As a psychotherapist, John grounds himself in the belief that all people are inherently on a path leading to self- discovery and self-knowledge. John is passionate about working with the LGBTQ+ community, clients exploring gender identity, sexual orientation, and non-heteronormative relationships. Additionally, John enjoys working with older adults to process feelings of grief and loss involving loved ones and friends. John earned a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Music Performance from Ithaca College and an Educational Specialist degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Loyola University Chicago. Read John’s full bio here.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?
I worked for over two decades in restaurants and the food industry. When I stripped away the business components of my job, the most rewarding time I spent was mentoring the people I worked with. When you develop authentic relationships with people you learn about their lives, their hopes, their challenges, and their fears. It dawned on me that trying to understand people, and help them figure out what they needed to do, was a set of skills that I could develop.
The love and support of my partner and family spurred me to change careers and once again become a student, start anew, and recharge the humility that comes with being a novice. I regret nothing and give thanks to everyone in my life who provided the love and support I needed to make a career change and challenge myself to be someone different, and yet closer to my core.
As a psychotherapist, what part of your job is most satisfying?
The path toward understanding my clients is the most satisfying, and challenging, part of my job. Working to learn someone’s individual and unique language, emotions, dreams, and perspective of the world around them will always be the most rewarding aspect of my work as a psychotherapist.
How would you describe your therapeutic approach?
I was trained in the clinical work of Carl Rogers and Barbara Temaner Brodley. Client-Centered Therapy has taught me that there is only one expert in a therapy session, the client. No one knows their life better than themselves. This means counselors have to work to understand the way their clients experience themselves and the world around them. Using this humility and curiosity provides the counselor with the ability to learn how to live in the client’s world and better understand the client’s experience.
Why do you believe that psychotherapy can help?
Imagine the last time that you felt truly heard and understood. That’s the foundation of productive psychotherapy. Unlike all other outlets for empathy and support, psychotherapy approaches a client with important ethical distinctions. Therapy’s base is listening to understand the client in a way that protects them and allows them to be their most vulnerable without judgment or ulterior motives. A therapist-client relationship is a unique and singular human connection where the energy of the therapist is fully invested in the wellness of the client.
What are some of your specialties and what drew you to them?
My specialties include LGBTQIA+ concerns, men’s issues, existential issues, grief and loss, and career counseling. As a newer clinician, I have drawn on my own life experiences and my mentoring roles as both an educator and supervisor to inform areas of the life experience where I can be of the most assistance to my clients. Cultural and social change continues to accelerate in the modern world, and navigating challenges with people while honoring and understanding their many identities is rewarding, challenging, and inspiring.
What is one thing about psychotherapy you wish everyone knew?
The client-therapist relationship is the most important aspect of therapy. Regardless of the type of therapy or work that is being done, the relationship between the client and therapist has to work first, or nothing else will.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
Love and respect. I keep it simple. They are the first three words I think of every day. I apply them to my family, my dogs, and most importantly, myself. Some days are harder than others to live up to them, but each new day is an opportunity to try and be closer to those two important goals.
What are your favorite self-care activities?
I get up most mornings and go for a run. It’s time that I can spend by myself. Part of the run is used for planning the day, and part is mindfulness and practicing being present (noticing pulse, breathing, smells, sounds, etc.). At the end of the day, yoga helps me to wind down, relax, and help circulation for sleeping. I try to go to bed and wake up at the same time and it has made a positive difference that I can feel.
For emotional self-care, I carve out time with my partner, go for recreational walks with my dogs and let them lead the way, and continue to cook meals for my household after formally “retiring” as a chef.
Music is part of everyday for me, whether I’m listening to something new, or practicing tuba.