My life has always pointed me to counseling. I've always seen very little division between the physical world, community, work, relationships and what's beyond all that. Melding the mundane, and the spiritual. One's attitude towards one thing, certainly affects the another. The overall context is a big picture, a continual discovery.
My father passed away when I was a teenager, it was devastating. He had gotten sick well before he died, but no 16/17 year old believes their father can actually die, he was superhuman to me.
After he died I was very lost. I felt angry at the hospital, angry at him, angry at the universe for taking him away so early. I still needed him, I had things left to say, I had questions to ask. Who else save my mother could I trust more than him? What a raw deal.
I had lots of intrusive thoughts about all this, and it was tough to ignore them. I was in my final couple years of high school, I had very difficult time focusing on school. I had lost some sense of meaning, in a bit of an existential crisis. The absence of familiar meaning in my life had me questioning everything I had previously believed.
I had new questions about death, fears about how I was going to make it in the world without a father, very overwhelming feelings of grief.
My identity was shaken up. Before I could have cared less about the after-life, what it truly meant to be human, my identity. I took my worldview as an unshakable authority, but now everything was in question - the cracks in my beliefs began to show.
My mother and extended family wisely turned me towards a grief counselor. I engaged in therapy regularly for the next two years. My therapist skillfully guided me through all the layers and facets that came up in association with the death of my father. With time, and gradual acceptance of these changes, including finding the courage and curiosity to redefine my worldview, I found my way through the grief.
I quickly learned that psychotherapy was also a path towards a greater realization of myself, and my deepest potentials. There was something so practical, and powerful about psychology. It made sense out of what everybody was feeling, but no one knew how to talk about.
What are we supposed to do with these kinds of overwhelming experiences?
How do we actually digest them, grow, and live a life of deep satisfaction?
The medium of counseling helped me learn how to speak honestly about what I thought and felt, while understanding my issues in a larger context, and helped me see that I was not alone, or somehow deeply at fault in my life.
Therapy showed me how to hold the dark parts of myself, metabolize them, understand them, and return to highest values. To be the person I really wanted to be. To re-claim responsibility and my intentions, ultimately my personal power over my life. It allowed me to stop blaming.
Shortly after my father passed away, I lost my first love relationship. For most young men, loosing their first few serious girlfriends is devastating. Our girlfriends bring an emotional vulnerability, pleasure, tenderness, and a kind of love we typically don't allow in ourselves. When its taken away, it feels like something has been stolen from us. Like we've been ripped in half, and what was lost can never be recovered. The breakup was pretty ugly, spiteful, socially horrible. For me it fractured my identity, again. I became deeply depressed and didn't really get out of bed for three weeks. The loss of my dad and then a bad breakup within about a year really crushed me. My mom tried to help me often, tried to coach me, and left me self-help books. I was interested in philosophy at the time, but considered myself an atheist, I despised the words Spiritually, or God.
Then everything in one of the books started speaking to me. Not in a religious way, in a pragmatic exploration of selfs or to fo way. My identity had been so weakened by my losses, so I began to absorb everything in the book, and it eventually it became my everyday perspective. A deep realization of presence under my regular sense of self. The book was "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.
Over the next three months I became incredibly present, and for the first time effortlessly in touch with my being, and a sense of Self that felt more true, more intimate, more real then anything I had experienced before. By being I mean a state of fullness beyond ideas about it. I was endlessly compassionate, effortlessly brilliant, automatically joyful, at more peace then I could fully understand, and connected to a feeling of unity beyond wildest imagination.
This experience went on for a long time. I read the Power of Now everyday, and no longer felt usual suffering, contractions, fear, hopelessness, or conflicts within. I was having a full on spiritual experience, me an atheist!
Because of the radical sense of freedom, I began testing the boundaries of it, not consciously, I think more because I was so floored by the phenomenology of it. I took some hard drugs late in to the night one night, and the next morning I woke up, and it was over. My familiar, separate sense of self was back, I felt fear, and confusion, and suffering, and contraction. I was back in ideas about myself rather than simply being, simply present.
I tried desperately to get the sense of presence back, but it had mostly gone, just droplets left. I took a few weeks to process what had happened, I needed to find a context to make sense of the power what had happened to me. I couldn't just brush it off as some trivial experience. It seemed more real, more me, I felt more alive, more in touch, more clear than anything I could compare in contrast. What the hell was that?!?
I found Ken Wilber's work. Ken Wilber is a philosopher and developmental theorist who has mapped the further reaches of human development and transpersonal psychology. He helped me understand that I tapped in to a higher level of self-undertandng inside my own awareness. This kind of stuff may sound like bull-crap to anyone who hasn't experienced it, and I don't need you to believe everything here if it doesn't seem real to you, but for those who've had glimpses in to what I'm talking about, you can understand. This period of my life changed everything for me, and set me on a course that I continue today.
Over the next few weeks I liquidated everything I had and traveled through Asia for 4 months. It was a right-of-passage, a bit of a pilgrimage in to myself. It was important for me to see the world, but I also focused intensely on figuring myself out even deeper.
I wanted to knowwho was I outside of my history? What was ontological nature? If I was to re-design my world, what things would work best for me? What kind of culture? Friends? Values? What kind of woman was I looking for? What kind of work? Honest questions, and I had a passion to find out the answers.
I studied Buddhism, and various forms of new age psychology to better understand how human beings generally work. Kornfield, Millman, Wilber, Tolle. It was a great time for me, lots of healing, self-exploration and the thrill of seeing the world. When I came home, I felt like I had a better grip on these questions, more inspiration, a greater sense of clarity.
I moved to a workshop/retreat center called Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California in early 2005. I worked in the kitchen 32 hours per week, and did more than 26 personal growth workshops over the 24 months the rest of the time I was there. This included two 28-day gestalt intensives, Enneagram training, encounter therapy, a number of workshops with teachers like Byron Katie and Deepak Chopra, I also did various forms of shadow work, and was exposed to a number of well respected spiritual techniques from a variety of different paradigms. I had many many other new, and just as profound spiritual experiences during this time.
I found the greatest learning was around interpersonal conflicts, how to deal with people I had issues with, how to do conflict in a healthy way. Shadow work you could say also, how to be aware, and own things in me when I would get upset with others. Also experiencing myself as emptiness, a self without form, getting very comfortable with the endless space within.
I moved from Esalen in late 2006 after a bad heart break, and realizing I needed to find a way to make a living. I begin my undergraduate degree at Naropa University in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology in Boulder, CO. Naropa and Boulder were both really good to me, and I was able to heal from my heart-break within a year or two. I also started working with a mentor who I still work with to this day. The theme of working through my limitations from when I was a teenager, still present, still clear to me, no need for complacency.
Near the end of my degree, I began volunteering at a day-treatment center run by Mental Health Partners - a hybrid school/therapy program for troubled youth. I was able to start practicing all the skills I had learned about psychology, and within a few months I was offered a job. It was pretty challenging having to hold space for temper tantrums, and intense disobedience. I worked for two years as a behavior specialist at the school and later one-on-one as a youth advocate.
In 2012 I got hired on as a case manager/therapist working with mentally ill adults as part of the Boulder Journeys team still at Mental Health Partners. It was a good job, with great benefits, and offered great experience.
I typically treated a caseload of 15-20 clients with a wide range of mental health problems, social, and financial issues. I was tasked with being the primary clinical caregiver, and developing treatment plans at this time. It was a sobering job, and also challenged me in new ways to try to help people who were otherwise pretty hopeless. I also began my Masters degree at Regis University in Counseling Psychology doing evening classes.
Late summer 2014 I was promoted to a different clinical position within Mental Health Partners where I was to treat a caseload of 20-35 of the highest need, most intense, most complex clients within the agency. I definitely met my limits here. When you added up the intensity of people I had to work with, with low pay, and minimal supports for continuing my own well being, I eventually came to the conclusion that I would be much happier and less restricted running my own practice. A great decision, I'm happy I made to this day.
Is to provide affordable, potent psychological counseling that leads to real transformation, and lasting change. I value highly not only the healing process, but also maximizing outcomes. It's important for me to be efficient in my profession, and to excel in client satisfaction. Taking this approach allows us to surgically target the roots of your distress, skill build around it, and then test it out in the real world.
While feeling safe, and authentic is a key part of the healing process - ideally treatment is like a concentrated burst of growth. It encourages clients not to stay dependent on the therapist, but instead to strengthen their own autonomy and empowerment as part of the healing process.
- The Transformational Enneagram
- Marijuana Issues
- Post-Election Stress Disorder
- Intense Clients
- Cognitive Behavioral (CBT)
- Attachment Focus
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
- Clinical Psychology
- General Mental Health
- Humanistic Psychology
- Transpersonal Approaches
- Colorado State Registered Psychotherapist
- 4 years BA Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology Naropa University
- 4 years MA Counseling Psychology at Regis University
- Over 10 years of professional counseling experience
- Co-founder Great Within Men's Work
- 10 + year student of the Diamond Approach
- 12 + year student of the Enneagram