I met Dr. John T. Edwards in 1990 when I was director of a residential child care organization serving about 120 children. I heard from numerous colleagues that Dr. Edwards was a great trainer and I wanted our organization to provide the best services possible so I contacted him about providing training to our staff. I thought we needed training in how to help children but I began hearing this consistent mantra from Dr. Edwards that went like this, “If you want to help a child help their parents.” Of course, that meant we all had to learn how to work with families and thus began my initiation toward learning how to re-orient my professional framework into a systems approach. My evolving relationship with Dr. Edwards over the next 20 years moved from trainee and supervisee to colleague, co-trainer and, most importantly, a heartfelt friendship.
John Edwards was the consummate teacher and trainer and he touched the lives of thousands of professionals throughout the southeast in his seminars and workshops. He helped me learn to be focused, goal oriented, attentive, and keenly observant. John was a person of few words and he practiced using his words, movements, and expressions as an integral part of his work with families. His books Working with Families: Guidelines and Techniques and Treating Chemically Dependent Families provide practical guidance in how to effectively help families and their members. John had a way of creatively encapsulating lessons and perspectives into their simplest forms. In our 20+ year journey and adventure together John helped me, like all his trainees, integrate two extremely important capacities into my work: warmth and competence. I learned how to use self-awareness, self-reflection, engagement, observation, and acceptance to connect with my client systems. Equally importantly I learned to utilize interventions that worked for that particular family. The legacy of John’s work continues in my training, supervision, and consulting.
Larry B. Sharpe, LCSW
AAMFT Approved Supervisor