My Orientation & Philosophy
My orientation to psychotherapy is existential and experiential. What that means is that I tend to believe the most productive focus of therapy is on the here and now as opposed to the there and then. Granted, we are all, in many ways, the product of our history. As a result, it is often important to explore events from the past. Gathering information about the past and the patterns of behavior that were established then can be very useful and informative. But, the only place we can affect change is in the present. So, my primary interest is in how one experiences one's self and others in the present.
Although I frequently work with individuals, my primary interest is in relationship difficulties. As humans, we are essentially relational and emotional beings. Because of this, I work with couples whenever possible. I believe change occurs most efficiently in the context of an intimate relationship where we have an opportunity to feel accepted just as we are. Most of us want to feel that no matter how messed up we are, we are still lovable and deserve respect. Psychotherapy offers a safe environment to address those things that keep us from feeling loved and respected.
I have been a psychotherapist doing individual and couple therapy for over 40 years. My approach is integrative and systemic. I believe people are multifaceted--including physical, spiritual, emotional, cognitive and relational dimensions. Effective therapy is respectful of each of these dimensions. Meaningful change occurs only as these aspects of our selves are understood, accepted and engaged empathically.
I grew up in a small farming community in central Kansas. After graduating from college with a degree in English, I lived overseas for three years--one year in France and two years on an oasis in the Algerian Sahara where I taught English as a second language. Experiencing the contrast between continents and cultures at a relatively early age began to teach me an appreciation for the differences that naturally occur between people.
Upon returning to the States I began graduate work. My graduate education includes a masters in theology and marriage and family therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California which I received in 1977. In 1979 I received my doctorate in marriage and family therapy from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist. After completing my formal academic education, I taught full time at the university level for fifteen years while maintaining a private practice.
My post-doctoral education includes certifications in Conjugal Relationship Enhancement, Couples Communication, Collaborative Divorce Coaching, Anger Management, Parenting Training, Divorce Mediation and Focusing. In addition to five years of training in existential-gestalt therapy, I have received ongoing training in couple therapy and couple sex therapy.
I believe my life experience and my profession have taught me to appreciate and respect the unique qualities of each individual's life path.