First and foremost, Dr. Michael Moats describes himself as a father, a husband, and a friend. His passion as a clinical psychologist lies in working with clients who are learning to redefine their lives and create new meaning, especially those dealing with grief and loss in its many forms (i.e., death, divorce, job loss, recent move, natural disaster, war.)
Michael was raised in a rural area, in which family and community were an important part of his cultural heritage. Struggle, challenge, curiosity, and death were all experiences that would set him on a path that had not been understood, until later in his life. Michael would say that his knowledge of grief and loss has been heavily influenced by an experiential understanding, with a twist of theory for academic legitimacy. His greatest mentors have been hospice patients and their families, his family and friends that have died, and those friends, family, and colleagues that have navigated loss with a Zhi Mian attitude. He would not negate the importance of theory and intellectual knowledge concerning grief and loss, but he would argue that theory cannot touch the significance of having the courage to experientially engage the feelings of helplessness of another and accompany them without trying to fix it.
Dr. Moats recognizes that every instance of loss is new and is not competitive. The subjective experiences are heavily influenced by culture, experience, resiliency, spirituality, support, and meaning, which was a motivating factor for his research interests, including a qualitative, cross-cultural study (China and the US) that investigated meaning making and the lessons learned through loss. Additionally, he is a published poet and author of various book chapters and articles, as well as a co-founder of the Zhi Mian International Institute of Existential-Humanistic Psychology, promoting continued international dialogue and training to contribute to a more rounded perspective within the global, psychological community.