Ariel Lexina Adams is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC29451) and author of the forthcoming book Ageless Pizazz: How to Turn Up Your Oomph, Have More Fun, and Be More Powerful as You Get Older. She holds a BA in Literature from Reed College, an MA in English Lit from Cornell, and an MS in Counseling from Cal State East Bay. She studied the Enneagram, meditation, Gestalt therapy, and inner child work with Claudio Naranjo; Reichian work and object relations psychology with Hameed Ali (A.H.Almaas), and drama therapy with Sheila Rubin and Armand Volkas. She has led groups focusing on self-esteem and assertiveness; getting free from old patterns; realizing your vision; and aging with pizazz in Berkeley, San Francisco, New York, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She currently works with individuals, couples, and groups, guiding her clients to experience and claim their own wisdom, confidence, joy, and ability to love and succeed in their lives and relationships.
Since we all have different ways of learning, Ariel draws from her palette of techniques and theories those which are most appropriate for each client. Her palette includes client-centered talk therapy; inner child work; family systems theory; guided visualization; somatic awareness; Gestalt therapy; and drama therapy.
I seem to have been born with a question: What on earth am I? What am I doing here, and what is going on? This question led me to study literature at Reed College, where we focused on questions like What is the reality behind the appearance? and What does it mean to be human? After graduating I went on to get my master’s degree in English literature at Cornell.
My life-question led me to Berkeley, to Europe, to New-York-City-in-the-’60s, and finally back to Berkeley, where I found my spiritual family in Claudio Naranjo’s group in the early ’70s. We explored my question big time, with Zen meditation, Sufi stories, Gestalt therapy, the Enneagram, the Gurdjieff movements, and the Fischer-Hoffman process – to name some of our modalities.
I particularly loved Gestalt, which let me express all kinds of unacceptable characters in myself: the carping critic, the dumb blob, the silly fool.
I became a group leader and worked with Claudio’s groups in Berkeley, New York, Pittsburgh, and Cambridge, using all the modalities we’d been learning.
In Cambridge I took my first improv class, at Theater Workshop Boston.I learned to feel and express from the impulses in my body and to “bring into the act” whatever I was experiencing and use it in my life.
Back in the Bay Area I worked with Sue Walden, founder of ImprovWorks, and fell in love with theater games as a way to tap our wildness and creativity.
In my work as a teacher I studied English Through Drama, a technique using theater games to teach English, and then I created and taught Assertiveness Through Drama, a class for people who wanted to express themselves but were too shy.
I also studied with Hameed Ali (A.H. Almaas), another teacher who integrates Eastern and Western psychologies. We worked with object relations and with Reikian therapy, another way of accessing truth through the body.
In 1987 I returned to school to get my second master’s degree and become a licensed marriage and family therapist.
I was about 50 at the time and starting to deal with getting older. I longed for an older woman to mentor me through that process and, finding none, I decided to grow into that mentor—for myself and other women. My master’s thesis was a study of women and aging in our society and an exploration of ways to confront the issues, change our beliefs and behavior, and become confident, passionate elders.
Bringing It into the World
In the ’90s I worked with the Institute for Personal Change, taking clients through The Process, a three-month structured group using writing, drama, and other techniques to take people deeply into themselves and empower them to change.
With Cris Jenkins, another therapist there, I co-created and led an ongoing post-Process group, “Realizing Your Vision,” for six years.
In the 2000s I developed a newsletter, The Tantric Crone, “Dedicated to the outrageous blossoming of women of all ages.” And I created “The Fifth Act,” a workshop using drama, costumes, and masks, in which participants stepped into who they wanted to become to experience it in their bodies.
I began studying drama therapy with Sheila Rubin and, later, with Armand Volkas, creator of Playback Theater, and soon began developing my Ageless Pizazz!® groups. My current practice weaves together the various strands in my life pursuits, and is still guided by my original life question – what are we?
To explore the possibilities for individual or group counseling, click HERE to schedule a 20-minute phone consultation with Ariel.