Dr. Randall Alifano PhD Discusses Ministry and the Power of Artistic Expression

In Professionals on October 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD has dedicated his life to the service of his community through several different roles. In his professional capacity, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD is a counselor and an AIWP minister. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s ministerial work is centered on helping people integrate the disparate aspects of their lives into a whole person.

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s spiritual outlook is backed by years of practical experience as a counselor. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s ministry has found a balance between psychodynamic theories and practice and spiritual wisdom. He has found that bringing together these once disparate traditions is the most beneficial way to create a meaningful life. A whole person, says Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, is one who accepts the blessings and the flaws in one self and in others. Alifano also states that this integration entails improving communication skills, which starts with listening.

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD further explains that creativity can be a very helpful outlet for exercising communication and cultivating self-love. People that exercise their artistic sensibilities, says Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, improve their lives in several qualitative ways. Creating art and giving time to creative expression is a large contributor to mental, social and spiritual well being.

Personally, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s artistic proclivity is toward photography. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD has written both about the photographic arts and how he specifically works to improve his own craft. Creating art is not an indulgence, says Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, restricted to some mysteriously talented portion of our society. According to Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, art is the birthright of every human being.

One of the guiding principles of Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s ministry is a commitment to recognizing the truth. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD explains that the truth is not a monolithic body of knowledge, and that it is not the same for all persons. Rather, truth manifests uniquely in each individual; sometimes as a whisper.  Dr. Alifano has found that when one learns to slow down and listen, the truth is revealed. One powerful way to plumb the depths of this reality, concludes Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, is to encourage creative expression.

About the Author

In 1985, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD received a Master’s degree in Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD completed his studies for a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 1986. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD chose CIIS because it was the school he believed offered the best blend of the study of psychology and spirituality.

In October of 2002, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD became an Ordained Minister of The Association of the Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). Dr. Randall Alifano PhD always had a sense that he would be a counselor. When other children were talking about how they wanted to be police officers or baseball players, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD already knew he would be listening to people being curious about how they lived their life. His first class in Psychology was in high school. The teacher and Randall Alifano would talk long after the last bell, debating things like empathy and altruism and the nature of healing.

At this time Dr. Randall Alifano PhD was already counseling friends and acquaintances and was known as a person that others could speak to about their concerns. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD received a BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany and while there, volunteered on the crisis hotline. Typically reserved for graduate students, he was the only undergrad student given permission to do one on one counseling with students and he supervised the other phone counselors. He also worked at a residential treatment program for emotionally challenged children at this time.

After graduation in 1976, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD hitchhiked through Europe for 8 months questioning himself and others about the existence of God and studying various religions. Back in New York, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD worked at the Coalition for Abused Women in NY, getting an education in violence and gender issues before traveling to San Francisco and beginning graduate work. Interviewing at San Francisco State University, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD told a well-known Philosophy professional that his interest was in finding integration between Psychology and Spirituality. That person, rather disdainfully, responded that they were two distinct traditions and were impossible to bring together.  Dr. Randall Alifano PhD did not end up attending that university.

Antioch University offered a course of study which was profoundly and personally challenging for Dr. Randall Alifano PhD. Encounter groups led by Will Schutz were meant to confront and shatter defenses. They did just that. One learned that being honest and vulnerable did not come naturally, as one tends to hide whatever is believed to be judged and prejudiced. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD also learned that Christ’s statement that “the Truth will set you free” had practical application. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD believes strongly that there is a freedom that results from learning to exercise the choice of saying what is true rather than communicating from habituated, unexamined, defensive patterns.

Just before graduation, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s twin boys were born. Dr Alifano had to quit school and started a janitorial service, Snow White Assoc., to support his new family. Additionally he became the Clinical Coordinator of the Men’s Program of the Marin Abused Women’s Services, working directly with violent men, leading groups and organizing and training the volunteer counselors. By 1985, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD was able to finish the required course work, write a thesis, receive his Master’s degree and begin a private practice. Within four months, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD had a full practice.

In 1990 Dr. Randall Alifano began a PhD program in Clinical Psychology at The California Institute of Integral Studies. This was a school that not only believed that Psychology and Spirituality could be integrated, but they included it in their name. Here, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD could study Psychoanalytic theory alongside the mystical traditions of the Desert Fathers, read Jung and Kierkegaard and study meditation and personality testing.  Graduating in 1996, Dr. Randall Alifano’s counseling skills deepened as his theoretical base broadened and his listening became more refined.

In 2002 Dr. Randall Alifano PhD was ordained by The Association for the Integration of the Whole Person as a Minister specializing in Pastoral Counseling.  It was in that year that he began to make a shift away from traditional Psychotherapy and found a calling in Psycho-spiritual Counseling. The tradition of Psychotherapy is anchored in the medical model which assesses for pathology and then treats it. After 26 years of private practice, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD realized that this perspective is biased and that it frequently results in a profound limitation of one’s ability to listen to the complexity of what is being said. He found that when listening it is vitally important to quiet the mind so as to be completely receptive to the speaker.

In 2007 Dr. Kim Chernin, Dr. Renate Stendhal and Dr. Randall Alifano PhD developed and taught a year long program for therapists entitled Advanced Study in Intuitive Listening. They taught the art of listening and wrote articles articulating how one can refine listening skills and empathically surrender in order to hear what can be missed when one is listening through unexamined filters.

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD is grateful that he is, personally and professionally, living the life he had hoped for all those years ago; integrating psychology and spirituality. The individuals and couples that see Dr. Randall Alifano PhD are happy that they are not being diagnosed and treated along pathological lines but are regarded from a much broader perspective.

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD can be reached by email at or by phone at (510) 528-1201. For more information, visit his website at

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