My Story

Life Can Be a Harsh Teacher

Like many people, growing up was not easy. The combination of some early childhood trauma and emotional neglect left me entering into adulthood a pretty confused and troubled young man. By the time I was 19 years old, I was living in an abandoned house, addicted to drugs, and suffering from PTSD and a deep suicidal depression. I can remember the daily experience of feeling like my guts had been ripped out leaving me filled with a deep sense of emptiness, self-loathing, and hopelessness.

Then on September 10th of 1983, I had an experience that I can only describe as some kind of Divine intervention. I can still remember it as vividly as if it happened yesterday. It was 2:00 in the morning in the kitchen of the abandoned house, and I was just standing there looking out the window into the darkness. Suddenly, I felt my body freeze in place and I was surrounded by a yellowish light. I heard a voice say “You don’t have to live like this anymore” and then the light disappeared. That was 40 years ago, and I have been sober ever since.

The Tough Road Ahead

When I started on the journey to rebuild my life, I pretty much was starting from zero. I was functionally illiterate, suffered from extreme anxiety, depression, and profound feelings of unlovability and helplessness. I had no friends, no money, nothing. But I did have two things going for me: I was smart and I was intensely determined to succeed.

Meeting My Wife

When I was about four years sober, I happened to meet a wonderful woman who had also gone through a challenging childhood. Together, we decided that we wanted to build a life together, but neither one of us knew what a successful marriage looked like. Both of our parents had been divorced, and there was a lot of addiction, mental illness, and failed marriages on both sides of the family.  So, we decided that we would throw away everything that we thought about relationships and just create our own model of marriage.

For years, we worked together intensely and collaboratively to craft a framework for a successful marriage. And it worked!  We have now been married for over 30 years, and to this day, we have never once had a fight. We have certainly had to navigate through some tough times, for sure, but never once have we gone to bed angry with each other, raised our voices toward each other, or said things in anger that we later regretted. Heated conflict is not an inevitable part of a long-term relationship if both partners are willing to work collaboratively and have the right tools for communication.

Becoming a Therapist

Graduate school was an interesting journey for sure. I was one of the only guys in the clinical psychology doctoral program, and I was definitely the outlier when it came to my history. During one of my classes, we went around and everyone described what “play” looked like in their families. As each of the other people  spoke, I was shocked by how functional all their families were.  One after the other painted a picture of family get-togethers that sounded like some Hallmark family movie. Then we got to me, and my story was more like a horror film. I couldn’t help but wonder how these future therapists would be able to navigate through some of the intense real-world challenges that couples face without having to successfully navigate through them themselves.

After spending several years working as a licensed couple therapist in Minnesota, COVID hit and everything changed. It was a blessing in disguise as I was ready to shift my focus toward doing more writing, launching a podcast, and working with couples across the country.

My Professional Background

I have a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota, a Doctorate in Chiropractic (DC) from Northwestern Health Sciences University, a Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University, and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.(abd)) from Argosy University.

I have authored several books on a range of physical and mental health topics, including weight loss, cold laser therapy, exercise and fitness, whiplash biomechanics, depression, nutrition, and wellness. I am currently working on a new book on relationship skills.
I have done numerous presentations around the country on relationships, sex, and mental health, and was an instructor at Phoenix University teaching psychology and sociology.

My wife Monique and I