On October 8, we’re hosting the second annual Symposia: An Intersection of Conversation & Innovation, a forum in which alumni of The Seattle School present the ongoing work they are pursuing at the intersection of text, soul, and culture. Integrative education does not end at graduation, and our alumni are proof of that. Symposia highlights the ways that Seattle School alumni are continuing to wrestle with big questions and big dreams in theology, psychology, and culture.

This week, we’re featuring a presentation by Andrew Bauman (MA in Counseling Psychology ‘10) from Symposia 2015, “The Prodigal as Therapeutic Frame: The Archetypes of Addiction, Contempt, and Homecoming in the Story of the Prodigal Son.” Andrew shares a model that he has been developing that uses the story of the prodigal son as a frame for moving through the therapeutic process. These ideas were birthed in part when Andrew read Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son 10 years ago, and they have taken shape as Andrew has moved through his own story of addiction and healing.

“This story for me, growing up Southern Baptist in the deep, deep South, was almost ruined,” says Andrew. “For this story to come alive again in a new way has affected my work as a therapist in beautiful ways.”

Typically in churches, our reading of this story focuses only on the runaway son, with the refrain “Sin, sin, sin—you’re bad, you’re bad, you’re bad.” Andrew contrasts that focus with this insight from Nouwen: “Though I am both the younger son and the elder son, I am not to remain them, but to become the Father.”

In this presentation, Andrew shares from his own story and walks through the three stages of his therapeutic frame: the son stage, marked by hunger, pain, addiction, and a desperate search for love; the elder brother stage, which focuses on envy, accusation, and self-contempt; and the father stage, a posture of kindness and blessing in which our brokenness and sin never have the last word.

“Self-contempt, many times, is true. It’s rooted in some solid data. But the point is, it’s not what is most true of me. […] Will I have the courage to enter into blessing rather than curse? This is the father stage.”

To read more from Andrew about shame, self-contempt, and the journey of learning to bless our own goodness, you can check out his work on The Allender Center’s blog. And next month, on October 8, we hope you’ll join us at Symposia 2016, as we once again witness the bold, thoughtful, creative work of our alumni. Learn more and register here.