Meet Dr. Rene Dumetz
A conversation with the newest member of the School of Professional Psychology and Health.
Rene Dumetz, PhD, who joined CIIS in 2018, teaches in the School of Professional Psychology and Health (SPPH). We touched base with Dr. Dumetz recently to learn more about his background, therapeutic practice, teaching philosophy, and books he's currently reading.
Can you talk about your specialties as a psychologist — your focus on depth and transpersonal psychology, and how your research in these areas informs your work as a therapist and a teacher?
In my clinical practice I use a depth psychological lens that emphasizes psychoanalysis, Jungian, and relational therapies; as well as gestalt, existential, transpersonal, and contemplative therapies. As a person of mixed racial and cultural heritages, I believe strongly in the importance of cultural awareness and respect for the great diversity of human experience. I am very involved in the support and treatment of cultural, racial, gender, and sexual orientation minorities, as well as HIV-positive clients.
My research has been on nondual experiences, which are really not experiences but beingness. I examined the impact of these experiences on emotional wellbeing, sense of self, and relationships, in an effort to determine the psychological benefits and possible applications to clinical psychology. I am very interested in the intersection of psychology, philosophy, spirituality, and experiential knowledge; therefore I included transpersonal psychology and spiritual traditions throughout my work.
My long-term goals as a psychologist and researcher are to continue to research and explore consciousness studies, developmental psychology, transpersonal psychology, and the interface between psychology, spirituality, mysticism, and quantum physics.
You also emphasize mindfulness in your therapeutic work. Can you talk about how that manifests itself in your practice, and why you think it's important?
Mindfulness for me is an essential part of all my work and experiences. It is who I am and not what I do. Therefore, it inevitably is present in the room if I am present. With some clients it shows up in a very obvious way, through small periods of meditation or mindfulness practice to reduce anxiety and create greater openness to experience. With other clients it shows up in the way they experience me and my ability to be fully present with them in even the most difficult situations.
You've taught for a number of years — can you provide a brief overview of your approach to teaching, and lessons you've learned?
Teaching is a fundamental calling and a consuming passion for me. I teach because I wish to learn, and I want to share what I have learned in return. I believe that in order to truly teach a thing you have to be that thing. I am able to engage and motivate my students because I am engaged and motivated myself. It is from this sense of connection, compassion, and love for others that all my classes are focused and organized.
I perceive teaching as both a complex series of skills and an art form. The art of teaching requires being open to new experiences, constant attention to the moment-to-moment interactions and relationships, awareness of both conscious and unconscious processes, and the interrelated and continuously dynamic nature of the classroom. The skill of teaching requires proficiency with the material, a clear idea of what needs to be taught, with the knowledge and insight into the best way of imparting that in the moment.
How do you think working at CIIS will help your further your goals as a teacher and a therapist?
Even before I knew I wanted to be a psychologist I knew I wanted to be a teacher and professor. My interest in transpersonal and psychodynamic work made CIIS a natural fit because of the school's emphasis and guiding principles. This environment allows for a fluidity of thinking and being that for me is an essential element in my work and relationships.
What classes are you teaching at CIIS?
In the Spring I will be teaching Professional Seminar and Philosophical Foundations in the Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program, and Psychodynamics in the ICP program. In the Summer I will be teaching Qualitative Research Methods in the PsyD program.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I am currently reading a book by Rupert Spira called The Transparency of Things, which I would definitely recommend to anyone who believes in the importance of experiential knowledge. I am also slowly working my way through Rumi: The Big
Red Book by Coleman Barks, which is a constant delight.