Counseling Specialties

Biologically Based Conditions:

Major Depressive Disorder – Major depressive disorder is a genetically passed medical condition that affects the function of the brain. In simple terms, the brains supply of neurotransmitters has become somewhat lowered or depleted. This slows down the brain’s ability to process information and make good rational decisions. It also affects energy level, mood regulation, emotional expression, normal thinking, ability to experience positive feelings, and loss of motivation. There are several things that can trigger an episode of depression including a traumatic event, major loss or being exposed to increased levels of stress for a long period of time. Four main treatment strategies include: counseling, physical exercise, anti-depressant medication and social interaction.

Bipolar Disorder – Like Major Depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder is a genetically passed medical condition that affects the function of the brain. In addition to all the symptoms associated with major depression, individuals with Bipolar disorder tend to have expansive mood swings in which they experience a decreased need for sleep, a sense of euphoria, possible delusional thinking and poor decision-making. They may also engage in impulsive behavior such as excessive spending or risk taking behavior. The four main treatment strategies include: counseling, physical exercise, anti-depressant or other medication and social interaction.

Anxiety Disorders – Anxiety disorders can be caused by a genetically passed medical condition that affects the function of the brain or by a traumatic event such as an accident or abuse that an individual has experienced. The individual experiences extreme anxiety in one or more situations and often develops some type of behavior to try to manage or cope with the anxiety (obsessive-compulsive rituals). I help individuals with anxiety disorders by processing traumatic experiences and teaching relaxation exercises. Sometimes anti-depressant and / or anti-anxiety medication is necessary to initially get the symptoms under control.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction – I offer assessment, treatment and referral services for individuals who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse or dependence and spouses or family members of these individuals. Alcohol and drug addiction often accompany other problems such as depression, anxiety and increased levels of stress.

Psychologically Based Conditions:

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD refers to a set of symptoms that an individual experiences following exposure to a traumatic event or situation that the brain interprets to be life threatening. These symptoms include anxious mood and anxiety attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, social anxiety, overwhelming sense of dread, rumination or obsessive thinking, pessimism and avoidant behavior. The primary treatment strategy is counseling, individual and group. In addition to traditional cognitive behavior therapy, I also use a strategy known as EMDR to help process traumatic memories. EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a scientifically proven method that involves using some form of Alternating Bilateral Stimulation to help the brain process / release the emotions, physical sensations and negative beliefs that are connected to traumatic memories.

Marriage / Couples Counseling – Couples often experience problems with communication, properly expressing emotions and needs, getting stuck in destructive patterns of relating, lack of understanding and empathy, an inability to express or receive love, difficulty resolving conflict and an inability to heal wounds and forgive one another. In couples counseling, I focus on teaching communication skills and developing healthy non aggressive ways of communicating feelings and needs. I also facilitate the healing of wounds by teaching couples how to take responsibility for their behavior, apologize for their actions, validate the pain and suffering of the injured partner and how to work through the process of forgiveness. I primarily use a therapeutic process known as Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. I also recommend the book, Hold Me Tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love, by Dr. Sue Johnson

Anger Management – Anger is one of our most powerful emotions. It is also an emotion that few people know how to manage well. Whether you tend to vent your anger aggressively or you tend to suppress it, I teach my clients how to understand anger and how to develop healthy effective strategies for managing anger and the other emotions that tend to accompany anger. For several years I facilitated a Men’s Anger Management Group.

Codependency – Codependency is a term used to describe a certain belief system (way of thinking about one’s self and others) and a set of behaviors that one demonstrates in relationships. Codependent thinking and behavior usually involves one adult believing that they are responsible for another adult and actually taking on the other adult’s responsibilities. They protect the adult who is being irresponsible and “dependent” from experiencing the usual negative consequences of irresponsible behavior. Individuals who struggle with codependency are frequently labeled a “enablers,” because they support or enable the dependent adult to be irresponsible and often dysfunctional because they tend to suffer with an alcohol or drug addiction. I help individuals with codependency become more aware of their own unhealthy thinking and teach them how to set boundaries and enforce consequences in their significant relationships

Divorce Recovery – Going through a divorce can be one of the most traumatic life events to experience and recover from. Many people liken it to experiencing the death of a loved one. Having gone through a divorce personally, I liken it to being hit by a tsunami. There is almost always hurt, confusion, fear, guilt and shame regardless of whether you were the one who wanted out or the one who didn’t want to end the relationship. I have walked along side many people on this painful journey and would be honored to help you cope with your grief and confusion, and I’d like to teach you some helpful coping strategies.

Grief / Bereavement – The grieving process is often very difficult to understand and navigate. I think part of the problem is due to changes in our culture which teaches us to avoid pain and suffering. Everyone will eventually lose a loved one to death and needs to have the skills to process all the emotions associated with death. I have worked with many individuals and families who have gotten stuck and need helping moving through the stages of grief. The five stages of death and grief include: denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance.

Sexual / Pornography Addiction – There are many individuals (both male and female / young and old) who struggle with a sexual and / or pornography addiction in our culture today. Most of us are unaware of the fact that viewing pornography causes the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, vasopressin and endorphins which causes extreme excitement and pleasure. Sexual addiction can interfere with significant relationships, work, self-care and responsible behavior. I work with individuals to develop healthy coping skills which allows them to decrease or completely stop their addictive behavior.

Faith-based Christian Counseling¬†– For many people, their religious faith provides a solid foundation that allows them approach the world with a sense of purpose, understanding and security. When they have problems that require professional help, they want to seek counseling from a therapist who understands and shares their faith. I have attended church since I was a child and I made my profession of faith when I was age 12. I have been a student of the Bible all my life and have sought to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus. I have counseled Christians from a large variety of protestant and Catholic faith traditions and I am very sensitive to valuing and respecting each person’s Christian beliefs and their religious experience. I frequently offer suggestions that I believe will strengthen a person’s faith and improve their sense of connection with God.

Stress Management – Everyone experiences stress on a daily basis. We become “stressed out” when we’re experiencing too much external or internal stimulation or too little external or internal stimulation. Learning to better manage stress is important for your over all mental and physical well-being. I teach individuals healthy coping strategies to release stress and also ways of changing negative thinking to reduce stress.