Life experiences, a rich academic background in the Humanities and the Counseling Sciences, and a spirituality grounded in a deep appreciate of the struggles that define us as families and individuals, form the ground of my competencies.  By drawing upon these things, my hope is that I can play a role in helping people, families and couples adjust to the challenges that our quickly changing world brings.

The foundation of my counseling perspective is found in the work I have done in the Humanities throughout most of my career.  Not only does this add a faith-based perspective, but it also gives me a wider and more reasoned awareness of human experience and the development of self-consciousness. Philosophy and ethics provides a broader picture of how human experience has developed and how goodness has been defined in the West.  I won’t bore you with the details (although if you email or call me, I would be more than happy to discuss them with you), but my life experiences and training in the Humanities and the Counseling Sciences have given me a broad range of academic and life experiences to draw upon, all of which are important to my practice of therapy.

Reacting to the claims of organized religion is often a large part of the therapeutic process whether a person is churched or not.  Over the years, graduate institutions have begun to recognize the importance of faith and spirituality in human development.  Some therapists are comfortable with this; some are not.  Yet, religion plays an important role in the development of our sense of self, whether negative or positive, so it is sometimes necessary to deal with one’s religious issues as well.  Because of my years of studying and teaching about faith-based experiences, one’s religious convictions are something from which I will not shy away.  The experience I have had with faith-based issues, both as a minister and as a professor, provides me a unique perspective in helping others to address the issues that people, couples and families face in today’s difficult world.
Over the years, graduate institutions have begun to recognize the importance of faith and spirituality in human development.  Some therapists are comfortable with this; some are not.  Yet, religion plays an important role in the development of our sense of self, whether negative or positive, so it is sometimes necessary to deal with one’s religious issues as well.  Because of my years of studying and teaching about faith-based experiences, one’s religious convictions are something from which I will not shy away. 

However, in addition to faith-based issues, I also bring a stout philosophical background to the counseling experience.  While this may sound daunting (most of us think of philosophers as esoteric recluses living in an ivory tower), it is not.  Philosophy has given me a broader view of experience.  The implications of this follows:

  • Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, conservative or liberal, or from a different ethnic or sexual perspective, philosophy provides a backdrop that facilitates interaction with all persons in nonjudgmental way. 
  • My dissertation was an analysis of ethical discourse in the context of a computerized world, which means understanding right and wrong based upon a systems approach to experience, a viewpoint that underlies computerized development.  I discovered that many of the issues that families, couples and individuals experience cannot be analyzed or understood based upon an individualistic way of viewing either them or their experience.  We must look at the context in which a family, couple or individual is immersed if we are to appreciate the complexity that defines their everyday experience. To read a paper I gave to the CAMFT on this subject, click here.
  • Finally, I discovered that many of the issues we face as families, couples or individuals have to do with issues of power.  Often a person or group might think they have the power to define what is right or wrong.  From the ethical perspective I developed, however, it is the marginalized one, the one from whom the “powerful” tries to steal power, who guides us into what is good or bad.  Emmanuel Levinas calls the marginalized one the “face of the other,” and it is their otherness that should be the standard by which experience is measured and from whom the path to overcoming alienation is defined.

All of this is to say, that I focus on family and couples therapy because I do not see people as merely individuals.  I see them as a part of a wider context and it is this context that must be understood if we are to appreciate the complex nature of their experience.  Because people are always a part of a larger “system,” we must understand the nature of that system and work to evoke change within the system if their issues are to be adequately addressed.

This is why I am Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT).  An MFT is prepared to address the complexity of family life, a marriage relationship, or the challenges that adolescence brings to the family system.  This perspective provides an appreciation for the frustrations that parenting can bring with children, youth or young adults.  By working with the family system as a whole, solutions present themselves rather quickly (the American Association of Family Therapy reports that on the average, families and couples find solutions to their problems in 12 sessions) meaning that marriage and family therapy can be rather brief.

I focus on family and couples therapy because I do not see people as merely individuals.  I see them as a part of a wider context and it is this context that must be understood if we are to appreciate the complex nature of their experience.  Because people are a part of a larger “system,” we must understand the nature of that system and work to evoke change within the system if their issues are to be adequately addressed.

Marriage and family therapists have also been trained in psychoanalytic perspectives as well, a perspective designed to work with individuals.  Beginning with Freud, the psychoanalytic tradition is one that has experienced tremendous growth and has helped us understand the attachment issues that transform the lives of individuals.  However, while I embrace psychoanalytic traditions and their counterparts such as cognitive behavioral therapy, I have found that immersing an individual in their family system will complement the field of psychoanalytic work.  Put differently, understanding family systems is a real aid to working with individuals and produces insights and changes that the psychoanalytic perspective alone may not be able to imagine.

Life experiences, a rich academic background in the Humanities and the Counseling Sciences, and a spirituality grounded in a deep appreciate of the struggles that define us as families and individuals, form the ground of my competencies.  By drawing upon these things, my hope is that I can play a role in helping people, families and couples adjust to the challenges that our quickly changing world brings.