About /Counseling Orientation
Gwen Westerlund, MAC, MATS
I received a MA in Counseling from Denver Seminary, a counseling program which is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and focuses on general practice psychotherapy from a Christian perspective. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado (LPC0013009) regulated by the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
In addition, I hold an MA in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary and am well equipped to integrate faith, spirituality and biblical principles into the counseling process. While my faith cannot be separated from who I am and my counseling style, in clinical counseling the client determines the extent to which spirituality is included in the therapeutic process. As such, I am equally able to interact with clients of diverse faith backgrounds—including those who claim no faith basis at all. I am often able to help clients see the importance of acknowledging the spiritual dimension of their lives.
I work with adult individuals and couples. I particularly enjoy working with couples in premarital and marital therapy and am a certified Prepare/Enrich facilitator. I have experience counseling those with trauma and abuse, anger management, depression and anxiety, guilt and shame, grief and loss, parenting, codependency, and gender identity issues.
My counseling orientation and approach is fairly eclectic which enables me to tailor therapeutic interventions to the particular needs of the client.
- I work from an existential framework—asking the big questions of life about identity, purpose, change and transformation, and living authentically and intentionally within the bounds of one’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, limitations, ideals, priorities, and values.
- I often utilize cognitive behavioral interventions that provide realistic procedures and methods to practice on a daily basis that help prevent troublesome behaviors.
- On the other hand, I also incorporate experiential techniques that engage the deeper emotions and help to circumvent too much cognitive involvement when one is “overthinking” an issue.
- I attempt to utilize solution-focused, brief therapy techniques. The goal is to help the client reengage as quickly as possible with life in a healthy and effective manner without the emotional disturbances that have caused discomfort.
Specific therapy techniques and interventions are certainly useful, but research consistently shows that the therapeutic relationship between client and counselor contributes more than anything else to the ultimate success of therapy. Because of that, it is extremely important to find a therapist that “fits.”
Take the time to shop around. Contact at least two or three therapists: check out their personality, ask about their theoretical approach to counseling, find out if they integrate faith and spirituality into their therapy if that is important to you, see if there is “chemistry” between you. In all likelihood, you will be sharing some of your deepest secrets, hurts, pain, and fears with this person. It is important that you feel comfortable and safe with them and that you feel they hear and understand you. Therapists expect this and will not be surprised or offended if you take the time to check them out. When it comes to therapists—one size does not fit all. Find one that fits YOU!