Duane's Counseling Approach

I love working with people. I treasure the privilege of people allowing me into their most meaningful struggles, triumphs and relationships. I appreciate my clients and deeply enjoy our time together. So I rejoice with people and offer support, hope, encouragement and compassion. I listen with my heart and am fair to both parties in a relationship. My clients tell me that I understand them at the deepest level. I communicate clearly, kindly, and directly, and teach my clients to do the same. When appropriate, I use humor in counseling because it helps us accept ourselves and one another, as well as to savor life. I always warn people that my sense of humor is terrible, which is why I need to keep practicing it, and we laugh.  

I am an educator, trainer and marriage friendly therapist with many years of experience helping couples, parents, singles, and families heal and improve their relationships. I am passionate in my conviction that relationships are the most important thing we have, other than the gift of life itself. Of course, not all relationships are healthy and not all make it. Yet whenever feasible, I believe we ought to try to improve them. We all need to learn relationship intelligence, and to improve it as we live our lives forward.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), I am a relationship counselor. MFTs treat many kinds of problems, far more than most people think. Relationship counselors understand and help people in the context of their relationships. Many mental health problems can be treated effectively with a relationship approach. So, I integrate this relational approach as a pastoral counselor as well. After all, spirituality is rooted in our ability to connect with self, other, creation and God. But a relational approach can be confusing in a culture steeped in individualism, rather than connectedness. Using both/and thinking, Gabriel Marcel wrote: “The I is the child of the We.” For a fuller explanation, read our values statement about the importance of relationships.

Most people are not familiar with the concept of marriage friendly therapy. It's a fresh, important development in the field of marriage and family therapy. Here's what it means – we know that there has been a lot of poor quality marriage, family and other relationship counseling done in the past. The reason is simple. Many professionals who do it have not had adequate training and supervision. So the field of marriage and family therapy is protecting the public and its own integrity by asserting that anyone offering marriage and family therapy needs to have the proper training. Needless to say, counselors need education in relationship therapies, and that education needs to happen in a variety of ways. 

But therapy is not the only option. When relationship education has been done, it has been done well. The problem is, for the most part, it just has not been done. Few of us ever had the opportunity to learn about relationships before we were immersed in them. For most of us, it was like learning to swim by being pushed off the end of the dock. We had no swimming lessons, no knowledge of water safety, and no life jackets. We flailed our arms, and tried to stay afloat by repeating what we saw others do in our families and close relationships. It was sink or swim - but there's a better way. We can take lessons, develop skills ahead of time, understand safety, learn from those who do it well, and know how to get help when we're over our heads. Whether through education, counseling, mentoring, or some combination of these, we can learn what it takes to reap the benefits and joys of healthy relationships. 

If you want to know more about me, study this website. I wrote it. Some part of me is on every page.