Dave received his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Wheaton College in the spring of 2019. During his graduate school internship, Dave provided therapy to couples, adults, adolescents, and families from a variety of backgrounds at Cedar Tree Counseling in St. Charles. There he worked with a number of issues, including marital and family conflict, depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, various types of trauma, life transitions, and infidelity. In particular, Dave worked extensively with individuals and couples impacted by sex and video game addiction and young people experiencing challenges in their post-college transition to independence. Dave also led clients affected by anxiety in mindfulness meditation sessions and co-led a support group for men struggling with anxiety, depression, and anger. During his time at Cedar Tree, Dave discovered a special joy in working with couples, as so much of a person’s identity and worth stems from the definition discovered within intimate relationships.
Prior to pursuing a career as a therapist, Dave has held a variety of jobs, including registrar at a doctoral program for clinical social workers, computer support technician, Starbucks barista, kids’ musician, substitute teacher, and even wedding deejay. Over the past 20 years, Dave has performed improvised comedy, which has only fueled his desire to become a therapist. In the cardinal rule of improv, “yes and…”—saying yes to another person’s initiations and then building on them with your ideas—Dave has seen a correlation to the therapeutic process: “yes and…” allows for an immediate and deep connection between people that can facilitate change. In recent years, Dave was a stay-at-home dad to his three kids while his wife served as the breadwinner. Taking care of the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of three small children while trying to remain relevant—creatively and professionally—has been one of the more difficult experiences of Dave’s life. This challenge has given him a special heart for parents who feel overwhelmed and out-of-touch with who they are or who they want to be.
Dave’s Approach to Therapy
I was trained as a marriage and family therapist and approach the therapeutic process from a mindset of family systems theory. Problems that people experience don’t happen in isolation; they happen in relationships and have often been shaped by generational patterns. The individual parts of a larger family system influence and inform each other and therefore, in most problems, there isn’t one sole person to blame. Of course, individuals sometimes make choices to cross lines that should never be crossed, but I believe that, generally, unhealthy behavior and negative cycles are impacted by family history and the reactions of others in one’s family system.
Working with Individuals
First and foremost, the therapeutic relationship is key and one of the most important aspects of the healing process. Without a solid connection and strong rapport between therapist and client, there can’t be a foundation of safety that can lead toward change. In addition, your story matters. Your experiences and perspectives are important and should be treated with compassion and respect. As such, I view the therapy space—really, the therapy time—as something sacred. Moreover, how problems are conceptualized matters. Language is important. I find there is a big difference between describing someone as “an angry person” and “a person who struggles with anger.” One of the core principles of narrative therapy, an approach I sometimes draw from when working one-on-one with a client, is that people are separate from their problems. I am interested in helping people discover and explore their true self, apart from the problems that often end up defining them.
Working with Couples
The therapeutic relationship is also key when working with couples. I want both partners to feel a sense of safety so that new levels of vulnerability can occur in the therapy room. Ultimately, I hope to provide a space for couples to experience each other in new ways in therapy—ways that will change their day-to-day interactions and routines, ways that will deepen their connection to each other. I have found the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to be incredibly impactful in working with couples. Empirically supported, EFT encourages the discovery and expression of deeply held core emotions that can transform how conflict is played out in an intimate relationship. EFT helps isolated, distressed, angry, resentful, and even betrayed couples find ways to take steps toward one another and heal.