Tributes to Jim Bugental
from Some of His Students and Colleagues

It is an honor for me to be chosen to be a scholarship student of I.I.H.S. I also was fortunate to be by Jim Bugental's side on September, 2008 at a conference honoring him.

Jim was a gentle and authentic teacher. He is someone who taught and lived by what he preached. Any time I called Elizabeth, his dear wife, and asked how he was doing, the answer was always, "He is amazing, even though he is suffering, he keeps always his good attitude." This tells me how deep he believes in Existential-Humanism that he embraced and enlarged.

To the last minutes of his transition, he remained the same every one of us know about him. He was always warm, considerate and responsible. As his students, friends and relatives, we'll never go wrong if we follow his footsteps. Jim is not gone. He lives in us, and his soul will always overshadow and inspire us. This is his new job from wherever he is now; and we'll expect him to fulfill this new role with the same passion we observed in him.

To all of you who witnessed his charming smile and his loving presence, let us continue to honor him and carry his legacy to eternity. Thank you Jim!

Sahibou Oumarou
Student of Existential-Humanistic training, Unearthing the Moment and Ph.D. student
Born in Niger

Psychotherapy Education

Hey, Jim. (Silence) I have only known you for the past 4 or so years, and I have been struck by how your difficulty moving around has never tarnished the sparkle in your eye. I will miss you, dang it! I will especially miss telling you about the dissertation research I’ve been doing with graduates of the Unearthing the Moment classes. During almost every interview, the therapist I was interviewing would start talking about what an impact you have made on them. Their voice would get excited and they would tell a story or a moment they had shared with you and how it had contributed to them. Without an exception, they would talk about being authentic and “being in the moment” – in many cases, that experiential teaching lead to them becoming therapists. Several people also mentioned how they use the concept of finding one’s pou sto as a bridge not only to their work, but also as a bridge to allow them to work more deeply with themselves. I tell you, you have made such an impact on the people you have known!

I’m glad that you are freed from any constriction your body might have placed on you, and I welcome and invite you to float on over and contribute to any of the moments still in front of me.

Martha Cravens, M.A., Ph.D. student
Unearthing the Moment graduate and advanced trainee

Psychotherapy Education

September 29, 2008

Dear Jim, Now that I have heard the news of your death, I am sad to say that I never had the opportunity to meet you. I have read your writings, been deeply impacted by your work, and have had the sheer privilege to learn from Myrtle Heery, who learned from you. But never the chance to shake your hand, and see the man who believed in our fundamental ability to seek out and follow the truth in each of our lives. And for this reason, a small sadness rests on my heart tonight.

I want to thank you for bringing your continued emphasis on humanity to a field that is currently fighting for its own soul. I want to thank you for your wisdom, your thought, and unique perspective; I hope to integrate these and make them my own, so that I may bring them to those who are so often dehumanized in a world full of limitations and suffering.

As I wake each day, fully in the heavy wrestle of doctoral studies, working with the underserved, and maintaining important relationships in my life, I am driven by the truth in me that I search out each day, moment by moment. This is what you taught others to do. Now it is what I do, both with myself and with others.

In hope & love,
Sil Machado, M.A. M.F.T.I.
Unearthing the Moment trainee

Psychotherapy Education

In Jim’s last 12 years (the period during which I knew him), he made a journey of transition that was a model of a fulfilled and fully present life in the moment, personally and professionally.

He was deeply in touch with those elements of authenticity he had espoused. A multi-dimensional man, he was the complete psychologist, spanning the many skills and heart of his profession: deep thinker about seminal issues; researcher; author sharing his insights, discoveries and creativity; practical and adventurous clinician; and inspiring teacher and colleague.

Following his example of participatory psychologist, those of us trained and touched by him have the opportunity to enter affirmatively the current debate between positivistic positive psychology and humanistic positive psychology (see Mruk, 2008).

He has left us a map for each of us to use in our own ways. His legacy has been clearly articulated; it is for us to implement it with curiosity and generosity as he did. As he frequently said, “There is always more.”

Sandra Harner, Ph.D.
Teaching Assistant to training, Unearthing the Moment
Advanced training participant
Advisory Board Member to I.I.H.S.
October 2, 2008

Mruk, C.J. 2008. The psychology of self-esteem: a potential common ground for humanistic positive psychology and positivistic positive psychology. The Humanistic Psychologist, 36, 143-158.
Psychotherapy Education

I am feeling a heavy heart right now but I am glad that he passed peacefully and was surrounded by his family.

My thoughts are with us all as we remember Jim and the many teachings he passed on to us. It is with love and gratitude that I celebrate his spirit and the people he brought together.

Christine Martinez, M.F.T.
Unearthing the Moment advanced trainee

Psychotherapy Education

May Jim be surrounded with blessings of loving kindness and peace.

May we all be surrounded with these blessings.

With love, fond memories, and affection,

Victoria Rivera, M.F.T.
Graduate of Unearthing the Moment training

Psychotherapy Education

In Memory

Today I will see clients.
Each one with a different story . . .

A different tragedy . . .
A different process . . .

It is clear to me now, since the death of

My teacher
My mentor

How much Jim Bugental has helped to make me a better therapist.
“No, it’s James F.T. Bugental” I can hear him say,

And I smile.

I remember the sparkle in his eye, the gleam.
It was the first thing that captured me, and the thing that has stayed with me.

Lasted . . .
Since our first encounter.

To me, the gleam spoke volumes:

About delight in his work
About passion for what he teaches and learns
About humbleness of spirit About tenderness and compassion

Then . . .

The gleam would crystallize into tears streaming down his face
as he talked about his clients from long ago.
Poignant stories about people well remembered and still mattering.

I sit here today, two weeks since his passing.

I see him, I hear him
I am drinking coffee
It’s sunny outside
A bird flies overhead.

I think of Jim and I say

Thank you.

For teaching me how to let my clients matter to me
For teaching me, how to let me, matter to me

I hope and pray that somehow he hears.

Ilyssa Swartout, Psy.D.
Unearthing advanced graduate
Teaching assistant to Unearthing
Board Member, I.I.H.S.

Psychotherapy Education

Dear Jim,
The very first book I was assigned to read when I began my journey at John F Kennedy graduate school was your Psychotherapy and Process: The Fundamentals of an Existential-Humanistic Approach. Though I had long been intrigued by existential philosophies and humanistic psychology, I had never known the two had taken on a joint life. All of my cells did a little dance; I knew instantly that I had found my calling--finally!--and you gave voice, structure, and utility to my commencing a meaningful and useful life. Though I was not able to meet you in person, your spirit has been passed to me through Myrtle, who is to me what you were to her--a teacher, a mirror, a partner in the experience of "real time," and I hope that I can in turn pass this precious gift on the next generation of people who long to truly know the now, so as not to miss their own lives.

Amanda Morgan, M.A.
Participant of Unearthing the Moment training

Psychotherapy Education

My thoughts and prayers are with Jim, his family and all of us who loved him, cared about him and benefited from his teaching. He was a shining light as a human being, a superb teacher and a brilliant example of what is possible to become as a therapist. The world is better because of him. I have good memories of him and mourn his passing even as I sense his death as the fine completion of a well-lived life, and a beautiful transition to another way of being.

Neil Gladden, M.Div.
Unearthing the Moment graduate

Psychotherapy Education

I feel a deep sadness and appreciation for Jim, his work, his soul, and the connections with which he helped create.

My thoughts and prayers are with Jim, his family, and his support system.

Gene Kranz, Ph.D.
Advanced Unearthing the Moment participant

Psychotherapy Education

Since I met Jim I have traveled to several countries on various continents: Peru, Morocco, Portugal, South Africa. When I enter a foreign country and communicate with merchants in currency other than US Dollars, I am present in a foreign country. I have to be or I would not get my needs for a glass of wine or a snack met. I would not be able to participate in the gifts that country has to offer. I am also so very present in my own self in this constant process of determining who I am when surrounded by the unfamiliar. That very act of trying to be present may also be the act that takes one out of the moment of the unfamiliar.

Jim’s words, “What is the client doing to you?’ relates so well to standing in a foreign country, listening to what that country is doing to you. When I think of that, Jim’s teaching go so far beyond the therapy office. For him, being present was a way of being, to borrow Carl Rogers’ words. I did not know Jim at the height of his fame. What I know of him, what we shared, was a few simple phrases— that keep rippling out from their original moment. Jim’s gift to me was that even after a stroke he was able to be present, to be in touch with that part of himself that was playful and mischievous.

Deborah Partington, Psy.D.
Unearthing the Moment graduate

Psychotherapy Education

The first time I saw James Bugental was at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference. He was telling us goodbye at that time. He said he was leaving it to the young bucks. I remember how sincere and beautiful he was, his eyes moistened with tears. There was so much love and respect in the room. It moved all of us. I knew I wanted to study with him. That opportunity opened up the next year and I joined the Unearthers training group. I learned what presence was. In just a few minutes of being with him in a session, I felt the connection that occurs when someone is really present. It was a threshold he invited me to cross and I knew I would take the risks I needed to take with his beautiful presence.

Mary Jane Hooper, M.F.T.
Graduate of Unearthing the Moment, advanced trainee
Advisory Board I.I.H.S.

psychotherapy training

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