Granite City, Illinois, US
|Fields||cybernetics, psychology, brief therapy, radical constructivism, Systems theory, ecstatic healing traditions|
|Known for||family systems therapy , brief therapy, systems psychology, Creativity in Therapy, Resource Focused Therapy, Recursive Frame Analysis, Psychotherapy as a Transformative Art|
|Influences||Gregory Bateson, Heinz von Foerster, Francisco Varela, Carl Whitaker, R. D. Laing, Olga Silverstein, Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson, Salvador Minuchin|
Bradford Keeney, Ph.D. (3 April 1951) is a creative therapist, cybernetician, anthropologist of cultural healing traditions, improvisational performer, and claims to be a traditional healer and (though he is a white American) a Bushman shaman. Bradford Keeney has served as a professor, founder, and director of clinical doctoral programs in numerous universities. He is the originator of several orientations to psychotherapy including improvisational therapy, resource focused therapy, and creative therapy. He is the inventor of recursive frame analysis, a research method that discerns patterns of transformation in conversation. A Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, he received the 2008 Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
As an ethnographic fieldworker, Keeney has been called the Marco Polo of psychology and an anthropologist of the spirit by the editors of Utne Reader. He spent over a decade traveling the globe, living with spiritual teachers and healers who trusted him to share their words with others – modern cultures in need of elder wisdom. The result of Keeney's work is one of the broadest and most intense field studies of healing, chronicled in the critically acclaimed book series, Profiles of Healing, an eleven-volume encyclopedia of the world's healing practices.
Bradford Keeney was born in Granite City, Illinois, and grew up in Smithville, Missouri. In May 1969, he won a merit award from the American Medical Association, and later first place at the international science fair with a project called “An Experimental Study of the Effects of Hydrocortisone, Insulin, and Epinephrine on the Glycogen Content of Hepatic Tissues Perfused in Vitro.” This award earned him a scholarship to M.I.T. where he was first introduced to cybernetics and systems thinking. Fascinated by cybernetics, Keeney sought out Gregory Bateson, one of the world’s leading cyberneticians, who became his friend and mentor. Keeney’s doctoral dissertation (Purdue University, 1981) became the book Aesthetics of Change (1983), considered a seminal work in cybernetic theory and heralded by the likes of cybernetician and systems theorist Heinz von Foerster.
Ethnographic Fieldwork, Ecstatic Healing and Spirituality
Since 1995, Bradford Keeney has traveled the globe conducting ethnographic studies of ecstatic healing traditions, focusing on “shaking medicine”. Keeney’s work culminated in the creation of the Profiles of Healing series for the Ringing Rocks Foundation, describing ecstatic healing practices on four continents. Keeney’s experiences were chronicled in the biography American Shaman. Currently, Keeney synthesizes what he learned from traditional and ecstatic healers with creative psychotherapy to add recursivity and performance to psychotherapeutic encounters.
Keeney says he is a traditional healer or shaman and accepted as a n/om kxao or traditional doctor. He asserts the Kalahari Bushmen regard Keeney as the highest level of traditional doctor, a "Heart of the Spears,” and that the Zulu of southern Africa recognize him as having passed all levels of being a traditional healer or sangoma. Dr. Keeney is also the authorized custodian (with his wife, Hillary Keeney) of the tradition of seiki jutsu (the art of the vital life force.) In addition, Keeney is also a member of the Shakers of St. Vincent, and claims to be recognized as a grandfather shaman among the Guarani Indians and a traditional spiritual healer in Brazil, Mexico, and Bali, among other places in the world. Most of these traditions do not accept outsiders, and require a lifetime of training. Previous whites and those in academia claiming this have often been highly controversial.
Bradford Keeney is co-founder of The Keeney Institute for Healing, dedicated to the development and dissemination of ecstatic healing and spirituality. The Keeney Institute conducts experiential training and education for healers, therapists, body workers, clergy, and the general public in the U.S. and at institutes throughout the globe. The work of the Keeney Institute is rooted to other ecstatic healing traditions including Kalahari Bushman (San) healing, the shakers of the Caribbean, and seiki jutsu Japanese energy medicine, among others.
Dr. Keeney serves as project director for the Kalahari Bushman (San) N/om-Kxaosi Ethnographic Project. This project was originally a collaboration between the Institute of Religion and Health at the Texas Medical Center, Houston, Texas, the Kalahari People’s Fund, and the Rock Art Research Institute of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since roughly 1995, data has been collected in Botswana and Namibia, focusing on the religion and healing practices of the Ju/’hoan Bushmen. Dr. Keeney has collaborated with Megan Biesele, Ph.D., an original member of the Harvard Kalahari Research Project and the Director of the Kalahari Peoples Fund to both document the healing traditions of the Kalahari Bushmen or San people and apply what is learned to Western psychotherapeutic interactions.
Recognized as an ecstatic spiritual teacher and healer by numerous cultures, Keeney became a n/om-kxao (healer) with the Kalahari Bushmen. Megan Biesele, Ph.D., former member of the Harvard Kalahari Research Group, writes: "There is no question in the minds of the Bushman healers that Keeney's strength and purposes are coterminous with theirs. They affirmed his power as a healer."
With his wife, Hillary Keeney, he co-founded The Keeney Institute for Healing, dedicated to the development and dissemination of ecstatic healing and spirituality.
Work in cybernetics and psychotherapy
Keeney is known for several important contributions to the field of psychotherapy, through his application of cybernetics to the discipline. While serving with such institutions as the Menninger Foundation, the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania, the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, and several universities throughout the United States, Dr. Keeney developed the following groundbreaking ideas.
In his early work, Keeney articulated patterns of communication for distinguished psychotherapists, later using his own psychotherapeutic cases to show how one can use psychotherapy as an art to create successful therapeutic transformation in clients. Some of his major works include Aesthetics of Change (1983), Mind in Therapy (1985), The Creative Therapist (2009), "Circular Therapeutics: Giving Therapy a Healing Heart" (with Hillary Keeney, 2012), Creative Therapeutic Technique" (with Hillary Keeney, 2013), and the Profiles of Healing series on ecstatic healing traditions sponsored by the Ringing Rocks Foundation (1999 – 2008). In 2010, Bradford Keeney and his wife, Hillary Keeney, created an online doctoral program in creative systemic studies at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. It is the first non-clinical MFT program of its kind dedicated to interdisciplinary scholarship and the study of cybernetics and systems thinking - the originating ideas of the field of systemic family therapy.
Recursive frame analysis
Keeney developed Recursive Frame Analysis (RFA) as a qualitative research method for discerning patterns in therapeutic conversation. It is a method he describes as “scoring” conversations, much as one would a song. Through RFA “…Keeney derived a series of distinctions which would allow therapists and researchers to describe interactional patterns in therapeutic discourse and to guide their practice in therapy.” RFA has been used in numerous dissertations and research studies. It is currently being used to demonstrate the different ways one can analyze conversation in a wide variety of conversational settings, including couples and family interaction, counseling, political diplomacy, and doctor-patient discourse.
Resource focused therapy
With his colleague Wendel Ray, Keeney created “Resource Focused Therapy.” Resource Focused Therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that pays little or no attention to problems or difficulties that have become pathologized. This form of therapeutic intervention focuses entirely on “bringing forth the natural resources of both clients and therapists”. This focus on resources is a recontextualization of information presented that therapeutically and creatively changes the way the client interacts with the world. It is a performative communication that occurs in acts, and looks to observers much more like an improvised play than classical therapy. The goal of this interaction is to transform the client’s situation from one that is impoverished to one that amplifies resources and ability.
Creativity in therapy
Building on the concepts from his Resource Focused Therapy model, Keeney has developed a concept of creativity in therapy that moves beyond the norms of psychotherapy to view the therapist/client interaction as a transformative, performative, improvisational art. This work is based on clinical case studies that have been filmed and archived over the last decade. The theoretical model uses theories of improvisation in the performing arts and systemic ideas to provide a way of understanding how clinical sessions can become more creative and effective.
Keeney published numerous books and papers. A selection of academic books
- 1983. Aesthetics of Change. New York: The Guilford Press.
- 1983. Diagnosis and Assessment in Family Therapy (Editor). Rockville,Maryland: Aspen Systems.
- 1985. Mind in Therapy: Constructing Systemic Family Therapies. With J. Ross. New York: Basic Books.
- 1986. The Therapeutic Voice of Olga Silverstein. With O. Silverstein. New York: The Guilford Press.
- 1987. Constructing Therapeutic Realities. Dortmund, Germany: Verlag fur Modernes Lernen.
- 1988. Kultur und Spiel, With Gregory Bateson. Suhrkamp, Ffm.
- 1990. The Systemic Therapist, Volume I (Editor), St. Paul: Systemic Therapy Press.
- 1990. The Systemic Therapist, Volume II (Editor), St. Paul: Systemic Therapy Press.
- 1991. Improvisational Therapy: A Practical Guide for Creative Clinical Strategies, New York: The Guilford Press.
- 1993. Resource Focused Therapy. With W. Ray. Karnac Books.
- 2006. Milton H. Erickson, M.D.: An American Healer. With B.A. Erickson. Philadelphia: Ringing Rocks Press.
- 2009. The Creative Therapist: The Art of Awakening a Clinical Session. New York: Routledge.
- 2012. "Circular Therapeutics: Giving Therapy a Healing Heart." with Hillary Keeney. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker, & Theisen, Inc.
- 2013. "Creative Therapeutic Technique: Skills for the Art of Bringing Forth Change." with Hillary Keeney. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker, & Theisen, Inc.
Popular Press Books:
- 1995. Shaking Out the Spirits, New York: Station Hill Press.
- 1995. The Lunatic Guide to the David Letterman Show (Experiments with Absurd Social Interventions), New York: Station Hill Press.
- 1996. Crazy Wisdom Tales, New York: Barrytown Press.
- 1996. Everyday Soul, New York: Riverhead/Putnam.
- 1998. The Energy Break (The Practice of Autokinetics), New York: Golden Books, 1998.
- 2005. Bushman Shaman: Awakening the Spirit through Ecstatic Dance, Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books.
- 2006. Shamanic Christianity: The Direct Experience of Mystical Communion, Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books.
- 2007. Shaking Medicine, Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.
- 2010. "Bushman Way of Tracking God," New York, NY: Atria Books/Beyond Words.
- 2011. "The Flying Drum: The Mojo Doctor's Guide to Creating Magic in Your Life," New York, NY: Atria Books/Beyond Words.
- 2014: "Seiki Jutsu: The Practice of Non-Subtle Energy Medicine." with Hillary Keeney. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company.
- Complex systems
- Constructivist epistemology
- Family therapy
- Second-order cybernetics
- Systems thinking
- Systems psychology
- "Recursive Frame Analysis: Reflections on the Development of a Qualitative Research Method". Qualitative Report 17. 2012. ISSN 1052-0147. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. "Bradford P. Keeney, Ph.D., LMFT". Therapist Locator. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "LAMFT History". Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (LAMFT). Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Walljasper, Jay (July–August 2003). "The Luckiest Man Alive? Bradford Keeney travels the globe searching for the secrets of soul.". Utne Reader. Retrieved 31 January 2014. "There is no easy way to describe Bradford Keeney. You could call him an all-American shaman, the Marco Polo of psychology, an anthropologist of the spirit, but I usually just say he’s the guy with the best job in the world."
- Thomson, Mary Helen (13 March 1967). "Science Pioneers Honor Brad Keeney for Report". The Southeast Missourian (Chaffee, Missouri). Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Unfer, Louis (8 May 1969). "Arcadia Valley Junior In Fort Worth Area Science Fair Winner Gets Two National Awards". The Southeast Missourian (Fort Worth, Texas). Retrieved 3 February 2014. "Don was one of three winners from science fairs held in Missouri.... Bradford Keeney of Smithville, received a merit award from the American Medical Association."
- Keeney, Bradford (2005). Bushman shaman: Awakening the spirit through ecstatic dance. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books. ISBN 9780892816989.
- Keeney, Bradford (1983). Aesthetics of Change. New York: The Guildford Press. ISBN 0898620430.
- Keeney, Bradford (1983). Aesthetics of Change. Foreword by Heinz von Foerster. New York: The Guildford Press. p. xi.
- Keeney, Bradford (2010). The Creative Therapist: The Art of Awakening a Session. Routledge. pp. 275–276. ISBN 9781135841706. Retrieved 31 January 2014. "Being a jazz pianist in addition to a university professor, I took my son to my recording studio to create a funny medicine CD for children who were scared of bears. Scott learned to use recording equipment he had previously not been allowed to touch, which thrilled him.... Scott, now known as "DJ Skee," became an internationally famous producer of hip-hop recordings in Hollywood..."
- Keeney, Bradford (2007). Shaking medicine: The healing power of ecstatic movement. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions/Bear. ISBN 9781594771491.
- Conner, Nancy; Keeney, Bradford, eds. (2008). Shamans of the World: Extraordinary First-Person Accounts of Healings, Mysteries, and Miracles. Boulder: Sounds True. ISBN 978-1-59179-957-3.
- Kottler, Jeffrey A.; Carlson, Jon (2004). American shaman: An odyssey of global healing traditions. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781134000609.
- Keeney, Bradford (1991). Improvisational therapy: A practical guide for creative clinical strategies. New York: The Guilford Press. ISBN 9780898624861.
- Chenail, Ronald J. (Winter–Spring 1990/1991). "Bradford Keeney's Cybernetic Project and the Creation of Recursive Frame Analysis". The Qualitative Report 1 (2&3). ISSN 1052-0147. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Ray, Wendel A.; Keeney, Bradford (1993). Resource focused therapy. London: Karnac Books. p. 1. ISBN 9781855750494.
- Keeney, Bradford (2009). The Creative Therapist: The Art of Awakening a Session. New York: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203882450.
- "2011 NAUTILUS AWARDS SILVER WINNERS". Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Kottler, Jeffrey A.; Carlson, Jon (2004). American shaman: An odyssey of global healing traditions. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781134000609.
- "The Keeney Institute for Healing". Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Doctor of Philosophy Online Degree Concentration in Creative Systemic Studies". University of Louisiana at Monroe. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Brussat, Frederic; Brussat, Mary Ann. "Living Spiritual Teachers Project: Bradford Keeney". Spirituality & Practice: Resources for Spiritual Journeys. Retrieved 3 February 2014.