What do you specialize in?
First and foremost, I specialize in walking the road with anyone who wishes to move away from wounds that have been binding and impairing, and move toward something with meaning, hope, and serenity. That is my forte, my work; it is what I do well at, and what I feel fulfillment doing. I could list what types of struggles I work well with, such as anxiety, stress, psychosis, dissociation, trauma, motivation, addiction, sleep issues, and even spiritual & paranormal issues—but these are all variations of that road we all walk. I could also mention that I have always been curious in and respectful of other cultures and viewpoints, finding the absolute perfection in diversity and uniqueness of every being, and thus tend to work well with people from a wide array of demographics—but we ourselves are all variations of a larger, more complex existence. What I am getting at is that it is not so much the type of therapy, the person, the “disorder” or struggle or affliction, or even the setting that I specialize in—its rather the type of interaction with another human being that I feel is my strong point: that is, the warm, present, authentic connection where there is absolutely no judgment, assumption, or prejudice. It is exactly this bond that is a link that takes us beneath the symptoms to find out what is actually going on. We both work to understand what has happened, and what is happening, and in our acceptance and compassion there is a space created to freely, and with motivation, find the value and worth of wellness. We take a breath and heal some, and then use that energy and continually expanding space to dive in for deeper and greater harmonization of the mind with the “soul.” I hold the belief that our symptoms, such as sadness, fear, visions and disturbance, are our allies—they are actually trying to tell us where to go, what to look at in order to recover. When we ask these signs and expressions what they are communicating, they tend to provide us clues and eventually answers as to what deep parts of ourselves need to heal.
This is why I tend to enjoy working on any issue from any client who walks in the door, be it depression, issues with attention and concentration, relational struggles, the desire for greater motivation, drug & alcohol issues, intense and complex trauma, dissociation & psychosis, OCD, anxiety, finding another path, and much more—for all these issues, believe it or not, tend to be the surface of the water. Unimaginable by our minds when we are under stress and feeling overwhelmed is the notion that the waves could calm down, much less reveal what is beneath them. Imagine that! The idea that most of us are living out our lives without any idea that there is a vast ocean of life within to be discovered & lived, just underneath the surface of ourselves, just underneath the routine of our everyday thoughts & emotions, tasks to do, and short connections with the world around us. The interesting part is that these deeper struggles that can be found in our depths, are also the source of the greatest potential to feel and experience aliveness. Where the deep waters are, there is our treasure. I always offer to clients, for those who are interested, that after we have decreased some of the toughest symptoms and learned to manage the rest, after we have found some sense of serenity and developed ways of holding strong and keeping the boat relatively steady, there is an infinite source of wisdom and life purpose to be found within each of us—a path that is unique to each person, that when found and aligned with, sets the sail for the greatest adventure one could dream up. It is ok to simply work on lessening the uncomfortable symptoms in therapy, but it is also ok to keep going.
That is the main answer to the question about what my specialty is. But, to be fair, I can answer the question in another way, with a bit briefer of an explanation than the previous: Although what I mentioned above confirms that I tend to enjoy every journey I walk with each client, this is not to say that I don’t have specific interests that highly intrigue me, and that continually update and deepen. One of my keenest pursuits during the past few years has been providing therapy for individuals who are in spiritual transitions—everything from working through deep existential questions and angst, to using meditation and dreams and relaxation techniques to learn about the deeper aspects of one’s life, to helping those who have already decided to transition out of a religion (and either toward another one or toward something even broader or less defined) do so with grace, self-acceptance, and balance. Keep in mind I have nothing against any religion or non-religion for that matter—it is simply that this is an important area of life that can affect our psychology, and so it should be talked about in the therapy room. Spiritual experiences and transitions can sometimes become a great source of both internal and relational conflict, and these issues can cause us a great deal of distress, depression, anxiety, and sometimes even psychosis—of which can intimidate many to turn back around. Much like the encouragement above, my job is to create a completely safe space to talk about these types of experiences, and then to thus make meaning out of them. For instance, sometimes spiritual rousing can even lead to paranormal experiences, such as sleep paralysis or visitations. Regardless of the debate on whether or not these experiences are “real,” it is far more important to help shed light on the discoveries about ourselves and our path that can be made from these experiences, and how we can use these discoveries for our constructive, creative, and healthy selves—for it is not so much about where we end up, but how we get there, that mostly makes us who we are, right? And guess who gets the greatest credit for that? You!
What do you think is important about your role as a therapist?
My role as a therapist is to provide the least amount of advice as possible. Yes, there are times when I provide education here and there on what scientific research has demonstrated regarding psychology, but thats not what I mean about “advice.” If I were to give advice, I would be prescribing where each client should go in life, even down to directive questions such as “don’t you think its a good idea to do this?” Counseling and direction are ok, but that is not my preference. What is far more healing and effective, in my opinion, is to listen closely to how each client is consciously and subconsciously directing the therapeutic path, as each individual truly does seem to know how to get to their healing—often without full awareness but with nonetheless loads of symbolism and hints through speech, body language, dreams, and the like. We both work together at discovering the path, but it is always up to the client, ultimately to reveal and direct. The point is that “therapy” is a rite of passage. The reason for the quotations just now is that “therapy” is a modern word for a much older concept called an archetype: the hero’s or heroine’s journey, specifically. That spark within us all to become who we are truly meant to be, aside from all the things we are constantly told to be. Even if none of us have a specific purpose (for the sake of the argument), I still believe that we all have at least a few paths that can really awaken our hearts and our sense of vitality—paths that are so truly unique that only ourselves can tell us about them. These paths animate us and give us passion. So who am I to say what each person’s path is, then? Thats why I believe therapy is a rite of passage. It’s an individual, unique journey that is so personalized, that most advice given from a therapist would be counterproductive to reaching that adventure. What is the solution? Asking questions, and most importantly asking the right ones: the questions that are attuned to what each client seems to be guiding us towards, whether they realize it or not. I am just the witness, the archaeologist. You as the client are the guide. I acknowledge, validate, and reflect, but most often I seek to understand. I ask further about what you reveal in ways that open up and expand, that light up more of you, but it is always your job to say, “ok, let’s go this way.”
How do you help people, in your opinion?
In my opinion, I help people by providing a space for others to be themselves, encouraging whatever comes up to be expressed and feel understood, and reassuring each person every week to be more and more of their most true and constructive self outside the therapy room. Thats about it. The closer one gets in the therapy room to being themselves, to being a bit more spontaneous with what they process, to jolting themselves out of the passive dispassion, and into the present moment, the more effective therapy is going to be. It is ironic right? That we seem to need to be fully aware of something before we can actually fully let it go—and in that letting go, that we then seem to free up even more space to be even more fully aware, and thus more of ourselves.
What is something that you wish people knew about your specialty, or about therapy in general?
What I hope that humanity continues to grow in knowledge of, in regards to healing the mind, is that it’s actually a lot less about what the therapist does, and a lot more about what the client does. The true healer is the client—their own inner healer. I know that maybe that seems a little brazen for some, but in all honesty, this is one of the greatest reminders of how empowered each person truly is—its just a matter of how willing each person is to realize that. Healing is the journey toward discovering just how amazing and profound and rich each of ourselves truly are. Definitely not easy to realize the self is basically a universe, but so very much worth it—and thats far better than yearning about what’s “easy.” That realization alone, that we ourselves can be far more intriguing than a cell phone or television, unlocks quite the door.
Name an influential person or experience in your life.
One of the most influential beings to me has been Jimi Hendrix. Although some would say this is an impersonal connection, I disagree. In my opinion, appreciating and immersing oneself fully in another’s creation is like walking around in the dreams of their soul. Reminds me of therapy in a way… Next part of the question. One of the most influential experiences? There are way too many to flip through to answer this with just one, so I’ll name a few specifics and a few generals without explaining details: doing absolutely nothing for at least 10 minutes every day, climbing a mountain by myself at night, exploring the jungles of Ecuador and Peru, witnessing my wife labor our child into Earth-side existence, soaking in the sunrise, enduring and connecting with something greater during an intense sweat lodge session from a challenging master & friend, creating music on the guitar, talking about space, seeing more of my path every day, each time I experience a client start to love themselves and sigh with relief, and every time a client looks back with gratitude and self-acceptance and says “wow, I really just did that, I really can do a lot”… Thank you for reading! I’d love to talk with anyone who is further interested in working towards healing, walking and deepening this journey we call existing.