Consider this page to be a menu of the sorts of problems I can work with and the specific methods that I use. Everyone is different though. What is "depression" to one person might be "frustration" to another, even though their experiences might be very similar. How I work with you will be unique to your problems and the way you understand your own life. This page then is a starting point to help you and I to begin a conversation about what is specifically bothering you and how I can help you along your own path towards peace.
These are the kinds of problems I am most focused on in my practice. Basically if you have big feelings, unwanted feelings, secret feelings, or otherwise find yourself in conflict with your own heart, this the category of problems you will want to look over.
Sadness (Depression): For those feeling disinterested in what used to be so energizing and important to them, for those feeling unmotivated, for those feeling heavy in their hearts and in their bodies, for those feeling disconnected from their own lives, you may be struggling with sadness. Sometimes your sadness is obvious to everyone. Sometimes you have secret grief that you feel you are not allowed to share with those around you. Sometimes you might feel furious or frustrated and you know somehow it is connected to that sadness.
I use mindfulness based cognitive therapy techniques to reduce the struggle and weight of sadness.
We may use techniques from dialectical behavioral therapy to help you learn new skills. These new skills can help you to change and reduce what causes that sadness.
It may also be necessary to work through the stages of grief or to process past traumas. Trying to keep past experiences silent may only make them louder. Giving them a voice can eventually bring comfort.
Fear (Anxiety): For those with racing thoughts, for those unable to focus, for those with tense bodies and tense minds, for those who are afraid of being too afraid, you may be struggling with anxiety. When struggling with anxiety life can seem constantly dangerous or constantly frustrating. There is no room for creativity or joy. Even close relationships that other people take for granted can become minefields for those with anxiety, where they are afraid of burdening others, saying or doing something they will regret, and ultimately losing touch with what matters most.
I use mindfulness based cognitive therapy techniques to bring gentle awareness to the real shape and feeling of fear. This can slow down the blurring speed that anxiety creates.
I can teach grounding techniques and other skills based on dialectical behavioral therapy that can also help people with anxiety to begin to slow down. Using these techniques it may also be possible to find new ways to live that can reduce or eliminate anxiety.
Distress: What happens when those big emotions become too much? What do you do when you feel yourself slipping towards a panic attack or an emotional breakdown? What do you do when you come into contact with a problem so big that it pushes everything you learned in counseling right out of your head? In working with big emotions it is essential to learn how to navigate distress.
There are some simple ideas, such as grounding exercises and distress tolerance skills, that we can explore and practice together to help you slow down and regain some sense of balance and perspective.
Troubling Thoughts: Some people have thoughts (or mental voices) that are negative and persistent. Such thoughts may include phrases like "I will always fail at this" or "I am worthless" or "I can't do anything right." Although these are stories and not emotions these kinds of repetitive thoughts have a direct impact on the way we feel.
I use mindfulness based cognitive therapy techniques to increase awareness of these thoughts and to discover ways that we can release them.
I may also use techniques based on cognitive behavioral therapy to work with these stories and to change them so that you become able to talk to yourself in more useful ways.
Addictions: When we struggle with big emotions, troubling thoughts that just will not go away, or when we have a difficult life in general, we may try many different ways to cope. Sometimes the way we cope can become a problem in itself though. This is the way addiction begins. It may even get to the point where our lives no longer have those same problems that originally pushed us towards addiction in the first place and it is now the addiction itself that has become the main problem.
I work with addictions with the understanding that anything can become an addiction. A person can be addicted to drugs or alcohol, but they can also be addicted to video games, internet pornography, shopping, or even collecting.
I work with addictions from a place of gentleness and grace. The goal is to give you a life worth living, and this cannot be accomplished in a climate of self-hatred and judgment.
I use a combination of motivational interviewing, techniques based on dialectical behavioral therapy, and mindfulness practices to give people the tools and the awareness to begin working effectively with their addictions.
Another area I specialize in is working with spiritual problems, or personal problems with strong spiritual components. This is based on a lifetime of studying different spiritual ideas, practices, and perspectives and earning a degree in religion and a graduate degree that focused on ministry, spirituality, and theology.
Purpose & Meaning: When confronted with big problems we sometimes get caught up in asking ourselves big questions. "What sort of person am I really?" "What does this all mean?" " "Why was I born?" "What is my place in the universe?" When we are depressed, anxious, or we are otherwise feeling lost, asking these kinds of questions can make things feel worse. That is because often these questions are impossible to answer completely and so we chase them around and around in circles in our minds. But exploring these questions with sensitivity and skill (at the right time and with the right frame-of-mind) can be an enormously helpful process that can help us to live larger and fuller lives.
When we work with these questions we are trying to figure out what makes the most sense to you. I do not just give you the answers I think are best.
The work of finding these answers is the important part. I can help you discover new methods of self-exploration and together we can process what you discover.
Techniques based on existential therapy can help to focus your questions and test what you discover.
Difficult Spiritual Questions: Sometimes we struggle with problems and questions that are deeply spiritual in nature but that we find we cannot easily talk about with our pastors, mentors, friends, or families. These questions can include: "Why are my prayers not answered?" "Why did God let this terrible thing happen?" "What is love really? And what is forgiveness?" It may also be that you find your beliefs are changing, or you are looking for new ways to understand Scripture or your spirituality that feels true to your heart. These questions and changes can be difficult to navigate alone.
My office is a safe space where these ideas can be examined without judgment. It is also a safe place to feel your feelings as fully as you need to and to learn how to avoid being carried away by them.
With my ministerial training and study I can offer you different ways of understanding these issues without feeding you pre-packaged answers to difficult questions.
Secrets & Sins: In many churches and religious groups there is pressure for you to act as if everything in your life is going well. It may feel like it is better to bury troubling feelings, thoughts, and questions. It may feel like it is better to ignore certain persistent problems because they can be embarrassing or make you look like you don't belong. Sometimes it feels easier to keep things to yourself because you want to avoid starting fights or "getting preached at."
I have spent three years studying sexual identity issues in the context of Christianity and working as a research assistant for studies related to these issues. I am able to help you process your own sexual identity issues without judgment and I can work with you to help you find answers that make the most sense to you.
I have also worked with secret addictions in the lives of Christians and churchgoers. My office is a safe and private place to seek help with these kinds of persistent problems.