For the past 10 years I have been involved in both education and counseling; as such, I believe what I have been developing is a unique way of addressing some of the common struggles we all have. When it comes to sitting across from individuals, couples, and families I draw inspiration from Christianity but being a Christian is not a prerequisite for any of those who come to see me. I also draw influence from CBT, Narrative, Systems, attachment and even psychoanalysis modes of therapy.
I believe who we are as people is derived from our personal, relational and external beliefs we have developed over time—and that we are influenced by how we operate in each area. In order to understand who we are we must know how we operate personally, relationally and externally; to that end I have created the P.R.E. Belief Inventories which assess all three areas so we can begin to move forward in understanding ourselves.
Our personal beliefs are how we most commonly operate within our own person. This means that, as we move about in life, our beliefs create “scripts” that we then draw from to drive our behavior. There are twelve common personal beliefs that have both benefits and drawbacks and can include: Absolutes, Ideals, Critique, Controlling etc (and even combinations therein!).
Just as we have Personal Beliefs that we operate from, we also are relational in nature. Our Relational Beliefs are those that we take on in relation toward others. This can include being The Performer, The Imposter, The Adversary etc.—there are also twelve areas of personal belief which can also have benefits and drawbacks just as our personal beliefs can.
Finally we have our External Beliefs, or how we see either God or the world around us. We all come from a variety of backgrounds—thus having our own take on our place in this world. External Beliefs include areas such as: God as Disappointed, as Taskmaster, as Santa Claus, or as simply Detached Observer; but they also can include areas such as the idea that we are Adrift and alone in the universe, that life is a Zero-Sum Game in which there are winners and losers and even that there should be Fairness in life.
When we discover how we come to view each area above we can begin to accept the benefits and challenge the drawbacks that are inherent in each. We can also begin to discover why we have come to operate in such a fashion. Is our view of God related to our relationship with our father? Have we taken on the role of the Hero because we need to not feel bad? Have we come to think in Absolutes to the point that softer alternatives do not appear available? These are all areas we address in therapy.
I do assign homework, not because I like to torture people but because I believe it brings the best value to counseling. I have often used the example of a personal trainer. If we are trying to get in shape, we can see a personal trainer once a week to understand how we got out of shape and gain some powerful techniques to help us on our way. But if we only train once a week then our progress will either be non-existent or slow at best. By doing homework we are training ourselves in a new way more than once a week—apart from the way that has brought us trouble. The homework I give is not hard but does require reflection and thought—two key elements in knowing ourselves. Once the new ways of thought have been taken in and implemented then therapy is done and new possibilities can emerge.