I chose the name Great Eastern Sun for my counseling practice because it reminds me of how I want to be in this world. In the teachings out of the Shambhala tradition (see http://www.dharma-haven.org/shambhala.html), the symbol “Great Eastern Sun” is used to refer to our potential to approach the world with gentleness, courage and self-knowledge rather than violence and aggression. As the metaphor suggests, the sun always rises—a symbolic manifestation of our ongoing capacity to make contact with what is good, right and just.
The choice to make this kind contact with our world invites a certain kind of bravery and appreciation for the challenges life presents to us. The Shambhala teachings are about not being afraid of who we are. Rather we can recognize something basically good about who we are as human beings even when we experience problems and confusion. When we discover basic goodness within, we can live joyously even in the face of uncertainty. We can be authentically who we are without self-censorship. Our lives can be workable.
By saying all this in just three words, Great Eastern Sun speaks to the philosophy underlying my counseling practices.
About me, professionally
Being a psychotherapist feels like a natural outcome of my life so far. I have not always been in this profession, having also worked in business and high tech. Even in those professions, I had a certain psychological perspective that added greater context to my work. For example, as a Certified Public Accountant, I was fascinated by all the ways people reacted to financial information. While financial data can be a rather abstract representation of a situation, a person’s response to that data always seemed to point to what was really going on. As I became increasingly interested in why people behave the way they do, I found myself on a parallel path of self-discovery.
In my twenties, I studied philosophy and Western psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Later, I delved into Eastern practices, such as yoga, tai chi, meditation and other spiritual practices. These pursuits ultimately led me to Naropa University, the Buddhist-inspired university where I trained as a psychotherapist and learned to integrate contemplative practices with Western and Eastern psychology. To this day, my life and work continue to evolve through meditation and yoga.
From a professional standpoint, I describe myself as an integrative psychotherapist, making use of body, mind and spiritual practices to assist in healing. Central to my work is helping you become aware of disowned or unresolved aspects of yourself so that you can integrate these parts of you into a more cohesive personality. Through the process of integration, you learn to be less defensive and reactionary, and more flexible and spontaneous. You can learn to live with more intention and clarity rather than with disappointment, resentment or compulsiveness. I have done this kind of work, and I believe you can, too.
Fundamentally, I am a trained as a Contemplative Psychotherapist, which means that many of my therapeutic interventions are informed by Buddhist philosophy and psychology. As a result of this orientation, I also accept the task of honing my own mindful awareness so that I can be as fully present in session as possible. Frequently, I model this orientation in session on your behalf. As appropriate, I make use of other approaches that converge with this framework, including Psychodynamic approaches, Ego State Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
About me, personally
People say I am good-natured and easy to connect with. I have a broad knowledge base and an open mind. I have a passion for staying abreast of current events and love discussing different points of view. There’s a lot to investigate and digest in this troubled but beautiful world.
I tend to be independent-minded and enjoy thinking outside the box to discover new and effective ways of looking at things and solving problems. This trait frequently shows up as friendly curiosity. For example, I sometimes interact with my two cats, Charlie and Trixy, as if they are intelligent human beings, just to see how they respond. The outcome can be a fascinating glimpse of a feline’s potential to communicate and be in relationship. One thing for sure, my cats love all the attention! Another example of my style may be my practice of letting vegetable bearing plants continue to grow long after they have been harvested. The result may surprise you: many of these plants grow into unexpected shapes and produce interesting flowers.
My personality will obviously show up in sessions with you, too. I am truly interested in you as a unique human being and the issues you’re facing. It is my conviction that all mind states are workable. I tend to be thorough in my approach. For example, I might research your issue further or consult with colleagues or experts (while preserving confidentiality) to put what we are working on into greater context and understanding. My orientation in counseling and psychology is constantly evolving as I read, study and consult. As we work together my understanding of your issues will likely evolve as well.
It is my sincere wish that you, as my client, can also develop this friendly and curious attitude towards your inner world of thoughts and feelings so that you may explore—without defense—and uncover your personal wisdom. I will likely be modeling this orientation for you. Part of my job is to hold space and create emotional safety while you and I notice and track what arises during the course of our work. Sessions can feel like a walk in the park; we stroll together while commenting on the trees and animals along the way. We are open to what’s happening around and within us.
I have had four years of graduate level counseling training (more than most doctoral programs). Below I am including my business credentials to represent a range of life experience that may be useful in session (particularly if you work in the business sector):
Master of Arts in Contemplative Psychotherapy, Naropa University
Graduate Level Counseling Training, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Master of Science in Accounting, University of Virginia
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of Virginia
EMDR Provider, through the EMDR International Association
Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, through the Int’l Association of Trauma Professionals
Certified Mindfulness Instructor, through Naropa University
Certified Public Accountant, through the State of Oregon. License is in inactive status.
I offer my counseling services a block and half from Idaho State University (ISU), in a 100-year-old house located in the University Historic District. Through the years, this house has been home to ISU faculty, a fraternity and, more recently, a meditation center. Currently the lower level of the house is being renovated so there is a bit of chaos in the back. Clients are currently being requested to enter in the front of the house. In more normal circumstances, as you approach the back door, you would notice signs that you are entering into a contemplative and peaceful space. For example, a Japanese lantern sits in the back yard. In the back foyer is a statue of Jizo Bodhisattva, a protector of children. However you enter, you are invited to take off your shoes, which is the traditional way of entering a contemplative space. You may notice the smell of incense. Just beyond the door, you’ll find the waiting area, where you can sit down and relax.
My office is in the hallway. I look forward to getting to know you there.
Let’s get started
Contact me at 208.557.8603 to learn more about my approach, my background or the counseling services I offer in Pocatello, ID.
I provide a 20-minute phone consultation to assist you in exploring your options. Or, if you prefer, I am happy to meet with you in person for a free face-to-face consultation session reserved by a $40 deposit.