Providing individual, couple, and group mental health counseling in Spokane
Before moving back to Spokane, I spent five years teaching and practicing in New Zealand which had a profound effect on me. One of the central symbols of Maori, the indigenous people, is the koru or “spiral” which is based on the unfurling of a silver fern. For Maori, it symbolizes new beginnings, creation, growth, strength, and peace. The spiral shape of the koru conveys one of life’s great tensions – that we are in perpetual movement and change. But the inner coil with its inner leaflets waiting to unfurl also suggests there is a lot of life yet to be experienced through this change.
To me, the this symbol encapsulates what I hope our time in therapy will be for the both of us. There will be some difficult change and discovery of our inner worlds, just like the leaves spreading on a fern. Without this, we stay dormant and life escapes us. If you’ve ever seen the end result of one of these ferns, you know the magnificence of what it can be. I hope our time can be similar in many respects.
Do you ever feel like you’re walking around in life isolated, exposed, and lost? Does your desire for more in life lead you to either harmful behavior or to hopelessness? Are you tired of shame, fear, and anxiety controlling how you live your life? Do you want to connect more with yourself and others but aren’t sure how?
If any of these questions apply to you, I would like to encourage you with these two statements: You are not alone, and there is help.
In my experience, people seek psychotherapy or counseling for a lot of different reasons, but almost all of these are somehow connected to wanting to relate to themselves and others in a different and more fulfilling way. We are constantly caught in the bind of wanting to be known by others, to feel a closeness and acceptance, but also fearful of this very vulnerability and its exposure of us. We want to be close enough to feel loved, but in control enough to not be hurt. These two desires, to be loved and to be safe, are completely healthy but unfortunately are not easily navigated in human relationships. Because of this dilemma, we often turn to unhealthy ways of coping or experience psychological problems like anxiety, depression, and addiction, which can be the very things that lead you to want to seek therapy.
Clients also have different goals for therapy which may include simply alleviating the “symptoms” of the problems they’re struggling with or taking more time and dealing with some of the underlying issues talked about in the previous paragraph. Constraints such as time, money, and life situations may also affect what is possible in therapeutic work. All these are important considerations as you explore starting therapy.
Choosing a therapist that you trust and feel comfortable with is very important. I am a Master’s level licensed mental health therapist with over ten years of experience. I commonly work with individuals, couples, and groups. I would love to meet with you to talk about some of your goals and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about me or the process of therapy and if it is right for you.
Here are some of the common areas that I specialize in:
I am also trained in Lifespan Integration, a technique used to gently heal past trauma so that you may experience more freedom and relief from painful events of the past. In our time together we can assess if this technique is right for you.
Many have chosen this road of discovery and recovery and found that their distress and hopelessness really can be alleviated. These brave individuals have also found that a counseling partnership can be a safe and gentle place to begin their work of healing. Stepping into the life-giving process of therapy is a way of recovering your true self amidst your past and current pain and brokenness so that you can see the road ahead with new clarity and hope.
I look forward to becoming a part of your healing process.
My vocational journey started by pursuing art primarily through music. In 1999, I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. From 1999 – 2002, I worked extensively as a professional musician and tour manager, as well as a web store and public relations manager for a small record label. While the world of being a musician allowed me to travel and experience some amazing things, I also realized I wanted more from my life especially in my relationships with people. I also felt a calling to be involved in the realm of relationships and healing. Out of this desire, I moved cross-country to Seattle to attend the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology (formerly Mars Hill Graduate School) where I received a Master of Arts in Counseling. My training included work with individuals, groups, and couples. My post-graduate experience includes work at a mental hospital, in-home family counseling, teaching academically and private practice. I have trained extensively with Patrick Carnes in the field of sexual compulsivity and sexuality and am a certified sex addiction therapist. I am also trained in Lifespan Integration which is very effective in trauma resolution.
At my core, I believe myself to be an artist. For me, an artist is someone trying to reveal some sense of order and emotion in the midst of chaos. He or she is trying to communicate something about who they are and how they see the world. I believe this artistic communication is a big part of intimacy in relationships as it allows others to see our real and true self. My hope as a therapist is to join others in their process of recovering a sense of their personhood in all areas of life and to be able to “artistically” express this to others in a more satisfying way.
I met and married my beautiful wife in Seattle, where we both worked as mental health counselors. Our sojourn has included five years of living in New Zealand which has shaped and formed us in innumerable ways, including providing two wonderful sons. We love to hike and explore the amazing Northwest with our golden retriever/poodle named Bella, my digital camera, and any friends that come along. I am passionate about jazz, traveling to other places, the outdoors, and most sports.Download CV
I am Verified by Psychology Today
Although I utilize and respect many methods of therapy, I primarily work from a relational model of therapy using existential, family systems, and psychodynamic theories. I have chosen these models and approaches to therapy because I believe many of life’s difficulties are rooted in relationships. I also believe we were created for relationship – to authentically relate to ourselves and others in satisfying ways. Here’s why…
Early childhood research has shown that from the moment we are born we begin searching the faces of our significant others in order to better “see” ourselves and our place in the world. This process repeats itself throughout life creating a “lens” from which we view ourselves and others, both past and present. I believe we base many of our actions and styles of relating upon this relational lens; often it is this lens that creates an out-of-focus view of ourselves that pulls us away from seeing and embracing our true self and design.
I believe that relationships in our lives have shaped our lens in both glorious and tragic ways. In this way, counseling becomes a therapeutic process that can help you address who and what has impacted your relational lens thus leading to better clarification of your life and choices. Eventually your true self can be exposed without fear, dread, or anxiety.
As a Christian, I also believe we were created by a relational God who wants us to be in meaningful and fulfilling relationships with others. While this is the point of view from which I counsel, I do not have a prescriptive style of counseling. I do not pray or use scripture during sessions unless requested by a client. I do not discuss my beliefs unless asked, nor do I attempt to persuade any client to adopt my beliefs. My highest respect is given to each client, regardless of faith background or belief system. I consider it a privilege to listen and provide guidance to each person with whom I sit.
In our time together, we will explore much of what has brought you to therapy as well as the nature of your significant relationships. We will look at how these relationships have helped or hindered your freedom to be more of yourself in living life with others. This may take us in many directions including discussing stories of family, addiction, abuse, healthy and unhealthy ways you have coped in life, creative outlets you enjoy, past conflict resolution, and your overall style of relating to others. While most of what I practice is talk therapy oriented, I also encourage clients to express themselves in other ways, such as music, art, or hobbies.
In our first session, you will have the opportunity to share what brought you to therapy, what you would like to see happen in our time together, and any questions you may have for me. At that point, we can discuss some of the different options for our work depending on your reasons for seeking counseling and your individual preference. We will also go over my disclosure and intake forms which you can view and download here.
I believe the outcome of therapy depends on the collaborative efforts of both you and I. It is my responsibility to create a safe place where you can be understood, supported and challenged at points, giving you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and your relationships. While I am often primarily a listener, it is also my responsibility to be an authentic “other” who will share thoughts, reactions, and sometimes opinions. It is your responsibility to honestly and actively explore your different beliefs and feelings around a variety of issues and to work to relate to me and others in a more authentic way.
A successful relationship between us will give you the chance to resolve many problems by learning how to communicate and manage life’s many feelings and relationships. Counseling may involve remembering things that are difficult emotionally such as feelings of shame, anger, sadness, and anxiety. Don’t give up! The pain you feel will lead to our work of resolving deeper issues within your life.
Some of the potential benefits of therapy:
Sex addiction has become an often-used term in the media recently, but what does it actually mean? People who work with all addictions see common characteristics which include the inability to stop a behavior regardless of the consequences, preoccupation with the “drug” of choice, a secret double life which is hidden from even the closest relationships, and intense feelings of shame and anger after using (along with other symptoms of withdrawal). For sex addicts, sex is the drug of choice and a destructive web in which their life gets caught. Typical behaviors can include extended and compulsive use of pornography, masturbation, prostitution, sex shops and clubs, online chat rooms and video, multiple and consistent affairs and anonymous sex. Many sex addicts also experience the loss of time when acting out (they don’t realize they’ve spent all night acting out until the sun comes up), their behaviors becoming “worse” (longer periods of time, riskier or more deviant behavior) because the high isn’t as good as it once was, and a variety of consequences including relationship conflict or financial, physical, and emotional problems. Quite often other addictions may also be present and even contribute to sexual problems – alcohol or drugs being the “primer” for sexual forays, thousands of dollars being spent on books, movies, and prostitutes, or a binge eater who also struggles with pornography.
The people who struggle in these ways are often portrayed by our world as stupid or crazy (why would he/she do that!) or immoral and depraved people (the common picture people think of is the “guy in the trench coat”). The reality is that these people come from all walks of life and usually are isolated, feeling empty and hurting. While the behavior they engage in may be devastating to others and themselves, sex is the only thing that provides momentary pleasure and escape from the overwhelming stresses and loneliness of life. Many feel completely disconnected from themselves and others. Sex addiction, therefore can also be defined as an intimacy or relational disorder. Instead of healthy and fulfilling relationships with others and themselves, sex addicts primary and sometimes only relationship is with their hidden world of sex. Healthy and real intimacy contains a lot of relational and emotional risk and unknowns, whereas their sexual behavior is always available and provides a somewhat consistent experience. The picture on the internet is never going to say no, will never reject or disagree, and is completely disposable with no strings attached.
I see sex addiction treatment as two-tiered. On the first tier, there are practical and specific interventions geared towards dealing with the behavior and thinking surrounding the addiction. This is where my training as a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) provides structure as well as knowledgeable and research-based interventions. Patrick Carnes is a well-known researcher and author who has been studying sex addiction for over 30 years and is the developer of this certification. Therapists are trained in his “task-centered approach” which research has shown greatly increases the success of recovery if followed (see his book Don’t Call it Love). Many of the materials I use are linked to these 30 tasks which provide a roadmap towards recovery from the addiction. With over 120 hours of classroom training and a minimum of 30 hours of supervision, CSATs are uniquely prepared and qualified with expertise to assess clients and guide them through the task work.
The second tier of sex addiction recovery focuses on the relational difficulties present for most addicts. Many sex addicts find it extremely challenging to be truly vulnerable, not just with what they’ve done, but who they are – their thoughts, emotions and desires. Vulnerability is at the heart of intimate relationships but it also leaves us open to being rejected by others. For addicts, this fear of rejection can lead to avoiding any situation or relationship where they are not in control. Addiction provides a false sense of control through always providing something without ever asking for any vulnerability in return. The addiction essentially becomes the “intimate relationship”. What follows is often a life of isolation, both from others and within themselves. I believe this aspect of recovery is much harder, but also is the one that will provide lasting change. Recovery is not just about getting “sober”, but developing awareness and the capacity for intimacy in other relationships. This is intricately tied to healthy sexuality and a healing of the whole person. Sobriety is key and needed, but healthy sexuality and relating is the goal. It takes courage in the face of risking, patience to overcome a multitude of challenges, strength to be honest in taking responsibility and kindness towards your authentic self and others.
Together, these two tiers of recovery can transform a life of isolation, fear, and out-of-control behavior into a life of rich connection and healthy relating.
My office is located at 624 W Hastings Rd. Suite 4, Spokane, WA 99218. It is just west of Mead High School and the fire station and across the street from Hammer Coffee.
Please contact me to discuss fees for sessions. The American Medical Association has established standards for the length of psychotherapy sessions and I have tailored my fees to these standards.
My usual session length is about 55 minutes (for insurance billing purposes).
Download Koru Intake Forms
624 W Hastings Rd. Suite 4 Spokane, WA 99218