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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pacific Palisades, California


‘Men’s Wisdom’ and The Path to Psychotherapy


ast month, Palisadian
Kane Phelps invited fellow men 50-plus to join a
“wisdom circle” designed for
men who are going through
life’s transitions, such as aging, loss, divorce, retirement
and the death of family or
“The idea of the men’s
group for aging men is about
creating community and a
place where we can feel really
connected with each other and
share in a deep way. The idea
of the circle is like the ancient
wisdom practice of counsel
where we sit in a circle and
pass a talking stick. It encourages connection and deep listening,” Phelps said.
A licensed marriage and

family therapist, Phelps is
passionate about men’s work,
but he admits the path to his
current career was anything
but straight and narrow.
“I was going to be a star
center-fielder for the New
York Yankees. There was
only one slight problem: I
was short, awkward and slow
– a dynamic combination,”
Phelps said, remembering his
upbringing on the family farm
in Rhode Island.
“After my mom died when
I was 21, I decided I was going
to make films. I had a friend in
college whose brother was a
filmmaker in the Philippines. I
wanted to drive a motorcycle
from London to Calcutta and
take a plane to Manila where
his company was. I got hired
and off I went,” Phelps said.
At the age of 21, the solo

Kane Phelps in his admittedly ‘hippie days.’
Photo courtesy of Kane Phelps

motorcycle trip took him four
months and across 14,000
It was in the Philippines
where Phelps worked alongside Jack Nicholson and John
Hackett on films like Flight
to Fury (1964), Back Door to
Hell (1964) and Ride in the
Whirlwind (1966).
“Acting never felt right
for me. For Jack, there was no
doubt it was right. He just had
that spark,” Phelps said.
Feeling unfulfilled in the
burgeoning film industry after
moving to Los Angeles a year
later, Phelps built his dream
home in Big Sur where he began to practice meditation.
What put his career as a
therapist into motion, however, was a single moment while
he was working as a gardener.
“I was working on a
house that had flooded and I
had to go in the crawlspace
to dig trenches. I remember
coming out at night, covered
in mud, and my wife came to
pick me up in our VW van.
She had the headlights on me
and I had this vision of my
parents looking at me. That
was the moment when things
changed,” Phelps recalled.
At the age of 44, Phelps
obtained his M.A. in psychology from Antioch University
and became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
He moved to Pacific Palisades in 1980 and began work-

Kane Phelps, a licensed marriage and family therapist,
is passionate about ‘men’s
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

ing for Children’s Services – a
career he maintained for 27
years to support his wife and
three children.
Phelps, who has been operating as a psychotherapist in
the Palisades for the past two
years, said, “Compassion is
the cornerstone of my work.
You cannot be fully compassionate with others if you are
not first compassionate with
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