Life and Education

Alexander John Shaia

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Alexander John was part of a large extended family that had emigrated from Lebanon a generation previously. He grew up immersed in the ancient traditions of Middle Eastern Christianity (Maronite Catholicism) and was expected to become a priest, a family tradition since the year 1300. He was led otherwise.

Alexander John attended the University of Notre Dame and received a degree in Cultural Anthropology. Next came a brief time in seminary followed by a Master’s in Counseling Education, a Master’s in Religious Education, a graduate certificate in Pastoral Psychotherapy, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

His extensive psychological training across many modalities finally led him to Switzerland where he studied with the Jungian Analyst and founder of Sandplay Psychotherapy, Dora Maria Kalff. Alexander John became the first US man admitted to the International Society for Sandplay Therapy and continues to serve as a senior Certified Teaching Member of the organization.

Returning to the United States, he undertook years of private practice, teaching, parish and retreat ministry and further study. Integrating his life-long practice of prayer with many cross-disciplines—anthropology, psychology, spirituality, and ritual work—has shaped him into a unique thought-leader and a widely sought consultant, trainer, and inspiring keynote speaker.

Then in 2000, Alexander John’s professional life expanded from being primarily a speaker to also that of an author, now with some eight books and more in the works.

He lives in the high Rocky Mountains in Northern New Mexico and the wild Atlantic coast of Northwest Spain. A perfect day finds him in the presence of ancient trees, massive stones, his dog and a book of poetry.