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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions I hear:

Do you do sessions over the phone?

Yes. The fees for those are the same as for face-to-face sessions. You can set up an appointment by email or with the phone.

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What is the good life?

Our primary need is happiness.
My job as a counselor is to help people attain the good life. I assist people in "the pursuit of happiness." How do you capture happiness? Oddly enough, it turns out that happiness can be built.
How do you build it? Well, for starters, avoid things that make you unhappy. The strategy of suffering now in order to be happy later rarely works.
The basic strategy is, start from where you are and go by the shortest route to happiness. Make a list of the things you want. All those things will be easire to get once you're happy. So get happy first. How do you get happy? Get the most important needs met first. Men need sex, appreciation for what they do, and fulfilling work to be happy. Women need sex, appreciation for who they are, satisfying work and probably connection with kids to be happy. So make those your top priorities.
The secret of life is getting your needs met, and now you know the order to do it in. After you're happy, then add on the other things (house, spouse, kids, trips to Timbuktu, etc.). Once you have the good life, you can improve it forever.
The odd thing is that you don't have to achieve sex and satisfying work (and kids) to be happy. Just starting to take action to get these things will lift your mood past neutral into happy.
Of course, you have to get over the activation barrier. If you've been avoiding looking for a lover, for example, and then start looking, it'll make you feel even lonelier. But only for awhile. Once you get started, things get better and better.
What if the trail of wreckage in my past makes me feel I can't build a good life? What do I do? Unfortunately, people pretty much only learn from pain. The trail of failures, losses and suffering in my past is what has taught me the skills I need to succeed now. My past adventures are my good teachers. (You'll remember that an adventure is a miserable experience that makes a good story later.) Suffering teaches us how to end the suffering.
What do you do once you have the good life? Have sex and adventures and help others. And raise the kids. Is there anything else?

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What can life coaching do for me?

Life coaching can show you how to feel your feelings, and how to express them in a way that's positive and effective.

It can show you how to build a good life. How to have an oasis of happiness and fun in the middle of this crazy world.

It can show you how to deal with depression. Depression's almost always situational.

It can show you how to turn anxiety into fear. Anxiety is when you're scared, and you don't know what of. Fear is when you're scared and you do know. Fear can be dealt with.

It can show you how to deal with fear. How to "take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them," as Hamlet would say.

It can reveal the secret of taking action, which is sometimes to get organized.

It can show you how to get your needs met. How to have love and happiness, satisfaction, the good feelings.

It can show you how to have good relationships. With lovers or spouses, with your children, with friends.

It can give you skills you didn't have before, and polish up the old ones so they work better. Social skills, interaction skills, relationship skills, love skills, acceptance skills.

It can show you how to do win-win negotiation so that everyone gets what they want. Rather than the old idea of compromise where no one does.

It can show you how to deal with anger, either your own or that of others. There are a set of skills for both.

It can show you how to use assertiveness skills so smoothly that people don't even know they've been confronted.

It can show you how to defend yourself so well that anywhere you go is safe.

It can show you how to find meaning in life. It's different for everyone, of course. Though the search is the same for everybody.

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What can self hypnosis do for me?

One of the most refreshing and rejuvenative things you can do is go into trance and then into bliss. The ability to go into ecstatic trance seems to be built into everyone. Having this kind of relaxation and refreshment available makes life much easier.

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What's your training?

In the 70's my wife said to me, "Either you do some counseling or we get a divorce right now." In those days every neighborhood center had free counseling, so I went. I discovered I was fascinated, and I began learning every way I could. One source of experience has been doing my own work. I've worked with more than 50 counselors in the last 30 years, and I wasn't just doing my own work, I was also watching what they were doing.

Another source has been weekend trainings. I've done trainings in Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Bioenergetics, Primal Scream Therapy, Hakomi Psychotherapy, Shamanic Counseling, Recovery from Trauma, Domestic Violence, Anger Management, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and many more.

Another source of training has been getting a masters in counseling at PSU. They have a wonderful program, and I learned tons. My favorite part was the training in couple counseling.

Another source of training has been from my internship supervisors. I've been fortunate to have some wonderful teachers.

Another source of training has been the extensive reading I've done on my own. I've especially researched the life and work of Milton Erickson, my hero in the field of counseling. And I've taken classes from Bart Walsh (an Ericksonian hypnotherapist in Portland, Oregon).

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What's your experience?

I spent 10 years practicing as a chiropractor. I learned a lot about the human body, and about the mind-body connection.

In the 80's I worked at Outside In downtown, counseling suicidal people.

Also in the 80s I used to gather groups of 10 or so people and take them to the coast for weekend intensives. It was there I experimented with co-leading, and found some people can do it and some can't.

During my masters program I had an internship at a crisis clinic in Beaverton. That was fabulous. I got to work with people in full-blown emergency, many of them couples. The husband would be standing on the couch yelling, and the wife would be standing on the other end of the couch yelling, and I'd be waving my hands between them to get their attention and yelling as loud as they were. Work like that is like riding a white-water rapid in a kayak.

I also did an internship working across the river in Vancouver at the biggest and oldest county clinic in the area: Columbia River Mental Health. There I got to work with the most mentally people outside a hospital. I worked with chronically and clinically depressed people, and people with true manic depression, and schizophrenic people who could see little grey monsters or hear the voices of angels and devils. When people are at that level of mental illness, the human condition is made very clear.

And I had a fulltime private practice for seven years in Portland, Oregon.

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Why are you a life coach?

Ever since I was a little kid, I've been fascinated by a question: what makes people tick? Being a life coach is in some ways like being a detective. A person is a mystery to be figured out and understood.

And being a life coach is kind of like being a performance artist, with an audience of one or two. Each client is a unique challenge: how do I reach them, get across to them what they need to know. How do I make change fun?

And I care about my clients. For a person like me, who doesn't have kids, it's a healthy thing to have people to care about. Of course there are professional limits to that caring: a life coach has to have the detachment to act always and solely in the interests of the client.

In short, I'm a life coach cuz it helps people and at the same time is funfor me. It's getting paid to have fun. I've always liked thrill sports, like skiing and hang gliding, and life coaching is certainly a thrill sport. Especially crisis counseling, of course, which is like riding white-water rapids. But even the quiet emergence from victimhood over tha course of months has a thrill all its own. 80% of the people in America hate their jobs. I love my work.

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Why do you charge so little?

I don't have any kids to support. I grew up in the third world, and so I am naturally happy living a simpler life than most Americans. And I find it convenient to work out of my home. If someone can't make an appointment or is late, it's no bother to me. I just keep doing whatever I was doing. And I'm not in it for the money. My parents were right about one or many things: one of the few sources of satisfaction in life is service to others.

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Do you take insurance?

No, I don't take insurance.

For one thing, most people who have insurance pay about a $40 deductible, and my fees are less than that anyway.

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Are you licensed?

In Oregon counselors and life coaches don't qualify to bill insurance companies, so there was no point in getting a license here. What I do have is certificates for the classes I've taken from Bart Walsh.

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