Personal Background

 

 

My treatment philosophy includes sharing relevant information about myself at appropriate times when it is in service to my client, to illustrate a point or to build relationship rapport. Toward that end, and to help you to decide if I may be the correct therapist for you, I share here more than a bit of personal background information with you.

 

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, Illinois.  I was the fifth of six children. I have four sisters and one brother. My brother, who is six years older than me, came out as gay in his first year at university and after the initial surprise, my parents soon came to accept him for who he is.

 

At 13 years old, my family moved to Florida to escape the cold, icy winters. This was a big change in my life and I left a lot of childhood friends behind, but I adapted quickly and made plenty of new friends in my new school.

 

My mother (now deceased) was raised by an alcoholic and abusive father. My grandmother died when my mom was 11 years old, and after a few years, my grandfather was found unfit to raise his children, so they were all removed from their home and placed with a stable and loving foster family.  Despite her very difficult childhood, she was a tireless mother who cooked and baked and cleaned non-stop, providing a comfortable home environment where we all flourished.

 

My father (now deceased) was raised by two stable and loving parents of Germanic origin in a small farming community northwest of Chicago. He provided the unconditional love and gentle nature that we all gravitated towards. He was a small business owner, a tireless worker and a very spiritual man. By the way, the girl in the middle of the photo above holding the rose is my father's mother, Anna Braun.

My parents were married for more than 60 years, ending only with my father's death at the age of 86 in 2008. My mother followed him four years later at the age of 90. My grief for them was complicated only by the fact that I was living abroad and could not make it home to be with them as they passed.

 

At the end of my first year of university I fell in love with one of the female students there. We married one month after graduation and within five years were the young proud parents of two children. Problems began to surface in our relationship around year five. After three years of marital counselling, we decided to divorce in 1990. This was the most emotionally difficult period of my life, where I became familiar with counselling services to help me get through, such as individual psychotherapy, a separation and divorce support group at my local church and a men's group.

 

This began a 10 year period of my life of rapid growth where I rejoined the dating scene. My professional life of working with unaccompanied refugee kids in foster care was stable and progressing to greater levels of responsibility, until I reached the point where I was working less directly with clients and more with spreadsheets and budgets, which was not as fulfilling. I resigned from the job after 12 years and almost immediately received a request from a former supervisor to join him in Tirana, Albania, where he was working with the Kosovar refugees during the war. I worked in Tirana for three months before the international work bug had bit me hard and I found myself returning overseas later that year to work in a refugee camp in northern Kenya interviewing the 'Lost Boys' of South Sudan for resettlement to the U.S.

 

After returning to Minnesota, I began a three year period of working in a middle school as a clinical social worker, counselling 11 to 15 year old students and giving advice to parents and teachers. I enjoyed that work very much. I resigned from that job in 2003 to move to Geneva, Switzerland for love. This began my second life and another very difficult adjustment to so many changes in making an international move to a country where I did not speak the language, I did not have any friends or family, and I did not have a job or a work permit and I was a long way away from my children, who were both adults now.. Another difficult adjustment was parenting again, but this time as a step-father, as my second wife had two young children.

 

Twelve years later, we arrive in present time, where my psychotherapy practice has matured into the best job I've ever had and where my second wife and I will be soon happily celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary.  The passage of time also saw the happy marriages of my two biological children.

 

Thank you for reading all the way to the end! I hope that it gives you an overall view of my life to this point and that you will find a few intersections and similarities with your life.