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Dr. James Walsh
Lead Therapist - Behavioral Health Services, Schuylkill County
Shot in the forehead at the age of 9, Jim Walshís family did not discuss the incident at all. Jim was a curious and hyperactive lad living in the small town of Palo Alto, PA. Hovering on the outskirts of the city of Pottsville, Palo Alto was much like many towns in Schuylkill County, where coal mining and farming carved the landscape of dirty mountains and rich, green fields. The houses in Palo Alto bump up against each other. In the summer, when the windows are down, neighbors hear everything that happens in town. Jim had been fooling around with a box of munitions pieces his father, a small weapons mechanic and veteran of WWII and the Korean War, had laying about the house. Jim had been launching a shell across his bed when the .45 engaged the firing pin, misfired and shot shrapnel straight back into his forehead. The pieces narrowly missed his eyes but lodged directly between them, causing blood to cascade down his face.
The crack of the weapon brought the townspeople to Jimís house where they found the boy covered in blood. The town mayor lived two doors away. He scooped Jim up and placed him in his brand new car for the short drive to The Pottsville Hospital. A surgeon and radiologist ended up being called from a formal party and partnering together to operate on Jim in their tuxedos. An early type of interventional radiology was used that day during a 6 hour procedure when the radiologist used a new piece of equipment to guide the surgeonsí hand into the head of the young boy where they retrieved 3 pieces of shrapnel. The surgery lasted 6 hours with a 9 year old boy lying fully awake, held still by leather straps and his fatherís hands.
53 years later, Dr. Jim Walsh, who holds a PhD in Psychology and Christian Counseling, recalls clearly many details of that day. One thing that stands out is having breakfast with his family the day after the shooting because his mother insisted on taking him home that night. The family ate bacon and eggs, never speaking of the horrific event even though Jim sat there with a huge bandage covering his head. The only reference Jim recalls his family making about this incident was that his mother gave him the 3 pieces of metal removed from his head when Jim was 18 years old.
As in many families of the time, painful and difficult events were not discussed, often leaving the victims traumatized and untreated. The effect of unresolved trauma on an individual is one of the focuses that Dr. Jim Walsh brings to the ReDCo Groupís Behavioral Health Services in Pottsville, PA. In his work with clients, Jim attempts to bring others healing from trauma.
Not only is Jim Walsh a dynamic clinician, but he is also the published writer of 2 books and is in the planning stages of a third. His first book, "Donít Take Any Wooden Nickels - A Creative Journey", was written in 1994 and takes the reader along with him on a practical guide of self- actualization.
Jimís second book, "Goose in a Glass" is "social science fiction depicting the struggles most of us face as we order our lives. During these struggles we come to know who we are; but also through introspection we tap into the possibilities of a grander scheme for our existence. The book is about how our destinies are woven and intertwined even though time is the essential theme." Newly released, this fascinating novel explores an alternative system of law that changes the way we treat each other. It is available through Barnes & Nobel, Amazon Books and Borders; and through the publisher, PublishAmerica, Baltimore.
The work in progress will look at the role of the Coast Guard during the Viet Nam War. Jim served in the Coast Guard at this time and was stationed on an island 400 miles from Hawaii where he spent a whole year mostly isolated from the world.
Dr. Walsh sees clients for individual psychotherapy in the ReDCo Groupís Behavioral Health Services clinic, where he serves as Lead Therapist. Most of the clients seen there have significant mental health issues and are not the kind of clients one would normally see in private practice, an option Jim rejects at this time in his career. As he says, "If you want to help people, this is the place to be."
Last year the residents of Palo Alto demonstrated their confidence in Jim Walsh when they elected him mayor; and life came full circle.