Robert Burney, author of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, is a "Counselor for Wounded Souls" - a Spiritual teacher, codependency counselor, and grief therapist. He has developed an innovative, powerful approach to emotional / inner child healing that helped him to integrate intellectual knowledge and Spiritual Truth into his emotional relationship with life in a way that allowed him to change his experience of life from a hell of emotional suffering to an adventure that is exciting and enjoyable most of the time.If you have reached this page without coming through the web site, you might want to explore the web site Joy2MeU Home Page
Robert is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who has been clean and sober since January 3, 1984. He dates his codependency recovery from June 3, 1986, when he made a conscious commitment to do whatever was necessary to heal his emotional wounds and change the subconscious programming that was dictating his relationship with self, life, and other people. He credits the ancient Spiritual principles, that are the foundation of the twelve step recovery process, with first saving his life, and then with helping him to develop an inner peace and faith that allows him to relax and be present to experience moments of Joy in almost every day of his life - a way of living that helps him to feel happy to be alive. On the internet, and in his book, he shares his experience, strength and hope as part of his ongoing healing and recovery process - because that is how the ancient wisdom of the twelve step principles work.
"I share my Truth and myself, as a Joyous expression of my Spiritual Being, because it is what I need to do for me. Giving and receiving is what keeps the healing energy flowing for me. I have learned that through giving of what I have received I am healing me.
This is my way of standing up for my Truth, and of honoring "All My Relations," which is a Native American term that refers to the Great Spirit whose essence is present in everyone and everything. We are all related to everyone and everything.
I do this in honor and service to my belief that the ultimate, eternal, blessed Truth is that we are all ONE. That we are all perfect parts of the ONENESS of ALL THAT IS - which is the Universal Creative God-Force.
I share as an expression of Love, as an act of Karmic settlement, and with hope that sharing the Joy that I have found in my Truth will remind you of the Truth which exists within you. Of the Truth of who you Truly are, and why you are here."
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney
to a page of
The Web Site of Spiritual Teacher, codependence counselor, grief therapist, author, Robert Burney and Joy to You & Me Enterprises
Go to Home Page
Robert is the author of the Joyously inspirational book
The Dance of Wounded Souls
For ordering info click here
Robert Burney, author of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, calls his private practice (which he began in 1990) "Counseling for Wounded Souls." He holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Relations and has experience in chemical dependence treatment programs, having worked in inpatient and outpatient settings with both adults and adolescents.
History of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls:
In the spring of 1991, Robert Burney was asked to speak in several different venues on the subject of Codependence. In the course of those speaking engagements he heard himself making statements to a general audience that he had never considered saying in public because of their controversial nature. To his surprise he found that the practical process level tools and techniques that he utilized in his private therapy practice were merging with mystical and magical knowledge he had acquired writing a book that was an adult fable about the history of the Universe - the first book of a trilogy.
Update April 2009
Since the publication of the book, Robert has not had the funds to publish any more books but has written 2 or 3 million words for the internet. His first started a website in February 1998 - followed in February 1999 with his own domain site Joy2MeU.com. That site, Joy2MeU.com (the Story of Joy2MeU tells about the start of Robert's codependency recovery and where the Joy2MeU came from), is a huge web site with around 350 pages - including several subscription areas. There are over 200 pages of content free to anyone who has access to a computer. The subscription areas of the site are The Joy2MeU Journal and Dancing in Light. Dancing in Light includes two books that Robert wrote and published online: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life and Attack on America - A Spiritual Healing Perspective and Call for Higher Consciousness - along with other articles. The Joy2MeU Journal includes the first book of the Trilogy mentioned above (a book that will probably never be finished), the story of Robert's recovery through 1988 when he went to treatment for codependency in his fifth year of sobriety, and a personal journal of his growth process and recovery from 1999 thru 2004. Robert also shares his personal recovery process in his Update Newsletters which are listed at the bottom of the site index page.Update November 2012
Thanks to a publishing arm of Amazon.com Robert has been able to publish two more books: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1: Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing (aka A Formula for Spiritual Integration and Emotional Balance) in July of 2011; and in September of 2012: Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior. There are also eBook versions of all 3 of his books available in both Kindle & Nook format. For more information about the book see the book ordering page.
Personal HistoryHis background is interesting and eclectic. He was raised on a farm in Nebraska. His childhood from all outside appearances was an idyllic, middle class, "Norman Rockwell", all-American upbringing with both parents present and no overt dysfunction. He participated in 4-H and little league baseball and in sports, theater, and student government in high school. He became very interested in politics through the influence of his grandfather who was a long-time Lieutenant Governor and, due to the death of his predecessor, for several months Governor of Nebraska. The first outward sign that Robert's path was veering from the norm came as a freshman at Creighton University in Omaha when he was one of the founders of Creighton Students for Human Relations, one of the University's first Civil Rights organizations. In that freshman year, he became very involved in theater and through the influence of a dynamic French teacher made plans to study at The Sorbonne in Paris his sophomore year. Those plans did not work out and because of that disappointment and disillusionment with the University's response to his participation in marches, protests, and attempts to reform student government, he transferred to the University of Nebraska for his sophomore year.
There he continued his activism for a while, even serving as a delegate to the state Democratic convention, but after the trauma of 1968 with assassinations, riots, and the election of Richard Nixon, he withdrew from activism and spent his remaining college days mostly drinking and partying. He was in Air Force ROTC because of a strong desire to fly (which he later realized was about his spiritual quest and not about airplanes) and because of the draft. Although he was opposed to the war in Viet Nam, his low number in the draft lottery convinced him to join the Air Force rather that be drafted into the army. Robert was commissioned as an Air force officer on the same day he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
He entered Air Force pilots training and was flying solo in jet aircraft before being medically eliminated because of allergies. He was then assigned to an Intelligence wing where he held one of the highest security clearances available. After receiving an early discharge because of the de-escalation in Viet Nam, he entered graduate school. He got involved with the American Indian Movement in the spring of 1973 during their occupation of the village of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. He left graduate school and went to South Dakota to fly an air drop of supplies but the siege ended a few days after his arrival. He remained actively involved with AIM for the rest of that year and had an extensive FBI file compiled on him for his active participation in revolutionary activities against the government. During this time more than a dozen of the people he was closely involved with were killed or went to prison. It was only through divine intervention on several occasions that he survived to return to graduate school.
He completed his Masters Degree and was then hired by the U. S. Civil Service as a Race Relations Orientations Specialist at Edwards Air Force Base in California (a little cosmic irony here.) Robert enjoyed great success communicating with and fostering change in the attitudes and belief systems of the base personnel he was teaching but left that position in frustration over bureaucratic interference from Base authorities who thought him too radical. A brief sojourn in England rekindled his love of theater and he moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
Over the course of more than a decade pursuing an acting career, he got very few parts of any consequence but was able to play out fully the role of the "suffering artist", a perfect expression for his own particular brand of Codependence which also gave ample opportunity for him to fully pursue personal research in the area of substance abuse. He played the role to the hilt in all areas of his life including earning a living in the starving actor type of jobs: parking cars, driving cabs, and waiting tables. Acting provided an invaluable emotional outlet to explore and express feelings that would otherwise have been unacceptable according to his childhood training and experiences. The personal research of substance abuse almost killed him.
Robert was introduced to Twelve Step programs through an intervention by his family on a trip home for the holidays. He started his Twelve Step Recovery in January of 1984 and remained in Nebraska for nine months. During this time he worked first in the family care section of the treatment program which he had gone through and then at a state mental hospital where he started to again utilize his training and skills in communication and counseling. He returned to Hollywood in the fall of 1984 convinced that his new found Spiritual path would facilitate his quest for an Oscar nomination. When that did not materialize in short order, he fled to South Lake Tahoe and went to work in the poker room at a casino. The Universe however had other plans for him and ended his career at the casino so that he could go to work for the Alcoholism Council of the Sierra Nevadas. It was there that he started to realize and deal with how Codependent he was in his relationships with others.
When funding for his position ended, Robert returned to Southern California and gave acting one last try. It was only a short time however before he went to work in a Chemical Dependence Treatment program in Pasadena. His work as first a counselor and then a therapist there and at a subsequent treatment program facilitated and accelerated his personal recovery process. In the spring of 1988, he had a major emotional breakthrough in his recovery and gave himself the gift of entering a thirty day treatment program for Codependence. Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona was one of the first to pioneer treatment of Codependence and it was there that he learned a great deal about the grieving process and absorbed techniques and knowledge upon which he would later expand.
He also realized what a Codependent relationship he had with the romance of Hollywood and upon completion of the program promptly moved. After brief stays in Tucson and Sedona Arizona, he lived in Taos, New Mexico, for a year until his Spiritual path led him to Cambria, California. (The story of that trip can be found here.) It was in Cambria that he began a private practice specializing in Codependence Recovery and inner child healing. During almost two years on the coast he became involved in a relationship - a tribute to the healing he had done to overcome his terror of intimacy. He and his new "family" (significant other and her daughter) moved back to Taos. That relationship ended after two years. Robert remained in Taos refining his practice for several more years before making a successful trip to California in the winter of 1995 to raise funds to publish his first book. (The story of that Leap of faith trip here.) He returned to Cambria to set up his publishing company, Joy to You & Me Enterprises, in the fall of 1995.
The focus of Robert Burney's therapy is teaching self-empowerment. He does not normally do long term individual therapy which he believes can sometimes foster dependence. The purpose of his work is helping people to access their own Spirit so that they can learn to depend upon, and trust, their own intuition. He specializes in small groups (maximum 4 people) which focus on changing the core relationship with self. These consciousness expanding process groups are designed to help people on a Spiritual Path become more aligned with the healing process so that life can become an easier, more enjoyable experience. During the course of the group process individuals learn how to: get in touch with and release childhood grief which allows emotional honesty with self; get intimately in touch with both the inner child (inner children) and Higher Self; have internal boundaries, as well as external boundaries, in order to stop being at war within and start developing a more Loving relationship with self.Update February 2003
It is Robert's unique approach and application of the concept of internal boundaries coupled with the Spiritual belief system he teaches that make his work so innovative and effective. The following paragraphs from one of his pamphlets exemplifies both the philosophy and goal of his therapeutic work:
"Learn how to integrate Spiritual Truth and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into your experience of life and find some balance in your relationships. Knowing Spiritual Truth intellectually will not make your fear of intimacy disappear or relieve you of the shame you feel deep within. Integrating Spiritual Truth into your day-to-day life process and emotional reactions is what will set you free.
It is possible to feel the feelings without being the victim of them. It is possible to change the way you think so that your mind is no longer your worst enemy. It is possible to become empowered to have choices in life at the same time you are letting go of trying to be in control. Life can be an exciting, enjoyable adventure if you stop reacting to it out of your childhood emotional wounds and attitudes."
I am no longer doing the inner child healing groups - simply because of the way my path has unfolded in recent years.*Correction: I have not worked with anyone who grew up on Antarctica.
After moving back to Cambria in the fall of 1995 and publishing my book, things did not unfold as I had envisioned them. A perfect part of my Spiritual and emotional growth process - but a quite challenging time full of opportunities for growth. Something I mention in my January 2002 Update and Newsletters:"I raised the money to publish the book myself, and have never had the kind of money it would take to promote it on any large scale. I, in fact, got myself in pretty severe financial circumstances with the attempts I did make to market it."Cambria is a small isolated community on the Central Coast of California about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco - the first town south of Big Sur. I really Love living here - but like a lot of smaller places that offer a higher quality of life it can be quite a hard place to make a living. I had first started to do the inner child healing groups in 1990 here in the local area. The early 90s were a time when codependency was becoming a very popular movement - and Co-Dependents Anonymous was growing rapidly. In 1992, I moved back to Taos New Mexico, where I had lived previously, because the person I was in a relationship with wanted to move there. As it turned out, she left the relationship and moved back to California after a year - and I was in Taos until 1995 when I was able to raise the money to publish my book because of the "leap of faith" trip I refer to above.
Joy2MeU January 2002 Update
By the time I moved back to the Central Coast in the fall of 1995, the codependency movement was declining rapidly (something I talk about on a page linked to my Finding CoDA Meetings page - an excerpt from my personal journal The decline of Co-Dependents Anonymous in the late 1990s) - and I was having a harder time getting very many people to commit to doing the inner child healing groups. When the sale of my books fell off after the first year for lack of advertising money and/or chain store outlets, I made a choice to move to Santa Barbara in early 1997 because I had received significant response to my book from people in that area and Los Angeles. I had an office in Santa Barbara from February 1997 until February 2000.
I was commuting back to the Central Coast to do some groups during that time - and also doing some groups in the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles besides the ones I was doing in Santa Barbara. It was during my time in Santa Barbara that I first discovered the internet. A friend kept pushing me to get my own web site - something that I finally did when I launched my first crude web site on silcom.com in February of 1998.
Santa Barbara proved to be like Taos, in that word of mouth about my groups spread and I always had people who wanted to participate. Unlike the Central Coast which is made up of a bunch of small isolated communities, both Santa Barbara and Taos proved to be places that such word of mouth - along with giving my talk occasionally - brought me enough clients to keep groups going and pay the rent. The Central Coast has always been a challenging place for me to coordinate the logistics of organizing groups - and really requires that I have an office that is centrally located in the county (meaning about 35 miles from Cambria) to have a private practice in this area.
I was not happy with living in Santa Barbara however. It is a beautiful place, but I had spent over a dozen years in Los Angeles pursuing an acting career - and had gotten so I really disliked being in cities. Santa Barbara was not only too big for what I preferred by that time, but also too Southern California glitzy for my taste (I had over dosed on Hollywood.) I didn't have the finances to move back to Cambria but did move to a town 20 miles south of Cambria called Morro Bay in the fall of 1998 - where I lived in a rented room with some practicing alcoholic roommates. Though I loved living within walking distance of a beach where I could take walks at midnight in the full moon, the roommate situation became intolerable and I gave notice that I was going to move in early 1999 - at about the same time I was investing in starting Joy2MeU.com with a merchant account to sell my books. I still had my office in Santa Barbara, and had rented an office here on the Central Coast also. Suddenly due to the unexpected relocation out of the area by several clients which caused several groups to end, along with some car trouble, I found my income greatly decreased and ended up homeless."As I talk about on my investment opportunity page, which I quote in the final chapter of my book, I have learned to let go of thinking I know where my path is heading. I do not put energy any more into thinking that Oprah is going to call, or wondering when I am going to be able to pay off my debts, or get a car that allows me to make a trip out of town without being scared it will break down. I have learned some great and mighty lessons - about living in faith on a moment to moment basis - by driving cars that offered the potential of imminent break down.I actually had two office for some weeks, but no home. Since it was easier for me to get groups going, I retreated to Santa Barbara - giving up my office on the Central Coast. For the next six months I was crashing on friend's couches or in my office.
My healing path has taught me to keep letting go of the future and just do the next thing in front of me one day at a time. I am very grateful at the end of every month that enough money has manifested to pay the rent. And I am willing to accept being homeless again if that is the path my Higher Power lays in front of me.
I spent 6 months in 1999 being homeless. Not on the street homeless - I had an office for my computer - but crashing on someone's couch kind of homeless. The lessons in acceptance and patience and letting go that I learned during that time were sacred gifts. The level of faith that it forced me to access and practice, the depth to which I was forced to integrate my Spiritual belief system into my relationship with life, was a manifestation of Love from my Higher Power that I am now - and have been - reaping great benefits from.
Don't get me wrong, I do not want to be homeless again - or keep driving a car on it's last legs. But I am willing to accept the reality of my path as it is presented to me and make the best of it."
Joy2MeU January 2002 Update Newsletter 1
It was a time of incredible growth for me as I mentioned in the quote from my Update Newsletter above. A very hard time emotionally that provided a great deal of fertilizer for my growth process.
I ended up being able to move back to Morro Bay in a perfect example of how the Universe sometimes works in mysterious ways. A friend of mine experienced two life blows in a short period of time - his wife left him and his partner in a stucco contracting business went to jail. Thus he needed both a roommate and some help in his business - and I moved back in September of 1999. I kept commuting to Santa Barbara to do groups (in an office I rented one day a week after giving up that office I had rented for 3 years in early 2000) while on other days I was working as a hod carrier - a very dirty, arduous task carrying buckets of cement.
In March of 2000, I started to do telephone counseling - something that some people who resonated with my web site had been urging me to do for some time."Anyway, when I started offering the phone counseling in March of 2000, I wasn't at all sure how effective the phone sessions were going to be. . . . . . .The phone counseling has indeed proven to be very successful for most people who have tried it - and successful in bringing in some extra income for me. When the Universe provided the funds for me to be able to move back to Cambria in September of 2000, I was busy enough with the phone counseling that it made no sense to create extra overhead by renting an office for groups and investing all the time, energy, and money it would take to generate enough clients to pay for the extra expense.
The phone counseling has proven very effective for the people who are at a place in their process where they are willing to apply the tools and techniques that I share with them. Of the people who have been open to changing their perspectives, and willing to do at least a little of the work, most have changed their relationship with self and life profoundly within a matter of 6 to 8 weeks. My goal in working with people is to empower them to be in-dependent. To teach people how to have internal boundaries so that they can separate the messages coming from the old tapes and old wounds from the messages of intuitive Truth from their Spirit - so that they can start learning how to relax and trust their Spirit to guide them."
Joy2MeU Update Newsletter August 2001
In the small groups, my focus was on facilitating grief work as a step in the process of helping people change their relationship with life and self. The techniques that I teach people in the phone counseling to help them change their relationship with life also allows them to change their relationship with their own emotions so that they can learn how to facilitate their own grief work.
The telephone counseling has proven to be an excellent way in which to teach people how to apply my approach to their inner child healing and codependency recovery in a way that aligns with how each individual's personal process is unfolding One of the gifts I have had in my counseling work since I started it in recovery, is the ability to meet a person wherever they are at in their process and help them to open up to the next level of growth for them."There were two interrelated things that I had to get clear about when I started working as a therapist: One is that I am powerless over other people - over the pace of their progress, over whether they hear what I am saying to them, over where their path leads. I watched a good friend die of Alcoholism (which is in a column in the Alcoholism section) and saw how clearly he helped other alcoholics stay sober because he couldn't - he did more to keep more people sober than many of the sober people I know. I can't know what someone else's' path is - therefore I can't tell them what is right and wrong. What I can do is help them see themselves clearer (especially as to understanding how their childhood experiences have dictated their lives), see their choices and the possible consequences clearer, and know that we are Spiritual Beings going to boarding school not taking a test we can fail.It has always been a challenge in workshops or groups to discern what levels and facets of the process to focus upon - because people can be at very different stages of recovery, quite different levels of consciousness. The telephone counseling has proven a wonderful venue for being able to help individuals to see where they are at on their own personal path with some clarity and compassion - from people who are just starting recovery to people who have been on a healing, spiritual path for many years.
Which brings me to the second thing, which I believe is a Spiritual Truth - I teach best what I need most to learn. I teach people how to Love themselves because I am trying to learn how to Love myself. I learned to always listen to what I was saying because, though I have no control whether anyone else hears me, I do have the power to choose to hear myself - and there is always something in what I am saying that applies to me and my process in that moment. . . . . I am in process just as my clients are - just as we all are. There is no hierarchy as far as I am concerned - just one wounded person / Magnificent Spiritual Being sharing what has worked for me with another wounded person / Magnificent Spiritual Being. I am doing what I need to do for myself, to heal myself - it doesn't have to do with anyone else - that it helps other people is just a bonus (and an opportunity to settle Karma)."
Joy to You & Me Newsletter I - July 1,1998 quoted in Choosing a therapist or counselor with discernment
I have now worked with people who have grown up on every *continent on the planet, people of every race, of different sexual preferences, from a multitude of cultural backgrounds. Human internal emotional dynamics are the same for all human beings - the external details just provide different flavors of codependency, different facets to the wounding. As long as a person is not completely closed minded out of their black and white programming that there is only one "right" way to heal, one "true" path to God - they can benefit from the approach to healing that I share with them. The people that I have worked with represent a wide variety of beliefs, including: Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, agnostic, Pagan, Wiccan, Native American, and Jewish - as well as Christians of almost all varieties. There is a saying that I like: religion is for people who are scared of hell, spirituality is for people who have been there. Anyone who is sick and tired of living in a hell of emotionally suffering - and is open to seeing life from a larger perspective - can change the quality of their life by doing this work.
I have no idea what the future holds in terms of rather I will one day be too busy to do the phone counseling, or personally answer all the e-mails I get - I hope not. So far the turnover as people learn to do the dance of life to different music [a reference to Chapter 13 of my current online book in progress Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame (link below) - as is the reference to the celebrity variety of codependency in the next paragraph] has kept the number of people seeking counseling at any one time manageable and doable. I am busy enough with the phone counseling however, that doing groups in person now would not be an efficient use of my time and energy - or financially worth the investment. Things are changing somewhat right now because it is now possible for people in Europe and the Far east (including Australia and New Zealand) to get telephone rates on calling cards for under 10 cents a minute - so my overseas phone clients are growing. (And it is now possible to call anywhere in the world on Skype.)
At this time I am not even sure I would go on Oprah's show if she did call. I certainly do not plan on ever buying into the virulent variety of codependency that can come with being a celebrity in this culture - though I would like the word of mouth about the book and web site to spread. I do hope that one of these days I will have the resources to be able to offer some kind of healing retreats to people who want to learn the process - and hopefully some kind of training to other healers in how to facilitate my approach to the inner child healing. As usual, More Will Be Revealed. ;-)