Allow me to share some of the parenting observations I have accumulated over the past decade. 

Parents are usually concerned primarily with their children’s obedience and respect.

How do I get them to behave?

Why don’t they respect me?

These are two of the most common and central issues I see parents trying to manage. And from this point, a very common relationship dynamic occurs. Parents tend to use their words to manage behavior and their consequences to build respect. Perhaps this cycle seems familiar…

Ask the child to do something. Tell the child to do something. Ask them why they didn’t do it. Yell. Complain. Argue. Nag. Threaten. Beg. Guilt trip. Etc. Then, after there is so many hurt feelings and regrets for hurtful things said, you feel guilty and let them off easy, mend fences with a treat or don’t even follow through with a consequence.

“What can I say or do to get through that thick skull of theirs and make them listen?” “Why do I have to yell at them before they will obey?”

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some magic phrase to get the light bulb to turn on and your child to respond, “Oh! You’re right mom. You’re just trying to do what is best for me. I’m sorry I didn’t get it and you really do love me. I’ll cooperate and everything will be easier from now on.” If only.

Ideally, it should be as simple as telling them something and them obeying. In a well running relationship, that is how most things work. But when it doesn’t work that way, we think we need to step it up and figure out the magic words to get cooperation. And when you try harder and harder to use your words to get obedience, you tend to do more and more damage in the process. It is like trying to get a seed to grow by digging it up and squeezing it. Sure, you might get a reaction, but that is not going to thrive.

And then, when you try to repair the relationship or make sure the child still likes you, you decide to give them things, not to punish them or to cut that 2 week grounding back to 2 days. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I don’t want us to fight. Let’s go to the mall and look at that new Iphone you wanted.” I see a lot of parents that really struggle to apply consequences when they feel guilty.

So, that is the common dynamic. Use words to try to manage behavior and consequences to manage relationship/respect. But consider what that would look like if you had boss that did that…

Imagine a bad boss who comes in and just complains about all the things that aren’t done right. “Why is this so sloppy?” “You need an attitude adjustment.” “You guys need to work harder.” “What’s your problem?”

People tend to protect their ego from criticism by discrediting the source of the criticism.

That means, if someone is yelling at you, there is a part of you trying to knock them down a few pegs so their criticism doesn’t hurt as much. You may be thinking about that nagging boss, “Well, you’re never here. You don’t know how hard we work. I’ve seen all the stuff you do wrong. How dare you criticize me.” So, when people use their words excessively to control behavior, it tends to breed disrespect and hurts relationships.

Now, if that same bad boss never actually punishes anyone or enforces rules, but rather tries to enact casual Fridays and bring treats to make the employees like them, does that actually work? No. You just learn the boss won’t really do anything and you simply take advantage of their gifts without developing any respect.

Now, let’s flip the script. Imagine a good boss who uses their words to build relationships and consequences to deal with behavior.

This boss comes in and encourages you and points out what you do right. “Hey, I noticed how you put up with that angry customer with grace and tact.” “I know I can always count on you.” “You have such a great attitude, we’re lucky to have you.” If a boss was sincerely encouraging and really appreciated you, would you be more willing to go the extra mile when they said, “Hey, can you come in on Saturday? I know it’s no fun, but I need someone I can trust to do this for me.”

And if that same boss had to address a problem and said, “I do need to mention the issue of getting to work late. That’s your responsibility and if you are signed up to open, we will have to start docking your pay for being late.” If you were late again and got your pay docked, would you really be that mad at the boss? No, they told you what would happen and they followed through. Now that you know they are serious, maybe you’ll try harder next time. 

Which boss would would you respect more? Which boss would you cooperate with more?

Let me tell you that after visiting with easily over 100 kids in my experience, they almost never complain about punishments. Usually they know what they did. What kids say over and over again is, “Why do they have to yell at me?” Truth is, any open mindedness to change usually shuts off when the volume starts to go up. The yelling, the lectures, the nagging and the criticism usually do not convey any new information to the child, but it does affect them. They hate it. Sometimes they try to act like it doesn’t bother them, but it does. And if we’re being honest, this is why parents use it…because it gets a reaction. Punishments often seem ineffective, but you can find a hot button topic to get a reaction. And this feels like an accomplishment. But it is not accomplishing what you want. Sure, they might obey just to shut you up, but that wins the battle and loses the war.

Do you want to get them to pick up the socks off the floor today even if it means they don’t tell you about their depression tomorrow?

What did you win if they turned down the music only to stew on how you don’t care that they had a horrible day and needed something to cope?

And if your make them so miserable that they make good decisions while you are around, will they still do those things when they are on their own?


I used the seed analogy earlier. Using words to control behavior is like squeezing a seed. It gets an immediate reaction that does not thrive. Consequences on the other hand are like pouring the water on a seed that is buried. Just because it doesn’t seem to make a difference now does not mean that it is not working. Create an environment that encourages growth. Create consequences that make good decisions the better option and give your child time to figure that out. 

How many times have you made the same bad decision over and over and dealt with the consequences before you finally decided it was not worth it and made a change? I think most people who consider that question honestly will realize that sometimes it takes many times before we learn our lesson, but when we do, it is real change. That has to be the attitude with consequences. Don’t expect immediate results, just create situations that make good decisions worthwhile and give the child time to accept that change. You don’t have to win today.

So, which kind of parent do you want to be?

Most people struggle with recurrent negative thinking patterns that they feel they simply cannot stop. Anxiety, worry, self-loathing and even anger are usually just the same thoughts over and over without any resolution. I think we have all had those nights when we could not sleep because we could not turn our brain off. I think we usually keep thinking the thoughts because we keep expecting to somehow solve the unsolvable problem and that will lead to relief. But you know from experience that those thoughts just make you miserable and do not make anything better. Almost everyone I see at some point asks me how to stop those thoughts, and when they do, I explain the process like this…


Something I think every single person has done at some point, but we never really talk about, is stand in a steamy bathroom and watch water condense on the tile, glass or mirror. We watch curiously as one drop eventually gets so big that it cannot hang there anymore, so it begins rolling downward, leaving a meandering path behind it. And the next drop to come along, which was making its own path, will follow the first path when they collide. You can even take your finger and draw a diagonal line that future drops will follow. This phenomenon is the same process that creates rivers. Trickles run into streams, that run into rivers and into bigger rivers, carving out deeper ruts all along the way. The Grand Canyon was created by this process.

The way your brain works is very similar. You have probably seen images on TV or in movies of electrical impulses shooting through chains of neurons in the brain. When you have a thought, there is a chain reaction of electrical impulses along a series of brain cells. When you use the same series of cells over and over again, the brain wraps that chain in what is called a Myelin Sheath. Basically, it is an insulator that creates an information super highway. It is why toddlers wobble around when they learn to walk, but now you can walk without even thinking about it. It also explains why past hurts that you have dwelt on or critical thoughts you have told your self repeatedly can now be triggered so easily. Anything vaguely reminiscent of the originating situation almost instantly leads to the same emotional reaction.

So, again, how do you stop this process?

Well, let me ask you, how would you change the course of a river?


If you took a moment to consider that question, almost everyone says something along the lines of, “Dig a new path,” and/or “Block off the old river.” That’s right. You have to stop the water going down the old path and dig a new path. I’m pretty sure you have never been tasked with changing the course of a river before, but yet you knew how to do it. Why? Because it is simple. But would it be easy? Heck no. That is a lot of back breaking work. It is simple, but not easy. You know how to do it, you just have to do the work. Changing your thinking patterns is the same way.

And consider the river again. When you start digging a new path, will that make much of a difference? No. And will the first few sandbags in the old river slow it down any? No. There is likely to be no noticeable change at first. But, if you keep at it, slowly but surely, that old path will start to dry up. And as more and more water goes down the new path, it starts to do the work for you deepening the rut. After a while, that is the new normal.

When it comes to thought stopping, you have one big advantage to start. You have been down that old path of thinking many times. It is familiar and you know where it leads. It leads to stress, worry, depression and misery. By now, you should be an expert on knowing when you are about to go down that negative thinking path. If you do not want to feel those things, then you need to:

  1. Recognize the pattern is about to start.
  2. Remind yourself of how it will make you feel and that you do not want to go there.
  3. Tell yourself to stop and go a different way.
  4. Choose to think the alternative thoughts that lead to hope, empowerment, forgiveness or freedom.

For many people, a big part of counseling is finding, processing and applying these healthy alternative thoughts. You can’t just expect to stop negative thinking and be ok. The wave of emotion will always wash over you. You need a healthy alternative. Just for a few examples:

  • Instead of “I can’t let them treat me this way,” you decide, “This isn’t worth the fight.” or “Just because they are hurting me, doesn’t me I have to let them.”
  • Instead of “Why try? I’m a failure,” you remember, “Failure is an event, not a person,” or “I can’t succeed if I don’t try. At worst, I’ll learn something in the process.”
  • Instead of “I’ll never find anyone who loves me,” you tell yourself, ” I may not have found that special someone yet, but I have the courage to keep putting myself out there until I do and I’m proud that I have too much self respect to settle.”

Everyone is different, so your new healthy thoughts will be based on your unique values and personality. And even if you do learn and practice them, it is to be expected that you will stumble frequently until you make those your new normal. That’s ok. It is simple, but not easy. But it can be done with work, guidance and time.


My lifelong friend and I recently started creating a list of the movies we want our children to see one day. While they may not be old enough yet to see some of these movies that present raw looks into darker sides of humanity, we feel these are movies that either give glimpses into different aspects of life, inspire growth or are just plain great. Movies can often be great therapy.

This is of course an ongoing progress and will continue to be updated. Here’s what we have so far, in no particular order. Keep in mind, some of these are very R rated, but for good reason.

Good Will Hunting


Shawshank Redemption

Breakfast Club

Dead Poets Society


American Beauty

The Thin Red Line

Cardboard Boxer

Forrest Gump

12 Angry Men

The Lord of the Rings series


August Rush

The Princess Bride

Neverending Story

The Help

Driving Miss Daisy

Life is Beautiful

Lost in Translation

Cinderella Man


American History X

A Walk to Remember

A River Runs Through It

Scent of a Woman


Pay it Forward

Truman Show

Passion of the Christ

Legends of the Fall

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl

City of Angels



Short Term 12

Before We Go

Lars and the Real Girl

Captain Fantastic

Knight’s Tale

Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

A Monster Calls




While this may not matter to some people, many of my clients have been surprised and delighted to find out that in addition to being an educated professional and good listener, I am also a very well rounded nerd. You’d be surprised how many people have benefited from my ability to make analogies of how their favorite television show applies to their current struggles.

If I haven’t personally seen a show or played a game, then chances are I have talked to someone who has and learned about it second hand. For some people, this factor makes me more relatable and sometimes just a friendly talk about common interests helps build a level of comfort that contributes to the counseling process.

So, I can’t think of any better way to establish my nerd credibility than to share a list of some of the tv shows and games that I have watched and played, most of them in their entirety. Don’t judge me. I do read a book on occasion.

In no particular order, I have watched the full series or am up to date on the following shows:

Firefly, Doctor Who (starting with the 9th doctor), Sherlock, Buffy, Angel, Xena, Heroes, Supernatural, Arrow, Flash, IZombie, Agents of SHIELD, Star Trek (every episode, spinoff and movie except for Enterprise), the IT Crowd, the Office, Walking Dead, Person of Interest, Daredevil, Bones, Blacklist, Gotham, the Expanse, and Colony. I’m sure there are many more that I am not thinking of, are much older or that I have watched portions of. If you include all the shows I watched on Nick at Nite as a kid, then my knowledge goes all the way back to Dick Van Dyke and the Andy Griffith Show.

Also, I have been gaming since the MacPlus to present day, so I have played or know about most video games. Most kids are surprised to learn that I play Minecraft with my daughter, know who PewDiePie is, got to legendary arena in Clash Royale and made gold nova rank in CS:Go. When teens tell me that some of their closest friends are on Xbox live, I don’t argue with them because I know that you don’t have to ever meet someone in person for them to talk with you for an hour online about how your day went.

I also know my way around a computer and have done my own programming work on several games, so I know what people are talking about when they discuss their job as a programmer or dream to be a game maker one day.

I may not have ever dressed up for a convention, but I have been to a few ComicCons and had the pleasure of meeting quite a few interesting people. I know there is no real accomplishment in paying to have a picture taken with a celebrity, but it was super cool that one time when Milo Ventimiglia remembered my name.

Some of my favorite past times also tend to be a bit more on the fringe. For instance, I own my own paintball gun, have two bookshelves full of board games, hold annual charity Poker tournaments at my home and I was on the starting line of the Baylor Ultimate Frisbee team.

Lastly, I have seen my share of movies. I often find movies can be exceptional opportunities to get a feel of what other life experiences might feel like, even though I know they are just recreations. My best friend and I are currently working on an ever growing list of movies we feel contribute to the understanding of the human experience and make us better so that we can try to get our kids to watch them all some day. For your benefit, I’ll try to keep it updated Here. Sometimes movies can be excellent therapy.

My wife and I with Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker.

First off, let me say that I have effectively worked with clients who describe themselves as Atheist, Agnostic, New Age, Muslim, Jew, Wiccan or even Satanist without ever having any apparent conflicts or negative feedback due to my spiritual beliefs. Along the same lines, I have had many clients from the LGBT community who have achieved their counseling goals with me and never encountered a problem.

That being said, I am a lifelong Christian. Nothing has had a bigger impact on my personality than my ever deepening understanding of God’s word and the life to which he has called me. My beliefs have taught me humility, because I fall short of His standard. Recognizing my own need for forgiveness and my humanity has taught me to give that same level of grace, understanding and patience to others. My faith has taught me hope and a value for everyone, even though we do not deserve it. I take to heart the call to be non-judgmental and loving to everyone I meet. I know we are all a work in progress and we should help each other along without worry of how far along we may think we may be compared to another.

I am a fan of the quote by Corrie Ten Boom, “God has no grandchildren,” which is to say, despite being raised Christian, I have had those long dark nights where I truly considered the reality of my beliefs and come out on the other side more secure in them. This allows me to be present and non-confrontational with others because I do not feel the compulsion to convince other people of my beliefs in order to reassure myself.

With my Christian clients, the shared beliefs are often an amazing source of empowerment that I try to incorporate on a person to person basis. For some people, a single Bible verse will be far more convincing than a dozen psychological research studies. And I have seen people use their beliefs to find amazing strength to continue fighting when most would give up. Regardless of specific religion, I encourage anyone to use their particular faith to inspire them to make changes. But I do so carefully, as I know some people may not be active or may not feel good enough about their spirituality, even if they do profess a certain faith.

The real question many may be asking is, “Do you push your beliefs on others?” Some people may even think that I should feel obligated to share the good news that has had such a life changing impact for me. Honestly, I reconsider this position often. Especially for those young men that lack a healthy father figure when I have experienced a trans-formative relationship with a Heavenly Father. But, I always find that I come back to keeping my faith to myself in session, unless a client specifically works toward spiritual things.

Firstly, counselors are ethically prohibited from using our position to coerce our clients. I suppose that I consider being a counselor to be a noble responsibility that I have been entrusted with by the State of Oklahoma and an arrangement entered into with my clients. As such, I think the most pressing deciding factor is that I feel as if I have promised that I will not abuse my position to change people to be what I think they should be.

Secondly, my style of counseling is all about respecting people and working toward their goals, not my own. If someone brings up concerns that they feel their spiritual life is lacking, then I am more than happy to help them work toward that, whatever it may be, but it won’t be my suggestion. I am also very comfortable being present with differing opinions or even admitting the extent of what I do not know.

Lastly, I suppose I justify my decision, after much prayer and Bible Study, that it is up to God to call people to him. Some people are called to evangelism. Some may argue that all Christians are. But I believe I am called to be a counselor. I love people by helping them work on their desires. I want to see people get healthier. I want to respect them without needing to add a caveat that I do not approve of some such behavior. In the end, I figure that if I can help a person solve all their apparent problems, it may just reveal a God shaped hole in their heart.

Every counselor has different styles, theories and approaches to the counseling process. 

Some will analyze your dreams, some aim to dig up past trauma, some give you homework assignments, some try to trick you into getting better, some give lots of advice and others just silently take notes and make diagnoses.

Different people need different counselors. My style is not for everyone. If I am not the right counselor for you, then I will gladly make referrals so you can find the help you need. This is about you, not my ego.

While I may incorporate useful tools, skills and ideas of various counseling theories, the foundation of my approach is called Person Centered Therapy. What that means is that I believe the people who come visit me are intelligent human beings who just want to make their life better. You are the expert on you. I believe my number one priority is to create an environment where you can process your issues at your pace towards your goals.

If I can be genuine, respectful and understanding then I believe a comfort and rapport will develop that allows you to share more freely. Research has shown that these qualities of a counselor are far more important than any technique. If you know that I am not going to make you feel bad, share your secrets or get you in trouble, then I believe trust will develop. Just the process of putting words to what is going on in your head and your heart requires you to sort it for yourself in order to explain it to me, and this is one of the simplest and most beneficial parts of counseling as you gain a better understanding of yourself through the conversation. Of course, I will ask the necessary tough questions at the right times and try to share the skills, wisdom and perspectives that I have to give, but my priority is helping you figure things out for yourself.

Everyone is different, so I do not have a formula or set structure for how therapy will proceed. I believe whatever we talk about it what we need to talk about. If you got an F in history class, I wouldn’t ask what your problem is, I would discuss what you want to discuss. And what do you know…if you want to discuss the people messing with you in history class, I bet solving that problem helps those grades. Sometimes counseling can be very difficult, just like physical therapy involves pain as you increase your ability to function. But if at any point you just want to change the subject and talk about movies, then that is what we will do, because respecting you means respecting your pace. And I believe that respect builds trust so you will feel comfortable going further next time.

I also try to avoid giving advice. I’m human and I will fail, but aiming for it helps me find a good balance. If I tell you what I think you need to do, then you may reluctantly go try it, but it probably won’t work if you don’t buy into it, so then you’ll fail and just think I’m an idiot. But if through the course of a conversation, you slowly come to accept that you need to do that thing you already knew you needed to do, then when you are ready you will pursue your solution. And chances are it will work because it was your idea based on your knowledge of yourself and your commitment to succeed. Then I’ll gladly give you a high-five as you proudly tell me how you solved your own problem. 

I believe it is my job to put myself out of a job. I want to help you get to the point that you do not need me.

In short, my style is very non-directive and laid back. Some people need structure and pressure. If so, we can find you a referral. But many people find that this style is exactly what they need. I can’t always explain why it works, but it truly does. Of the people who like my style and were willing to engage in the process for more than 3 visits, 90% received some benefit, while 68% made good or excellent progress. And when I say excellent progress, I am thinking of the people who started off struggling to make it through the day and ended feeling confident, capable and eager for the challenges ahead.

If this sounds like what you want, then please Contact me to discuss setting up an appointment.