Who is Dr Clive Williams

I’m a psychologist with a focus (some would say obsession) with how change really happens.

The Psychologist

Psychology is the study of change, whether that change is in an organisation, a school, a family or a person. For over 140 years, psychologists have studied hows change occurs, whether that’s how people think or relate, learn or improve.

My own fascination with change began with exploring how to live my life. The life I had was the one I thought I should have. It was the life other people too thought I should be living. Yet it wasn’t providing much joy, excitement or achievement.

So I began examining what is it that makes a worthwhile life? I started with exploring ‘happiness’ but came to the realisation that happiness is only one aspect of a worthwhile life. Much more important is having a sense of purpose, achievement and of course, the experience of being connected to others. It turns out that these aspects of a worthwhile life nearly always involve a sense of challenge, confusion, failure, loss, joy, relief and at times, happiness.

Any life is lived on two entwined but distinct levels: the things that we are required to do in the real world, and managing the thoughts, feelings and symptoms of our own private, internal world. Life in the real world may involve the minutiae of brushing our teeth to giving a presentation at work or setting boundaries with a child. Our internal private life involves dealing with the diverse range emotions that accompany all these real world everyday events.

We may not have any difficult emotion whilst brushing our teeth but we most probably have lots of emotions giving a work presentation or setting boundaries for a challenging child.

These two levels of living require connected but distinct skills. We may have been taught how to create the media presentation for our colleagues on the laptop but did anyone teach us how to identify and manage the diverse array of emotions we walk around with?

What did you learn about emotions? Keep them to yourself? No one is interested? You’re only burdening others? Asking others for help?

Navigating change almost always involves a lot of unpleasant emotions; e.g., anxiety, uncertainty, reluctance. We teach children many of the real world external skills needed to live a life but do we teach how to navigate the diverse range of emotions associated with daily living?

For the past 40 years, I’ve worked in my own personal laboratory working with groups, companies, families and individuals. When they come with a problem, I ask one key question. Do they have the real world AND internal private psychological skills to navigate this change and resolve their problem?

One of the dilemmas of being a psychologist is the overwhelming variety of approaches to dealing with change. Last time I looked there was around 500 different theories and models proposed for helping people change.

As a young therapist I was pointed to the more popular theories at the time. Over time, different theories have come and gone depending on new findings in relation to evidenced based approaches. In the clinic however, something equally important was happening. I was beginning to recognise that regardless of individual circumstance, age or gender, there were recurring patterns in everyone’s life.

Not only were there similarities in the presenting problems and the manner in which people coped, but there were certain stages that occurred as clients experienced change, the resultant onset of a new problem to their progression to problem resolution. Certain stages and certain strategies became evident that helped this shift from significant change, problem overload to resolution clarity.

I began to recognise a roadmap for navigating change and resolving the problems that came with the change.

Like any map, the roadmap helps us to locate where we are, where we would like to go and how we might get there.

In the chaos of significant life change, whether the change is wanted or not, being able to locate yourself is often the first antidote to feeling lost. The roadmap also views change as a series of stages, some which reoccur, through which recurring problem solving leads to problem resolution. The change which initially felt foreign and fearful, now feels familiar and safe.

The roadmap also identifies the emotional chaos which accompanies significant life change and the internal, psychological skills required to manage them. Managing anxiety is key in navigating change as well as managing exhaustion. Whilst we may think we’re good with anxiety or facing challenges, many of us simply resort to avoidance in one of it’s many forms. While avoidance may lower your anxiety it does nothing to help us adapt to change, to move closer to problem resolution.

I propose that all change involves a series of various stages that help shift a person, a couple, a family or business from confusion to greater clarity, from distress to increased confidence. I refer to this as a MUDMAP for life, a series of stages that guide us through the process of change. The MUDMAP is key in that when significant life change happens to us, we often feel overwhelmed, confused and at a loss as to what to do. The MUDMAP helps us identify where we are in the change process and what is required to help us to begin to find solutions to the challenges that face us.

The MUDMAP helps us to rebuild our lives in a manner more suited to who we really are.

Watch Now

Dr Clive Williams speaks about the Hero’s Journey

Clive’s examination of the Hero’s Journey  led him to propose the idea that the Hero’s Journey provides a mudmap for daily living.  For the past 25 years, Clive has focused on the application of the Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for change and applying this mudmap with clients dealing with anxiety and mood disorders, addictions, relationship and family problems, and workplace stresses.

Dr Clive Williams has yet to find one situation where the Hero’s Journey could not be used to as a lens through which to view the client’s life and its various stages to assist problem solving and change.  These ideas  of the Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for living providing strategies for dealing with modern life are articulated in his book A Mudmap for Living.

Dr Clive Williams has presented his ideas at the Hero Roundtables in Geelong Victoria (2015) and Michigan (2016) and Yarram Victoria (2018).  Clive has also presented at  Bond University Wellness Forum (2016) and both the first and second Heroism Science Conferences at Murdoch University Perth and Richmond University Virginia USA.  He has been an invited guest on podcasts the Hero Forge, Bloke Psychology, Mr Perfect and worked with governments and organisations helping them undertake issues of change and problem solving. More recently Clive has become a Director for Blokepedia an organisation focused on the health and wellbeing of men.

Dr Clive Williams has a private practice located in Toowoomba Australia though he works with clients around Australia and internationally.

“If we want our lives to change, the biggest challenge is looking at how we contribute to the problem. Most of us will spend a lifetime telling the story that we are good guy, the innocent victim and everyone else is the problem and it’s them who should change. Well, you might be successful and do this for your entire life but more likely you’ll have distant relationships and few real friendships. You’ll cut people off or avoid them just so you can remain ‘right’. It’s the recipe for a lonely and argumentative life.”      ~ Clive Williams

To find out more about the 12 Stages of the Hero’s Journey and which stage you might be at, click here.