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Sara Norton

Residency Sites: Plainfield, VT

I love working with Goddard students, for like you, experiential learning has been a life-long passion for me. I enjoy helping students find ways to use the world around them as the classroom. I also love the challenge of working with students who have a lot of different interests and want to find ingenious ways to cross the traditional discipline boundaries.

My work is in psychology, in movement arts, and living on the land raising goats, vegetables and chickens. I am a psychotherapist in private practice. In the past I was director of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont. Before moving to Vermont I lived in other countries for many years.

I am fascinated by the human psyche, amazed by the wisdom of the moving body, and find hope in the growing worldwide movement for a sustainable planet. In my work as a therapist, I am constantly surprised, for I find our multi-layered human psyche to be endlessly fascinating. I’m amazed at how our experience of being a person changes throughout our lives – and even from moment to moment!

The questions I am now researching in psychology are: How to use body awareness and expressive movement as a way to more deeply understand our experience? How do psychotherapy, spirituality and the imagination intersect? And, what are the ways that psychotherapy can work more on the front edge of social change? The tools I use in my practice are: depth psychology, expressive therapies, self-state therapy, Jungian psychology, and body-oriented psychology.

When I teach Tai Chi, Aikido and Authentic Movement, the question I’m exploring is how we can directly connect to the life force that runs through our bodies and the Earth. I love asking questions and I love working with the questions students are asking. I wonder about everything. What is the nature of the self? What is the meaning of life? I love especially the questions that open up into deeper questions and hold us in that tension between our yearning to experience the world as meaningful and knowable, and our yearning to experience it as infinitely mysterious.

In the 1960s and '70s I put a pack on my back and hitched through Asia, the Middle East and Europe looking for answers. What I found were more questions. I settled in Paris for 8 years – a city that thrives on questions. Returning to Vermont in 1979 I joined the movement for sustainable communities and social justice.

For the past 20 years I’ve been a practicing psychotherapist – a profession that is in love with questions. And out in the country on a hillside, my dream has come true of living on a small farmstead with my spouse, raising goats, chickens and vegetables. Here on this little piece of Earth, I find myself wondering about sense of place and the human spirit, and what happens when they intersect. And what happens when they don’t.

Formal Education: Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor; MA in Psychology, Norwich University, 1990; Graduate work in Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1966-67; BA in Far Eastern Studies, Earlham College, 1965.

Life Learning: The most important learning experiences for me have taken place outside of the university. I have learned from people and their stories in many different places from an Appalachian coal mining camp where I lived as a community organizer, to the rainforests of Borneo where I had the privilege of being invited into tribal villages. I learn from the honesty and openness of my clients in my therapy practice. And, of course, I learn from you, the students and faculty members of the Goddard community who don’t stay with the easy answers, who celebrate the imagination, and who do things that really matter to you and to the world.

Educational Background:

MA in Psychology, Norwich University; BA in Far Eastern Studies, Earlham College.