Counseling with Dr. Stephen Walker
Treatment Philosophy Highlights
I treat each individual with respect and an overriding appreciation of the unique qualities each person brings to our relationship.
- I view the challenge of helping people get control over their lives as an honor. The collaboration is a special form of coaching, and one that evolves as goals are met and skills are acquired.
- I promise to listen, work to understand you and how your life must look like from the inside out. I will focus on offering counsel that is not only fitting of your circumstances, but is respectful of your capabilities.
- You also are obligated to work in this collaboration. You must be willing to “try on some new behaviors” long enough to see whether you like the results better.
- We will work together as a team.
When I first meet a new client, my intention is to make sure there is a good fit to our personalities and that our rapport is constructive and helpful. Because I believe our happiness as human beings is related to our attitudes, our sense of purpose, our interpretation of the events and challenges around us, and most assuredly, it is related to our competencies. We have a variety of skill levels in almost every area of life. Mental skills, stress management skills, relationship skills, financial management skills . . . our abilities in every area of life are based on our skill sets. If we’ve developed a wide range of competencies our life experience is greatly enhanced. If not, our life is filled with challenges we might possibly have avoided.
Both of us must work in this collaboration. Because we are creatures of habit we must recognize the fact that if we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will likely get what we’ve always gotten. What we’ve always gotten is probably not what we wanted, but we didn’t know how to change the patterns in place. Just recognizing the patterns that bind us is not enough, it is the purposeful execution of a conscious ‘trial and error’ process that will help us make the kinds of changes that stick. Hence, the willingness to try on some new behaviors is key.
You will have homework between our meetings. Sometimes the homework involves having a conversation with someone, sometimes it means keeping a journal of your mood, energy level, sleep, and appetites in conjunction with your daily calendar. Homework is individually structured and is rarely the same for any two people.
To create a vibrant and effective team we will have to collaborate effectively. You will be required to teach me about those things that are important to you, about your strengths and weaknesses so that together we can devise a plan. That plan will identify the situations we want to improve upon, the goals we want to achieve, and the skill sets that will make it possible. Sometimes the work is hard and requires courage to carry on, sometimes it is fun. Even when the work is difficult, we will strive to bring humor into it to keep things in balance.
Top of Page
Therapists are trained in a variety of ways and through different schools of thought. I am a cognitive-behavioral therapist. I strive to learn about and understand how you think about things (e.g. your values, upbringing, family structure, schooling, religious and athletic influences, including what you’ve learned from friends, teachers, coaches and key mentors). I also explore how these cognitive influences have impacted your behavior. Since the learning laboratory of life is always open, your behavior is noted in the way you sleep as well as how you solve problems, deal with adversity, and experience joy. What you do for fun is more important than you might think.
Brainspotting is a neurobehavioral process that helps individuals recover from various forms of physical and emotional trauma including repetitive performance problems athletes experience. Dr. Walker has written on Brainspotting in an article articulating the theory and practice of the method invented by Dr. David Grand, who Stephen Walker has trained under from 2008 to present. Dr. Walker is part of a group of sport psychology specialists who communicate regularly on the developments of the techniques and applications which address sports slumps, traumatic events and performance problems. He has completed both Level I and II Trainings.
Specific Areas of Concentration
- Health Psychology
- Heart & Mind Assessments and Treatment Programs
- Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
- Parental Coaching
- Couples & Family Work
My work focuses on the treatment of stress related disorders and the health concerns attributable to them. This focus on stress management and health psychology has been a unifying focus in my work for over 30 years. The sources of stress may include intra-personal concerns that are a product of growing and maturing throughout your lifetime. Perhaps the sources of stress may tax a marriage and lessen your satisfaction in relationship. Parental stress can be overwhelming as can occupational stress. Either can interfere with sleep patterns, dietary choices and our basic quality of life benchmarks. Many times our responses to stress are counter productive or threaten our long term health and survivability. In virtually every circumstance I develop an awareness of each person’s experience of the stress in their lives and endeavor to help you acquire healthy and productive skills so that you may thrive and enjoy life.
I work diligently to help you address the stressors that contribute to heart disease, stroke, and many other maladies can destroy our quality of life. Depression, anxiety, panic disorders, Type “D” personality, social isolation, inadequate support systems, and poor anger management set too many of us up for a huge number of health concerns. My continued focus on the presentation of Heart & Mind Seminars, collaborative research with the Denver Bronco Alumni, and unceasing efforts to find the best practices in addressing our physical and emotional health have culminated in the development of a strong referral base and excellent collaborations with professionals in many disciplines.
Top of Page
Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
Kids between the ages of 10 – 16 are particularly encouraged to begin exploring their life from the framework of skill sets. Understanding how to “breathe” for stress reduction, how to “relax their muscles,” how to meet people, how to manage the overwhelming feelings of mad, sad, glad, scared and confused, and how to observe people so that they might determine what kind of friend they are likely to become, are useful components to my work with each and every child.
Oftentimes it is more helpful to embark on counseling before any precipitating problem occurs. People who view the process as an advantage learn to become proactive easily. Those who are adept at initiating rather than reacting, learn to create opportunities for themselves they otherwise might never have known.
Kids who are overly shy, have trouble asking for what they want, and who tend to avoid people and activities are likely candidates for anxiety disorders in their adult years. Children who are angry, oppositional, distant, and truant may be “acting out” depressive symptoms or experience feelings of “powerlessness.” Mood fluctuations are relatively normal during adolescence; however, outbursts that consistently disrupt harmony in the family should be tended to as a matter of importance.
Top of Page
Parents who become concerned with patterns of behavior at any age are likely to benefit most from “parental coaching.” This type of intervention may, or may not, involve the child in therapy. The process focuses on how parents can come together in structuring the child’s environment to accomplish certain goals and enable the child to successfully complete necessary developmental tasks. Many of the principles proceed from the “Love and Logic” program into more specific applications to fit your parenting situation.
Family life now is comprised of all kinds of situations and circumstances. Families impacted by divorce, blended families, or families that have been created or influenced by adoption in one form or another are heartily encouraged to take a proactive approach toward “conscious parenting” and “parental coaching.” The old adage of, “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” has never been more true.
In the State of Colorado, I have been trained as Special Advocate of the Court (child family investigator) in matters of high conflict divorce. My work however, is proactively focused on establishing and maintaining collaborative and child-centered relationships with each and every parent, whether married or divorced. In these situations my primary responsibility is focused on keeping the best interests of the child in mind.
Top of Page
Couples and Family Work
There are many circumstances when couples and families would like to improve upon their communication patterns, decision making, goal setting, life planning and overall approach to the bumps in the road life presents us with.
Each of these components implores us to look at ourselves and our own individual development personally and as a relationship person. As an individual we are accustomed to communicating the way we do with some regard for how we are understood. Yet in relationship we are prone to misunderstand one another because we assume they communicate in the same way we do. Research has shown gender biases are much greater than we might think. How these things play out in relationship is important. Its not just that men and women think differently, their brains organize and process information in unique ways. The more we understand both the similarities and differences, the more effective we are as communicators.
Decision making is a pivotal concern in relationship. Not only do we have our own style of decision making, we are used to doing it the way we’ve always done it. When our decisions impact others in our life, building consensus becomes desirable, if not necessary. Negotiations may involve various levels of competition for our wants; collaboration, compromise and accommodation are frequently used. Sometimes people avoid discussion surrounding decision making because they fear conflict. When consensus building is used in relationships fewer resentments are experienced by one or both partners. When we agree on a decision we each feel compelled to share responsibility for the outcome. Hence, we avoid the “blame game” – and – the foundation for great teamwork is established.
Goal setting and Life Planning give us something to develop team work with. Many people in relationship assume that their partners want the same things they want. This may not be so. Until open discussion of personal and relationship goals and life planning occurs, true compatibility cannot be determined. A systematic review of personal goals, background, mutual interests, and behavior patterns is more necessary than one might think, especially if our stated intentions do not result in the commitment and mutually shared satisfaction we hoped for. Unwittingly, we might be sabotaging ourselves.
Parenting concerns tend to bring out many of these issues even if other challenges in our lives haven’t already done so. These are but a few of the issues and discussions that once agreed upon contribute to a much greater sense of harmony experienced by every member of the family.
I have worked successfully with hundreds of couples, families, work groups, sport & athletic teams to build consensus and establish clearly defined common goals through the creation of functional communication patterns and decision making that takes into account the perceptions and needs of each individual. The process proceeds as quickly as possible, but as deliberately as is necessary. It can be a joyful and encouraging process as well, and one that really helps us understand our life purpose and roles both in relationship and in life.
Top of Page