Biography for Murray Armstrong MSW, Registered Clinical Social Worker

Murray Armstrong MSW, Clinical Social WorkerMurray believes the making of a therapist comes from the intertwining of personal growth and professional training.

Murray didn’t know it at the time, but the start to his professional career began at birth. He was given up to Social Services where he spent the first five years of his life in orphanages and foster homes.  In the foster home that became his adoptive home, there were immense struggles that culminated in his adoptive family severing ties with him when he married in 1971.

Murray started his actual career in 1969 at a Child Guidance Clinic and quickly realized he needed to get further education.  He got his Master’s in Social Work from the Maritime School of Social Work in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1973.  Murray received grounding in the traditional psychoanalytic therapies of the day.  He was also fortunate to be introduced to experiential therapies that began his lifelong work of learning to ‘walk his talk’.  There is an expression that says ‘you can’t lead someone to the top of the mountain unless you have been there yourself’.  It is this ideal that has guided Murray to model what he teaches as he guides people through the complexity of being a human being.

Murray has had five phases within the one career.  His initial phase focused on family therapy and he was very fortunate to have studied with Dr. Karl Tomm and Virginia Satir where he learned many different systems of family therapy.  For the next sixteen years, Murray supervised, taught and did clinical practice with Mental Health Services in Northern Alberta, Social Services in Prince Edward Island, and a Juvenile Detention and Treatment Center in Edmonton, Alberta.

The second phase of his career began in 1989 when he met Dr. Carroll Ganam who invited him to join her and her colleagues at the Lousage Institute in Edmonton in a private practice setting.   Murray became interested in working with men.  This led him to become immersed in the body-mind-heart-centered psychotherapies that taught him the power of experiential learning.  He learned that to effect deeper and greater change for people, it was necessary to experience the breadth and depth of emotions and feelings involved in a problem.  By acting out those emotions, he realized his clients were able to break through their stuckness and come to a deeper truth about themselves.  This process liberated people and opened new doors of self-awareness that was accompanied with new behaviors.

Murray Armstrong, Edmonton therapistThe third phase began with one of these experiential therapies, Voice Dialogue – The Psychology of the Selves and the Psychology of the Aware Ego Process.  Murray experienced many clients feeling stuck in their lives by making poor choices but not knowing how to stop it.   Voice Dialogue was an amazing approach through which people could deeply experience those parts of themselves that were making these poor choices.  As well, people could access resources inside themselves that were previously unknown or unavailable to them.  This resulted in people achieving a new level of self-awareness and truly having a conscious choice about their lives. With such profound awareness or consciousness available to people, Murray realized the possibility of people transforming their lives in profound ways was almost limitless.  Murray is a Senior Teacher and Facilitator of Voice Dialogue as recognized by the founders of Voice Dialogue, Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone.

The fourth phase of his career emerged from the concept of energy that was introduced to Murray through Voice Dialogue.  With Murray’s passionate desire as a student of life, he further explored this whole idea of energy in human relationships and this brought him to a specific field of Psychology, called Energy Psychology.  After studying a number of energy psychology approaches, he came upon Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT).  AIT is an unique method that combines Western psychology with Eastern healing techniques in helping people work through any type of trauma whether that be emotional scars acquired through ordinary living or situational trauma such as the various forms of abuse, having your house broken into, witnessing or being in a car accident, etc.  Murray is a certified AIT practitioner and certified AIT Basics Teacher.

The fifth phase of his career started when he began studying to become a certified Emotion Focused Therapist for Couples, Individuals and Families (EFT). EFT added the ‘missing link’ for Murray. EFT’s emphasis on the attachment bond between parent and child helped him see the deep damage that is done to people at their very core when the safety and security of love is not provided in childhood and adolescence. He could better see how the dramas of people’s lives were a protest against this lack of emotional safety.

The traumas of Murray’s infancy and childhood resulted in his struggling with such issues as trust/mistrust, love/distancing, anger/compassion, attachment/idealism of relationships, and anxiety/connection to the sacred.  Murray has been tenacious in his desire to heal himself and come to a peaceful wholeness within.

Murray Armstrong, Alberta TherapistMurray and his wife, Donna, have established a therapy and training center where he now mentors others in their life’s journey whether that is in his private practice or through workshops he and his wife offer.

So in his profession as a Clinical Social Worker, Murray came to recognize that the wisdom required to guide others must ultimately come from the wisdom he acquired in healing himself.  His search has taken him academically and personally to the frontiers of psychology while still keeping his base in the knowledge that ultimately all of us want to learn how to give and take in love,  whether that love is of oneself, of others, or the love of a spiritual being.

View Murray’s complete resume (PDF)