psychotherapy’s way of putting it, the goal is to bring underground elements overground. By getting in touch with our unconscious thoughts, frozen or avoided feelings, avoided sensations, and potential but untried behaviors, we allow our expanded self to emerge. We create new possibilities for our lives.
To help clients open to these possibilities, I utilize certain therapeutic principles developed over years of work on myself and with others. For example, I try to balance safety and challenge as I work with clients. That is, I see the client’s “growing edge” as the place where they feel fundamentally safe, supported, and comfortable with me while at the same time challenged or stretched to consider moving in a new direction — opening to an unconscious belief, letting in a difficult feeling, trying out a new behavior, etc. I don’t push clients past their comfort zones unless they invite me to, but I may also invite them to invite me.
I listen carefully. I care. Clients feel they have room to be real, freedom to be themselves. They are relating not to a detached expert, but to a companion on the journey who may have some tools and experience that can help along the way.
Finally, I pay attention to what is alive in the room, what is spontaneous and real in my client moment to moment. That aliveness is the client’s birthright and the key to moving through their stuck places. I help my client "hitch a ride" on that aliveness, knowing that as they tune into, listen to, and express it, it will support them in manifesting what they are yearning for. Their aliveness has a Developmental Intelligence all its own, and together we will follow it to the growth they are seeking.