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Welcome to Behind the Curtains!

Hello and welcome to Behind the Curtains: Mysteries of a Collaborative Practitioner! You are probably wondering what this blog is about. Or maybe you aren’t curious at all and are planning on going into the kitchen to enjoy a snack and some bad television. We’ve all been there. I am usually in that scenario on a Monday night. Possibly Friday if I don’t have any plans. Oh dear, I am roaming off on a bunny trail. Allow me to explain what is happening right now. My name is Michael Pontello. I am a mid-thirty something year old stylish (some of the time) dorky woman who is also a marriage and family therapist. I am also a supervisor and faculty member at the Houston Galveston Institute. I hope you will enjoy, be inspired and share some ideas and dialogue about the ways in which we work and build relationships with people. Not just in our professional settings but in our everyday lives as well.


Luckily I had an interest in people. I was curious about relationships and the conversations we have. I enjoyed following along with a conversation and paying attention to the nuances of language between individuals and how those expressions could create a variety of possibilities between people. Some of those possibilities were helpful while other times they resulted in a lot of yelling, to say nothing of all the in-between stuff that can emerge with humans. We are a funny lot, aren’t we?


Let’s see, where was I? My interest in people led me to learning more about psychology. I went through undergrad falling more and more in love with the idea of listening to people and helping others in some way. My hopes were slightly crushed when I realized that I needed more schooling after undergrad if I ever planned on actually being a licensed therapist. I was ready to jump into the world of work and becoming a therapist! As lovely as college was I had dreams that went beyond college! So I rolled my hair in a bun and looked over graduate programs and eventually set my sights on joining a marriage and family therapy program. It was one of the best choices I have ever made, and let me tell you, I have made some questionable life choices. Wearing a Macarena tee-shirt with smiley faces detailing the dance steps might go down as the most questionable.


Anyways this is a brief Cliff’s Notes version of what happened next. I learned about all of these theories in my Family Systems course and one of them was Collaborative Dialogic Practices. Needless to say I fell in love. How could you not? It was a way of being that spoke to my heart of hearts. There is more to this story and one day I will share the details but it is important for you to know that I believe and love what I have experienced regarding Collaborative Dialogic Practices. It not only informs the work that I do but it also is a huge part of how I experience the world around me.


This is in part the reason for this blog. I have met many people throughout my ten years (and counting) at HGI and while there are those who were there at the very beginning and continue to share their ideas about C-D practices; there are also those who are just beginning to explore these ideas, which can be a daunting task either way. That is what this blog is for. Most of us know about the various books and articles available about C-D practices but I want to be able to share some stories and have conversations with you all that come from a different perspective. This blog is not going to be a little slice of academia. I can’t guarantee that I am always going to use big flashy words. There’s nothing wrong with big flashy words but come on, I mentioned wearing a Macarena tee-shirt earlier. This blog is going to have a flair to it that I hope you will enjoy and that I also hope will inspire some ideas and dialogue about the way in which we work and build relationships with people. Not just in a clinical setting but in all settings. One way I plan on doing that is through my own stories both personal and professional.


Sound interesting yet? Maybe a little more enticing than bad TV? I hope that this will be something of interest and I also look forward to building my connection with you all. Please feel free to share any comments or questions you have as well as any feedback about what you would like to hear more about. Oh, and totally share what some of your go-to snacks are. I am always down for a new snack.


Before I sign off, I also want to give a huge thank you to Tushanna Price and Harlene Anderson. Tushanna is a former intern at HGI among many other fabulous things and she approached me about this idea to talk with Harlene about blogging and starting a dialogue online. I was uncertain at first. I wanted to say, “Are you insane?! I am the last person that needs to be doing this.” Here we are though. So thank you Tushanna and Harlene for encouraging me to embark on this ongoing conversation. I look forward to what emerges!


Up next!

A difficult conversation occurs in an elementary school, how will Michael handle it? Find out soon on the next Behind the Curtains!

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