My Approach To Counseling

2013.08.20. Honeymoon. Maui. Road back from Hana and Luau 028

Your role is to speak. My role is to listen and learn the language that is particular to you and your story.

I have an attachment-based, Narrative Therapy approach that begins with providing a safe place for your to tell your story. We will have genuine conversations, working together to identify what in your life has been getting in the way of real thriving, and what it might take to unleash a greater sense of beauty, discovery, and well-being.

As this exploration unfolds, our “reading” of your past and present will become fertile ground for you to choose how to step into the chapter that you are about to write.

At their best, these conversations are themselves a time of discovery, full of surprise for both me and my clients. That’s why I love what I do. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. There is the dance of discovering how to engage “now” in a way that brings vibrancy and aliveness.

Specialties

I have particular clinical training and experience in the realm of sexuality. (Working with a broad range of sexual health matters, including: shame & desire struggles; sexual dysfunction; gender identity; out of control sexual behavior; etc.) Most of my work has been with clients who have experienced sexual abuse or some other form of sexual harm.

Sexuality can be hard to talk about; but we all have sexuality, and we rarely have a place where we can be 100% open and honest about the things we’re feeling, thinking or doing with our sexuality. All that hidden, unarticulated stuff causes problems, and it gets in the ways of us feeling totally free and alive. (As shown by the fact that the vast majority of couples experience sexual problems or difficulties at some point!) Having a safe place to talk about those things with someone who is comfortable and knows what they’re doing is indispensable. That’s what I’m here for.

Issues related to sexuality may or may not be the focus of treatment. I have also worked with clients dealing with a variety of other issues: trauma and abuse of all types; spiritual abuse; anxiety; depression; relational issues; eating disorders; grief; anger; addiction; etc.

I am also interested in spiritual and existential matters. (I’ve studied philosophy and theology, and even worked as a therapist at a church for a number of years.) As a human, I believe thriving is about not just being symptom-free, but living a life that is deeply meaningful. I allow my clients to choose whether they want to use therapy to engage questions of meaning. As a therapist, it is not my role to provide “answers” per se, but to provide a space where the deepest Questions could be engaged by those who wish to do so.

My Theoretical Orientation (If you’re interested in the technical stuff)

I am primarily influenced by humanistic and existential counseling theories in my practice. I place a particular importance on you developing the capacity to practice kindness and care toward the parts of you that have long been disowned, unacknowledged, or feared. Through kindness comes experiential self-awareness that brings integration to the discordant elements of self; this results in a renewed capacity to choose in a way that is life-giving and playful.

Walking through this process includes exploration of details of your life story and your patterns of relating, both in the past and in the present. People often expect counseling to be “all about the past.” The past certainly plays a significant role; but I find that many of my clients are surprised by the degree to which the things they need to know can be found by paying very close attention to the present moment.

(If you want specific names of theories, here are a few that have impacted me: Object Relations, Person-Centered/Rogerian, Gestalt, and Narrative therapy. My life and thinking has been deeply impacted by the words and ideas of David Whyte, Dan Allender, Jordan B. Peterson, Mary Oliver, C.S. Lewis, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others. The life of Jesus has profoundly shaped me as well.)