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Community Profile: Brad Golphenee

Community Profile: Brad Golphenee

02/25/2021

When you get to be in group with Brad, you know you hit the jackpot. Brad has this special something that resonates with many men. Maybe it’s his soothing voice, or maybe it’s his way of addressing you to make you feel like you are the most important person in the world. Regardless, Brad is known as the OG of EVRYMAN because of his many years of deep diving in men’s work and his wide-ranging understanding of Somatic Experiencing.

Read on to learn how a thrift store find changed Brad’s life and learn a few simple tips on how to get back into your body.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have been married for 27 years, and I have two amazing boys who are 21 and 24 years old. Fatherhood is such a big thing for me. It’s a real focus when I do workshops and events. If you want to see me break down in tears, get me talking about my boys.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Whitefish, Montana. Having skiing and water nearby has always been a priority.  I went to college in Denver and made my way to Seattle for work. I always wanted to get back to a mountain town with a ski resort and a big lake. And it’s all here in Sandpoint, Idaho.

How did you get into men’s groups?

We put our kids in a local Waldorf school and I became friends with other fathers in the school and that is how I got invited into men’s work. I have been sitting in men’s groups for about 15 years. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long, but in retrospect, being in group every week for four hours a week, plus events, its thousands of hours of living in that space.

How has your group changed over the years?

In the early days there were a handful of men, and of course Owen (co-founder of EVRYMAN), who seeded the group here in Sandpoint. I had no idea what I was getting into. A friend invited me, and I came to check it out. What I remember stepping into that space is having that visceral feeling in my body of ‘I am home’. It was a very sacred space with other men, revealing things that felt safe to reveal and learning together. Back in those days we were developing some of the processes we now use in EVRYMAN groups.

We have had hundreds of guys come through our groups in Sandpoint and there are only 8ooo people living here! Sometimes we refer to Sandpoint as a ‘men’s hugging community’. I am really blessed to have the longevity of men’s groups in this place I call home.

What sparked your interest in going deeper with men’s work?

I came across this book at a thrift store by Ron Kurtz called Body Centered Psychotherapy. His processes were so in line with what we do and I discovered Owen had done work with Ron. That took me on a path to learning more.

Around then Owen and I started hosting weekend men’s workshops, that was about eight years before EVRYMAN began.  We travelled across the country from Chicago to San Diego. I was in the vacation rental business so I would find us a really nice private homes to host our weekend events.  We would eat together, sleep under the same roof, and have a 48-hour deep dive into this work. They really were amazing experiences. I still do them with our local crowd (before COVID).

That level of work is what we call ‘group intensives’, they show men how to raise their bar personally and in their own men’s groups. They come out with an experience and knowledge on how to hold space for other men and to go deep. Dan Doty joined our group for a time and even joined us for a group intensive weekend after he left Sandpoint.

How did you get into Somatic Experiencing?

I joined a program developed by Peter Levine called Somatic Experiencing for Trauma. The Somatic Experience is so similar to what we do in men’s work, it feels like a natural fit.

A military veteran in one of our workshops had PTSD, and he got very activated during our weekend event. We did a good job of containing it and creating safety, but I could feel it in my body, and how much it took out of me. So, I enrolled in the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. My classroom was 48 women therapist and one other guy who is a body worker. I am now in my third advanced year in Somatic Experiencing.

What I find is that every guy I work with, we all have a level a trauma still locked in our body. EVRYMAN, as well as individual men’s groups, provide a unique platform where we can support each other to help release that trapped energy. When traumatic energy is finally released, it can be scary for other men on how to contain and hold it.  This is one reason why special events and one on one coaching can be so important. 

Can you provide some guidance on how you get back into your body?

  1. If I feel like I am out of my body I pause, feel my feet on the floor, and send a little grounding chord into the earth below.
  2. I get in contact with my breath and put some intention into having a well-rounded breath.
  3. As I do that, I am feeling my body, what is tight? What is cold? What is relaxed? Just that level of noticing brings me back in my body.

The simpler I can make it, the easier I can access it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is a practice and takes some time.

This sounds like what we do when we ‘check in’ before groups with EVRYMAN.

Exactly.

What is your vision for training men to do this work and why do you believe the EVRYMAN method works for men?

The EVRYMAN Method is a cumulation of decades of men’s work coupled with healthy internal practices.  The integration of these pieces makes the EVRYMAN method unique.  Also, the community we create adds to the unique character where men can practice in witness of others and feel validated for their change.

What does it take to be a great coach?

A great coach is one that steps out of the way of a man’s progress. Someone who has the skills to guide others into their bodies while holding space for their own experience, and the man’s experience. There is a duality in the work I do in coaching that leads to insight and visual energy that I trust.   A great coach has a large toolbelt to draw from and also does their own work.

Why is the EVRYMAN Foundations program so meaningful to you?

Foundations was an amazing experience for me.  We planned the training as a deep dive into personal work while teaching the methodology of EVRYMAN to build skill sets in working with others. The men that graduated from Foundations came out with a bounty of personal experiences and skills to lead others deeper into their bodies and their own emotional state.  This is what we call Emotional Leadership.

One thing I find in this work is that men can be very afraid of the uncertainty of someone else’s experience.  Standing in this unknown space and feeling comfortable in taking another man deeper is a taught skill that comes with training and practice.  Foundations did a great job of providing these elements for our participants.

You have been leading a ‘Power & Purpose’ DIG, why is this topic important?

It has been so much of my own journey, feeling the relationship of my own power and how that has evolved from the work that I have done.  My relationship with my own sense of purpose. Where am I headed in life? What is important to me? Following a set of values and inner truth to guide me, basically my internal compass, has been hugely beneficial in my personal growth. It is in direct relationship to my sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Part of the process is looking around and being very conscious about the environments I put myself in and the people I surround myself with. When I am in that space, I feel very potent and present.

I am aware that is a big topic, so part of my goal is to put a frame around it in the DIG. Once the frame is built, we have a place to work.

It is designed as a 13-week progression even though a man can come any time and any week is a stand-alone week. If you can make all of them, you will see a common thread.

Why should a man join a men’s group?

Short answer is, you should join men’s groups if you are interested in getting in touch with your body, improving your relationships, interested in living in a powerful, purposeful way. It is so important to have brothers that have your back in this world.

There is a lot of mystery in men’s group, so men have to trust that as well.

What do you see as the biggest issue facing men today?

Loneliness and depression (a symptom of loneliness). When I say loneliness, I really mean when men feel that empty space inside of them and they don’t know what to do with it.

They don’t know how to express it or work with it. Men just try to ‘fix’ it. It usually means ‘I am going to cover it up with something’ like drugs, alcohol, sex, so I don’t have to face it. That is not a recipe for a happy, successful, potent, and powerful life.

Another area men need help with is, ‘What to do to connect with the emotional self when it gets triggered.’ This is a big part of our work. Having a relationship with the emotions that cause collateral damage in our lives. It’s mostly anger. Sometimes it is sadness or fear.  Having a new relationship with my anger – What does that mean? How do I express my emotional state in a healthy way?

That is what we practice in group- being aware of the emotions and expressing them in healthy ways. Every man is different. How can I be powerful and vulnerable at the same time? I can tell you firsthand that feels awesome.

If you really knew me, you would know that…

I am incredibly sensitive, that I am incredibly visual, I have insight, and that I struggle even to this day with belonging to a group of men. Even after thousands of hours in men’s group, I still struggle with the belonging and that is alive and present.

How has EVRYMAN changed?

A while back I stepped out of EVRYMAN for a variety of reasons and stepped back into Somatic school.  Just recently I was asked to come back in and I absolutely said yes.

Just the reflection of the old EVRYMAN vs the new, is that it is really wonderful to see EVRYMAN in a virtual world even though face to face is vital. But this opportunity is really incredible. We can reach so many men and open up this work. I see men’s work and one on one coaching as normalized for men. Once they get a taste for the work, they get pulled in.

You don’t have to be broken to do this work.

Members can join Brad for his ‘Power & Purpose DIG’ every other Thursday 8-9pm EST.

Brad also hosts the ‘Fatherhood & Parenting DIG’ every other Wednesday, 5pm EST.

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