Cliff Barry grew up in Glenview, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago, where his family was part of a religious community, The General Church of the New Jerusalem, or “New Church,” based on the writings of scientist and mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg.
Cliff attended the community’s elementary and high schools, graduating in 1967 from the Academy of the New Church near Philadelphia.
The second of five children, Cliff knew from an early age that he would join the ministry, and following high school, he attended theological school for four years while simultaneously taking college classes. In 1971, he left the church for doctrinal reasons and, at the age of 23, started his own church, which met regularly for about a year before disbanding.
Cliff now considers himself retired from the ministry. “I help people connect with their spirituality, but now using very practical, non-sectarian tools. Although I was ordained and am technically still a minister, calling myself by that title would limit my ability to work with people who aren’t interested in connecting with their spirituality using sectarian tools. The one truth I know for sure is that there are many truths.”
After moving with his wife and children to the Madison, Wisconsin, area to be near friends and family, Cliff became the transportation manager of a local school bus company. He also began his first business, The Sunlight Center, selling full-spectrum lights and nutritional supplements to people suffering from skin cancer. Cliff has had basal-cell skin cancer since he was in his 20s, as have his mother and several siblings, and has studied the effects of eliminating partially hydrogenated oils from the diet and taking supplements rich in beta-carotene and other anti-oxidants.
Cliff and his wife, Wendy, had for some years been interested in personal growth and had participated in couples groups and weekend retreats. After the birth of their third child, Wendy went back to school for a degree in social work, and the couple began operating their home as a Dane County Treatment Foster Home, taking in teens from troubled homes. Cliff attended several weekend workshops, including EST, but was disappointed to find their positive impact did not appear to last.
It was while running a workshop on full-spectrum lights in southwestern Wisconsin, that Cliff met psychotherapist Bill Kauth from Milwaukee, who would become a close friend and colleague. With business executive Rich Tosi and teacher Ron Hering, Kauth had in 1985 founded an initiation weekend for men called the ManKind Project, based on the work of Robert Bly, and Kauth began trying to persuade Cliff to take the initiation. “Men’s work didn’t really appeal to me at the time,” Cliff remembers, “and it was hard to come up with the money, so it took him about a year to talk me into it.” In March 1988, Cliff attended an initiation weekend, which he calls “the most life-changing seminar I’ve ever attended.”
Within a year, Cliff had become trained by Hering as a facilitator for initiation weekends and was leading weekends as well as training others to do the same. He went into business with Hering running the training weekends, called ABC (Accelerated Behavior Change), and eventually branching into corporate consulting; their clients included the Republican Caucus of the Wisconsin State Legislature and high school districts, for whom Cliff and Hering ran trainings on alcohol and drug prevention.
In 1991, Cliff began running weekend trainings of his own, which in 1994 he incorporated as Shadow Work® Seminars.
At about the same time, he and Wendy separated and later divorced, though the two remain on friendly terms. Two of the couple’s teenage children were participants in a peer-help program called The Briar Patch and, the following year, they volunteered Cliff’s time to lead a weekend when the scheduled leader became unavailable. The program’s organizer was Mary Ellen Whalen (née Blandford), who was impressed at Cliff’s skills with young people. She began working for him part-time in an administrative role and learned his facilitation techniques. In 1993, Cliff and Mary Ellen were approached by the Emissaries, an international religious organization, about training their community leaders at an upcoming congress, and Cliff led a two-day retreat for the Emissaries’ men’s group. The event was so successful that the Emissaries offered the two enough work for Mary Ellen to join the company full-time, and the two spent much of the next two years traveling to Emissary communities around the world.
In the meantime, Kauth had enlisted the help of Cliff and several other friends in creating an intensive weekend training for corporate executives called the Inner King Training. The IKT is still in operation today, though Cliff’s schedule no longer permits him to lead trainings himself.
It was around this same time that Cliff read King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Jungian analyst Robert Moore and Doug Gillette, describing four key archetypes in the male psyche, and Cliff began organizing his facilitation model into four quarters. “Until that time, I was using around ten different processes, and deciding intuitively which one seemed to fit the participant’s story. When I read Moore and Gillette’s book, and saw that I could develop a clear map that would guide me to give the participant exactly the help they needed, it was a big ‘ah-ha.’ I began seeing other systems of four that I could overlay onto those four archetypes: the four directions, the four ancient elements (earth, air, water, and fire), the four feelings talked about by John Bradshaw, the four family roles in Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse’s work on addiction recovery, and so on. Carl Jung once said that the human mind works naturally in fours because two sets of opposites make up a balanced whole.”
In 1994, Cliff and Mary Ellen began training other facilitators in their techniques, initially within the Emissaries organization and eventually for others as well. They began developing new techniques and offering advanced trainings and a certification program, which currently consists of three trainings followed by a mentored study process culminating in a certification weekend. Beginning in 1996, they began developing ways of working one-on-one with individuals, which they came to call Shadow Work® Coaching, and in 2001 they offered the first training for Shadow Work® coaches.
To date, Shadow Work® processes have been used on six continents (all but Antarctica) in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Israel, South Africa, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, and Thailand, among others. The number of Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitators and Certified Shadow Work® Coaches is growing; you’ll find current numbers at the Coaches page.
Cliff is President of Shadow Work® Seminars and lives in Boulder, Colorado, northwest of Denver, with his wife, Vicki Woodard.
WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT CLIFF
“Cliff is amazingly insightful! His ability to see issues on multi-levels allowed him to guide me to the core of my wounds. His gentle, non-shaming, accepting approach gave me the safety and courage to look at what I was able to change. I experienced life-changing insights and have enjoyed more peace than ever before.”— Linda Tonnesen, president of a property management company and mother of four teenagers
“I have had the good fortune to learn from many great teachers over the years in both business and personal growth pursuits. None, however, has provided the depth of insight that Cliff Barry has brought to understanding and overcoming the challenges in my life. I keep coming back to Cliff for perspective and support, and he has unfailingly given me more than I ask for. As a result of working with Cliff, I find relationships more fulfilling and my life a happier place on every level.” — Mike Tamblyn, prominent attorney with one of Canada’s leading law firms
“Cliff is one of very few men I totally trust to facilitate my personal work. When I need clarity, when my path is unclear, Cliff is a man I call upon. His clear, non-judgmental, loving approach works wonders for my soul.” — Rich Tosi, co-founder of the ManKind Project
See also: Our Calendar of Events
See also: More About Mary Ellen Whalen.
For additional information on Cliff, or to arrange an interview, please contact Shadow Work® Seminars at (303) 530-2840.