What made you decide to become a psychologist?
I get that question a lot. The answer is a little longer than most expect. In many ways I have always been a psychologist and found myself being the guy people came to when they needed to talk. I was always that guy, whether it was encouraging teammates in High School or working as a camp counselor during the summers, I always found myself in a position of listening and encouraging. So, in that way being a psychologist is just how God made me. I decided to make it a career after working in industrial sales for a few years. I enjoyed my time in the corporate world but I was never truly content with my job. I traveled quite a bit for work back then and even though I was there to sell equipment I again found myself listening and encouraging. After much prayer and discussion with my very (very, very) understanding wife I left the corporate world and went to grad school. I knew immediately that Psychology was a perfect fit for how God made me and I’ve never regretted the decision to leave. The only thing I miss is the company car!
How would you describe what therapy looks like in your office?
I try to create an environment where people are comfortable enough to just be themselves. It’s hard enough to come in here when you need help, the last thing people need is to feel like they are being “over-analyzed.” I take my time in developing a relationship with people so that we can be honest about the issues without it feeling too threatening or embarrassing. I also use humor a lot but never to belittle people and occasionally I like to use music as a way of getting to know someone.
Do you have a particular theory or type of treatment you use?
While I don’t subscribe to just one form of therapy, I do tend to be mostly what they call “Experiential.” The main theme of this type of treatment is to focus on the emotions we feel, particularly when dealing with a problem. The goal is to better understand the emotions we feel and what is influencing those emotions. That’s when we can make changes in our behavior or challenge some underlying assumptions that may be making it harder to deal with something stressful. Along with this I use a good deal of cognitive behavioral theory to help patients connect what they are thinking with what they are doing. Often times we find ourselves doing things because of an assumption that may not be accurate and this type of therapy helps to figure out where our thinking is misleading us.
Tell us a little about your life away from work.
I have three kids and a beautiful wife. They keep me busy with the daily household stuff. We love sports so we are always running to a practice or watching a game. I also like watching sports and movies with my wife. We have a busy life but with lots of fun. I like to go on missions trips with some folks at church and I help lead a bible study once a week.
What is your favorite movie and why?
This is a tough one. I have several favorites really but if I had to choose one it would be Tombstone. That movie came out when I was much younger and it became something we identified with as young men. I bet we saw it five times in the movie theatre. Each of the characters embodies an aspect of what it means to be a man, both positive and negative. Plus, who doesn’t love Doc Holiday saying “I’m your huckleberry.” There are so many great lines in that movie. “Why Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave.” Classic stuff.