Is narrative grief counseling all about writing?

No. It’s about characterizing loss, restructuring meaning, bridging void, and re-authoring our experience. We do this by tending to our narrative. It can involve writing, sure. But oftentimes, it’s nothing more than you, the client, responding (verbally) to exploratory prompts from me, the psychologist. My experience is, though, that even the most stoic individual excels with the written exercises, simply due to the nature of the modality.

You really take only a few clients per week? Why?

Yes. I do this because I want to help my clients heal as quickly and thoroughly as possible. And this takes attentiveness and space. It necessitates that I stay fresh and inspired. If I carried, say, 25-35 clients a week—like your typical online site specializing in assembly line “therapy”—my healing skills, compassion, and enthusiasm would become diluted (How can they not?), resulting in a less effective experience for each client, including you. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.)

Do you really fire clients?

Sometimes, yes. If you aren’t willing to do the work, I have no interest in booking you. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.) 

Why do you charge the fees you do?

You can buy a Casio…or you can purchase a Movado…or you can invest in a Patek Philippe.

Do you take insurance?

No. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.) 

Do you really make house calls?

Yes. In certain KC neighborhoods. On certain days. For a certain fee. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.) 

Do you really offer “Walk & Talk” sessions?

I do. See above for areas. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.) 

Do you work with children?

I work with kids 12 years years of age and older. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.) 

Why workshops & retreats?

My companion, Emily, is a noted yoga & spiritual entrepreneur in Kansas City, where we both reside. I’ve watched with admiration, over the past several years, as she’s impacted the lives of so many people through her workshops and retreats. Eventually, I took note of what I have to offer. I compared it to what she offers. I found that my offerings translate well to her delivery model.

Why is your approach so powerful?

One, I belong to a school of psychology that doesn’t subscribe to the tired, and largely failing, traditional grief model of adjustment “stages.” This rebellion supercharges my work.

Two, my toolkit includes a unique and multi-layered mix of narrative, expressive arts, and memory reconsolidation techniques that allow for quick and thorough healing.

Why is your specialty death-grief? Sounds kind of morbid?

On the contrary. Plain and simple, grief is love. And love is our reason for being. In fact, everything else can be explained away as part of the pointless “born to die” journey…except love. And as a die-hard romantic, I see the beauty in all grief—the power, the purpose, the passion, the poetry.

Why pet loss?

One, I’m a lifelong animal lover. And two, because pet loss grief can hurt just as much, or sometimes more, than losing a human loved one….and that causes issues with mental wellness…and I’m a mental health professional…and…well…you get the idea.

Why disenfranchised grief?

Honestly…because it hurts my heart to witness someone in terrible pain over a loss that’s not allowed to properly express that grief. It doesn’t matter if that loss was by way of suicide, overdose, AIDS, dementia…or if it was a high school sweetheart, a mentor, a coach, a client…I find it unacceptable when society stifles those cries.

And if I can help…which I can…I’ll do so.

What’s your experience with death-grief?

Well, I’ve lost a mother, a father, several cousins, five aunts, seven uncles, all my grandparents, a close friend, a lover, and a mentor.

I’ve lost these loved ones to anticipatory death (dementia, terminal illness), traumatic death (accident, aneurysm, and murder), and via disenfranchised means (suicide).

I’ve also lost several companion animals in my lifetime, including four of my own, with two recent losses (Moose & Izzy) being just seven months apart, and sandwiching the loss of my mother.

It should be noted, as well, that from November 2006 to May 2011—after losing two close loved ones to sudden deaths just 87 days apart—I endured a vicious cycle of prolonged grief…

Which, literally, almost killed me.

Simply put: I’ve paid a visit to almost every stop along the grief & mourning thoroughfare.

What are your best traits as a therapist?

From what I’ve gathered by way of clients, friends, and others, my best traits as a therapist are (in no particular order)…one, empathy. I’m blessed to have inherited my (registered nurse) mom’s ability to walk in another’s shoes. Two, intuition; I can just sense things in others—how they hurt, what they need, where they’re coming from. Three, my grasp of the techniques I use to help others heal. And four, I have been labeled, on several occasions, as “one of the world’s great listeners.” 🙂 (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.) 

How would you characterize yourself as a therapist?

As your 3C: counselor; coach; and confidant. (Note: I’m no longer taking new clients.)