Knowing who L Jay Mitchell is and what he’s experienced will help you determine if he’s the best choice for mentoring or assisting you. Like you, his life has been full of unique successes, accomplishments, grueling life challenges, and incredible relationships. Knowledge and skill can be obtained through study and discussion. Wisdom comes from all of that plus real life experience. Below is a quick sketch of a few experiences that have engendered his perspectives.
The seeds of motivation and purpose
He has been following a path of purpose and direction for decades now. In a capsule, that would be working to reduce emotional pain and increase joy in the world. An innate sensitivity to the wellbeing of others was provoked early on. He gave heart and soul to the quest for happiness during his adolescence. Successes in the world of academics and sports were mixed with the typical adolescent preoccupation to feel good through risky behaviors and self-absorption. However, in spite of successes and “good times” he was painfully aware of the plight of his own family and close friends. His mom and dad divorced when he was almost three. He did not see his real father again until almost eighteen. In between these ages, his stepfather, although a gifted and good man, became an alcoholic. Many of his friends suffered from broken homes and broken hearts. The greatest joy and the deepest sorrows seemed to be tied to relationships. He left home at 17 to find his path. Developing and maintaining quality relationships seemed to be the great key of a joyful life. He was always amazed at how many people were so preoccupied with themselves that they did not notice the plight of others.
Finding his path
He chose an unusual path to make a difference. American society was revolutionized during the Vietnam War. Integrity, values, and motives were constantly questioned and challenged on many levels. L Jay drove his friends, teachers, mentors, and ministers to the brink by incessantly asking why and how there was so much misunderstanding and animosity in the world. There were schisms in the intellectual community as well. He hoped to find definitive answers in the study of psychology, but he was disillusioned and bored by his textbooks’ obsession with rats rather than humanness. He finally decided that a law degree would provide him with the flexibility and critical thinking to negotiate his way through the complexities of society. He served as a US Air Force JAG (lawyer) for four years. During that time he defended over 1,500 persons in various criminal and administrative proceedings. Providentially, several cases required close involvement with forensic psychologists and psychiatrists in matters such as insanity defenses. This hands-on experience intensified his passion to understand the dynamics of relational conflicts. He took this litigation experience and background in forensic psychology into a partnership with a civilian law firm.
Leaving law and finding his mission
He formed an informal group of professionals from various disciplines to explore how emotional pain could be diminished. That led him to develop the SUWS Adolescent Program that spearheaded the acceptance and use of wilderness therapy: now the short term treatment of choice for troubled teens. His understanding of relational dynamics increased. That inspired him to found and direct two more multimillion dollar school/programs over the next fifteen years. He helped develop the concept of “Strong Relationality”, and he developed its application, “Applied Relationality”. To further enhance his critical thinking skills he became a trainer’s trainer in neurolinguistics and is certified in “brain spotting”. In collaboration with clinical psychologists he entered a three year intensive study program focused on “relationality”. He trains psychotherapists in critical thinking, strategic language, and neurolinguistic skills.
Life, death, overcoming and transcending
While helping others he has not been exempt from relational conflicts. These “in the fire” experiences may have enhanced his understanding beyond anything else. His perception of himself was crushed when he became ill and was disabled for over two years, losing all his material possessions including his home. He learned the value of love, because his wife’s love saved his life. Only a few years later he lost her in a one car accident that almost killed him as well. His sense of purpose and love for his five children saved his life once again. A quick marriage ended in divorce, which he once called a lingering death. He learned to mourn and to lose himself in service. He placed a loved one in a renowned substance abuse center. He lost his brother in a hanging accident. He almost lost his business in an extortion attempt. He lost a teenage boy attending his school/program to a suicide or accidental hanging. This was an almost unbearable deja vu. He was scapegoated, wrongfully accused and relentlessly pursued for causing the suicide. Fortunately, he married a wonderful woman, and they combined families totaling twelve children. He takes great comfort and pride in his children and grandchildren. He is buoyed up by the 10,000 graduates of his programs, some of which claim their life was saved because of how they were changed. There is still much to do. He loves the people who he has worked with through the years and has been inspired by their passion, skills, and dedication.
Everyone goes through heartache, challenges, and successes. Some are much more difficult than what he has experienced. He is grateful for what his experiences have taught him about relationships with all sorts of people in all sorts of circumstances. He is especially grateful for the sense of purpose and faith instilled in the fires of experience. He wants to keep reaching out to others until the day he leaves this life.