Philosophy of Therapy
Support and challenge
I believe strongly in a careful balance between support and challenge. It's my job to help you feel safe in our work together—to listen carefully, to be respectful, to keep in mind all I know about your vulnerabilities. It's also my job to challenge you to see your situation, yourself and your options differently than you're currently seeing them. Seeing differently means seeing new possibilities, new options, new strategies, new hope.
Past or Present?
There's a classic debate about whether it's best to focus on past, present or future in therapy. My answer is: yes. We can't change the events of the past, but we definitely can change their meaning, the hold they have on you. We can grieve difficult things about the past and thus let them go, so grieving becomes part of moving forward, not a "wallowing in the past," as some people fear. Your present life is quite obviously important, including relationships, work and the other basics of life. Looking to the future in terms of hopes and goals is useful in clarifying where we're headed in therapy—how do you want to live?—and helpful in motivating you to try new ways of living now.
Underneath our thoughts, feelings and actions are beliefs based on our pasts—well-practiced patterns of interpreting what happens to us. Day-to-day, most of ignore that layer, thinking our interpretations are "objective." It's extremely helpful to articulate the beliefs that influence our interpretations, then to question whether they're realistic and helpful vs. needing an update. Therapy is often that update and upgrade.
I like to think in terms of context—culture, race, economic status, gender, etc.—and to recognize the pressure that each person feels from their context. At the same time, I like to help people figure out how best to thrive within the limits they're faced with. It's an imperfect world; how do you want to live in it?
Here and Now
I pay a lot of attention to what's happening with a client right in the moment, during the therapy session. Yes, your words are extremely important, but your tone of voice, facial expression and posture also communicate a huge portion of how you feel about what you're saying, what it means to you. I have extensive training in two therapy approaches that emphasize immediate experience—what's going on right now—and the importance of our bodies. They're Yoga For The Emotional Body and Hakomi therapy.
My Personal Style
In terms of personal style in therapy, I think my clients perceive me as warm, engaged, authentic (I'm not much different in sessions than I am with friends), supportive, appropriately challenging, respectful, but also slightly irreverent. If you haven't already been to the home page, please read more about who I am and am not a good fit for.
I grew up mostly in Texas and moved to Austin in 1979 to attend UT. After studying pre-everything and pre-seminary, I ended up with a philosophy degree. The purely intellectual approach to finding meaning wasn't satisfying enough for me, so I knew I wouldn't pursue a career in philosophy. After that came some time in Alaska and work in child care and computers. Along the way I played some music part-time.
I went back to UT for a slew of psychology courses, then got my MA and PhD in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland. The last piece of grad school was a year-long internship at the UT's counseling center. After finishing my Ph.D. in 1992, I became a licensed psychologist in 1994.
After my Ph.D., I worked for nine years as the director of the counseling center at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. There I did counseling and presentations and training on topics such as relationships, sexual assault prevention and men's issues. I served as secretary and then president of the Texas University and College Counseling Directors Association.
Since 2001 I've been in private practice, doing therapy with adult individuals and couples. I practice at Remedy Center for Healing Arts, along with my wife, acupuncturist Claudia Voyles, and mindfulness therapist Chris Crosby.
4403 Manchaca Road, Suite A, South Austin, TX 78745
Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor