Change is Inevitable

Monday, September 28, 2020 2:49 PM | Anonymous
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by LaDonna Silva, LMFT

LaDonna Silva, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist in the South Bay area working in private practice with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include working with trauma, grief, relationships, and the LGBTQ community.

The Process Therapy Institute (PTI) has experienced a tremendous loss in our community and I have felt inspired to share with the greater therapist network how this has unfolded and what is now happening with the PTI community.


The Process Therapy Institute, a non-profit founded by Don and Carol Hadlock, has been around since 1982. They have trained over a thousand therapists, initially learning with a rotary telephone call interrupting a therapy session with guidance and suggestions. The training eventually transitioned to an earbud and a one-way mirror. The primary focus of the training was lovingly coached into the ear of the interning therapist on how to stay present and settled in self while experientially working with live clients. I have always believed the Process Model is two-fold: The Art of Being and The Art of Doing. Don and Carol developed this model over the years; both were active in the community and SCV-CAMFT board members many years ago.

I joined the community in 2003 when I met Don at JFK University.  He ran group process for JFK for many years. I returned to the community to become a PTI board member and watched Don and Carol Hadlock slowly transition away from the primary caretakers of the institute and active leaders of the model. When Carol stopped managing the books, it became more difficult to oversee the stability of PTI. The Board eventually convinced them to hire a bookkeeper, so we could get a clearer picture of the inner workings and financial status. Don resisted this idea for quite some time and then realized how helpful it would be to let go of these responsibilities. The Board of Directors also decided to put Don Arnoldy into the Executive Director role. Don Arnoldy had been a board member since 1990 and his wife Nancy Ryan was one of Don’s first students in 1982. We were preparing for the inevitable.  


We debated very difficult decisions, including whether or not we would let PTI close when the lease was ending in Campbell. We discussed Don’s level of commitment: in his heart he was 100% committed, but he had a full time job now taking care of Carol who was progressively showing signs of Alzheimer's. It was certainly weighing on his heart as to how to manage it all.  Don Arnoldy stepping in was truly a gift to PTI and I know it made Don’s heart very happy that someone was willing to help run the institute.  


So, I am writing this article six months after his death. My life and the PTI community have  changed dramatically. Where is my friend, mentor and dear colleague?  I miss our lively conversations over breakfast or lunch about a variety of topics: the process theory and model, transpersonal inquiries, and the inner workings of our own lives. Since his death, my heart and the heart of so many in the community are tender and grieving this tremendous loss. Every time I question where he is, the universe seems to offer ways to feel him, hear him, and connect with him. Every now and then I giggle because I still hear him in my ear offering guidance. That guidance has been instrumental teaching therapists how to be present, connected to self, and trusting in a client’s innate ability to heal. As I explore another model of therapy, I truly miss having the ability to dive deeply into conversations with Don, dissecting the teachings and being curious together. Ironically, the deeper I dive into the Internal Family System (IFS) model, the more often I find language similar to Don’s teachings of the essence of being with self. I love that many in our PTI community are out in the world integrating the process model into their practices. This is the beauty of PTI continuing out in the community, and that Don and Carol’s legacy continues.


I recently hosted a Zoom memorial that was well attended with over 75 therapists in the greater community. Several therapists chose to share the impact he had on their lives and on their therapy practices. Many shared how he had been a healthy father figure in their lives and many had this universal belief that they were special to Don. This, I truly believe was true. He loved and appreciated many therapists within the PTI community and that community has continued to grow. Service is part of the heart of PTI and not only do therapists in training need our invitation to learn more deeply about themselves, but the greater community also is in need of a tremendous amount of support and love right now. 

My hope is that you will continue sending clients that you are not able to see in your own practices to PTI, and that you will consider investing some of your own time for self-care… especially right now in these times. May your own hearts be touched by mentors, teachers, and leaders in the community. I believe Don knew how much he was loved by the extended PTI world, and his death is a beautiful reminder to continue telling those we love how much they mean to us.  

Change is inevitable...

With love and light...

LaDonna runs consultation groups, has taught at several local universities, and loves teaching and presenting. She studied at the Process Therapy Institute (PTI) for many years and is currently training in the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model. She is passionate about the healing process and supporting others in finding their internal freedom.  She can be reached at

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