Biographical Information of Robert Burney

Robert Burney, author of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, calls his private practice (which he began in 1990) "Counseling for Wounded Souls." He holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Relations and has experience in chemical dependence treatment programs, having worked in inpatient and outpatient settings with both adults and adolescents.

Robert is a non-clinical, non-traditional therapist - a healer, teacher, and Spiritual guide - whose work has been compared to John Bradshaw's "except much more spiritual" and described as "taking inner child healing to a new level." He has developed a unique approach to emotional healing that is the next level of recovery from codependency so many people have been seeking. He has pioneered an inner child healing paradigm that offers a powerful, life-changing formula for integrating Love, Spiritual Truth, and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one's emotional experience of life - a blueprint for individuals to transform their core relationship with self and life.

Robert, whose process is firmly grounded on twelve step recovery principles and emotional energy release / grief process therapy, specializes in teaching individuals how to become empowered to have internal boundaries so they can learn to relax and enjoy life in the moment while healing. It is the unique approach and application of the concept of internal boundaries, coupled with a Loving Spiritual belief system, that make the work so innovative and effective.

His personal belief is that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience that is unfolding perfectly from a Cosmic perspective - with no accidents, coincidences, or mistakes. It is not necessary however, to agree with his Spiritual beliefs to benefit from his work. He considers spirituality to be a word that describes one's relationship with life - and anyone, regardless of religious belief or lack of it (who is not completely closed minded), can apply the approach he shares on this web site and in his book, to help them transform their experience of life into an easier, more Loving and enjoyable journey.

Robert lived for many years in Cambria on the the Central Coast of California, but moved to Encinitas in Northern San Diego County in September 2006 - in part to make it easier to offer his Intensive Training Day workshops on a regular basis. In August of 2017 he was able to move back to Cambria.  In an Update Newsletter in June of 2018, he brought people up to date on where he was and how he got back there.

Personal History

His background is interesting and eclectic. He was raised on a farm in Nebraska. His childhood from all outside appearances was an idyllic, middle class, "Norman Rockwell", all-American upbringing with both parents present and no overt dysfunction. He participated in 4-H and little league baseball and in sports, theater, and student government in high school. He became very interested in politics through the influence of his grandfather who was a long-time Lieutenant Governor and, due to the death of his predecessor, for several months Governor of Nebraska. The first outward sign that Robert's path was veering from the norm came as a freshman at Creighton University in Omaha when he was one of the founders of Creighton Students for Human Relations, one of the University's first Civil Rights organizations. In that freshman year, he became very involved in theater and through the influence of a dynamic French teacher made plans to study at The Sorbonne in Paris his sophomore year. Those plans did not work out and because of that disappointment and disillusionment with the University's response to his participation in marches, protests, and attempts to reform student government, he transferred to the University of Nebraska for his sophomore year.

There he continued his activism for a while, even serving as a delegate to the state Democratic convention, but after the trauma of 1968 with assassinations, riots, and the election of Richard Nixon, he withdrew from activism and spent his remaining college days mostly drinking and partying. He was in Air Force ROTC because of a strong desire to fly (which he later realized was about his spiritual quest and not about airplanes) and because of the draft. Although he was opposed to the war in Viet Nam, his low number in the draft lottery convinced him to join the Air Force rather that be drafted into the army. Robert was commissioned as an Air force officer on the same day he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

He entered Air Force pilots training and was flying solo in jet aircraft before being medically eliminated because of allergies. He was then assigned to an Intelligence wing where he held one of the highest security clearances available. After receiving an early discharge because of the de-escalation in Viet Nam, he entered graduate school. He got involved with the American Indian Movement in the spring of 1973 during their occupation of the village of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. He left graduate school and went to South Dakota to fly an air drop of supplies but the siege ended a few days after his arrival. He remained actively involved with AIM for the rest of that year and had an extensive FBI file compiled on him for his active participation in revolutionary activities against the government. During this time more than a dozen of the people he was closely involved with were killed or went to prison. It was only through divine intervention on several occasions that he survived to return to graduate school.

He completed his Masters Degree and was then hired by the U. S. Civil Service as a Race Relations Orientations Specialist at Edwards Air Force Base in California (a little cosmic irony here.) Robert enjoyed great success communicating with and fostering change in the attitudes and belief systems of the base personnel he was teaching but left that position in frustration over bureaucratic interference from Base authorities who thought him too radical. A brief sojourn in England rekindled his love of theater and he moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.

Over the course of more than a decade pursuing an acting career, he got very few parts of any consequence but was able to play out fully the role of the "suffering artist", a perfect expression for his own particular brand of Codependence which also gave ample opportunity for him to fully pursue personal research in the area of substance abuse. He played the role to the hilt in all areas of his life including earning a living in the starving actor type of jobs: parking cars, driving cabs, and waiting tables. Acting provided an invaluable emotional outlet to explore and express feelings that would otherwise have been unacceptable according to his childhood training and experiences. The personal research of substance abuse almost killed him.

Robert was introduced to Twelve Step programs through an intervention by his family on a trip home for the holidays. He started his Twelve Step Recovery in January of 1984 and remained in Nebraska for nine months. During this time he worked first in the family care section of the treatment program which he had gone through and then at a state mental hospital where he started to again utilize his training and skills in communication and counseling. He returned to Hollywood in the fall of 1984 convinced that his new found Spiritual path would facilitate his quest for an Oscar nomination. When that did not materialize in short order, he fled to South Lake Tahoe and went to work in the poker room at a casino. The Universe however had other plans for him and ended his career at the casino so that he could go to work for the Alcoholism Council of the Sierra Nevadas. It was there that he started to realize and deal with how Codependent he was in his relationships with others.

When funding for his position ended, Robert returned to Southern California and gave acting one last try. It was only a short time however before he went to work in a Chemical Dependence Treatment program in Pasadena. His work as first a counselor and then a therapist there and at a subsequent treatment program facilitated and accelerated his personal recovery process. In the spring of 1988, he had a major emotional breakthrough in his recovery and gave himself the gift of entering a thirty day treatment program for Codependence. Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona was one of the first to pioneer treatment of Codependence and it was there that he learned a great deal about the grieving process and absorbed techniques and knowledge upon which he would later expand.

He also realized what a Codependent relationship he had with the romance of Hollywood and upon completion of the program promptly moved. After brief stays in Tucson and Sedona Arizona, he lived in Taos, New Mexico, for a year until his Spiritual path led him to Cambria, California. It was in Cambria that he began a private practice specializing in Codependence Recovery and inner child healing. During almost two years on the coast he became involved in a relationship - a tribute to the healing he had done to overcome his terror of intimacy. He and his new "family" (significant other and her daughter) moved back to Taos. That relationship ended after two years. Robert remained in Taos refining his practice for several more years before making a successful trip to California in the winter of 1995 to raise funds to publish his first book. He returned to Cambria to set up his publishing company, Joy to You & Me Enterprises, in the fall of 1995.

Robert Burney





With my son Abraham in 2002


Christmas 2005 - My precious step grandson / godson Darien with his Mom Rose and Dad John.


Darien and Grandpa Robert on train in Monterey park on way home from first Intensive in San Francisco April 2006. At right me listening to a question at that first Intensive.

October 2005 on the day I spoke at the Bay Area CoDA Conference in San Francisco.

My lady and I on October 29, 2005