Online Counseling for Oregon residents
Like this historic structure in Ayutthaya, Thailand, we are the sum of all that has happened to us, complete with our scars, emotional, physical and spiritual as well as the kindnesses rendered to us along the way. Hundreds of Buddha statues at this site were beheaded by raiding armies even though they shared Buddhist beliefs. The placement of the small stamped metal Buddha in lieu of the missing head has made this Buddha whole again, such that it is a richer and more unique image than originally.
I approach counseling with a firm belief in our capacity for Resilience and a holistic assumption of the interconnectedness of body, mind and spirit. I have faith in an innate tendency for clients to grow towards health and wholeness. Rather than labeling old patterns as pathologies, I prefer to recognize them as coping strategies developed as a part of the individual’s attempts for safety and health, which may now be obsolete. In my work I focus on helping clients identify both those patterns that may be holding them back and the skills and resources they have available to become more choice-full in their lives and achieve Resilience.
My journey to becoming a therapist was by way of an eclectic professional path and years of therapy as a client. During my youth I worked in diverse hands-on trades, from furniture making to home construction and even auto mechanics. Subsequently I became an Architect, specializing in civic and cultural projects from Libraries, to Arts Centers and Municipal projects with my own firm.
Seeking a more kinesthetic balance in my work life I became a massage therapist on the side. When emotional content surfaced in my clients during massage, I became interested in the interface of the physical and emotional bodies and the potential for healing therein. Thus, began my study of psychotherapy, first in the Hakomi Method of body centered psychotherapy, and finally in a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy.
After 10 years of private therapy practice in Portland Oregon, in 2017 I moved to Thailand where I was first a counselor, and later the clinical supervisor at a wellness retreat center, New Life Foundation, serving an international clientele. The foundation closed due to Covid in March 2020 leading me to private practice again. Under current circumstances this is primarily online.
I draw on my first career as an award-winning architect, my background in massage therapy, a passion for lifelong learning and my extensive training in Hakomi--a mindfulness-based, body-centered psychotherapy technique--to create a nurturing, flexible style of care that attends to the client as a living, upwardly evolving system of mind, body and spirit.
As a counselor, I approach counseling with a holistic assumption of the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit. I work with subtle awareness through mindful somatic exploration of present-moment experience, accessing places of activation without judgment. Through attention to present moment experience comes the discovery of beliefs, thoughts, feelings, memories, and images that negatively impact our quality of life. We can then work with corrective emotional experiences to facilitate the updating of our relational templates.
My primary modalities for this work are Hakomi and Re-Creation of the Self (RCS), an offshoot of Hakomi developed by my trainer Jon Eisman. Hakomi has five core principles: Mindfulness, Non-Violence, Mind-Body Integration, Unity, and Organicity. RCS utilises the Hakomi method, focused on cultivation of resources and preferred being states. While Hakomi works to explore and resolve old wounds, RCS focuses on re-embodiment of an organic self, reconnecting to true self, and shifting away from what is referred to as fragmented selves.
While the way through may seem impossible, there is light and space on the other side
Trauma & PTSD
Gender & Orientation Concerns
Depression & Anxiety
I’ve heard it said that the three most important things for a retail business to succeed are, location, location and location. In relationships, it might be said the most important things are attachment, attachment and attachment. In this case, attachment is the experiences of connection to significant humans from at least birth onwards. While subsequent experience can mitigate or exacerbate, our templates for adult relationship are largely formed by age 6 or 7. Through our attachment experiences we have formulated a set of deeply held, largely unconscious, beliefs about what we can expect from our interpersonal relationships. Equally deterministic can be the strategies we evolved to cope with the interpersonal landscape we experienced.
When working with couples the “client” is the relationship. Creating a safe environment for each individual to explore the dynamics of the relationship in real time is the basis of an experiential approach. Whatever stage a relationship is in, counseling can be helpful to work through the issues that inevitably arise.
Most couples who come to counseling tell me they are there to work on communication. While there are many things we can do to improve communication skills, usually there are underlying issues that are contributing to the difficulty in communicating. Many of these originate in past experience with other intimate relationships and families of origin, yet the relationship is a perfect present moment opportunity to work on these past issues.
Initially, with many couples, the work is helping reduce the inflammation that blocks successful communication. With resentments flaring, it is next to impossible to feel compassionate toward each other. With practical tools and exercises we can establish the ability to circumvent the cycles of reactivity that keep partners from seeing each other and being seen; hearing each other and being heard.
I subscribe to the notion that humans are constantly striving towards health. While it may not look that way, the coping strategies we employ are our best shot at making things better. One of the ways this manifests is in the choices we make in partners. Somehow, it often seems we search out those who are perfectly matched to provide some form of stimulus to force us toward health. In action, this looks like we have picked the one most likely to trigger our deepest hurts and mirror the things we most dislike about ourselves.
It is a most beautiful occurrence when couples can identify the inner places that are being activated in their relationships and use this understanding to support each other’s healing and growth, whether this healing leads to years of happiness together, or the loving release of each other to move on to new experiences making different choices. The optimal outcome of couples counseling is not always the continuation of the relationship. In counseling couples can learn how to compassionately support each other’s growth and health whether that is to unfold together or apart.
In the safety of the couples session, we can slow down the action, using mindfulness to explore what happens in the moments when the couples conversations go from constructive to resentful, blaming or withdrawn. By slowing down this process each can see what is theirs and what is not, allowing new found compassion for their respective brittle places. From here the couple can begin to use their new communication skills to rebuild intimacy and trust.
My work with couples draws from my training in Hakomi, and specifically the writing of Rob Fisher, author of Experiential Psychotherapy With Couples, as well as more conventional models such as those of Harville Hendrix (Imago work) and John Gottman. I also conceptualize from the perspectives of Attachment Theory (Bowlby) and Structural Family Therapy (Minuchin).
Trauma and PTSD
When we talk about Trauma, often people think of dramatic events such as an attack or surviving a wartime experience, witnessing a murder, etc. While these kinds of events do have lasting impacts on our nervous systems, they can be easier to treat than the more subtle kinds of trauma that are experienced over long periods of time, often in childhood. This kind of trauma is often overlooked as “not having been that bad”, or “that’s just how people parented in those days”. The residue of these developmental traumas impact on our mature nervous system is not so different, complete with fight, flight, freeze and fawn responses. And because the cause is more remote it’s no less embedded in the nervous system.
Various therapeutic approaches have mapped the predictable outcomes of psychological wounding relative to the developmental task of the age at which the wounding occurred. This also provides some guidance to the most productive approaches to healing from them.
Initially working with Trauma is best served by cultivating resources that allow the individual to remain within a window of tolerance, neither hyper-aroused as in fight/flight state, nor hypo-aroused as in freeze, or dissociative states. This work enhances the awareness of the often-subtle shifts that lead to adrenalized responses to triggering stimuli. Through cultivating somatic awareness, it becomes easier to recognize when actual danger exists versus an unconscious fear response due to harmless stimulus that reminds our nervous system of some old experience.
My practice is not geared toward primary addiction treatment. However, addiction, whether to processes or substances, are commonly part of coping strategies. When these addictive or compulsive behaviors have not led to serious and obvious consequences directly, they often surface as issues to look at in the context of other concerns. I view addictions as one of the ways we attempt to achieve health or equilibrium. Unfortunately, they provide temporary relief at best and may create serious problems in their own right.
There is a tipping point between intentions to avoid addictive behaviors and the moment of indulgence. I have observed that often there is a feeling of extreme urgency to do something to stop the uncomfortable feelings we are experiencing. The shift that occurs between intention and indulgence happens rapidly and to a significant degree unconsciously. In recovery we learn that if we stay with the discomfort it will eventually subside. Seeing that we can self-soothe is enormously powerful.
Generally, addiction stems from some unmet need experienced in the development process. In addition to self-soothing skills, discovering the source of the discomfort we wish to escape from and having the necessary corrective emotional experiences reduces or removes the incentive to additive behavior. This is why sustainable recovery requires doing the inner work in addition to cultivating healthy habits and avoiding triggers.
Sex Addiction (Process Addictions)
Process addictions operate on the same portions of the reward system as substances. Yet, they are often things we must do either out of biological necessity (eating) or daily existence calls upon us to use (Internet). Hence, abstinence models don't really have much success. These behaviors require us to do the deep work to revise the narratives of shame, self-loathing and other legacies of past trauma or adverse childhood experiences.
Often those of us who have issues with substance abuse or addiction may successfully end those practices and get substantial clean time, yet find that process addictions have become the new coping strategies to soothe our hurts and sense of inadequacy.
Gender and Orientation Concerns
As an Out Gay man who lived most of his life in a hetero lifestyle, I have personally traversed the landscape of coming to terms with self-acceptance of the person I really am in a world often less than accepting. As a young man I felt that owning my sexuality was out of the question. This journey has given me deep empathy for those navigating both sexual orientation and gender spectrums. My view is that in an ideal world neither would be viewed as necessarily static over a lifetime or even a day in the life.
I have worked with several Transmen who were post-transition and still facing challenges with safety both real and imagined as well as confusion about orientation after they transitioned as well as numerous gay and lesbian clients dealing with issues from family, religious background and relationship issues. I feel confident in holding a safe space to process and explore all points on the spectrum of LBGTQIA issues.
Change is challenging. Even when a change is something we have worked to manifest and are excited to begin, it will force us out of our our comfort zones while adjusting routines. Long established coping strategies and social networks may be disrupted requiring finding new connections and ways to meet core needs. Inevitably any parts of us that lack confidence or strong sense of self efficacy will be brought to the surface to be dealt with. There may be a period of deprivation and insecurity, affecting stress level, sleep quality and happiness.
This offers an opportunity to address these wobbly parts of ourselves, recognize those habits that may have been Band-Aids to old wounds or unhealthy coping mechanisms. During these times counselling can be useful to regulate the emotional impacts and has the potential to create a more fearless, stable, confident and resilient You.
Depression & Anxiety
Depression and Anxiety may be triggered in many ways. Some people suffer from one or both of these more often than not. Often there are circumstances that naturally invite these emotions. Neither is a 'negative' emotion in that they are states that serve a necessary purpose some of the time. It is when these states become pervasive and enduring that they are problematic.
To address these states in therapy it is first important to identify and acknowledge the forces at work. Are there circumstances that are by their nature depressing or anxiety producing? Are those reactions rational responses or triggers from past wounds. Are there immediate or urgent needs for changing circumstances to address this and how can counseling prepare and support you to accomplish these changes.
Most often these states have their roots at the intersection of circumstance and past Traumas or Developmental Trauma that set us up for adrenal reactions to situations that somehow remind us of past circumstances. In more rare cases there may be chemical reasons for these states. For this or as a bridge to address circumstantial challenges medication may sometimes be indicated. For those instances a referral to be evaluated for medication may be indicated.
Individual Telehealth Session-60 minutes $150 usd
There are a limited number number of sliding scale slots depending on need and availability. Please inquire if your circumstances require accommodation.
Relationship Therapy-75 minutes $200 usd
Certain conditions must be met to allow participants to attend from the same space because of the relationality of the work.
Currently able to accept Oregon Health Plan Open Card holders, otherwise all sessions are to be paid out of pocket at time of the session.