like to introduce myself.
am Tom Croke, founder and captain of the team here at Thomas J. Croke
and Associates, Inc. and FamilyLightsm.
A native of
New Cumberland, PA, suburb of
Harrisburg, I am the second son of Dorothy (Gochnour)
Croke and James Adrian Croke and brother of Lee P. Croke, currently of
Scotch Plains, NJ.
not the typical resume or CV, you will usually find where a professional
think this gives a better picture of who I am and how I might relate to
you than a typical resume.
But if that is what you want to see, it will soon be posted in
I was graduated from
School (class of ’61) at age seventeen, and proceeded to
my freshman year at
After graduating from Brown in 1965 (A.B. Honors in Philosophy) I
proceeded to graduate studies in philosophy at Wayne in
There I had the experience of focusing more energy on
understanding the city and the people than on my assigned work, making
my academic life in that venue notoriously unsuccessful.
From there, I returned to
where I was an admission officer for three years 1968-71.
By then we were in the late stages of the Vietnam war, the
country was alarmed with fact that drug abuse and addiction had migrated
from the slums to the suburbs, and I left the University to start a
substance abuse intervention and prevention project in the city of
After two years
I left there to direct the substance abuse clinic and St. Anne’s
hospital in Fall River, MA
known as Lifeline from 1973 to 1985.
During this period of
time I began an educational pattern that continues to this day.
Basically, I absorb as much as I can from the psychiatrists,
psychologists and other credentialed clinicians.
I also began my
I married the former
Heather Ann McLaughlin in 1967.
We had two natural children, Andrew (1969) and Susan (1972). In
began the adventure
of caring for a seven year old foster child, Ron, who came to us as an
emergency thirty day placement.
Four and a half years later, Ron left us to be adopted by another
that was a failed adoption, we became his second adoptive
Although this was
not something that was diagnosed at the time, in hindsight it is clear
that Ron met criteria for Reactive Attachment Disorder, and I must say
life with him was an adventure that has shaped much of my thinking in my
At 39 years
old as I write this, Ron has given us four wonderful grandchildren and
is a successful business-man in Virginia, following
distinguished service in the Army and reserves.
If his first adoptive parents (with whom we have lost contact)
were to see this, I hope they would understand that their time with Ron,
although it failed to meet their expectations, has heavily contributed
to his health and success, and his children bear their name.
In 1985, I went to work for the Mediplex Group
(whose assets have since been acquired by Sun Health Systems, then later
by psyc), which
operated a chain of health care facilities, mostly nursing homes and
substance abuse treatment facilities. My assignment was to market their
substance abuse services in the state of Rhode
Island and in the portion of Massachusetts that projects east from
Rhode Island, including Brocton, Fall
New Bedford, Plymouth,
Cape Cod and the offshore Islands.
In addition, I was responsible for coordinating with the
discharge planning teams at the treatment facilities and guiding
community aftercare as the patients returned home.
During this period of time the style of work I do
with families which had started to develop previously began to
Beginning about 1971, I was frequently called upon
to consult with schools, public, private and parochial, particularly
addressing approaches to high-risk children, especially teen-agers, a
pattern that has continued, hopefully with progressively increasing
It is also worth
noting that throughout this period, I was increasingly working in
people’s homes, never appreciating the formality of having families come
to the office.
gave me my first exposure to the twelve-step approach to addictions that
we see in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and to Family
Systems Therapy, two influences that have guided my career.
In 1989, my wife and I relocated to
PA, where I now live, partly influenced by the
desire to live closer to our widowed mothers who were still in the Harrisburg area and partly lured by an employment
opportunity near Greensburg.
In the latter situation I was recruited to be the marketing
director for a small substance abuse treatment center its executive
director, but after I was in that position for nine weeks, the executive
director was out, along with “his team,” including me.
By that time we were committed to the move. I formed Thomas J.
Croke and Associates, Inc. which was originally a marketing firm,
representing a number of treatment programs in the west attempting to
attract an eastern clientele.
However, as events developed, it became increasingly clear that I
could not be successful with these programs in the climate of that time
without either working as an agent of managed care (honorable, but not a
good match to my talents and interests) or persuade parents (in some
cases) to take actions that I did not truly believe were in their best
interests (something I would not do).
To be fair, the people I worked for were not asking me to
persuade parents to act contrary to the wishes of their children, but it
was clear that I could produce the numbers to make the relationships
viable by “playing it straight.”
As 1993 approached, I terminated my marketing
contracts and began to function as an educational consultant.
Naturally business was slow in the beginning so for a about two
years I filled my time and earned some extra money as director of Youth
Ministry at a local
Methodist Church. I resigned that position in 1995
as business began to pick up, and also joined IECA.
I was probably the first to work exclusively with young people
with behavioral, emotional and psychiatric difficulties. Now that is
In order to grow the business I wrote for three
publications – uncompensated but good for publicity.
They were Growthline
Way, two publications about alcoholism
recovery, and Woodbury Reports,
which is what you now see on the web at
I realized that my efforts were not producing the amount of
business I had hoped for, so I turned my efforts to publishing my own
newsletter, Bridge to
Understanding. This morphed into an elaborate informational website.
Through this vehicle, we were able to reach many who could not afford
our fees -- or those of other consultants.
Up until this time, I had put considerable effort
into organized volunteer projects and the like.
At this point, most of my energy turned to improving my skills as
a consultant, developing my business, and developing
Bridge to Understanding – as well as taking care of personal issues.
I became legal guardian to my teenage Godson during the late ‘90s
which was a project in itself.
In September 2001, I married for the second time,
experienced 9-11, discovered an embezzlement problem in my office, had a
hernia repair, and discovered that we were in a recession.
We stopped publishing Bridge to Understanding and updating the
Bridge to Understanding web site, as we lost the capital to keep it
going with all of the above problems occurring at once.
A few years later, we removed it
from the Internet, due to the fact that people were reading obsolete
information there as if it were current.
With a return to prosperity and life at a more
measured pace, we are attempting to restore features of
Bridge to Understanding on this website.
We will eventually restore some of the archived material.
As of 2006, we had left our long time base of
operation in Latrobe, PA, and were
working from home offices with the core of the operation in the basement
of our new home in Greensburg, PA. The
expanded website is our latest project. My wife and I have decided to
raise a child together. So in October 2006, we adopted a golden
retriever, Taffy, who keeps us all well trained. Taffy was bored
with us old people, we allowed her to adopt her friend "Babe," an 11
pound tabby cat, the same color as Taffy and the same age, who was being
evicted from his apartment due to an unsympathetic landlord. The two of
them together keep us highly entertained.
Last updated 8-20-08; minor edit 1-23-09