About Russ

A Professional Synopsis

Russ is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) practicing in Durango, CO. With over two decades of counseling experience, he brings a warm presence and in-depth training to providing effective counseling to residents of Durango and the surrounding communities.  To learn more about the experiences and education that distinguish Russ from his colleagues, you may be interested in the following perspectives and information.

Initial Training: My Personal Work and Graduate Education

Rarely do therapists publicly acknowledge the central barrier to providing successful therapy: their own level of self-awareness and psychological integration. Unless a therapist has a keen awareness and insight into his or her own psychological challenges, their personal issues can become a filter through which they see their clients. This can limit their ability to be objective and, ultimately, effective. As such, when considering therapists, it is valuable to understand their level of personal/psychological integration, as well at their professional background.

Russ began his psychotherapeutic journey of personal development in the early 1980s’s while living at the country’s largest personal growth community, The Kripalu Center. His work there nurtured self-reflection and taught him the value of meditation, healthy diet and yoga that characterize his daily practices today. It was during this period that Russ began coaching and counseling people in order to help them heal and transform their lives.

Over ten years ago, he enrolled in the Master’s Degree in Counseling at Adams State College and opened a private practice in Durango. Upon graduation, he completed over a hundred hours of individual case consultation, leading to state licensure, an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) designation, and his first post-graduate training: a four-year training in Internal Family Systems Psychotherapy.

Post-Degree Training: Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) aka Parts Therapy

During his graduate studies Russ became interested in the Internal Family Systems (IFS or Parts Therapy) model. It offered a clear, non-pathologizing, and empowering method for understanding psychological challenges. During 2008 and 2009 Russ attended six IFS trainings in San Francisco, mastering the IFS theory and practical application and achieving the “Certificate of Completion for Mastering the Skills of IFS.”

Russ’s clients responded very positively to IFS psychotherapy, achieving results that encouraged him to take his IFS training further. In 2010 and 2011 he attended several five-day intensive trainings in advanced IFS practices. He also engaged one of the top IFS trainers as a personal coach and participated in 144 individual coaching sessions with him. These rigorous experiences led to a “Certificate for Completion of Deepening and Expanding with IFS.”

IFS remains a central aspect of Russ’ work. You can learn more about it by reading this site’s description here: Internal Family Systems Therapy. Better yet, just give Russ a call – or read about Russ’ subsequent trainings below.

Post-Degree Training: Child Therapy

In the summer of 2011 Russ was introduced to Barry Chaloner, M.Ed. With over 25 years of education and clinical practice in Child Therapy, Barry had developed an all-inclusive assessment and intervention protocol called the Neuro-Sequential Assessment & Treatment Model for Children. He designated Russ as his protégé and personally provided a comprehensive and intensive training in the following areas:

  • Numerous brain-based assessments for children and adults
  • A four-session protocol for evaluating children and their families across the entire spectrum of psychological and developmental concerns.
  • Training in Theraplay, an re-attachment therapy for children with less than optimal childhood experiences
  • Training in Symbolic Play Therapy, the most commonly used form of child therapy
  • Training in Filial Play, a technique for training parents to support their children’s development
  • Training in Family Systems and family therapy

During their two-year association, Barry supervised many of Russ’s child therapy sessions and provided in-depth coaching, feedback and training. Barry’s insights into neuroscience and the impacts of child trauma on the brain stimulated Russ’s interest in finding ways to more directly support both adults and children with traumatic pasts.

Post-Degree Training: Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

With these kinds of clients in mind, Russ began the study of form of psychotherapy used for trauma called EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Russ studied EMDR theory and practical techniques with Rick Levinson, a well-regarded trainer in the field. In the spring of 2013 he travelled to Austin, TX for two extended weekend trainings. He also continued his training further with Rick providing one-on-one coaching and achieving the “Basic EMDR Training Certification.”

In 2014 Russ furthered his EMDR training with Dr. Steven Marcus. Travelling to Phoenix, Russ fine-tuned practical application skills, including the use of EMDR for migraine headaches. In the same year, he augmented this study in consultation with Barry Chaloner, M.Ed, by reviewing the application of EMDR with his day-to-day clients.

EMDR continues to be a foundational therapeutic approach for clients seeking to resolve traumatic or life-defining events. To learn more about how EMDR can be employed in therapy, read this site’s page, EMDR.

Post-Degree Training: The Neurobiology of Trauma

By the early 2000’s, therapy was becoming infused with insights from neuroscience to such a degree that all new, cutting-edge therapies based on neuroscience were becoming available. As Russ deepened in his understanding of the role of trauma in brain development, the impact of childhood trauma and it’s effects on adult moods and patterns of behavior became glaringly obvious to him. He quickly saw how patterned responses and survival strategies unconsciously installed during childhood were continuing to plague his adult clients.

Between September, 2014 and June, 2015, he attended a monthly training with Dr. Janina Fisher, a clinical practitioner and educator in trauma, learning how trauma effects the brain, nervous system and body, and can lock dysfunctional beliefs and behavior patterns in place. In addition to advocating the use of both IFS therapy and EMDR, her approach advocated a revolutionary form of sensorimotor (body-oriented) psychotherapy.

Post-Degree Training: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, the brainchild of Dr. Pat Ogden, blends the traditional “talk therapy” with the practice of body awareness and conscious movement to promote empowerment and nervous system regulation. It is based squarely within a contemporary understanding of neurobiology and has proven successful in the treatment of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In 2015 and 2016, Russ spent twelve days of training in Berkely, CA with both Dr. Janina Fisher and Dr. Ame Cutler, learning both the theory and application of Sensorimotor Therapy. The training taught him how past experiences effect one’s current day perceptions, beliefs and choices as well as how to unwire the effects of these past experiences using the body. If you’d like, you can learn more and how you can use it in your own therapy by reviewing this page: Sensorimotor Therapy.

A Passion for Helping People Heal

As you read through Russ’ professional profile, you can see his level of passion for helping people heal. This is what has driven him to continue to hone his craft, build his knowledge and expertise and stay on the cutting edge of therapeutic practice. From his perspective, a therapist should be at the top of their game, in order to bring transformational help and healing to their clients. Continued education, research, coaching and training are – in Russ’ world – what each and every client deserves. Just use the form below or give him a call to learn more.