Kye Nelson


I cannot easily describe the nature of the work that Kye and I have done and continue to do together. She meets you where you are, makes use of the latest in evidence-based approaches to helping, and draws deeply from the wisdom traditions of humanity.

Handling a crisis, getting a new job, finding your calling, relating to a loved one, making a beginning, making sense of an ending. or being in the thick of things, it is all welcome. She is pragmatic, sees the texture of things, and translates that insight into practical suggestions.

Recently I came across a word that seems the best fit for describing Kye's gift: 'maieutic'. This derives from the Greek word for 'midwife'. It refers to the ability to teach by bringing out the truth, goodness, and beauty that is inside of the person. Each new thing that comes up can bring a step in that direction.

In the myths of the world, a wise woman often appears to help the hero on his journey, sometimes with provisions, sometimes with advice, sometimes with a warning. Kye has been that wise woman in my life.


...Your help covered five years and meant so much. You helped me from the time I had a vague but persistent desire to change my work, through the traumatic time of losing my job, being unemployed, looking for and finding new work, dealing with the new work culture and some traumatic challenges there, challenges to my marriage around changing careers and a new grandchild, struggles with substance dependency, finding me an awesome therapist, coping with my husband losing his job, and facing the terrifying reality of my sister's cancer diagnosis--just to give the broad strokes!

You helped me when I was so depressed I could not get out of bed. You led me to a revelation about things not being 'either/or', that there is often a third possibility that we may not see at first. You helped me get in touch with my true self and learn to trust my gut instincts. Through your gentle kindness I learned that I could be kinder and gentler with myself.

It is difficult to put the whole of it into words, but our work together changed my life profoundly. I will always be deeply grateful.


...When we first started working together, I was a senior administrator in a non-profit. Together we figured out what the next phase of my career would look like, so that I was able to articulate for myself the criteria for a good job match. Then the “right” job as head of a small independent school came along…and, due to our work together, I was immediately able to see the match.

Then came the settling-in phase. Our work together during this time has focused on defining my leadership of the school. We typically have been working on two or three issues at a time, often threaded through each other. Some of the issues we have identified have emerged as areas of great accomplishment and satisfaction for me – for example, developing a successful culture of professional growth among the faculty and staff at the school. Seeing this growth has been one of the most satisfying accomplishments of my career. We keep identifying issues and addressing them, almost always with remarkable results.

I have learned that coming to sessions unrehearsed and sharing with you the list of “worries” (also successes) that is on my mind is the best way to start our conversations. Your gift is your ability to see in a conversation the threads that are worth pursuing…and in following the threads, we find ideas that are both at the right level of abstraction and have great power to them. These ideas, then, are the ones that I use to shape my work.

—Appreciative head-of-school client in the Boston area

I lay out all that's going on in me, all the issues, all the stuck, caught, bound places… she listens and takes in the whole of my situation. So I'm talking about six different projects--she's holding all that and will quietly say, "I've got something here if you want it." I do and she says something that shifts the whole kaleidoscope.

She's been holding all that—every piece I unpacked from the suitcase—and she brings in a couple of items I had unpacked five months earlier and since forgotten about but that, shockingly, do fit just here, along with a piece from two weeks ago…

Things shift inside and there's a clearing so now I know what to do and energy and excitement and clarity rush into me where before had been the stuck and the bound.

—Gena Corea, author of The Mother Machine, The Hidden Malpractice, and The Invisible Epidemic

...Rather suddenly, I found myself with a new career. While having much background that was pertinent to the work, I initially found it difficult to discover my path through the almost overwhelming and sometimes contradictory demands of the job. It was not always obvious to me how to apply my former experience to create solutions to issues that needed immediate solutions.

Kye's ability to enter into creative process with me is difficult to account for entirely by describing her techniques. The sensation I had was of someone entering my intellectual space and doing a thorough spring cleaning. She drew out of my work the overarching principles that linked subject to subject, and the interdisciplinary concepts that enabled the work in one subject to illuminate the work in others. She was able to discern patterns that had not been obvious to me. She helped me pinpoint areas that needed further refinement and flaws that needed attention.

Because of my work with Kye this almost overwhelming challenge became manageable, and I was able to approach the year with more confidence and a clearer sense of direction.

—Dana Williams

...Important projects have come to fruition under your caring mentorship. The most substantial of these, the doctoral dissertation, could not have evolved in the way that it did without your assistance. In helping me to discern what it was that I needed to study and write about, through the long gestation in which the ideas took shape, and in finding a suitable completion for this project, which could continue to unfold for, perhaps, the rest of my life—you have been there as a steady, attentive presence. Gentle throughout, it is even more your uncompromising allegiance to the not-yet that has helped me to find, and begin to develop confidence in, my own knowing and my own voice in expressing it. In this way, both the specific project and also my greater development as a human being have flourished with what you have offered.

The life that I embody has become stronger, more productive, and, if I may say so, more elegant, for the influence that you have had.


...A few years ago I was developing a new psychological theory. I had been struggling in the work of formulating fresh new theoretical concepts for five years and there were paradoxes in my understanding where I couldn't see how these different concepts related.

And then began a marvelous consulting process with Kye that rapidly moved my own theoretical formulations into mature form, coming up with terms precise enough to hold paradoxical concepts. After five years of struggling, within three and a half months I had achieved stabilization of my concepts, logical coherence, and rigorous definitions of terms (meeting once per week via telephone).

Kye is enormously intelligent and sensitive, a kind of intuitive geek as well. She can track virtually any train of thought, no matter how abstract, intellectual, psychological or personal and emotional. She can see patterns where you are too close to see the pattern you are in. You may be stuck in the pattern and can't see it, or you may be reaching for a pattern you intuit but cannot yet articulate.

She has an uncanny knack for sensing just that one luminous element that you cannot see. She names it, and then you go, “Of course, that is it! Exactly!” In a theory or a project, or a personal problem, I have come to see that Kye can rapidly find the crux of it, the heart, the main thing, she smells it out, can track it down, and connect the dots in your blind spots. I have continued to take advantage of Kye's skills long after the theory was formulated, for workshop planning, personal problems and challenges, and life-projects as well as my scholarly ones.

It is uncanny the way she can be listening to you quietly as you try to sort out something, or reach for something that you don't even know what it is. Then suddenly she speaks, she's held everything you said as if neatly folded in a napkin, got the gist of where you are headed, and states it succinctly for you. What was not quite jelled suddenly jells into form, often tangible and self-evident once this has occurred. From there, the way forward, or at least the next steps seem crystal clear.

—C. Michael Smith, Ph.D. Psychologist and author of PSYCHOTHERAPY AND THE SACRED, and JUNG AND SHAMANISM IN DIALOGUE

Sometimes new aspects of the situation occur to me because I am speaking to this receptive and unblocked environment. She asks few questions but they seem to come from the same edge on which I am working and often let me get at something that was there but which I didn't see in so many words. When I'm working on something with her the situation has more visible facets, more visible parts to it...

—Eugene Gendlin,

...During a crucial stage of my project—after startup—when things were not moving along well, Kye helped guide us to a new stage where our roots were firmly planted.

I have also observed Kye in her role as co-executive director of the Focusing Institute when it was in the throes of a difficult transition from being founder-led to becoming a more member-based organization. I observed first how deeply she studied different models of governance and made them available for all members to think about, then how she stood firm amidst controversy until new structures were in place to carry the organization forward.

Kye has deep experience with leadership situations where character, values, and discipline are required, not just business savvy.

Her point of view can make the difference between a flash in the pan and something more durable—something that will continue to feed the souls of the people who started it.

—Beatrice Blake, Nuevos Rumbos El Salvador